The Handsmaid’s Tale author has perfectly summed up why two of the biggest issues facing future generations have more in common than we think.
Through her written word, Margaret Atwood has become one of the most prophetic and powerful voices of our time. Her novels such as The Handsmaid’s Tale and, more recently, its sequel, The Testaments, have become core texts being wielded by a new generation of female activists. That’s thanks, in no small part, in her ability to articulate some of the most urgent and suppressing issues facing them.
And according to the author of herself, two of these issues – namely, climate change and feminism – are more interconnected than we might think at first glance. In a new interview with France24, Atwood explained how those who want to deny women their rights also tend to be the same people who want to pretend there is no climate crisis.
“The climate change movement, I think, is very important,” she told the publication, crediting climate change activists, such as Greta Thunberg, with spearheading action in this area. Atwood continued: “That and the rights of women are very connected. So the people who want to suppress women, also want to pretend there is no climate crisis. So if you suppress women, you suppress also some very strong voices about the climate crisis.”
When asked about what she thinks we need to be talking more about at the moment, Atwood did not hesitate to answer. “I’m in favour of the truth,” she said. “And by that I mean: what happened? What really happened?” She went on: “If you can establish that this event happened, then you can talk about why this event happened, who did it, was it good, was it bad, but first, you have to say it’s true.”
“Similarly, with the climate – first, it was called global warming, then it was called climate change, now it’s called climate crisis, and that’s a better name because it’s truer,” she said.
In January, Thunberg – who is widely credited with inspiring the global youth movement against climate change – was publicly belittled by a member of the Trump administration. US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested that she should study economics before she could be taken seriously, dismissing her climate concerns as ill-informed.
Thunberg responded to Mnuchin’s jibe on Twitter with a UN report showing the world’s remaining carbon budget will be used up in the next seven years, unless global emissions are urgently curbed – adding that her gap year ended in August.
Of course, the same administration has also been blamed for regressing women’s rights, including winding back their reproductive rights in some US states to disturbing levels not seen since the mid 19th century.
So in other words, as Atwood suggests, the two might be more closely linked than we think.