Does Anybody Actually Find "A Handmaid's Tale" Remotely Plausible?

If the book or the miniseries entertains you, fine. No reason for me to deny you your fun.

But can any sane, intelligent person look at the USA Today and conclude that looming theocracy is our greatest threat???

Personally, as a religious conservative, I wish my side had 0.0001% of the power Atwood ascribes to us.

Quite awhile back, someone on this MB used it as a “cite” to validate some wild claim of theirs. Something like “the US is on the verge of becoming a theocracy”.

Margaret Atwood claims that everything in the book has actually been done IRL by some regime somewhere. Not all of them together, but at the very least, each one singly. And although she made mention of the Religious Right in the US, she was clearly talking more about Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s China, and totalitarian countries like that.

I read it long ago and thought it was OK. I don’t quite understand the over-the-top acclaim it gets.

Nobody serious finds it remotely plausible. At least, not in present day America. That’s not to say such a scenario is impossible, of course. I’m sure there are plenty of women in Afghanistan who grew up under the Taliban who could identify with Offred.

Great story nonetheless. Haven’t seen the TV series yet but the book was excellent.

I find it frighteningly possible as I observe the current battle for safe abortion in the United States and the spread of infant worship.

Nice strawman you’ve set up there. Shame if something should happen to it.

It’s a 1985 dystopian fiction extrapolating from reality, not an attempt at Nostradamean prediction of the near future. Do you also yell at people who like Game of Thrones and ask them if they think Winter is our greatest threat?

Can any sane, intelligent person look at the novel and miniseries and conclude that Atwood in creating a fictional future with important changes in fertility etc. ascribes unreasonable levels of power to the religious conservatives in our current, completely different, society?

Not sure, but people have said that it seems more relevant in today’s political climate. From my perspective, with each passing year it seems less relevant due to the changing outlook on equality and rights that people are growing up with.

It’s a metaphor. Plausibility doesn’t matter.

Note, too, that “plausibility” is defined by the imagination of the viewer.

Considering that Bob Heinlein was writing in 1940 about the USA going theocratic dictatorial, it seems the idea has long been considered fair material for cautionary tales. The phrase that totalitarianism in the US would arrive clutching a bible and wrapped in the flag dates from the 30s.

Atwood, herself, said that in an interview I saw yesterday. She calls this work “Speculative Fiction” as distinct from “Science Fiction”. Uhm, OK!

A year and a half ago, most people thought a Trump presidency was remotely plausible.

Here, let me lend you a “not”. :wink:

Many writers and readers have long used the term (attributed, again, to Heinlein in the 40s) as a superset of alternate-world/alternate-history fiction, to avoid the “futurist” pigeonholing that is associated with science fiction.

Oh, c’mon. You’re focusing on one small aspect of theology and politics. Sure, it seems to be very important to segments on both sides of the issue. But I think the rabid pro-life and pro-choice segments are smaller than they seem to be from the noise they both make. I think most people are more moderate on the issue than either extreme.

I agree. In general, US residents are less religious than in decades past. And more open-minded about lots of issues. The left and right political extremes hold the protests, get all of the news coverage. But from my conversations with people all across the political spectrum, they are less rigid than the politicians they elect.

IMO, the problem is the politicians. Neither major party wants to work with the other, or find workable compromises. They love the gravy train they are riding, and are terrified of the next election.


In the specifics, no. But I found it plausible in general from the first time I read it. Read it as a fairy tale version of a much grimmer yet more prosaic reality, and downgrade the religious material to even thinner window dressing than it is in the novel.

Depends on what you mean by “plausible.”

Do I think that something like The Handmaid’s Tale could happen in the US tomorrow morning? No.

Do I think that something like The Handmaid’s Tale could happen ever in the US? Absolutely.

Do I think that something like The Handmaid’s Tale would happen if the US were controlled by religious fundamentalists? No question at all.

I find it about as plausible as Escape From New York, The Hunger Games, Death Race 2000, The Lottery or Logan’s Run. That is, I can’t see how our society can get from what we have to what they have.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining stories. Or good cautionary tales.

All this talk of the new series - does anyone remember the 1990 film, and did you like it?

I don’t think it’s likely tat such an extreme change will happen in the US (especially with other nations not changing at all, as in the book). But then again, I didn’t think Trump stood a ghost of a chance of being elected.
It’s even more extreme when you consider the setting. I was more than halfway through the book before I realized that it was set in Cambridge, MA. I could recognize the places from the descriptions. A lot of it is set in and around Harvard Square and Harvard Yard. Some scenes are set in a hotel that I have no doubt is the Hyatt Regency on Memorial Drive, near MIT housing.

Atwood spent time in Cambridge and has admitted that her Gilead is based on Cambridge, claiming that it is based on the area’s Puritan background and history of intolerance. But I can’t help thinking that it’s to show such an extreme reversal taking place in the ultra-liberal setting of the “People’s Republic of Cambridge”

It can’t happen here.
I’m telling you, my dear.

This is the point I was going to make, but it’s been made several times.