Archive for The Handmaid’s Tale

brave [not!] new [not!] world

Posted in Books, Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2022 by xi'an

“…the “central paradox” in the debate over the future of abortion: [14] States with the most restrictive abortion policies also show the weakest maternal and child health outcomes and are least likely to invest in at-risk populations.” The Commonwealth Fund, March 8

“In Louisiana, lawmakers are considering a proposal to classify ending a pregnancy at any point from the moment of fertilization as homicide. And the Idaho State Legislature may hold hearings on outlawing emergency contraceptives…” NYT, May 11

“Arizona enacted an abortion ban in cases of genetic indication, and South Dakota banned abortion if the fetus has Down syndrome.” Guttmacher Institute,

Most of the 21 states with laws on the books that would “snap back” abortion restrictions if the court overturns Roe fall into the bottom half of state rankings on a wide array of measures tracking the well-being of children and families, including childhood poverty, low birth weight and premature births, access to health insurance for low-income mothers, availability of prenatal care and the share of kids enrolled in early childhood education… ” CNN, December 14, 2021

“Six states banned providers from mailing the abortion medication to patients, and seven states either required the provider and patient to meet in person or banned the use of telehealth.” Guttmacher Institute,

“Arkansas also passed legislation in 2021 that would make abortion in the state an unclassified felony unless a procedure is undertaken to save the life of a pregnant woman.” Newsweek, May 20, 2021

“…in Alabama, legislation signed in 2019 bans the procedure at any stage of a pregnancy, with doctors facing the possibility of life imprisonment for performing one.” Newsweek, May 20, 2021

“Lawmakers in Missouri weighed legislation early this year that would allow individuals to sue anyone helping a patient cross state lines for an abortion (…) In Texas, a law passed last year made it illegal to ship medication for self-managed abortion, including across state lines” The Guardian,  5 May


banned books week

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2020 by xi'an

challenged books

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2017 by xi'an

After reading that Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was one of the most challenged books in the USA, where challenged means “documented requests to remove materials from school or libraries”, I went to check on the website of the American Library Association for other titles, and found that The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nigh-time and the Bible made it to the top 10 in 2015, with Of Mice and Men, Harry Potter, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Brave New World, Hunger Games, Slaughterhouse Five, Cal, several of Roald Dahl’s and of Toni Morrisson’s books, Persepolis, and Tintin in America [and numerous others] appearing in the list… (As read in several comments, it is quite a surprise Shakespeare is not part of it!)

What is most frightening about those challenges and calls for censorship is that a growing portion of the reasons given against the books is “diversity“, namely that they propose a different view point, were it religious (or atheist), gender-related, ethnic, political, or disability-related.

The Handmaid’s Tale [book review]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2017 by xi'an

Following a newspaper article where this book was referred, along Brave New World and 1984, as an essential novel for this time of trumpism, I read this 1986 book by Margaret Atwood of a dystopian America where Christian fundamentalists have taken over a region around Harvard and imposed a dictatorial society, plagued by pollution-induced sterility, inter-state wars, and the omnipresence of a fascist state. The central and brilliant idea of the novel is that the bodies of fertile women are no longer theirs to conceive babies [with the obvious and immediate question rising as to when they actually were…] and that the State allocate them to men from the ruling class, their babies been “adopted” by these men’s family once they are born. With a deadly dose of religious blather to justify this enslavement of bodies (and in most cases minds). Ten years ago, Joyce Carol Oates wrote a detailed commentary on the book that perfectly exposes its strength, using the almost mundane journal of one nameless handmaiden to describe the absolute horror of the Gilead Republic.

Since this book has become a classic, often in high school reading curricula (albeit almost as often challenged by conservative parents and organisations), I wonder why I did not read it earlier. Reading it today is however very much appropriate to stress the point that such extremes could essentially happen anywhere, anytime, not necessarily far from here or from now. And to also see the book as a warning parabola about the omnipresent threats on women and reproductive rights. Although the tale is set in the current era, the connection with the (first?) Puritan Massachusetts state through the (red) costume of the Handmaiden [acknowledged by Atwood] and the rigid control of the community over the individuals reminded me of Hawthorne’ Scarlet Letter, a beautiful book that keeps its relevance in present days.

In conjunction with the novel been adapted as a TV Series starting next month, Margaret Atwood wrote in the NYT a post-Trump analysis of the themes and prospects in The Handmaid’s Tale that is certainly worth reading. (I have no opinion about the TV Series, just hoping it keeps this feeling that such things could be just around the corner.)

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