Let me start by saying, I am not explicitly stating that Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a mirror image of our society today (obviously, or I wouldn’t be typing this), but that it addresses many controversial subjects in an indirect way from America today. If you have ever seen the show, you know it’s difficult to watch at times and instills a somewhat uneasy feeling in women because of the brutality of it. If you haven’t seen the show, I’ll quickly sum it up for you before I get to the main points.
The show is based off of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel and focuses on the main character “Offred” or formerly known as June (whose name changes based on the household she is assigned to) and her journey through the transformation of America to Gilead, a totalitarian patriarchal society. Gilead takes women and degrades them, forcing them to either be “Martha’s” (women who cook and clean for households) or “Handmaids” (fertile women forced to be impregnated by rape from the man of the household while his wife watches) After bearing the child, it is taken from them and given to the couples in power.
The first subject I would like to address is the present-day issue of rape and abortion. In the show, the handmaids are raped and forced to have a child for a commander’s family, and if they fight it, they are executed. I think we all agree when we say sexual assault is a pressing and ongoing issue in America today, mostly on women not being taken seriously and that in most cases, men are the ones overpowering women. Women are not given the choice if they wish to have a child or not, as in today’s America new abortion laws may prevent women from having this choice over their own bodies (Are we shocked it is mostly male officials making these decisions?).
The next parallel I wish to address is the effect of this patriarchal structures on women’s rights and independence. I mean, the governmental structures in place in the show are blatantly patriarchal; women do not even have the right to read! I think in America today, this parallels with women’s rights in respect that gender discrimination is very much alive and happening in not only the workplace and government, but also in people’s very own homes due to gender roles and “traditions” that have been in place for centuries. In the show men dictate women’s bodies, and in America today I guess they do too. The women have TAGS pierced into their ears like cattle because they are considered property and objects to the government. I couldn’t possibly go into detail of how chilling the similarities with our government today are compared to the government of the show.
An important comparison that is not as looked upon in the show is the use of religion as a weapon. This goes hand-in-hand with the stereotypes of people in the Muslim religion in America, people try to use this as a way to control and instill fear in those part of it. Religion is the backbone of Gilead’s society in the show, Christianity to be specific, and it is used as not only a weapon against women, but against those part of the LGBTQ+ community. The discrimination that the LGBTQ+ community faces in today’s America is rampant, and religion is a huge contributor. They are killed in Gilead for being LGBTQ+ (if they know you are a part of that community) which in my opinion is a directrelation to hate crimes and mass shootings against these people in America today. I could go on about all the frightening similarities but there are far too many for me to compare, and if you watch the show you will definitely agree with me in more ways than one. Watch the show on Hulu and watch Elisabeth Moss portray June as the bad bitch she is!