The Handmen's Tale (Photo: Funny or Die)

BOOKS

What would classic feminist novels look like with a Men’s Rights twist?

Funny or Die have reimagined The Handmaid’s Tale as a male story. Caroline O’Donoghue can’t help wondering about other feminist classics

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By Caroline O'Donoghue on

 

One of the many things that makes The Handmaid’s Tale a defining moment in feminist pop culture is just how visual the whole thing is. It is, as graphic designers say, “very graphic design”. The red robes, the white veils, the slow movement of the Handmaids as they move in pairs through a warped Connecticut – it’s striking. It’s memorable. And, because of that, it is absolutely ripe for satire.

And, right on cue, along comes Funny Or Die, the American comedy site that has reimagined Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, based on Margaret Atwood's novel of the same name, as The Handman’s Tale. 

“I was asleep before,” says “Manfred”, introducing the parody, adding that he was just “Fred” in a previous life. “When they didn’t date us because of feminism, we didn’t wake up. They ruined Ghostbusters and we didn’t wake up then, either.” 

“And, now, we are Handmen. The feminazis own us. More or less,” relents Manfred. “I used to be a senior VP, now I’m a senior VP – with some female colleagues.” 

 

 

In this world, the resistance looks like men on Reddit and 4chan, writing under the moniker “LenaDunhamHater69”. 

It’s a brilliant parody, particularly when you consider just how much Men’s Rights activists think this is the world they live in already. To them, mainstream feminism means “You can’t say anything!”, where “anything” specifically means “demeaning sexual comments about and to the women around me”. Where every correction on behaviour is “political correctness gone mad”, and where political correctness itself is seen as some form of verbal castration, rather than what it is, which is politeness. (Seriously, next time you hear someone say “political correctness gone mad” because they want to make fun of someone’s race, just keep saying, “You think it's politeness gone mad?” and keep repeating it until they realise that they’re an asshole.)

Of course, this whole thing has made me hungry for more Men’s Rights twists on classic feminist stories and, rather than wait for Hollywood, I’ve decided to just write them myself. It’s important to note that when these make it to the big screen, I will not have a screenwriting credit. Because, ew, girls. 

JANE EYRE

He was just a man. A man with a simple dream: to have sex with his employee in a consequence-free environment while keeping his existing wife as prisoner inside her own house. God, what is the big deal? Like, Jane, you’re not getting any younger. 

In this version, Jane does not run off to live with her cousins, but instead stays behind and just gets it, y’know? She gets that Rochester is a busy man with a complicated life, and just accepts that he would have told her eventually, anyway. And plus, isn’t it nice to have another woman to talk to?

LITTLE WOMEN

Through Laurie’s eyes, Little Women becomes the story of a man with a Choice: should he marry Jo, the spirited genius and his lifelong friend, or Amy, the hottie with the body who is at least, like, a decade younger than him? How can he choose? How could any man choose between the bewitching March sisters? 

In this version of Virginia Woolf’s classic feminist essay, the room is also where she gets the ironing done

In this version of the classic tale, Amy and Jo consent to a group marriage with Laurie. They still live in the March house, because Laurie loves the March house, and he just sort of pops his head round the door when he has the horn. They make a hearty living selling Jo’s work under Laurie’s name and no one ever complains. Beth’s room is now Laurie’s home gym and everyone thinks that’s a good idea.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou’s original book showcased the relationship between race and gender to global critical acclaim, but in this new, cool version, a man tells Maya why the caged bird sings on page two. 

“It’s actually a reference to my own poem,” says Maya to this nice guy who is just trying to help her out. “The caged bird sings with a fearful trill..”

“No, obviously, the poem, yes,” the man, who is just trying to help, interrupts. “Obviously, I know the poem. It’s by Byron, isn’t it?”

“I wrote the poem.”

“By yourself? Are you sure?” 

HOW TO BE A WOMAN

Caitlin Moran’s 2011 book introduced a whole new generation of young women to feminism, but for the big-screen adaptation, Caitlin is followed around by a 22-year-old Reddit user who just says “Ewww” every time she talks about vaginas. Eventually, the Reddit user storms out, proclaiming that her book may be called How To Be A Woman, but she has no idea how to be a lady.

A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN

In this version of Virginia Woolf’s classic feminist essay, the room is also where she gets the ironing done. 

@Czaroline

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The Handmen's Tale (Photo: Funny or Die)
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