Since Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale — a novel by Margaret Atwood — was released, Leftists have been embarrassing themselves by drawing parallels between the brutal totalitarian society of the novel and … well, basically with anything they disagree with.
Atwood’s story depicts a future Christianity-based dictatorship featuring the complete destruction of women’s rights. In reality, Christianity has zero relationship to such values. (Unintentionally, Atwood actually gave a pretty apt description of life for women in parts of the Islamic world — although in the novel, women are allowed out of the house with their faces uncovered.)
At the center of the novels is Serena Joy, a woman who is a true believer in the oppressive government’s ideology. She tries to teach other women that such degradation is really in their best interests.
So Elle’s Sady Doyle took aim at women who challenge feminist orthodoxy as if they are real-life Serena Joys, evil traitors to their gender by virtue of their thoughts.
In other words, and ironically, Sady Doyle is being a Serena Joy:
Serena Joy gives us “domestic feminism,” but the very real Christina Hoff Sommers preaches “equity feminism” while Camille Paglia endorses “pro-sex feminism” and Kellyanne Conway sees herself as a practitioner of “conservative feminism,” which — since Sommers thinks society is prejudiced against men, Paglia thinks accounts of campus rape are “wildly overblown,” and Conway works for Donald Trump — are actually all phrases that mean “not feminism.”
Nor is the appropriation confined to the word alone. Slate has reported on a whole wave of “pro-life feminists,” — young, quasi-secular, rainbow-haired anti-choice activists who rail against contraception by pinning it on “‘douchebags’ who ‘treat fertility like a disease’ by expecting their partners to be on chemical birth control.”
Like Serena Joy, who packages lessons on feminine submissiveness in empowering language — “never mistake a woman’s meekness for weakness,” runs one line — these groups know how to ape the style of social-justice arguments.
This co-option is so pervasive that modern Serena Joys can approach, disconcertingly, from the left as well as the right: She might be a “pro-life socialist” who cautions you not to prioritize “social issues” over “economics.” (They’re the same thing.) She might be Janet Robert of Democrats for Life, claiming that her anti-choice views have caused her to be victimized by the Democratic Party, and trying to rile up your feminist outrage by telling you that “abortion activists claim … that women are too weak to succeed without abortion.” Or, she might just be your female friend who accuses other women of playing “identity politics” when they complain about any of the above. Whenever a woman’s chief political praxis is destroying other women, or elevating herself by aligning with those who aim to roll back women’s progress, Serena Joy is in the room.
For those of us who understand the Left, none of this is surprising. Those who have watched feminism from the outside know that simply believing men and women should have equal rights was never the endgame for feminists. Total conformity with cultural Marxism is. You’re either a feminist or you’re somehow anti-woman.
Amusingly, Doyle writes, “Whenever a woman’s chief political praxis is destroying other women … Serena Joy is in the room,” while Doyle is literally attempting to destroy other women.
Of course, Sommers, Paglia, and Conway are out of Doyle’s league intellectually. Doyle is going to need more chops than she illustrates here with yet another banal Handmaid’s Tale analogy if she wants to challenge those enormously talented women.