It is no big secret I bear no love to Margaret Atwood. I will confess too what most annoys me about her is something over which she had no or little control.
Sure, she could have done a better job of world-building in The Handmaid’s Tale, say, by researching actual Christian sects, or coming up with some idea of why Christians are behaving like Muslims, or even why there is a vast theocratic state based out of – snort, giggle – New England. Trust me, there are ways to tell the most improbable tale, but make it sound plausible with a wiggle of world building and a bit of future history. In her case, all she had to posit was the influence of Islam spreading worldwide and infecting Christianity with some of the same attitudes, as it has in other times and places, like most of the Mediterranean countries in the Middle Ages.
But what really upsets me about her is the incessant fawning over what is really rather pedestrian science fiction and all the claims of “brilliant” and “insightful” about a book where she doesn’t seem to be aware there is — or ever was — more than one Christian sect, or that inside-Christianity disagreements can often be worse than outside.
And truly, it’s not any writer’s fault if they are what I call a “darling” whom the publishing establishment has decided to gift with a ride to the top. Establishment publishing moves the way it does, and often whimsically. Except… well… they favor the left and frankly feminists.
So Margaret Atwood had that going for her, of course.
But apparently, the schtick has gone sour on her. Apparently, she’s now being called a bad feminist.
What is her crime, you ask? I’m so glad you asked.
Her crime is the same as Lena Dunham’s.
Margaret Atwood has come out in defense of someone she knows, in the face of accusations of sexual misconduct.
From the article linked above:
In November of 2016, I signed – as a matter of principle, as I have signed many petitions – an Open Letter called UBC Accountable, which calls for holding the University of British Columbia accountable for its failed process in its treatment of one of its former employees, Steven Galloway, the former chair of the department of creative writing, as well as its treatment of those who became ancillary complainants in the case. Specifically, several years ago, the university went public in national media before there was an inquiry, and even before the accused was allowed to know the details of the accusation. Before he could find them out, he had to sign a confidentiality agreement. The public – including me – was left with the impression that this man was a violent serial rapist, and everyone was free to attack him publicly, since under the agreement he had signed, he couldn’t say anything to defend himself. A barrage of invective followed.
But then, after an inquiry by a judge that went on for months, with multiple witnesses and interviews, the judge said there had been no sexual assault, according to a statement released by Mr. Galloway through his lawyer. The employee got fired anyway. Everyone was surprised, including me. His faculty association launched a grievance, which is continuing, and until it is over, the public still cannot have access to the judge’s report or her reasoning from the evidence presented. The not-guilty verdict displeased some people. They continued to attack. It was at this point that details of UBC’s flawed process began to circulate, and the UBC Accountable letter came into being.
A fair-minded person would now withhold judgment as to guilt until the report and the evidence are available for us to see. We are grownups: We can make up our own minds, one way or the other. The signatories of the UBC Accountable letter have always taken this position. My critics have not, because they have already made up their minds. Are these Good Feminists fair-minded people?
So, Ms. Atwood has now found out that many of her fellow travelers aren’t fair-minded? Aren’t willing to give others a fair shake?
I guess the illustrious author has never bothered to read history and failed to realize that revolutions and leftist revolutions in particular always eat their leaders first.
She has spent all these years inciting and encouraging the delusions of those who think that women are the eternal victim class and every male is a mustache-twisting villain, and now she wants these same women to give a man a fair trial?
Dear lady, you can’t hunt with the hounds and run with the hare.
At the same time, even now, even when she’s realized that her comrades will not only ignore fair-mindedness and legality but also turn on her like a pack of rabid minks, Atwood clings tight to her illusions about the US and US politics.
Take these choice quotes:
Nor do I believe that women are children, incapable of agency or of making moral decisions. If they were, we’re back to the 19th century, and women should not own property, have credit cards, have access to higher education, control their own reproduction or vote. There are powerful groups in North America pushing this agenda, but they are not usually considered feminists.
There are? I realize you are a senior citizen, but you don’t show overt signs of dementia, so I presume you will be able to point out a single, major force in American politics wanting to strip women of the right to own property or the right to vote or even the right to contraceptives. (Not wanting to pay for contraceptives is not the same as wanting to ban them.) Powerful groups? Dear lady, Bob and Joe shooting the sh*t in a bar on Friday night aren’t a powerful group. And if you’re not senile, you know you’re lying with every tooth in your mouth.
There are, at present, three kinds of “witch” language. 1) Calling someone a witch, as applied lavishly to Hillary Clinton during the recent election.
I’ll blame the fact that you’re Canadian and our accent might confuse you a bit. I hang out with mostly Hillary-Haters, and while I confess she might have been called a witch once or twice and I didn’t notice, most of the time what we called her was a similar word starting with a b, which none of us who have heard the woman speak can fail to agree with.
I know that among feminists witches, like women, have the hallowed status of permanent victims, and therefore a larger than life footprint, the rest of us don’t much think in terms of witches and broomsticks unless Halloween is approaching.
The #MeToo moment is a symptom of a broken legal system. All too frequently, women and other sexual-abuse complainants couldn’t get a fair hearing through institutions – including corporate structures – so they used a new tool: the internet. Stars fell from the skies. This has been very effective, and has been seen as a massive wake-up call. But what next? The legal system can be fixed, or our society could dispose of it. Institutions, corporations and workplaces can houseclean, or they can expect more stars to fall, and also a lot of asteroids.
Again, if you are not senile, and not stupid, you know that you are speaking mostly nonsense. In the US rape cases are investigated and swiftly and in corporate structures women get more than a fair hearing. In fact, as you mention in other parts of this article, they often get believed in the absence of proof, or men get fired in the face of incontrovertible proof of innocence.
The other is a fairytale you tell yourself, Ms. Atwood, just like you tell yourself that both the left and right have engaged in revolutionary terror. Name one right wing – in the US sense – instance of terror, Ms. Atwood. Just one.
Or continue lying to yourself and others, and simultaneously trying to incite the mob and stand at the front of it as the voice of reason, as they come for you.
And come for you they will, Ms. Atwood, because permanent victims need permanent villains. And the only way to stay safe in the terror is to denounce others.
Madame Guillotine, she’s always hungry. For now, it is metaphorical. But if you keep inciting people and feeding their delusions of being victims when they are – objectively – in power, it might turn real and devour you.
Frankly, none of us cares much if it does. Just desserts are just desserts.
But we fear the disruption of society afterward and the backlash which could make your worst nightmares come true.
Or you can wake up, and face the fact that your entire life has been a wicked lie. But you’d better hurry. I hear knives and forks being sharpened.