1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Seven-Word Summary: Women enslaved by tyrannical dicks with dicks.
Excerpt: “Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it really isn’t about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn’t about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.”
What It Can Teach Us: Recently I overheard a male student say feminism was really trending right now, as if it were a fad that would pass sooner or later, as if it were not inalienable, unimpeachable, and incontrovertible. At a time when prominent feminists are forced to cancel lectures because they receive death threats, in which women still make just 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, while action flicks like Mad Max: Fury Road are boycotted for having a feminist agenda by “men’s rights groups” (an oxymoron befitting of morons), as women continue to fight for control over their own bodies, and shirts like this one still exist, it’s easy to see the relevance of Atwood’s dystopic novel. The cruelty of subjugation against women is taken to the extreme, stripped of all subtleties, as women are kept as “concubines” to serve an Old-Testament, ultra-conservative regime. Not as far from fiction as one might think, The Handmaid’s Tale remains more necessary today than ever for its dramatic reminder that inequality is not just an abstract concept but a living reality, one that does irreparable harm to women everywhere.