With season three of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” premiering, there is a lot of talk surrounding the show. Kylie Jenner loves the show so much that she decided to throw a “Handmaid’s Tale”-themed birthday bash. However, in doing so she brought the nightmare of Gilead to life, something that many already fear in this current political climate.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” centers on a dystopian future in which fertile women are known as handmaids, undergo ritualized rape so the elite families can have children in Gilead, what was formerly part of the United States, but is now a twisted Eden.
Women’s agency is completely stripped, as the Handmaids are called by the name of the man they’re assigned to. Handmaids are raped lying between the legs of the commander’s wife.
Those who are not wives or Handmaids are either servants called “Marthas”, or sent to the colonies for supposed “crimes” that they’ve committed. Of course, being gay — what the show calls a “gender traitor” — is absolutely prohibited. Sex for the use of both parties’ pleasure is completely verboten.
The scarlet cloaks and white bonnets donned by the Handmaids in the show and book have popped up at recent protests across the U.S. as restrictive abortion legislation is the talk of many state governments. However, as The Guardian points out, Atwood’s famous costume has been a symbol of resistance around the world.
Given the context of the show and the current political climate, many have taken to Twitter with their outrage, calling Jenner’s actions embarrassing and questioning if she even knows what the show’s premise is.
Actor Bradley Whitford, who plays Commander Lawrence on the show, told CBS’s “The Talk” he took issue with Jenner taking the seriousness of the show and the symbolism of the red cloaks and reducing it to a theme for a birthday party.
“That costume is so kind of iconic, and it’s interesting how it’s changed from initially a symbol of oppression to now, as the show is moving ahead, to a symbol of resistance,” Whitford said. “So yeah, a cocktail party seems to sort of dash all that significance.”
A red robe is not the same as a festive dress. A white bonnet is not the same as a party hat.
As someone who has watched the show and fears the parallels I see between the fictional piece and our current society, I would be terrified to walk into a party and see women dressed as Marthas. I certainly would not put on the red cloak I was supplied with to wear around the party; I would be horrified as someone who understands the symbolism behind those costumes. And I sure as hell wouldn’t be impressed if I were handed “praised be vodka” or “under his eye tequila.”
Jenner said “The Handmaid’s Tale” is one of her favorite shows and it is great. However, it isn’t great in the same way that most shows are great; it carries a heavy weight as it centers around a society fueled on rape and other forms of systematic oppression of women. Such a society should not be glorified by having cocktails named after its greetings or playing dress up in the robes of the oppressed for celebratory reasons.
So, please do not follow in Jenner’s footsteps and throw a party glorifying the oppression of anybody just because a TV show is entertaining. Instead, fight so Gilead does not become a reality. Stand up for the injustices that could lead to such a dystopian state and resist when the voices of others are taken away. Do not ever celebrate oppression.