Why It's Important That You Watch the TV Series 'The Handmaid's Tale'

How the TV series, based on Margaret Atwood's book, has become our reality.
by Caitlin Anne Young   |  May 20, 2017
Image: The Handmaid's Tale
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If we were to take into account the current state of women, like us, perhaps we would arrive at the idea that the world has made considerable strides in feminism—and it would be true. However, at present, sexism still remains a harrowing reality. Although gone are the days when women were prohibited from voting, working, or simply speaking their minds, the patriarchy of the current world shows that we can still improve upon women's rights.

In India, for example, 93 women are raped every day; in Pakistan, 5,000 domestically-abused wives are killed every year. Genital mutilation still happens to young girls in Egypt, and school girls in Nigeria are kidnapped and denied their education.

One need not look too far, though; here, in the Philippines, we are faced with the same situation. Blamed for wearing "provocative" clothing if we are catcalled, or worse, raped, and subjected to dress codes our male counterparts will likely never have to follow, sexism still follows us like a menace in the night, whose assault on us is always our fault, since we didn't know better than to go home after dark.


In reality, however, there should not even be this kind of problem; even more so, the victim should not be blamed for others' mistakes. Sexism is still alive and well, yet little is being done to stop it. "Lalaki kasi sila," we tell ourselves. "Boys will be boys." We forget that if we remain complacent about our borderline present, we only bring about a terrifying future.

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The new Hulu series The Handmaid's Tale perfectly portrays what just might happen tomorrow if we don't do anything about the misogynistic situation of society today. Based on the award-winning science fiction novel by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale paints a dystopian society called the Republic of Gilead, a military dictatorship of what was once America, wherein women have been stripped of their human rights.

After a staged terrorist attack to impose martial law, nuclear warfare rendered mass sterility; thus, so-called "handmaids"—the few still-fertile women—are indoctrinated into giving up their bodies to serve society. They are objectified into becoming common household staples for barren couples by bearing children for them.


The show stars Elisabeth Moss as the narrator, Offred, recalling her previous freedom as she comes to terms with her present situation as handmaid to a man named Commander Fred and his wife. It is soon revealed that all handmaids have had their names changed—Offred's real name is June, and her current title refers to being "Of Fred." It's also a clever play on words—Offred is "offered," like all handmaids, into being, as Offred quotes, "a womb on two legs," whose sole duty is to reproduce.


The Handmaid's Tale deals with issues we still face nowadays, no matter how much we try to deny it. These include sexism, homophobia, corruption, lack of freedom of speech, and more. The government has instilled a sense of fear and unreasonable duty in its citizens, despite stripping them—especially the women—of their rights. One false step—for example, coming out as gay or lesbian, or joining the Mayday resistance—would lead to extreme punishment: physical mutilation or exile to the Colonies, where the nuclear radiation is the strongest. As Offred meets more people who are affected by the inhumane treatment of the Republic, she becomes closer to the resistance.


To conclude, though we as the female youth are entrusted with the duty of creating a better future, our best efforts are often overshadowed by misogyny. Double standards are still alive and well, and the themes present in The Handmaid's Tale are unfortunately witnessed in our everyday life.

Hopefully, with the help of a realistic and well-developed show, people will realize that today's world could transform into a reality as horrible as Gilead's, should misogynistic behavior continue to be excused by everyone. As such, it is now up to us to take a stand for our own rights and to advocate feminism, so the horrors of the reel will not become real, as we all deserve a much better future than that.

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Caitlin Anne Young