Recently a colleague put this piece about the importance of Margaret Atwood and the connections to the Christian narrative in her work (despite Atwood’s expressed efforts to eschew herself from the Christian narrative).
A while back, I helped an involved mom work with her daughter’s teacher regarding The Handmaid’s Tale. I’ve since added a link connecting that post to the Atwood article, so I thought this is a good time to revisit the post on today’s Flashback Friday.
Do YOU know what’s on your children’s reading list?
WELL DONE! for reading the novel for yourself. I wish more (Christian) parents, youth leaders, etc. were so thoughtfully involved. Your having read it also prepares you to go through the novel with your daughter—should no alternative be possible—perhaps even helping her skip over the highly graphic and explicit sections of text.
I would be sure to talk about the reasons why you understand the book is on the list to establish common ground and to affirm that you are objecting to the book and not attacking the teacher or questioning his/her competence:
- The Handmaid’s Tale is an important addition from feminist scholarship to the dystopian genre. (Check out this excellent article on the importance of Atwood’s work from a Christian perspective over at bethinking.org.)
- It raises legitimate, even if somewhat alarmist, questions and concerns about the extremism (of the anti-feminists) of the Religious Right in the 1980s.
- It is important to discuss, as this book does, the sexual objectification of women, including the fact that society largely blames women when they are ogled, molested, raped.
Once you’ve established some common ground in an effort to assure the teacher you are on his/her side, then talk about the sexual explicitness and how extreme it is compared to the other books in the curriculum. Talk about how it’s important for high school students to begin dealing with adult content, but not at this extreme/graphic level. Certainly there are alternatives.