Book review: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood

You have three chances. Three chances to produce non-shredder babies after you have been with the Commander and his wife. Three chances that will save you from going to the colonies to join the Unwomen. And don’t even try to be with another man – the Winged Eye is watching you.

Have you been at the Wall today? They hung three more people. One was an abortion doctor in the time before, the other was a priest.

They hung a woman too. Maybe she wrote or read something. Women are not allowed to do that anymore. Her shoes were red. She was a Handmaid, just like you.

In her dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood creates an America that has been taken over by a religiously fundamental group. They now has control over “Gilead,” the former United States. The radical regime enforced a new social structure in which men rule over women.

But Atwood’s book is not about the oppression of women; it is a book about power and how to control people.

One aspect of the book that really creeps me out is the constant surveillance of the characters. It’s not exactly Big Brother, but everybody is watching you.

Atwood wrote the fiction novel, predicting a terrible future in which people are permanently observed, in 1985. Now, in 2012, we live in a world in which we are under constant surveillance.

Don’t believe me? Well, then think of an average day in your life.

You wake up and go to class, where you’re watched and you watch others. At home (or in class, perhaps I watched you) you go online and check your email. You may or may not know that your email provider and the government can have access to your emails.

Now you’re not only watched – you’re also read.

Next you go on to check the new Facebook statuses of your friends. You certainly know at least one person (if it’s not yourself) whose Facebook account has been disabled for whatever reason. I just wonder how this could work without constant surveillance.

Last but not least: Google’s new privacy changes. If you are a Google user you will have an individual profile from the beginning of March with information about your sex, your age, what you like to Google, your phone number and more.

So the next time you ask yourself, “Who am I?” why not ask Google? The leading search engine will know.

So who really is living in a dystopia now?

Check out your Google profile at www.google.com/settings/ads/onweb.

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