Posted by: ritagone | September 5, 2018




I’ve been reading one of the “hot” recommended new novels in the last few days, called “Vox,” by Christina Dalcher.  Very similar to the plot-line of “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, it’s a dystopian setting in the United States (of course) where women have been given bracelets or “counters” to limit their number of words to 100 a day, and shocked severely should they over-step that count.  They are no longer allowed to work, Scripture regarding their role in the home as subservient to their husbands (and male children) is everywhere for them to read (although of course they cannot read the Bible for themselves), and on and on it goes, with restrictions and limitations imposed by a government that claims to be making America moral again.

As always, Christianity is the culprit, or rather, the misinterpretation and abuse of Christianity.  But it’s easier for Jesus and His followers to be branded as the enemy than it is to present a healthy, understandable argument for what went wrong in America, land of the free, home of the brave.  Instead, we have seen the enemy, and it is the Bible and God, those who thump it, and anyone who believes that there’s a God up there who pronounces stuff we don’t like or believe in.

And of course for women these days, it’s mostly the men who are behind it, behind every evil being committed.  In Margaret Atwood’s book, written over 30 years ago, there were good men who had not been turned by the political power that believing “the right way” would bring them.  Men who would risk their lives to help a lady in distress.  So far I haven’t discovered a man like that in Dalcher’s novel, only sexual partners, which, by the way, amazes me, since I’d have thought that by now women would have turned completely away from men in that arena too and become total lesbians.  But no, heterosexual sex still sells novels, I guess, so there it is, an affair with a man who was nicer to her than her husband and oldest son were.  Wouldn’t you know it?

Anyway, the contradictions in this novel abound, I must say, as I read it, and I see them in other dystopian works both in writing and on the screen.  It’s as if the female writers can’t seem to condemn outright their male characters and just be done with it; they want desperately to find something redeeming in them after all.  (This is better than my cynical side that tells me that heterosexual sex still sells novels, as I said before, so you need a few nice men with whom the female heroines still want to have sexual adventures.)

I’m plowing through it, not because I’m loving it, but because I’m a bit OCD about finishing a book that I’ve started reading.  I keep bumping into the similiarities between this book and “The Handmaid’s Tale” and wondering, “Am I the only one who feels that it’s so similar as to be just this side of plagarism?”  Doesn’t anyone want to say that?  Is there a silent conspiracy because someone doesn’t want to use up her 100 words?

Okay.  I’m getting silly.

Could something like what this book promotes – or what “The Handmaid’s Tale” so vividly described – really happen in the U.S.?  I used to think not, but then again, other societies and cultures have said emphatically no and then watched helplessly as it happened.  And things being as they are, nothing is impossible.  Nothing would surprise me anymore.

But I do hope that at least we’ll keep our contradictions to a minimum as we slouch toward our doom.  That was meant to be sarcastic.  If we’re really on our way to purgatory, contradictions will truly be the least of our worries.

Lots to think about.


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