If you are like most people on my Twitter feed, you have been keeping up with The Handmaid’s Tale. And, if you, like most people on my Twitter feed, have been watching it with only the slightest degree of critical thinking (the show is…not subtle), it is very possible that you have noticed a few eerie similarities between the totalitarian regime depicted in the series and many new laws being enacted in the United States today.
Some women in Ohio have recognized these parallels too, which is why they dressed up like the titular handmaiden’s at the state senate to protest a proposed piece of legislation that would ban and criminalize most second trimester abortions in the state.
— WLWT.com (@WLWT) June 14, 2017
Let’s back up. The Handmaid’s Tale, if you aren’t familiar, is a 1985 dystopian novel about a fundamentalist regime that takes over the United States government and, almost immediately, takes away all women’s rights. Recently, it was adapted into a buzzy new series on Hulu starring Elisabeth Moss (who is, it should be noted, absolutely perfect in it). In the near-future dystopian world of The Handmaid’s Tale, few women are fertile, so the ones who are fertile are forced to become “handmaidens” to families of higher stature, which means that their only job is to become pregnant. This reduces all women to their body which, in this society, is a vessel over which they have no agency–if they don’t have children, they are considered worthless.
So, when women stage protests in Handmaid’s Tale fashion, what they are saying, basically, is that these new abortion laws are gradually stripping women of their agency, too.
I will say that I feel a little hypocritical putting my full support behind these Handmaid’s Tale protests, since, in many ways, it is just a few steps away from the “Donald Trump is Voldemort and we, the students of Hogwarts, must rise up to defeat him”-type posts I have grown to resent so very much over the past few months. But, unlike your garden-variety “Kellyanne Conway is #actually Dolores Umbridge” tweet, this protest feels a little less like a reach. Reproductive rights are being threatened in many states. Are the effects as drastic as the ones in The Handmaid’s Tale? Perhaps not, but women are literally dying as a result of being denied reproductive care, and sometimes it takes a little hyperbole to get one’s point across.
And, clearly, the Handmaid’s robe serves as an effective visual–women in other states have worn them as a protest as well.
Protesters wore them in New Hampshire earlier this month to protest Representative Robert Fisher, a New Hampshire congressman who was recently unveiled as one of the main creators behind the misogynistic “Red Pill” community:
— David Meuse (@JdmMeuse) June 1, 2017
And Texas, which recently put one of the most draconian anti-abortion regulations yet into effect:
— Austin Statesman (@statesman) May 10, 2017
So. These protests have a clear message. And, if they get us one step closer to eradicating pervasive misogyny and allowing women to retain the right to choose and, you know, some basic human agency? We’re here for it.
What do you think of this protest? Do you think it was effective or not? Let us know in the comments!