I happened to read the popular trilogy after watching Jennifer Lawrence’s impressive acting in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I always have a problem reading books or watching films/series that seem to be ‘trending’. That’s the reason I happen to be the only one in the group who cannot participate in a heated discussion about Game of Thrones or Friends. When The Hunger Games was trending, I did not even bother to find out what the books were about. I ended up watching the films when I had nothing else to do and I was intrigued. I got hold of PDF copies of the books and started reading, determined to find faults with it. Suzanne Collins probably knew there would be people who would read her books with the sole purpose of criticizing them (and her). The books made me experience catharsis…something I had been looking for in Greek Tragedies, elegies and epics.
The Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic world (probably, post-third-word-war-world) which is known as Panem. There are conversations between the characters about how their ancestors fucked up and destroyed the world. The Capitol, the tyrannical government, conducts the Hunger Games every year in which two people (a girl and a boy) are selected from each district to be a part of a brutally sadistic game and only one out of the twenty four participants will survive at the end. And the participants are between the ages of 12 and 18. Sounds like the school and education system in our world? Well, I thought so too. But to me, it looks like a feminist’s Utopia. There is no God or religion, except for the ‘odds’ which everyone wants in their favour. There is no discrimination between men and women. Women do not get any special privileges or excuses. The women in District one are as rich and well fed as their men. The women in District 12 suffer and work as much as their men do. Men and women are equally lashed and killed in the square. There is gender equality, no doubt, but Panem is not the place I would dream about when my feminism demands that I do something to bring about gender equality.
There are times when gender equality is not enough. There needs to be class equality as well. A capitalist society or a world (like Panem) can only promise equality in the amount and intensity of sufferings and injustices. It can never ensure a happy, content life for its people, irrespective of whether they are men or women (or neither). Panem needs socialism and the world of today needs Marxist Feminism. A classless, genderless and godless world is what we should work towards. They are mutually dependent. One without the others will just create another Panem or something worse.
And while we think about a new world where discrimination and sufferings are part of a long forgotten past, let’s hope that the odds will be in our favour.