The ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ liberal feminists created


Conservative women are used to being drawn as caricatures. In “The Handmaid’s Tale”, the caricaturing is artfully good. The second season came out today, Wednesday, and the trailer promises it will delve deeper into the psyche of its conservative female antagonist and the perceived readiness of women such as she to create a world where women are oppressed.

The show has been called a “warning to conservative women;” the female antagonist Serena Joy, called “the scariest anti-feminist on television” by Elle, is rumored to be modeled after a young Phyllis Schlafly who pioneered the modern-day female conservative resistance to liberal feminism. Serena Joy is a young, married, religious zealot who helps author the ideas at the root of a religious revolution. She’s intelligent, beautiful, and accomplished. And like any good conservative, religious woman painted by Hollywood, she’s naïve. Her revolution becomes a runaway train and winds up confining her to her home where she is forbidden to read and her book is taken out with the trash.

{mosads}It’s fascinating to watch a show that depicts a liberal feminist’s very worst nightmare, in particular because the dystopia found in the story is made possible entirely by liberal feminism. Plummeting birthrates, the exploitation and commodification of the female body, the turning of children into accessories, coupled with the concurrent bizarre societal obsession with pure eating, these are things happening right before us, and they aren’t the work of the religious right-wing. They are the result of the idea that formed the lynchpin of the sexual revolution, namely, that sex and procreation can be severed from marriage without serious consequences.

Cutting the cord between sex and babies and marriage is what has given us our own modern-day Handmaid’s Tale, a world where the wombs of poor women are rented out for wealthy infertile couples while society shrugs off the moral implications. Or a world where the Women’s March can tweet out support for a platform for human traffickers without so much as a slap on the wrist from the press. The handmaids in “The Handmaid’s Tale” are human trafficking victims, after all.

In fairness, the show leaves some nuance intact, especially with regard to religion. Margaret Atwood, who wrote the book on which the show is based, has explicitly said she didn’t write it to be an anti-religious tome. In one of the opening scenes of the post-revolutionary society, Gilead, a priest, is seen hanging. Around the corner, a Catholic Church is being destroyed. In countless scenes, almost as if a crypto-Catholic was a part of the production, a Catholic Church is seen boarded up behind an iron gate. The Catholic Church is essentially the lone remaining modern-day voice arguing against anything that would sever the link between sex and marriage and children, a position for which it has borne a heavy toll.

To the producers’ credit, they didn’t whitewash that from the show, namely that its religious dystopia would require scrubbing out Catholicism.

Nevertheless, liberal feminists have jumped on the show as another opportunity to rail against religious conservatism. The first season released just months after Trump became president and the show’s Twitter handle is using the hashtag “SisterResist” to drum up excitement for the second.

As a conservative woman, I watched the first season with great curiosity. Most of my conservative friends refused to. I see strokes of myself in Serena Joy. Like her, I’ve written a book and many articles lamenting the moral decay in our modern society. Many of my views raise eyebrows even in conservative circles: I support abortion bans, think most forms of civil divorce should be illegal, and fully embrace the Catholic Church’s prohibition against artificial contraception. I’ve even spoken at rallies, as Serena Joy is seen doing in the trailer for season two. Watching Hollywood villainize a caricature of someone like me, was, well … entertaining.

But it was also a glimpse into the reality that most of our society, even its artists, cannot see, even when their art points right at it – the truth about our modern world. In particular, that when we embraced the separation of sex from marriage, we opened a Pandora’s box of horrors that is still horrifying us.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a worthwhile show, but not for the reasons liberal feminists will celebrate. It’s worth watching to see how much more oppressive for women our society can become when we discard the bond of marriage as completely inviolable.  

Ashley McGuire is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association and the author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female”.

Tags Conservatism Culture Feminism Hillary Clinton Political ideologies Politics Sexual revolution Social theories The Handmaid's Tale Third-wave feminism Women's rights

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