Margaret Atwood: Feminism Isn’t About Believing Women Are Always Right

In a recent interview with Emma Watson for EW, Margaret Atwood, author of the Handmaid’s Tale, discussed patriarchy, feminism, and coping with Trump’s America. 

Watson designated the dystopian novel as her book club pick for the months of May and June in alignment with the release of the Hulu adaptation. During their conversation, Watson asked Atwood if she was “bored” of the near-constant conversation about whether the Handmaid’s Tale is specifically “feminist,” and how Atwood feels about the word in general. 

“I’m not bored with it,” Atwood answered. “But we have to realize it’s become one of those general terms that can mean a whole bunch of different things.” Atwood continued, explaining that the word has been molded to have so many unique interpretations. 

“If people can’t tell me what they mean, then they don’t really have an idea in their heads of what they’re talking about,” she said. “So do we mean equal legal rights? Do we mean women are better than men? Do we mean all men should be pushed off a cliff? What do we mean? Because that word has meant all of those different things.”

Rich Fury via Getty Images

Margaret Atwood poses with Handmaid’s Tale stars Elisabeth Moss and Samira Wiley at the show’s premier in April. 

Atwood emphasized that, for her, being a feminist doesn’t mean agreeing with everything every woman says, or blindly supporting someone’s policies or beliefs just because they are a woman. She referenced conservative United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May as an example. 

“Are women always right? Give me a break! I’m sorry, but no! Theresa May is a woman, for heaven’s sakes!”

Her feminism, she told Watson, is more about action. 

“If we mean, should women as citizens have equal rights, I’m all for it,” she said. “And a number of advances have been made in my lifetime regarding property rights and divorce and custody of children and all of those things.”

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