Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale: A Not-so-improbable Dystopian World

Book cover of The Handmaid's Tale featuring an illustration of two women in red robes and white head coverings walking inside a walled space
Book cover of The Handmaid’s Tale

By Madison Teuscher

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian-style cautionary tale set in a radically theocratic America. The Christian fundamentalist regime, called “Gilead,” has divided women based on fertility and obedience. Handmaids are fertile women who serve as surrogate wombs for the Commanders and their aging wives. All women are completely stripped of their rights—everything from reading to purchasing power—and are sorted into classes to divide and control them. The Wives—women married to the powerful Commanders—are relegated to spending their days knitting, gardening, and waiting for their Handmaid to give birth to a child. Handmaids are completely powerless, and everywhere they go, there are Eyes—the military division of the Gilead regime—watching and waiting to kill them for any misbehavior.

One reviewer on The Verge called the story, “1984 for feminists… but a lot scarier.” This theocratic society has based its revolution on a Bible passage in the book of Genesis about Jacob’s wife, Rachel, allowing her handmaid to conceive Jacob’s child on her behalf. This passage is recited during the monthly ceremony in which the Commander attempts to impregnate the Handmaid, all under the Wife’s watchful eye. If a Handmaid cannot reproduce, she is sent to labor internment camps with the Unwomen—old and infertile women who are no longer valuable to the society. Handmaids are containers for babies, and nothing more.

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Anna Nicole Smith: Opera’s Next Diva Role

Actress Anna Nicole Smith waving on the red carpet at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards
Anna Nicole Smith at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards. Photo credit: Toby Forage, Flickr CC.

Guest post by Madison Teuscher

I was surprised when I learned that Anna Nicole Smith’s story had been turned into an opera. Smith was a celebrity most known for being a Playboy model and marrying a man 60 years older than her—I thought there was no way her story would be suited to the high-brow opera stage. However, I soon discovered that Anna’s story is perfect for opera—it is dramatic, full of conflict and disagreement, and Anna’s eccentric personality makes for a perfect starring diva. While her story may seem frivolous and silly, it actually explores much deeper topics relating to women, madness, and relationships with men of power.

The opera, titled Anna Nicole, was written in 2011 by Mark-Anthony Turnage, and the libretto (the words of the opera), was written by Richard Thomas. This dramatic tale is both emotionally hard-hitting and over-the-top and gaudy. This is certainly not an opera to bring your grandma to; it is vulgar and crass, but also full of nuance and tenderness. The premiere of the two-act opera garnered a big publicity stir. Some reviews praised it as “brilliant, dangerous, but exhilarating”, but many had harsh criticism for the opera, saying it was “lacking in real tunes and real drama and a piece of terrible garbage”. Why is the story of a stripper, Playboy model, and sex symbol so disconcerting?

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Girlfriends

By Kali Nelson

A woman with a big piece of cardboard.
My friend with a piece of cardboard.

As my time here on the blog dwindles down, I would like to write once again about a topic near and dear to my heart. Girl friendships. This post may sound a lot like a post I wrote earlier about Galantine’s day. But it is not, this time I want to focus on how sometimes the media does not know how to get a girl friendship right.

Three friends standing on a dock looking at the camera. There is a lake behind them.
My friends Brooke and Sierra and I.

The friendship between women is something else. I cannot quite encapsulate the feelings that I have for my friends, or how they have helped me in more ways than I can even count. But my girlfriends are my rocks, they are my best friends, I cannot think of life without them.  While there can be bad friendships that cause more harm than good, there are also friendships that enrich lives and make life so much better.

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Father & Mother God

Image result for god as a woman
God’s female side depicted via. whygodisawoman.com

I’ve been pondering a theological thought lately about why God is not pictured in any form as a woman. I understand that a lot of this comes from the patriarchal structure of the post-Renaissance church where the degradation of women took root in most Christian churches, but what evidence is there that God doesn’t have a feminine side, or even parts that could be considered a “mother”. If men and women were both created in the likeness of God, then there must be feministic value to the persona of God itself. For women do not come from man, but man comes from woman. Being a Christian myself, I wonder why the God of my churches is not female in any way. One of the reasons that churches deter me is because of the lack of female presence within the elders and other positions important to the church. If I, as a woman, was created in the image of God, then women must be a part of God as well.

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Walking the Line: Religion and Feminism

           By Kali Nelson

Religious themed necklaces sitting on a white background.
Some of the religious necklaces I have received.

Easter has almost come and gone and I am once again reminded that I walk a thin line between my religion and my feminism. For the last month, I have been doing a lot more thinking about how sometimes my religion and my feminist beliefs conflict. I find it hard to believe that my God loves me but also doesn’t believe that I am a second-class citizen.  Feminism and Religion have long been on separate paths but it time to see that the two can and should work together.

I would like to note that I don’t have many experiences with other religions besides the one I was raised in, which is Catholicism. I will try my best to bring in other religions and if I get something wrong please let me know.

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Cruelty-free Makeup

By: Tatiana Rodriguez

There are two things in this world that I hold near to my heart— outside of family and friends. Those two items are makeup and animals. I love stepping into Ulta and admiring the beautiful clean glow, women of all ages trying on new colors, and the store always split between drugstore and high-end products. I don’t wear it often, but I love applying it and feeling more confident in myself after.

As of recently, I have learned the term “cruelty-free makeup.” Prior to researching I had never put too much thought into how makeup was made, the standards used to put it on the market, or where it had come from. I had never thought that some of my favorite brands tested on animals before putting the product onto the market.

WARNING: POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES.

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In Her Shoes

By: Madelyn Starritt

Women’s issues are constantly battled for and against. There are fights to improve policies and situations and, often these issues are not taken seriously and pushed to the side. Things like the wage gap, the focus on a woman’s appearance instead of her knowledge, not including women in decisions and legislation about abortion rights, blaming rape victims, and so much more. These women are considered to just be whining and aren’t taken seriously. That is, until a man brings up the same issues and expresses concern. These things aren’t real or serious when a woman experiences it but once a man finds himself in these similar situations they become important. I can’t even count how many times I have said “I just said that,” because it was ignored when I brought it up but taken seriously when the words came out of a man’s mouth.

This is a problem. Not everyone feels the same way or has the same experiences. There are many people that are more and less fortunate than others. This does not mean we have the right to dismiss others problems and concerns just because we have not experienced them. That is the problem with this situation. Most men don’t experience the belittling, the misogyny, the disrespect that women do, so they don’t think women experience these things. We live in the same world so our experiences should be similar, right? No. This idea is absurd. Every person is different and has different experiences including men and women.

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