At what age is it appropriate to read “A Handmaid’s Tale”?
My oldest daughter is almost 13 and I think I may have her read it soon. Especially after the past few months of legislation defunding Planned Parenthood, and many states making women jump through hoop after hoop to obtain an abortion (I was going to add more links, but there are too many).
Today during lunch, my mother, mother-in-law and I got into a spirited discussion about abortion rights. Kind of a heated and strange topic for Mother’s Day (or not). I was pleasantly surprised to find that my mother is very much pro-choice. I always thought she leaned more anti-abortion, but I suspect that legislation in recent years, augmented by emails from a very pro-choice friend of hers, has given her the courage to state that nobody has the right to dictate what happens to a woman’s body except the woman herself.
Why is this topic on an atheism blog you may ask?
It is my experience that religion and anti-choice tend to go hand in hand. The subtle difference between ethics and morals is missed. Just because your religion dictates a certain moral code does not mean that we all must live by that code. Your religion may teach that abortion is a sin and wrong and should be outlawed. I don’t share your religion, so I do not necessarily share your moral code, yet that does not mean I live without morals. Many on the religious right try to force their beliefs on everyone, despite what the law states.
Margaret Atwood’s novel illustrates what could happen if everyone were forced to live under one moral code, whether or not you believe in it. My daughter is intelligent and emotionally mature. She recently read Fahrenheit 451 and Animal Farm and was able to discuss both with me and I sense that she likes to read books that challenge her to think about society and what is accepted versus what is acceptable (not always the same). Books that challenge one to think and form their own opinions seem rare these days. These modern classics seem perfect for sparking interesting conversations and often help you see society from different viewpoints. Any other suggestions for similar books that are captivating reads?
This past year or so has been a trying time for women’s rights. They are being chipped away at piece by piece, starting with the easiest and most contentious target, women’s health. Lawmakers like to frame their argument, claiming it is trying to reduce abortions, when they are most likely increasing unwanted pregnancies and STDs due to birth control and low-cost health care being taken away. I guess if you are a low-income, single woman you shouldn’t have sex. Ever. And if you do you are forced to have a child you are unable to care for. All those people who care so much about keeping your fetus alive care so very little once you have an actual child. Because now you are a parasite on the system, living on welfare. It puts a lot of people in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.
Lately I fear I’m becoming a broken record on the issue. I see myself moving fairly quickly from a sometime feminist (only caring about what directly affected me), to a full fledged cheerleader of women’s rights and a cog in the machine that must make a change in the world for all women. It has been my intent not to react due to fear, but fear has been the driving force of this evolution of mine. Fear that my daughters will grow up to live in a world where important choices regarding their health are made for them, without any regard as to circumstance. Fear that they will live in a world where women are still not given full credit, and still fear to make their opinion heard. Fear that a world could once again exist where they will be labeled as criminals for taking control of their reproductive health in the way they see fit.
A little fear can be a good thing if it creates a space for us to rise up and challenge the source of that fear.