Sunday Reads: Of Cannibals and Handmaids

Good Afternoon

As I write this post I am watching the Hulu presentation of The Handmaid’s Tale…for the third time. I’ve wanted to write about this series, but the situation of late has been so depressing that watching hours of a possible futuristic society for our daughters…has not been high on my list of priorities.

I’ve read the book, ages ago. So long in fact, that I can’t remember much of the specifics. Certain things stick of course…but several changes have been made to transition the book to the screen.

Five ways the new Handmaid’s Tale TV series differs from the book

When Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985, she gave the world a dystopian masterpiece: the story of a woman named Offred who’s only purpose in the theocratic Republic of Gilead is to get pregnant and be a surrogate for her new owners. The book is back in vogue in a big way, thanks to a certain U.S. president (his name rhymes with Grump) and a new TV adaptation that premieres in Canada this Sunday. Here, aspiring Atwood aficionados, we pinpoint five major ways that the two-hour premiere differs from the novel. Spoilers ahead—obviously.

Be sure to go and read the other changes but I wanted to point these out:

Ofglen gets fleshed out

ON PAGE: Little is known about Ofglen, the Handmaid assigned to accompany Offred on all her errands (Handmaids always walk two by two). Still, she becomes a compelling character as a member of Mayday, the covert resistance against Gilead, whose survival instincts and knowledge help Offred. Eventually, Ofglen is discovered as a member of Mayday, and she hangs herself rather than enduring Gilead’s torture.

ON SCREEN: Alexis Bledel’ Ofglen gets a meatier storyline, which gives ol’ Rory Gilmore a chance to shine—she displays a surprising mastery of delivering subtext through little more than meaningful glances. The added information is both excellent and deeply sad. Ofglen tells Offred that she used to be a college professor, and that she recently attempted to escape to Canada with her partner. In the show, Ofglen is gay, which is forbidden. It adds an extra layer of horror when she is caught by The Eyes, Gilead’s secret police.

Handmaids once used Tinder

ON PAGE: Atwood provides very few details that hint at when The Handmaid’s Tale takes place or how long it has been since the U.S. dissolved into Gilead. This makes Gilead an eternal threat: the revolution could happen any time.

ON SCREEN: Flashbacks feature Uber, Tinder and artisanal coffee shops, making it far easier to situate Gilead in the modern era—perhaps just a few years from now. The Eyes also have earpieces and sharp black cars, instead of the horses and truncheons they use in the book. It’s an astute change: it’s a lot more terrifying for audiences to imagine Offred being taken out of today’s world than the distant past.

 

I do think that bringing it up to present day makes it more immediate…in that sense of desperation. That this sort of life is something that could happen just around the corner.

Television Review: “The Handmaid’s Tale” — Not a Documentary…Yet » The Arts Fuse

Margaret Atwood’s novel turns out to have been far more clairvoyant than even she believed it would be.

The much-anticipated Hulu series based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel from 1985 does not disappoint expectations; in fact, it delivers an aptly horrifying and prescient treatment of the story’s increased relevance. You see, for women, the personal is the political, and vice versa. I was reminded of this while recently re-viewing the excellent documentary She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, which chronicles the birth of the women’s movement of the late 1960s. In recent months, American women have seen  rising complacency about sexist behavior as well as the normalizing of misogynist rhetoric. There is also a threat to our hard-won reproductive rights. The chatter around this new series has been enlivened by its eerily-accurate reflection of our present situation, which may yet escalate into a future not unlike the one depicted in this television adaptation.

Atwood’s novel was published to rave reviews and devoured by feminists, science fiction fans, and curious readers around the world. In the Republic of Gilead, in the not too distant future, women have lost all rights to their bodies, their reproductive autonomy, their livelihoods, and even their names. Atwood’s novel is narrated in the first person by Offred, a young woman whose name at first seems a comment on the bright red robes — flamboyant yet puritanical — that she and others like her are forced to wear. We soon realize women are referred to by the names of their fathers: “Ofglen” or “Ofwarren.” They have no jobs, are not allowed to own property, read books, or watch television. And oh, by the way, the young fertile ones are forced to bear children for complete strangers.

The review discusses an overview of the first episode of the series, but this is what I want to cut to:

One reason The Handmaid’s Tale (written by Bruce Miller, who also co-produced sci-fi series The 4400 and The 100 and is working on Jenji Kohan’s new series about the Salem Witch Trials, The Devil You Know) resonates strongly today is that the flashback scenes (memories of the world referred to as “Before”) take place in what looks very much like the present day: hip hop music plays on iPods, cafes serve complicated low-fat coffee drinks, an intimidating military presence makes use of semi-automatic rifles and wears black knit hats in the mode of Colorado hipsters, people buy used Volvos on craigslist. But there are differences: fascism is approaching, but the characters can’t quite believe it is taking place. When anger builds and there are marches and demonstrations, the police/military (there’s no real separation between the two anymore and, if you doubt this, see the recent documentary Do Not Resist) shoot unarmed protesters with impunity. Women are finally rounded up and reassigned according to their utility: as domestic servants (Marthas) or incubators (Handmaids). Known lesbians may be punished with “mercy” or “redemption”—I won’t spoil a particularly moving and harrowing scene by explaining those euphemisms further.

This article also brings up a change in the series from the book that is also of note:

The Handmaid’s duty is completed via bizarre ceremonies and rituals that center on impregnation and birth; the arrangement is strange, intimate, and humiliating for all involved. The overarching purpose is to  serve God; but religion is an oddly cold and distant presence here. Offred is frequently heard speaking to God for help; but the constant anachronistic phrases uttered by the denizens of Gilead (“blessed be the fruit,” or “go with grace” or “praise be,” or even “under His eye,” which also refers to the “eyes” of surveillance) ring hollow given the violence and tyranny that govern America’s hypocritical culture. Those who managed to escape to Canada when things started changing are the lucky ones. In Atwood’s novel, Japanese tourists come to gawk at the strangely dressed and morally backwards citizens of Gilead. In one of several bold —  but intriguing — changes to Atwood’s work, this society is a multi-cultural one. June and Luke have an interracial marriage, white June’s best friend Moira is African-American. In the 1985 novel, the new regime “rounded up” people of color and relocated them to Midwest camps.

I wondered if the change from Atwood’s novel could have been more powerfully done. After all, racist policies are currently being directed towards American immigrants; it would make sense that Gilead’s brand of authoritarianism would attempt to control to all expressions of the Other, not just women. Still, there are examples of  the indignity of social rank, based on socioeconomic and class status. The handsome driver who works for Offred’s “Commander” is of “such low status” that he has not yet been “assigned a woman.” Meanwhile, the treatment of the people who protest the government — men, women, young, old, every race imaginable — is egalitarian. The spray of bullets that sends them fleeing for cover is remarkably democratic in its range and efficacy. As Offred says, “There will be no mercies for members of the resistance.”

Review: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a terrifying story of a future that looks like the past | The Seattle Times

Yet the most terrifying parts of “The Handmaid’s Tale” are the flashbacks, to a time very much like ours.

Before the coup, Offred has freedom, a job, Uber. Then things start to change — little things. Women are having trouble conceiving. The government becomes more reactionary. One day, a coffee shop clerk, unprovoked, calls her and her best friend, Moira (Samira Wiley), “sluts.”

Something primal and angry is awakening. Some people are exhilarated: Finally, they can say what’s on their minds, without the PC thought police cracking down! The show is also attentive to how progressive men can back-burner the concerns of women. Offred’s husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), for instance, is convinced that the craziness is bound to blow over.

It doesn’t. An intermediate layer of flashbacks finds Offred, Moira and a class of future handmaids at a re-education center being indoctrinated, with homilies and a cattle prod, by Aunt Lydia (a coolly imperious Ann Dowd). “This may not seem ordinary to you right now,” she tells them. “But after a time it will.”

The line is terrifying because it rings so true. You may not believe that anyone, in real life, is actually Making America Gilead Again. But this urgent “Handmaid’s Tale” is not about prophecy. It’s about process, the way people will themselves to believe the abnormal is normal, until one day they look around and realize that these are the bad old days.

And I think that scene in the coffee shop is one of the most disturbing, for me…because it is something that we are seeing nowadays…with more and more frequency.

THE HANDMAID’S TALE Recap: (S01E03) Late – Geek Girl Authority

Offred thinks, “Now I’m awake to the world. I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen. When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists, and suspended the Constitution, we didn’t wake up then either.” Yowza. Dystopian nightmare fulfilled.

[…]

Flashback to June and Moira jogging in the city, earbuds in, as Peaches‘, F**k The Pain Away plays. Seems like a normal enough thing, but when they jog by a woman on the street, she looks them up and down and gives them the dirtiest look. And I realize, mmm no, all is not well.

At a coffee shop, a mouthy little jerk of a cashier, harasses Moira and June after June’s credit card is declined for insufficient funds, which makes no sense to her since she just deposited her paycheck. He calls them “f*cking sluts.” And then tells them to “Get the f*ck out of here.” So I guess this is the moment when the “it” that happened starts to happen. Clearly, this dude’s feeling himself with a dose of extra strength straight-white-male-privilege.

And what is worse, that behavior is something that is not being called out, rather it is being egged on by a population led by the “Grab your pussy” President and elected officials…(I’m including the asshole Sanders in that mix as well.)

 

Image below is a still from the coffee shop scene.

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Ep 3, with my personal and professional hero Samira Wiley. The strength and presence this woman has on screen and off is a thing to behold and respect. It's my privilege to work with her and call her my friend. 👊🏻@whododatlikedat #HandmaidsTale

A post shared by Elisabeth Moss (@elisabethmossofficial) on

 

The Handmaid’s Tale TV Show Review – Hulu’s Adaptation Is the Feminist Horror Story We Need

In Trump’s America, everything is political, and all of pop culture becomes commentary, whether it wants to be or not. From the beginning of 2017, TV shows from Scandal to The Young Pope to Big Little Lies have been mined for insights about our new political reality, despite having been written and filmed well before the election. But you won’t see a more timely or essential onscreen story this year than Hulu’s extraordinary rendering of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, reimagined as a fundamentalist nightmare for the Mike Pence era.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: The Most Important Show of 2017

Full disclosure up front: my experience with The Handmaid’s Tale extends to the three episodes made available for review. We’ll have plenty of coverage for those familiar with the book here at Pajiba over the upcoming weeks, but I think a show should stand on its own, regardless of source material. If you have to have read the book/seen the movie/followed the Instagram account in order to fully understand the television adaptation, then that adaptation has failed. It undoubtedly means certain scenes, certain interactions, and certain imagery in those episodes will resonate differently for those who have read Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel. But absolutely no power was lost upon this particularly newbie to this dystopian world.

If I could sum up the overwhelming subtext of this show, it would be this: “We are not doing nearly enough to prevent this from actually happening.” The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t take place in a future far removed from ours, and at times feels as if set tomorrow. This is a show that suggests The Women’s March on Washington this past January was a cute digression on the path towards the inevitable subjugation of women, a path forged by men via nuclear fire in order to clear the path for a return to a more “civilized” time. This isn’t a show in which the right side initially wins: Ideological purity trumps the concept of compromise little by little, until the ground falls out completely beneath those that had no idea just how rocky the terrain had become.

I use the verb “trump” there intentionally, because it’s absolutely, positively impossible to not view The Handmaid’s Tale through the lens of the last year. There’s a scene early in the third episode in which a barista, newly emboldened by the government’s increasingly sexist legislation in the days before the shit truly hits the fan, feels free to call two women who have just gone for a run “sluts.” They aren’t wearing anything particularly revealing: They are in what one might consider “normal” workout clothes, but they do show a bit of skin, and that skin is glistening with sweat, and that’s enough at this point in the narrative’s timeline for that to be the new benchmark. The word “slut” is uttered as much in relief as in hatred, as if this person has been holding it in for decades and feels happy to finally say it. It’s not hard to link this scene with the rise of those emboldened by Trump’s victory to overtly and publicly say things meant to demean other races, sexualities, cultures, customs, and anything that doesn’t look the same when viewed in the mirror.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale – in pictures | Books | The Guardian

Interview with Atwood:

The Handmaid’s Tale: Margaret Atwood on season 2, relevance

Things like this are creepy to read about:

12 Facts About “The Handmaid’s Tale” That Will Make You Say “Holy Shit”

There’s a women’s march that occurs in The Handmaid’s Tale, which was filmed before Donald Trump was elected president and well before the actual Women’s March on Washington.

Image above is a sketch by Margaret Atwood.

Just a few more links on the series:

The Handmaid’s Tale: The Hidden Meaning in Those Eerie Costumes | Vanity Fair

Review: ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ is a wake-up call for women

The ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Soundtrack Is An Expression Of Freedom & Empowerment

The Secrets From Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Set Revealed | Hollywood Reporter

‘Handmaid’s Tale’: Shocking Death, Rape, Mutilation Explained | Hollywood Reporter

The Handmaid’s Tale is timely. But that’s not why it’s so terrifying | Jessica Valenti | Opinion | The Guardian

The Handmaid’s Tale and Reproductive Rights | POPSUGAR News

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: The Biggest Changes From the Book

Found on Facebook:

this hateful anti-choice group was on my campus this week basically yelling that everyone who didn’t agree with their message was going to hell. this was one of there signs they were holding. I found it hilarious, and thought I’d share if any of you guys needed a laugh. — at Santa Rosa Junior College.

 

Some real links from real events…

Donald Trump Just Took a Weird Shot at Nikki Haley | Vanity Fair

Yeah, just to tie into the whole patriarchal thing….and threats.

“I want to thank Ambassador Nikki Haley for her outstanding leadership and for acting as my personal envoy on the Security Council. She is doing a good job. Now, does everybody like Nikki?” Trump said, according to reporters present at the White House event. “Otherwise she could be easily replaced, right? No, we won’t do that. I promise you we won’t do that. She’s doing a fantastic job.”

That fucker.

Donald Trump will abolish women’s right to abortion, warns expert US doctor | The Independent

‘It was criminal once before, and it is their intent to make it criminal again,’ says Dr Willie Parker

If abortions become illegal, here’s how the government will prosecute women who have them – The Washington Post

How Trump Has Threatened Women and Families in His First 100 Days – NWLC

First 100 Days Reveal Trump’s Anti-Woman, Anti-Rights Administration | The Huffington Post

Trump Brought the War on Women Mainstream in His First 100 Days | Mother Jones

Want to survive another 100 days of Trump? Don’t get complacent – The Globe and Mail

 

More proof that legislators are not far off the mark from the leaders of a Handmaid society…

Reddit’s “Red Pill” Forum Was Created by a GOP Lawmaker | The Mary Sue

Guess Who Founded Reddit’s ‘The Red Pill’? That’s Right, A Republican Representative!

Rep. Robert Fisher Will “Stand Strong for Men’s Rights” | Time.com

And a few more disgusting shit stories for good measure:

Lawyer for accused rapist tells 11 female jurors women are ‘weaker sex,’ ‘especially good at lying’

A disturbing sex trend called ‘stealthing’ is on the rise

Hospitals Didn’t Give Rape Victims Emergency Contraception | Teen Vogue

We bring you now the “Women are Objects” section of the thread:

(Er…the whole damn post is women are objects.)

That video is just plain disturbing on so many levels. Especially the freaky dude saying the sex dolls will cut down on rape and assault. WTF?

And as if all this wasn’t depressing enough:

Female Dragonflies Fake Death to Avoid Males Harassing Them for Sex

In order to avoid males of the species bothering them for sex, female dragonflies fake their own deaths, falling from the sky and lying motionless on the ground until the suitor goes away.

A study by Rassim Khelifa, a zoologist from the University of Zurich is the first time scientists have seen odonates feign death as a tactic to avoid mating, and a rare instance of animals faking their own deaths for this purpose. Odonates is the order of carnivorous insects that includes dragonflies and damselflies.

In other sad news this week…we lost one of our best directors in film.

Jonathan Demme Dead: ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Director Was 73 | Variety

Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme died Wednesday in New York of cancer complications, his publicist told Variety. He was 73 years old.

Demme is best known for directing “The Silence of the Lambs,” the 1991 horror-thriller that was a box office smash, a critical triumph, and introduced moviegoers to Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter, a charismatic serial with a yen for chianti, fava beans, and cannibalism. The story of a novice FBI analyst (Jodie Foster) on the trail of a murderer became only the third film in history to win Academy Awards in all the top five categories ( picture, actor, actress, director, and adapted screenplay), joining the ranks of “It Happened One Night” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Though he had his greatest success terrifying audiences, most of Demme’s work was looser and quirkier. In particular, he showed a great humanism and an empathy for outsiders in the likes of “Melvin and Howard,” the story of a service station owner who claimed to have been a beneficiary of Howard Hughes, and “Something Wild,” a screwball comedy about a banker whose life is turned upside down by a kooky woman. He also scored with “Married to the Mob” and oversaw “Stop Making Sense,” a documentary about the Talking Heads that is considered to be a seminal concert film.

I loved Married to the Mob…it is one of my favorite films.

Jonathan Demme: Remembering Cinema’s Contagious Enthusiast

Jonathan Demme, one of the American cinema’s finest, most insistently humanist directors, has died at the absurdly young age of 73, from complications of throat cancer and heart disease.

It’s hard to imagine New York or the world or the movies without Demme in the house. How do you eulogize someone whose overriding aspect is aliveness?

I guess you start by simply naming some of his wonderful movies, in chronological order: Caged Heat, Handle With Care, Melvin and Howard, Swing Shift, Stop Making Sense, Something Wild, Married to the Mob, The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Beloved, Rachel Getting Married, Neil Young: Heart of Gold, A Master Builder … Those are my favorites, but many of the others are vital, too — Swimming to Cambodia, Cousin Bobby, his Haitian documentaries, his brave and urgent remake of The Manchurian Candidate, his patchy but exuberant Ricki and the Flash

In 2002, I wrote an article about Demme for the New York Times in connection with his loose remake of Charade, The Truth About Charlie — a difficult piece because the movie was plainly a dud. It was, however, a generous and overflowing dud, and an excellent prism through which to view the man the Times’ headline writer called “the Happy Hipster of Film.” For one thing, Demme’s camera was always swerving off the main actors to catch street performers or passersby or people he knew.

“There seem to be no extras,” I wrote, “only characters from movies yet to be made … Mr. Demme tries to cram in the maximum amount of life per square inch of movie screen.” (The “Mr.” thing is Times style and is reproduced accordingly.)

“Other faces that show up in Mr. Demme’s films are from his vast circle of acquaintances, business associates and creative influences – so that watching his movies is like looking through a scrapbook of his life. In The Truth About Charlie, Mr. Demme not only salutes Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player (1960) with an excerpt; he brings in its star, Charles Aznavour, to serenade the lovers.

Read that link in full…it has some good parts.

I know that I only focus on that one scene in the coffee shop. There are many other that spoke to me, as I am sure there are scenes that spoke to you. (The Salvaging being one of them.) But I thought it best not to go too fully into the series. I do think it is something that people need to see.

Even if the ones who truly need to realize the situation, and are the ones who would get the most out of the show’s message…still do not get their eyes open by the end of the third episode.

Yeah, from my experience…with my husband at least, he does not think a handmaid society is anywhere near within reach. Like the husband “Luke” in the show, who is a patronizing ass…he is completely complacent to the warning signs that seem to blare like the sirens and explosions that go on around him.

But it is all there folks. And what the fuck are we going to do, I don’t know how to get this message to the “Guardians” among us. Do you?

That is my offering today. It is depressing I know…but it is an open thread.

 

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30 Comments on “Sunday Reads: Of Cannibals and Handmaids”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    Late again. I’ve got to insert the pictures and fix formatting but..here it is.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Is Hulu expensive?

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      I think it is 8 bucks a month. Worth it for us, we don’t have the ability to get satellite service…so it is a gawdsend.
      I think you can sign up for a trial and see how it goes. At least you could watch the few episodes they have…the forth one streams on Wed.

      • bostonboomer says:

        OK, thanks. It looks like they have a one month trial.

        • Minkoff Minx says:

          I would try it BB, they have other shows too, and for us it works because after the real time shows air on the networks, they stream on the hulu without commercials. so Dan can watch all his shitty shows (what I call them) when he wants to…

    • Pilgrim says:

      I use hulu through public library….free.

      • Pilgrim says:

        i.e. download the movies to my iPad, or to desktop, do it from my home. I imagine most libraries now have these capabilities. Between books, movies, cd’s, and other services like magazines online, I make very good use of the library, an important part of my life

  3. NW Luna says:

    I remember reading The Handmaid’s Tale. So well do I remember that considering what’s going on now in real life I’m not sure I want to put myself through watching a film adaptation. Good that it’s out there — I hope it will wake up more people. Thanks for writing about it, JJ. You pulled together a lot of material and images.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      I was 15 when I read the novel Luna. I really don’t remember much. That was such a bad time for me personally, going through a rape myself around the same time and dealing with sexual assault, I probably was blocking a lot of my emotional issues along with a majority of the book. I do remember the racial overtones. (To put it mildly.) And if I’m no getting confused…I thought that some of the Handmaids had their tongues cut out. So they could not talk. I don’t know if that is what the show was hinting at with the Ofglen/Emily character.

      I also feel that there was a overkill on the gay/lesbian thing. (I will probably get a few cracks about that.) But it was way too much a part of the persecution part of the story. They only touch on the rape issues. There is only the one scene with the salvage. Ironic how the regime sees rape of a Handmaids compared to state sanctioned rape and compared earlier to another scene when a bunch of Handmaids mush slut shame a fellow woman Handmaid as she describes her past brutal gang rape. I don’t know. It just seems like there was other ways to work through some stuff.

      • NW Luna says:

        I can’t say I remember all the details, but enough that I don’t want to put myself through reading it again because it’s too real for me. I could and can easily see how it could happen IRL. Just look at all the racial hate and women hate which is practiced openly now. Certainly having one’s tongue cut out has been a punishment in some cultures in the past — and it usually happened to women. I don’t recall the book having slut-shame incidences. Nor emphasis on lesbian relationships. And blocking emotional reaction can be protective to keep us from falling apart.

        • Minkoff Minx says:

          Oh yeah Luna, I would not be able to read it again. As for watching it, I put it off, but saw it by myself and then with my mom. And with my daughter. Those second and third time I was being very critical of it…and could bring up a lot of problems I had with the show. But overall I thought it hit home on key aspects.

          • NW Luna says:

            Glad you were with another woman for a couple of those times you viewed it. I’m certainly going to urge people to see it if they haven’t read the book.

    • jane says:

      I watched the movie years ago and they seem to have covered a lot of the book, just very subtly. I remember thinking that the ruling idiots reminded me of the anti choice republicans of the time. Anti- women’s lib and all of that was there in the 1980s, it has just gotten more vocal and now many republicans who are elected seem to be characters from the book. Phyllis Schlafly reminded me of the Serena Joy character. It also reminds me of the history books about the rise of the Nazis that were much more prevalent in the 60s and 70s. In school we studied brainwashing, as that was considered a tool of Soviet Russia and the Nazis used that and peer pressure tactics to rise to power. Boy, is that all coming back with a bad taste in my mouth.

  4. NW Luna says:

    Good tho brief article on how healthcare should be more than just clinic visits and hospital care.

    But even if high blood pressure may sit atop the list of problems I write out, from his or her perspective it may not crack the top five. Food security, job stability, child care and affordable housing understandably feel more urgent. Time and again, I have learned that taking care of my patients starts by trying to walk a mile in their shoes.
    ….
    Dr. Mary Bassett, the health commissioner of New York City, has spoken plainly about this: “We must explicitly and unapologetically name racism in our work to protect and promote health…We must deepen our analysis of racial oppression, which means remembering some uncomfortable truths about our shared history.” In the same vein, new immigration policies may have a chilling effect on the willingness of people like Elsa to see a doctor, if they perceive negative repercussions for themselves or their families.

    Many patients with the greatest unmet needs are therefore marginalized, with only glancing interactions with the health system – or none at all, in the most wrenching cases of suicide, drug overdose and other chronic illnesses that end in catastrophe. When they do seek care, it is sporadic. They may show up in the ER, but not to a primary care follow-up appointment. If an ensuing phone call goes unanswered, or their phone is out of service, we label them as “lost to follow-up” and move on to the next patient on the list. …

    Doing better by these patients … means bringing more of a public health mindset to health care; that is, not reflexively restricting our purview to those who happen to cross our clinic’s threshold. …

    In one recent example, the 54 branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia were shown to be vital community nodes for health-related services like literacy programs, healthy eating initiatives, job fairs and food preparation courses. Public libraries are particular safe havens for those experiencing mental illness, substance use disorders and homelessness – as well as youth and recent immigrants. We should consider how the these locations are therefore already a part of our health ecosystem.

    https://www.statnews.com/2017/04/29/the-patients-we-do-not-see/

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Trump has truly gone beyond the pale for me. He invited the dictator of the Philippines to visit the White House! Of course there’s a Trump tower there. Not even his advisers knew he was going to do it. I’m crying reading this article.

    Trump’s ‘Very Friendly’ Talk With Duterte Stuns Aides and Critics Alike

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Trump Invites Philippine President Who’s Murdering People in the Street to the White House

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/04/30/trump_invites_philippine_president_duterte_to_the_white_house.html

  7. quixote says:

    It all goes back to the basic question whether women are seen as people or cattle.

    If people, they get to control their own bodies. Nobody can requisition a kidney from someone in the street who happens to be a tissue match. Even if it will save an actual adult human life. That’s how it works if you’re an actual human being.

    So on a basic level, our society is on the Handmaid spectrum, not something else. Women are only sort-of-people.I think that’s a large part of why it’s so easy to feel what more loss of humanity would mean. Because we’re already part way there.

    And like William Gibson said, the future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed. Women are already forced to be surrogates for richer people. India has an entire surrogate industry for customers who can afford it. The only reason it doesn’t *feel* like the Handmaid’s Tale is that it’s geographically distant and the force used is starvation.

    Another thing that gets me is this shit: “Handmaid’s Tale’ is a wake-up call for women.” Hello? It’s a wakeup call for EVERYBODY. Do men want to live in a world of slaves? They’re not doing so great either in that future. And then there’s a real issue whether suffering harm or doing it is worse for you. The women will suffer. The men will be walking dead. It’s a wakeup call for everybody.

    The dividing point, the thing that determines whether we travel down the Handmaid spectrum or not, is whether we (individuals, majorities, the whole society) start to treat women as real people. Anyone who objects to any part of that, point them to the road they seem to want, the Handmaids.

    /*sheesh. Sorry about that tablethumping rant. this stuff gets me really wound up. It’s all been crystal clear to me for decades while I watch us slide into fascism.*/

    • bostonboomer says:

      I totally agree with you, and I’m glad you ranted about it. When I was in high school, I wrote an essay called “Women Are People Too.” That was more than 50 years ago, and we’re still not treated like people.