Rhetorical Listening In The Handmaid's Tale
“… accountability signifies recognizing that none of us lives …show more content…
Typically, conservatives think of the novel as a work of dystopian fiction whereas feminists think of the novel as a work of speculative fiction. This seemingly meaningless distinction actually provides significant insight into the different ways conservatives and feminists engage with the novel and the protests it has engendered. According to Margaret Atwood herself, speculative fiction “refers to narratives about things that can potentially take place, even though they have not yet happened at the time of the writing” (Oziewicz 6). This stands in contrast to dystopian fiction, which neatly places itself in the realm of pure fiction.
Speculative fiction resists the totalizing binary of fiction versus non-fiction, which, fascinating in and of itself, also gives us insight into how the text functions for different groups of people. For feminists, The Handmaid’s Tale functions as a warning. A rollback of abortion rights, attacks on access to contraceptives, and the normalizing of increasingly demeaning language against women serves as a reminder that things could get much worse. For conservatives, however, the novel is a fiction for nations such as the United States, although it is perceived to be a reality in African and Muslim-majority