“I just want you to know that you’re all very welcome,” the “Handmaid’s Tale” author joked. “We will have a nice hot cup of tea and a mattress in the church basement whenever you feel compelled to flee across the border.”
The remainder of Atwood’s speech contained more direct and indirect slights against the Trump administration, as well as praise for activists who have spoken out against it.
“We have been very impressed by the way American people have mobilized and have pushed back,” Atwood said. “I know when the election first happened, there were a lot of young people in tears because this had never happened to them before. They had never seen things go backward in this way before. But Americans across the country have pulled themselves together on many different fronts, not just women but those extremely impressive students who are working for better, fairer gun laws.”
She then redirected her focus specifically to women, pointing out the similarities between her science-fiction novel, the “Handmaid’s Tale” TV show, and the fears real women around the world currently face.
“It was no longer a story about something that wouldn’t happen,” she said, in reference to the Hulu series. “It had become a story already in process. That is why the iconic red costume with the white hat has become an immediately recognizable protest symbol around the world. It’s a little too real.”
But “The Handmaid’s Tale” isn’t entirely something to be feared, according to Atwood. At the end of her speech, the author expressed her desire for women’s resistance in the real world, which resembles that of the women in her book, to ultimately come to fruition in the same way.
“The repressive regime of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ did not last — there was a resistance,” Atwood said in her speech. “It was ultimately successful because people did retain, in their hearts, the idea of what a free and fair society — a society rooted in truth and justice — ought to be like. Let us hope that this part of my fictional future does come true.”