Following in my mother’s footsteps, my favorite book is The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. This isn’t a book report so I will not summarize it, although Atwood’s seemingly fantastical depiction of sexism should be noted. Gilead seemed widely improbable for years. Then, I found myself in Washington Square Park in New York City on the day that Roe v Wade was overturned with a small, jagged square of recycled cardboard. I dug the cardboard out of a receptacle and tattooed the words “pro-choice” across it with thick black sharpie. Hundreds of other repurposed cardboard cutouts were held by handmaids whose tears were dried by their passion to scream and beg the Supreme Court to reverse what they removed.
Business people in business suits rushed from work for the 6pm march in the same subway cars as students and supporters in their average Joe clothes, singing along to the songs activists belted from their microphones. In the following hours I saw headlines of trigger laws activated and in the following weeks I would see headlines threatening access to birth control. The Testaments, a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale felt so bittersweet to read after it reminded me of the Hulu series of The Handmaid’s Tale where women were evacuated from their offices because they were no longer allowed to work; could this be me one day? Sure, The Handmaid’s Tale is my favorite story, but I’m scared to reread it. Would indulging in my favorite book manifest Commanders, Eyes, Aunts, Wives and of course, the Handmaids?