Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Post- Gilead Dilemma (Commander)

      I would be lying if I said that I am exactly the same person as prior to Gilead. Physically, I appear exactly the same. However, throughout the course of Gilead’s existence I have discovered certain emotional and intellectual aspects about myself. When I first began devising plans for Gilead, the ideology and functionality behind a totalitarian society seemed flawless to me. It seemed to be the perfect solution for our declining population. But after living in the society that I first-handedly created, I realize that I genuinely miss having true relationships. Of course, I have the relationship with my wife and handmaids, but Gilead strips away any real emotion from these relationships. It all just feels so dishonest and forced… not like a relationship at all.

     At first I was convinced that I was just a little foolish. After all, I created this society myself. I wanted to believe that I was having a withdrawal from emotions because Gilead was still so new. However, I desired to have a conversation, to have eye contact and to just spend some time with the company of another person. My mind knew that what I was suffering was for the greater cause, but it drove me crazy to not be able to interact with anyone. It was as if I was trapped a bubble where I could only see these women but not do anything beyond that.
     The first time I invited a handmaid to my study, I was fully aware that it was against the rules…the rules that I created. During that first night, the reasoning behind creating Gilead kept running through my head. I could not stop thinking of all the rules that I was breaking and why I had created the rules in the first place. However my mind and body were telling me two different things. To be able to have a conversation with a woman just felt so normal. Even though it was against the rules I created,it just felt so right at the same time.

Jailkeeper of Morale (Aunt Lydia)

I used to see it in their eyes- their disgust and the fighting spirit within them. It kills me to know that I’m responsible for the deaths of all these women. I may not be physically killing these women, but I am the murderer of these women’s dreams, beliefs and morale. Why is it that the only way to keep myself alive is to demolish the minds of others? I constantly question whether my life is worth living if all I do is contaminate minds with wretched concepts. Is it really worth it?
        The longer I continue this job, the more I realize that I am a jail keeper of morale and a propaganda tool for Gilead. I hate that I am supposed ingrain Gilead’s corrupt caste system into the minds of women. Gilead separates women into different categories and pits them against one other. Eco-wives versus handmaids, fruitful women versus barren women, wives versus handmaids, aunts versus women. I cannot help thinking that Gilead’s caste system is hauntingly similar to the caste system in India. Both systems divide people based on occupation and family lineage. Barren women are equivalent to the ‘untouchables’ of the India caste system, people whom are considered to be bad omen and frowned upon by society. Ecowives are next up in the caste system, followed by handmaids then wives. At the very top of the system, the ‘priestly class’, are the Commanders. According to Gilead Commanders can do no wrong and are not responsible for the declining population. After all, there is no such thing as infertile men, only fruitful or barren women.  At least, that’s what we’re supposed to believe.

          Another aspect of my job I loathe is twisting biblical ideas for Gilead’s sick purposes. I can feel my conscience twinge each time I tell these women that “Blessed are the meek”, but leave out “for they shall inherit the earth”. I know that by leaving out the part of the scripture, I am supporting Gilead’s ideology that a women’s glory arises from her meekness. I am telling these women that to speak out against Gilead would be a sinful action. To know that I am corrupting the original message of the Holy Scripture makes it even more difficult to do my job. All I wanted was to keep my life, but now I don’t know if it is worth keeping any longer. 

My Lone Refusal to Conform (Moria)

I am completely alone. It seems as if everyone around me has chosen to simply accept the circumstances. Perhaps I am stupid for wanting to escape after already failing once, but I am determined to escape this hell.
Everything about Gilead is the exact opposite of what I believe in. It is as if the values of humanity have reversed and women are kept alive for the sole purpose of childbearing. Whatever happened to the years of fighting for freedom of sexuality? What about all the women who have fought for the right to vote and to be equal to men under the law? I cannot stop thinking about the countless protests, demonstrations and rallies that I have participated in. I still remember the joy and elation I felt when Obama first announced his support for gay marriage. The progression in women’s rights only happened because women fought with their blood, sweat and tears. But all of that is gone now. Just like that, years of hard work have been erased from history.  

All of my rights have been painfully stripped away from me. My every action- socializing, reading, eating, even bathing is restricted. I am treated like a cow, pampered by my  ‘owners’ for the sole purpose of fulfilling their desires. In my case, all that matters to Gilead is populating the country.  It pains me to know that my womb is far more valuable than my thoughts will ever be.  Whenever I see the tattoo on my foot it is a constant reminder that my body is longer my own. 
It also makes me furious that there are women,  or "Aunts" who work to crush all of my beliefs and ambitions. Although I know that the words of the Aunts are ridiculous, it concerns me that many women have already been brainwashed into accepting Gilead. However, I have faith in my beliefs. My outlook towards sexuality, woman’s rights, and freedom will keep my morale alive. Though these beliefs can only be bottled up inside of me right now, they give me hope that what once existed can be apart of my life again.  
Even if I am alone in my desire to escape, I want to prove that there is a limit to totalitarianism. My thoughts, actions, desires are my rightfully my own and I refuse to be controlled by Gilead. A tattoo does not designate Gilead the right to ‘claim’ or control my actions and identity. I have fought for my rights and beliefs for far too long to let it all go to waste now. It frightens me that if I stay any longer I may become like one of the brainwashed women. I fear that I will become so comfortable with captivity to the extent that it begins to feel normal and safe. I am determined to hang onto my beliefs, the very thread of who I am.  My name is Moira, and I will never be ‘Of’ any man.