“We never wanted the show to be this relevant,” said Elizabeth Moss – speaking of her upcoming show (April 2017) based on The Handmaid’s Tale; a novel Margaret Atwood wrote in 1985.
She wrote about a dystopian society – one in which American women have lost their rights. No, not just the right to vote – a right so diligently and laboriously fought for by our forebears; but the very right to their own bodies. They lost the right to read and write; the right to choose what they wear; the right to smoke a cigarette or to drink certain beverages. Their words become worth nothing – as a witness the book states they must have the word of a minimum of two women to count the same as a male statement.
A fanatical religious government has taken over – doctors are executed for the crime of performing abortions, retroactively, though it was legal at the time they performed them. People executed for crimes against gender, even.
Women reduced to the services they can provide – women’s services themselves reduced to medieval standards. No true hospital services, no anesthesia; giving birth on antiquated birthing chairs with a crowd of other women in attendance. Only the most basic of clinic services used only for ensuring viability of their fertility.
The women in this story remember a freer time. A time in which they could wear what they liked, had access to birth control, could make any number of decisions for themselves.
We think, perhaps, that this could never happen to us.
This book was written in 1985. This very thing happened to our Afghan sisters in the mid-nineties… a mere 11 years later.
Our Afghan sisters used to be able to pursue careers, go to university, wear what they liked. Our Afghan sisters won the right to vote a whole year before we American women did. They have lost all of this – they have lost their identities that are not tied to the males in their lives.
The costumes from the tale echoed in the burkas Afghan women would be forced to wear a decade later. The names of the characters have been stolen from them and replaced by names that associate them with a particular man.
Looking back to the 1970s, Afghanistan saw women wearing fashionable clothes. Baring skin as they chose. Naturally there were still strides to make, as we still have strides to make… but 11 years after A Handmaid’s Tale was published – 1996 – religious fanatics took over the capital resulting in the elimination of their rights and the murder of any opponents.
We’ve grown comfortable in our belief that our rights have steadily increased over the past century; that our collective social issues have been gaining visibility and steadily improving. I wonder if Afghani women used to feel the same. I wonder when was the moment any individual woman realised her life was suddenly worth no more than the worth her husband or father put on it. I wonder when they realised their rights were going to be stripped away and they were helpless to stop it.
For decades we’ve dealt with senators, governors, all sorts of white male privileged government types that are willfully ignorant of even the basics of how our anatomy works – yet feel it is their inherent right to dictate how our bodies are taken care of or lack thereof. While we’ve made some strides, we are still the ones who often don’t have women’s essential services or birth control covered by insurance, but the men in our lives can often get Viagra and the like covered.
Religious fanatics and these old WASP males have continued to fight our reproductive and medical rights over the past decades, but for the most part we’ve still continued tomove forward.
Now we seem to be stepping backward. Planned Parenthood – a service that provides essential services to women (especially for our low income sisters) – is being continually attacked. Continually they try to shut it down.
Ohio just passed the “The Heartbeat Bill” – outlawing abortion after 6 weeks. There is still hope Kasich won’t sign and that it could not pass at the Federal level… But this is much farther than it should have gone already. The glaring issue with this Bill – that any medical professional or mother would know – is that women usually don’t even know they are pregnant until about 6 weeks. Most OB GYNs don’t do pregnancy confirmation appointments until after the woman misses a period – which, again, usually ends up being at about the 6 week mark.
We now have a president elect who is a supporter of archaic and misinformed laws regarding women’s rights. A fucking pussy grabber who is announcing his cabinet of equally misogynistic men.
This man also, by many accounts, has no desire to even become informed about issues before spouting off his petulant mouth with his narcissistic opinions.
There seems to be to have been a snowball effect this past year or so. We never thought it could happen, but all of a sudden here we are. We laughed at the absurdity of the mere idea that a man like that would ever gain such a position in our country.
Here we are; rights being threatened by men who think of us as second class citizens. Not only women share this honour – LGBTQ+ and various other races and religions fall into the same categories. …And my husband wondered why I burst into tears the moment I heard the news of our new president elect.
I can only pray to God – though I’m Agnostic – that the Electoral College will vote him back out. I can only hope they will do what they were put in place to do – keep a tyrant or a crazy candidate from taking office. I’m not holding my breath… It would be unprecedented. But I still, logically, know we still have hope yet for another month or so before he gets sworn in.
Regardless, this proves, ladies, that we must remember our Afghan sisters and all other groups oppressed by their governments over the years. We must remember the lesson that The Handmaid’s Tale teaches us, along with the lessons from history of which these kinds of stories are based.
Awhile ago, a young woman on my facebook railed against people comparing Trump to Hitler. Not because she was pro-Trump, but because she honestly believed that we could never have another Hitler. She honestly believed it was a ridiculous notion and it just annoyed her to read it everywhere.
Please ladies, don’t allow yourself to become so complacent that you believe your country can’t fall, that your rights can’t be taken away, that history can’t repeat itself.
History has repeated itself over and over; great countries and empires have fallen, unable to be maintained.
Don’t allow your moderate religious beliefs dictate your votes that would bring a fanatic into power – simply because he may be one who is anti-abortion the same as you. Is denying that right to others worth it at the expense of all else?