Margaret Atwood Talks Gender Politics With West Point Military Students

It is empirically true that author Margaret Atwood is the most remarkable human being to ever grace planet Earth. And if you don't believe this, might I direct you to this video of her demonstrating how to block an ice-hockey puck (she's from Canada), or to her delightfully flirty tweets with the comedian Rob Delaney, or of course to any of her stellar novels or short-story collections, including the iconic feminist-dystopian masterwork, The Handmaid's Tale.

Alternatively, might I direct you to the fact that she recently visited the West Point military academy to discuss The Handmaid's Tale, a book the students at the conservative, controversially evangelical school were rather gloriously assigned to read. To an all-male cast of questioners, Atwood displayed her trademark wit and frankness in talking not only of the book, but also of gender politics, ISIS, and the tyranny of religion.

Some choice quotes:

--“The Army has real gender issues, still . . . [Reading a book like The Handmaid’s Tale] at least creates a vocabulary to talk about those issues. It was very prescient.”

--On her brilliant professor at Harvard: “ . . . you had to take his class in the morning. Why? Because in the afternoon he was quite drunk.”

--On ISIS being like Gilead, the totalitarian and theocratic state detailed in The Handmaid's Tale: “They all have to have an excuse of some kind, in this case God told them to do it. It’s just self-justifying.”

--In response to a cadet who said reading The Handmaid's Tale was a "life-changing experience": “That’s a frightening thought. What were you like before?”

Oh, Margaret. What were any of us like before you came along?

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