Picked up a free 30-day Hulu subscription recently, and I’ve been using it to catch up on seasons 2 & 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale. I was skeptical about the show continuing past the original book, but they’ve done a really good job.
In case you haven’t read the book or watched any of the series, here’s a (very) brief overview: The nation of Gilead exists in much of what was once the United States. They are governed by the Commanders, Christian extremists that have established a new world order when it comes to the women in their country. Women are no longer permitted to read, write, or have jobs. They serve as wives, domestic servants, aunts (handmaid jailors/trainers), slave labor, or whores. And then there are handmaids, proven fertile women who are unfit to be wives for whatever reason but are still valued for their ability to bear children in a world where fertility has been in steep decline. Handmaids are assigned to commanders and expected to bear children for them to raise with their wives.
This may sound extreme. It is. The handmaids are imprisoned, reconditioned, and tortured. Their children are stolen from them. Anyone who steps out of line suffers horrifying consequences, including disfigurement and, for the worst offenses, death. But at its core, The Handmaid’s Tale is a story of the human spirit, of the bonds between mothers and their children, and of one woman’s refusal to be fully broken no matter what they throw at her.
I’m always impressed by shows/films that can bring me to tears. I don’t cry super easily, but this show hits me in the feels. It makes me angry. It makes me sad. At times, it horrifies me. It makes me grateful for the life and freedom I have, and keenly aware of how much I take for granted.
Women are still second-class citizens in some cultures. They’re kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery all over the world. It’s totally okay for men to beat their wives in some countries. Women are cruelly mutilated or disfigured for breaking religious laws. Even in the USA, women are frequently victimized by men in positions of power.
And I won’t even go into the rights and privileges that I, as a heterosexual woman, enjoy that the LGBTQ+ crowd don’t.
I don’t always like tv shows or movies that make me think too much. I show up to be entertained, and I’m not usually looking for deeper meaning or to explore the human condition. This one is a glaring exception. I think what troubles me the most is how easy it is to see parallels between how Gilead justifies its actions and the rhetoric I see flying around on the internet today.
I’m not saying it’s necessarily realistic that the United States could become like Gilead. But when it comes to giving up your rights… it’s a slippery slope. Be vigilant, ladies.