I read a book a few weeks ago that I just realized last night I never wrote about. Since it's stuck with me this long and I'm still thinking about it, it's worth writing about.
While not a light read by any means, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood certainly makes you think. It was published in 1985 but takes place in the "near future" - although while reading the book there are times when one thinks the book is set either in the past or in a third-world country. The basic premise is that an extremist group overthrows the US government and forces women to take a lesser place in society - well, those in power claim they are protecting the woman and all that jazz, but being taken away from your husband and child and forced to serve as a concubine in hopes that a man in power can bring more off-spring into this world doesn't sound like "protection" to me.
It freaked me out a little bit. Not that a modern day society could look at women in such a backward light, because that's happening all over the world as we speak. But that such an extreme viewpoint could so easily take over! There's a passage in the book that describes times during the woman's "past life" and she talks about how everyone purchased goods using an electronic banking system that was controlled by the government. When the extremists got some power, they basically turned off female's ability to use their electronic accounts, thereby rendering them powerless in a capitalist driven society. I'm over simplifying it but it's disturbing - and I write that I as think about how many times I'm casually swiped my debit card this month. I don't have a man who could control my finances. I would be swooped up as a concubine, or some equally ridiculous position, immediately for sure. I pity the man that tried to tell me that I was only good for bearing children.
I don't know that I really have a point here. I just think it's worth a read if you want to think about where society is heading and how fragile our lives as we know it are. Again, there are people all over the world that understand this already. But for some reason, most Americans are remarkably resilient. What if something so catastrophic happened that as a culture we were not able to bounce back? I think it'll stick with me the way that the movie Children of Men has. I mean, that wasn't even that good of a movie but it gets stuck in my brain on a regular basis and I start thinking "what if life were really like that?" That would really suck.
LITTLE SIDE NOTE:
The Wikipedia description of this book is hilarious! I'm pretty sure radical feminists wrote the whole thing. The whole point of the book is that it's a white, rich, male-dominated society and women, children, minorities, and anyone else not fitting the norm have been stripped of all power - I think most of you got that from my rather lame-o description above. It's rather unnecessary to describe the new government as "founded by a racist, male chauvinist, nativist, theocratic-organized military coup as an ideologically-driven response to the pervasive ecological, physical and social degradation of the country." I think we get the point. I mean, that's just my opinion and maybe I'd feel differently if the only way I knew anything about this book was through the Wikipedia page. But I like books. I'd rather read the book and find that out for myself than read it on Wikipedia. Seriously. Chill out people. This book is disturbing but it's a work of fiction.