Margaret Atwood is a feminist hero. But her latest comments, on #MeToo and due process, have faced a social media backlash.
From her novels to her non-fiction, Margaret Atwood has long been a champion of women’s rights, with work including The Handmaid’s Tale and The Edible Woman as relevant now as when they were first written.
But now her latest comments, in an op-ed for Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, have caused a little more controversy.
In the piece, entitled ‘Am I a bad feminist?’, Atwood questions what will happen post #MeToo. “If the legal system is bypassed because it is seen as ineffectual, what will take its place?” she writes. “Who will be the new power brokers?”.
“It won’t be the Bad Feminists like me. We are acceptable neither to Right nor to Left. In times of extremes, extremists win.”
“Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn’t puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated. Fiction writers are particularly suspect because they write about human beings, and people are morally ambiguous. The aim of ideology is to eliminate ambiguity.”
Even more controversially, Atwood describes the movement as “temporary vigilante justice” that has the potential to “morph into a culturally solidified lynch-mob habit”.
“The Cosa Nostra, for instance, began as a resistance to political tyranny,” she writes.
And her comments were not well received.
I've seen THE THINKPIECE.— Dr. Lucia Lorenzi (@empathywarrior) January 13, 2018
1. Still not a fucking witch hunt.
2. Atwood hasn't a CLUE about what dealing with assault at UBC is really like, or dealing with administration and institutional silencing even while trying to create change. Ask me how I know.
3. I'm tired.
I'd like you to try to listen as if you hadn't already been listening for 60 years, as if you hadn't heard it all, as if you don't already have all the answers, as if the answers aren't dangerous. Perhaps then, you will actually hear what we're trying to say— Erika Thorkelson (@ethorkel) January 14, 2018
Atwood has responded to some of the criticism.
“Endorsing basic human rights for everyone is not warring against women,” she wrote in response to one tweet. “In order to have rights for women you have to have rights, period. Me being a blood-drinking monster does not make that untrue.”
Taking a break from being Supreme Being Goddess, omniscient, omnipotent, and responsible for all ills. Sorry I have failed the world so far on gender equality. Maybe stop trying? Will be back later. (Next incarnation maybe.)— Margaret E. Atwood (@MargaretAtwood) January 14, 2018
Image: Rex Features