MAYBE YOU’VE SEEN this somewhere: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” The quote is attributed to the acclaimed author Margaret Atwood, and in the contemporary context of popular feminism, it is viral wallpaper. It makes an appearance in the second season of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. One finds it on Pinterest and Tumblr pages, on Instagram, in Twitter hashtags. Popular feminism has its fair share of memes, motivational phrases, and humorous quips, but some seem to have more resonance than others.
It is likely the second part of Atwood’s quote that explains its high visibility, because it throws a light on the fact that women are disproportionately victims of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault. I think, however, we need to pay attention to the link between the two statements: all too often, men kill women for laughing at them.