Over the past few weeks there have been a lot of excellent articles appearing online, both in anticipation of and in response to The Handmaid’s Tale. We figured that instead of telling you about each one in separate posts here, we’d round them up into a convenient list for quick and easy reference.
So here, then, is our list of recommended Internet reading for The Handmaid’s Tale (so far):
We’ve all found those red handmaid costumes visually striking and eye-catching. But did you know that they contained hidden feminist meanings in them as well? In this fascinating Vanity Fair article, costume designer Ane Crabtree talks about all the ideas that went into their design.
In this article for The Undefeated, writer Soraya Nadia MacDonald asks, “What happens to white supremacy in a totalitarian theocracy?” and then proceeds to try to address her own question. We don’t fully agree with all of MacDonald’s points as we feel the show actually is exposing (albeit subtly) some of the ways in which racism would still exist in such a futuristic society, but we appreciate that she raises an issue that might otherwise get drowned out in all the discussions of the show oriented around the more obvious themes of feminism.
Over at the Advocate is this read that makes the case for the LGBT narrative in Handmaid’s Tale as being the show’s darkest. And indeed, when you consider that gay characters in the show have so far been maimed, mutilated and hung, the writer makes a pretty good point.
One of the most tragic characters of the show to watch is actually Serena Joy who, despite being a woman, is complicit in the oppressive system, and she is complicit both because she benefits from it (due to her social status and marriage to Commander Waterford) and also because she stands too much to lose if she rebels against it. There are hints that she is aware of this to some degree, and is not completely happy with it, but is unable or unwilling to do something about it (not yet anyway). In an essay for the New Republic, Sarah Jones analyzes the ways in which the show stands as a conscious warning to conservative women and how such an oppressive society of the future “could not thrive without the enthusiastic backing of [comlicit] women,” and that “by the time they come to regret it, the culture they helped create will have developed far beyond their control.”
Feminist author and Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti writes about the ways in which Handmaid’s Tale is not just a warning to conservative women but is also a warning to well-meaning, good men as well. And so far we’ve seen a few “good men” in the show – June’s boss, for instance, who doesn’t want to let the women workers go but feels he has no choice, and Luke, her husband, who says he’ll “take care” of her. It’s even suggested in Episode 4 that Commander Waterford himself may be, to some degree, a “good man.” But when things start going to hell, it won’t be enough for the good men of the world to merely sympathize. They will have to take action or rebel against the system even if it means losing their power and privilege.