In the first few chapters of Hild, there is a line that goes something like “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.” I’m curious, was that a deliberate Margaret Atwood reference, or just something that has been true throughout all history?
It’s on p. 16. Hild is repeating something her mother told her.
Margaret Atwood said something very close to that on the radio in the early 80s. At the time I was teaching women’s self defence and volunteering at Lesbian Line, a phone helpline. Many of women I knew worked with Rape Crisis. I’d heard variants on the theme—that women’s and mens fears were quite different—from women for years. Atwood crystallized it, though.
This is from Wikiquote:
And from Margaret Joe, a member of the Yukon Legislative Assembly,
a brief quote by Margaret Atwood.
“‘Why do men feel threatened by women?’ I asked a male friend of mine.
“‘They are afraid women will laugh at them’, he said, ‘undercut their world view.’
“Then I asked some women students, ‘Why do women feel threatened by men?’ “‘They are afraid of being killed,’ they said.”
Hansard transcript from the 2nd session of the 27th Legislature (December 5, 1990).
The exact quote, “Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them,” is a later refinement but I don’t know whose, exactly. Perhaps the wisdom of the crowd.