Last night I went to bed in America.
This morning I woke up in Gilead.
Gilead started in the mind of Margaret Atwood, an author who specializes in dystopian fiction. In her books The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments, Atwood imagined what would happen to the United States if it were overtaken by fundamentalists; the result was Gilead. This oppressive nation rests inside the borders of what used to be the United States of America. It’s a patriarchal society run by a caste system. Women lost control of their lives during the regime change — their jobs, their access to money, and most importantly, control over their bodies. In Gilead, most women are assigned to one of several roles: a wife, a Martha (a cook/housekeeper), or a handmaid. As handmaids, women are unwillingly sent to live with a husband and wife and each month attempt to become a surrogate for the family through a “ceremony” (i.e., rape).
I’ve dreamt about living in Gilead many times before — in the past when I watched The Handmaid’s Tale late at night or more recently as I read Atwood’s sequel, The Testaments. When I wake up, I’m always grateful that the nightmare is over and that I am safe.
I am not safe anymore.
On Sept. 1, a Texas law went into effect that makes it illegal for a woman to get an abortion starting at six weeks of pregnancy. The law does not make exceptions for the health of the woman or the baby, or for rape or incest. Additionally, it allows Americans all over the country to sue doctors, staff members at clinics, and even Uber or Lyft drivers who assist women in receiving abortions. If they win the lawsuit, these newly deputized bounty hunters can win up to $10,000 in damages for each illegal abortion they report. The Supreme Court of the United States, in a 5-4 decision, refused to block the law, making it easier for other states to write and pass similar abortion bans across the country.
Women are not safe anymore.
One of the cautionary tales of The Handmaid’s Tale is that you have to resist in the small moments. There were signs that Gilead would one day overtake the American government in the story, but many of the women (and the liberal men) missed them. We cannot miss the signs in our own reality. The Supreme Court appointments of Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett were warning signs. The Texas abortion ban is a warning sign and so is the Supreme Court’s decision to let it stand. America is not perfect, yet it is far better than the oppressive nation that right-wing America wants to create.
If we are going to save this country we have to do something that sounds counterintuitive. We have to become patriots for this country.
A patriot is defined as “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies and detractors.”
If we are going to save our nation from becoming Gilead, we have to defend it from right-wing America. We have to lean into our liberal and progressive values. We have to run for statewide offices because that is where this abortion ban was created. We have to fight for universal healthcare, voting rights, and a woman’s right to choose.
This morning we woke up in a nation hellbent on becoming Gilead. The truth is, it’s been this way since the 2016 presidential election. We’ve posted political memes, protested, and voiced our dissent, but the right-wing is still overtaking us. That stops now. As patriots we believe Women+ Control Wombs and Healthcare is a Human Right.
This is Mayday. We are the resistance. Join us.
The author wrote this article on Sept. 5, and it has been reposted, with permission and modifications from her Medium account.
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