First of all, content warning, spoilers for the Handmaid’s Tale, all four seasons. I’m writing this as a true tribute to the show that started it all on the Hulu platform, made it possible for change, and opened many an eye to antifeminist belief. While some of us think the Handmaid’s Tale is a bit extreme, and some of us read the book, the Hulu show is worth a watch. I’d give it a five stars, so let’s get started on the meat and potato of this thing.
Elizabeth Moss plays June Osbourne, who is by this time a victim of the Sons of Jacob, one could call these nasty vile commanders the sons of religiosity extreme comparative of the Ku Klux Klan. These men believe that impregnating superior women with superior sperm cells is their mission, so what do they do? LEt’s look at the backstory and I’ll explain.
June Osbourne sees her rights deteriorate little by little, first noticeably at work, then at home. Home is where women are confined, and then she tries to buy something at a mart, only to have her card rejected. Again and again, her card is declined. Ugh. So, here’s where it begins and where it all becomes logic. A pimply faced young man is working the counter, another man calls June and her friend Moira “sluts” and “whores.” Then it becomes obvious when all the girls are fixed with an order to be “reeducated” by the aunts, Aunt Lydia among them. Anne Doud plays Aunt Lydia so well you would have thought she was a bitch, which she does act like one quite a bit. Aunt Lydia does a number of atrocities against the women, particularly Alma, because Alma is disobedient, and so she burns Alma’s hand in one scene. Oh, and disclaimer: I’m not using the women’s Handmaid identifying names such as ofFred, ofRobert, or ofTim. It would be highly disrespectful of the women themselves to use such things.
From the moment Fred strikes his will on June, lovelessly thrusting into her to the moment you see Fred literally drop dead in a ravine, then hang from a makeshift wall with Latin phrases beneath his body, the whole show is a test of one’s mental ability to withstand things. One of the hardest things to process was Season 1, especially when Emily, who went by ofGlenn and ofSteven, well, Emily also went by ofJoseph, but again, let’s use her birth name, she lost her beloved who was a Martha, and that Martha was hanged by a noose on a crane. The poor woman was hanged for being in a relationship with Emily, and I don’t know that woman’s name, but Emily got her clitoris cut off, a practice that you would think had been banned by now, but apparently, not.
Another intriguing thing about the Handmaid’s Tale is the way they celebrate birthdays. Little Angela, a baby begat by such loveless sexual intercourse, and who was taken by Naomi Putnam, this little girl can look forward to a life of no reading, no writing, like nothing else matters to her education but coloring books and knowing how to please a man. Her handmaid mother is forbidden to see her after Angela is weaned, and Warren Putnam, the commander who fathers her, obviously doesn’t get it. He ogled a few girls in this show, namely June Osbourne. The handmaid in question was Janine. Janine, who became a fugitive and was captured in Chicago, that girl had obviously been a pet to the aunts, and was deemed a slut if she didn’t say it was her fault she was raped and how she supposedly played on and led on the boys to do it by her looks. This is a long dead thing in our reality. So one would think.
One of my favorite Handmaid’s Tale seasons happens to be the last season, season 4. We start out by seeing June become a real rebel, and she totally subverts the system, and later she sees Luke and Moira carry her across the sea to Canada. Yes, did I say spoilers? Yes, I meant spoilers. One of my favorite scenes in Season 4 was the last few in the last episode, and it is obvious why. Fred Waterford and his narcissistic Christian wife, Serena Joy, are on trial for rape and for stealing a baby. Sound familiar? Serena passes off Baby Nicole as her own, even if the biological father is not Fred Waterford. Later it is revealed that the Waterfords committed war crimes for real. The American agent arrests Fred but the girls have an idea. First off, they know how to do a particicution, which is a system where the handmaids tear apart a guy for doing bad things. What bad things, you might ask? The bad things may include something like rape, touching a girl even in the wrong sense, child molestation, and many other crimes. Particicutions are done like this: the handmaids act all rabid and such at the sound of a whistle, and the guy is not to be left untouched, and all his limbs and genitals are torn apart. Well, that’s exactly what happens to Fred Waterford, but his makeshift wall is not coated with a symbol such as a triangle for being gay or a cross for being a priest, but a Latin phrase is written beneath Fred’s hanging corpse. It is satisfying to know that Fred and Serena are not only apart, but Serena gets herself pregnant by a donor’s sperm, further proof that Fred is a sterile man and can’t have kids. Serena Joy is a narcissistic woman in a lot of ways, including but not limited to wanting a baby so bad she’d change a country’s laws to get that done. She had written books, one being A Woman’s Place, but the Sons of Jacob decide that women can’t read or write. This is so antifem and puritan in nature that one would think that women are just the vessels for the Sons of Jacob.
Now, imagine for a moment that the Handmaid’s Tale was real. It isn’t too hard to do actually. Afghanistan is a true form of Gilead, and there are places in Europe deemed “no go” zones because of Islamic asylum seeker males harassing women, raping them, and doing general bad things that intimidate them into silence and freedoms are restricted for them. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book Prey describes so much of this, and even has references to “The Road to Gilead” at the conclusion of the main text. Ms. Hirsi Ali has repeatedly warned us that extremism in Islam could lead to the loss of rights for women and girls. She’s right. However, we don’t often pay attention to the extremism in Christian senses.
There is one flaw in the Handmaid’s Tale’s philosophy. One, the Sons of Jacob are to me akin to the Taliban, who are Muslim extremists who wish to forbid girls and women from being free and able to work. Girls in the current regime are expected to be sold off to Taliban fighters as breeders, but there is no mention of the actual work of handmaids. Who are handmaids anyway?
Let’s start with the book of Genesis. The book of Genesis is law in Gilead, so let’s start with the story of Jacob and his wives, Leah and Rachel. Jacob loved Leah and Rachel, but he had a special crush on Rachel. Leah, on the other hand, fought bitterly with her sister and Jacob felt ripped off because the father of them both gave Jacob Leah first. Rachel, on the other hand, says she feels unloved. There is something that occurs when Leah and Rachel duke it out. They use the maidservants, Bilha and Zilpha, to determine the bloodlines of their sons. Leah’s and Rachel’s maids are given to Jacob to sleep with and bear his children, thus the whole justification of the use of handmaids as a surrogate for those who can’t reproduce. Now, what’s wrong with this picture?
LEt’s pretend for a moment that I couldn’t bear children. My current love, Clayton, would never think like this, but let’s just forgive him if he sees this and thinks, what??????? Here’s the skinny: so pretend I can’t have kids, and in this reality, Clayton could potentially bed a woman outside the marriage if the woman was designated “ofClayton”, a handmaid, and the sex required is loveless, feelings mute, all that. According to one essay, the sex required and ceremony as it were feels a bit kinky. I don’t think this is rather kinky, but abusive. Clayton would never actually do this, but this is how it’s set up. The ceremony requirement is law, and also has within it a reading of the selected passages from Genesis justifying the rape of the women involved. The handmaids are educated at what we call the “red centers”, the Rachel and Leah centers formally. Rachel and Leah being the wives of Jacob fighting over the number and spacing of their own children, it seems fitting to name the red centers after them. All the handmaids give up their names, and as part of the contract, they are of whichever commander is lovelessly raping them at the moment. So, that is why I refuse to use the of names for the handmaids. I only make reference to them when someone else does, or if it fits a description.
Now, the big thing about this show you want to watch out for is there is a lot of wrong in Gilead, including child and spousal and female abuse. There is plenty to worry about, but like I said, one need not look too far to find human traffickers and woman haters like those of the Taliban, and the needless destruction of women’s lives is the fault of those who didn’t stand up.
As Elie Wiezel once said in a speech, silence is complicit and allows the oppressors to keep at it. This is quite a paraphrase, but it seems that in the backstory of the Handmaid’s tale, there was quite a bit of that. Silence because of the Gilead commanders and all other oppressive persons being so intimidating is quite common in wartime periods. The Taliban successfully silenced women and those who didn’t support them, making it illegal for women to work and do things outside the home. What could happen to the United States in the current state of things?
First, look at today’s abortion laws. In the Handmaid’s Tale, you can’t abort. Period, end of story, you cannot abort a baby because it is supposedly a gift from a God. Babies, mind you they are very cute, but they come with eighteen years of responsibility that not everybody’s ready for. Now, had anyone been aborted because of blindness, I wouldn’t have known them, but I so wish selective abortion was against the law anyway because India likes to think it is making a million men by aborting females or neglecting them to death. Blind girls are especially at risk. We know that infanticide also occurs among rich Indian families, especially when a midwife is directed to kill a female and they get paid extra for doing so. In Gilead, no baby is killed for any reason, and this I can agree with to a point. Babies are beautiful gifts from the Universe and should never be returned to such unless god forbid the mother’s life and health are at risk. Example, some women at my age, which is classified advanced maternal age, have very high pressure in the blood while giving birth, and in my dear aunt Viki’s case, they are bedridden while baby is gestating. This can be dangerous, and pregnancies are becoming a lot safer to carry for these women, and in fact there are women over forty having babies, and one woman in the Carolinas had her first child at nearly or over half a century old. However, forcing all women to carry babies is tantamount to turning all of us into vessels. Women are not vessels, we have brains, and we don’t like being classified as inferior. Women do not have drastically small brains, as one stupid man likes to believe. There are men who believe women are small brained to the point where they can’t make decisions or think for themselves. Women should and will not tolerate such acts of antifem belief on the part of men who don’t get it. I respect strong men, and I don’t mind having a man to guide me through life, but the most important thing about men that all women should know is that they and I desire a coequal relationship, and Clayton and I have such a relationship and it’s beautiful. However, if something went wrong, I would not know what to do these days. I don’t plan on things going wrong, but things tend to always go wrong. For one, some men aren’t strong enough to resist the pull of someone like a mother or father telling them that a girl is poison or toxic or a player. I was recently acccused of such by my former partner’s mother and grandmother. It is obvious that Trenton is standing with me, and he said it would not be feasible for him and Mom to see one another because of the way she’s handling me. She accused me of playing Trenton, but the truth is that Clayton treats me like a woman and a queen, which is possible for all men to do, but it all depends on environment.
Let’s get back to business here.
Abortion law is trying to create Gilead within the U.S.A., but Colorado women are saying no. If my baby is truly sick, if my baby truly can’t live outside the womb, Clayton would truly understand that. Abortion is a decision that should be made between a woman, her partner if applicable, and her doctors and treatment providers especially if the woman has no support from anyone, was raped, or has psychological implications from pregnancy resulting in possible honor killing or breakdown in the sense of mental state. Some women in Muslim society don’t believe they’re pregnant, and it’s obvious they don’t understand the mechanics of sex and pregnancy because it was hidden from them by family. Again, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Her book Nomad points to a scenario in three words: sex, money, violence. The sex part is so detailed, the details of which range from who marries who, how marriages are performed and all that to the education on sex and how it intimidated Ayaan’s mother, Asha Artan Umar. Ms. Umar was highly intimidated by Ayaan’s and Haweya’s (Ayaan’s late sister) sex education so bad that she would hit both the girls. Parents, and I am talking to all parents, always educate your kids about sex and growing up and all the good stuff, but let’s add something you might not understand. Consent.
In the Handmaid’s Tale, June is in nonconsentual sexual relations with Fred Waterford and Joseph Lawrence, two commanders in Gilead who have barren wives. For Fred, the rape seems enjoyable, and June can’t stand Serena’s evident enjoyment of pinning the poor girl down on her back. In the miniature education the aunts give the potential handmaids, they say the basics of sex, but there is no mention of consent. Now, how such things compare in reality are obvious. Consent should be a big moral framework of relationships. I consent to Clayton every time and he does the same to me, but if a man comes in and tries to kiss me inappropriately, you can bet that isn’t consensual, and consent should be the one thing that guides relationships. I consented to love Trenton, and I would consent to play with him on occasion, but I would never want to be accused of playing him once again. In the Handmaid’s Tale, girls are trained to think that the nonconsensual sex is their “job.” Imagine thinking you’re in an army or you are the shock troops that raise the birth rate. You want a baby? Okay, hire a handmaid to do the shopping and all the dirty sex work. Even in a lack of consent, the girls are required to have sex with commanders they either don’t like or don’t even trust. I can say that this will likely cause a lot of the girls, should this be reality, to have loads of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). I bet if Moira was a prison guard, I would have thought her able to cook up punishments on Fred Waterford and his delusional wife Serena. I wonder if Moira would suggest the particicution that brought Fred to a dead standstill.
IF there’s one commander I hate the most, it’s Winslow. George Winslow had his handmaid sealed by lip ring. The handmaid could not talk, she could only be fucked without consent. George Winslow is one of those commanders who comes in for inspection, and my favorite scene from season 3 was when Winslow met a very dire end. June had Winslow killed, and his body was disposed of and burned. Well, let this be a lesson to all guys who want to handle women that way. IF you’re George Winslow, you don’t get to choose whether your women talk. The women will come back and bite you in the ass.
IF there’s one commander I feel bad for, it’s Joseph Lawrence. Joseph didn’t seem to be a bad guy when Eleanor, his wife, liked both Emily and June. Joseph called June by her proper name because he actually respected her, and then he said, I was tempted by a faithless woman. the commanders tried to bomb Chicago and “give the insurgents a spanking.” This was season 4. Old Joe Lawrence was a very malleable guy however, and it took me a little bit to realize that Joe was too much. He had a resistance group in his house comprised of Marthas and Handmaids who’d had enough. I would do the same thing as Joseph, house a resistance, if I’d had enough. Believe me, the nonconsensual sex is the biggest issue I’d have in Gilead.
There’s another thing I want to point to. In season 2, Eden, who is an adolescent, is married forcefully to Nick blaine, a commander in the Gilead district. Eden however has other ideas, and is drowned for her relationship with Guardian Isaac. Both of them are thrown in the water, and they recite the biblical verses on love, which I found dramatic and rather touching. Love is not allowed in Gilead, which makes it all the worse. Eden Blaine doesn’t bear children, doesn’t have the fortitude to leave, and she is only about 13 or so when she’s married. Adolescents and theier husbands are told by the minister in Gilead, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Many evangelical Christian churches go by this and it makes me want to barf. The other phrases in genesis that are quoted have to do with women being subject to their husbands’ wishes and desires, and this gem which says, “YOu shall be subject to your husband, and he shall rule over you.” I wrote the not so flowery version of that one here. These girls are very young, perhaps 13 to 15 years of age, when they are forced to get married to these old and seasoned men. I would never want my child getting married at that age. When I was 15, for example, I was in high school, doing band and such. Marriage would require me to drop out of school, and just like that, so many child brides do. The taliban has forbidden education with any intent for girls to work. The Taliban have also probably forbidden love, they might as well have forbidden romance. All that seems to have been forbidden in extremism of any religious thinking, Islam or Christianity.
I have mixed feelings about Aunt Lydia. I also have such about one woman who died while giving birth to Commander Matthew Calhoun’s child. I do not have a name for this woman, but I dare not say the handmaid’s patriarchal “of” name again out of respect. This woman betrayed handmaids, was shot at a dedication of a red center, and furthermore, she had seizures and was kept alive until her baby was born. This woman wouldn’t have lasted, but the Calhouns had a child out of it. All the handmaids had to stay and watch and pray for this despicable woman, and I felt a bit sorry for her as her baby was removed from her body, premature and unable to feed as well as he should. Calhoun had a son.
The Handmaid’s Tale overall is a riveting roller coaster ride. I would ride it again, but it was quite long and four seasons later, the conclusion is quite satisfying. I did mention Fred dropped dead? He did indeed, in a ravine, during what you’d call a particicution style killing. The Americans and Canadians were unwilling or unable to bring Waterford to justice, so justice, as so happens to be in this case, was carried out in the best poetic way possible. I can’t fathom the Latin on the bottom of fred’s gallows, but I wonder if those gallows would be a lesson to all those who try and force girls into believing in something they don’t, and further than this, I would hope that Fred’s gallows teach all of us that no matter what a regime does to women, no matter how you try to bring a group down, love and right always win. Good and love and all the right stuff usually and about 99% of the time always always wins.
To watch the Handmaid’s Tale, if you haven’t seen it, just subscribe to Hulu for $5 a month or if you have certain deals in carrier phone plans, do use such deals and take advantage of the Disney bundle, but beware of ESPN. I hate ESPN and all things sports, namely because my family would obsess and do things and worship it.
Disclaimers are interwoven throughout this entry so taht I can readily guide my audience. Thank you for reading my blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you so much to those who have supported me, including Clayton and Trenton, and all of my dear friends who say that I should take my talents far. I love you all and can’t wait to do more.