Working from a place of self-Awareness and Self-questioning
In using imagery from The Handmaid’s Tale to draw attention to threats to reproductive freedoms, we must be cognizant that there are problems with the work as it stands and seek ways to be intentional, intersectional and not perpetuate these wrongs. How can future actions be used to have a necessary, albeit difficult, conversation among white feminists about race? How can Handmaid actions lift up other movements and center people of color? Handmaid actions have drawn media attention and have captured the public’s eye. However, moving forward, we must shift this attention to how reproductive oppression disproportionately impacts black women in the United States and open up the discussion to the way white, European invaders treated indigenous women in the United States and how these populations still treated today in a land that was originally theirs.
The Handmaid’s Tale, both in book and TV form, is far from perfect and fails to (adequately) address the history of racism in the United States. In thinking critically about the work and future actions, we should ask: what are the problems with creating a work of dystopian fiction that portrays what some might argue is a horrific fate for women – white women – without acknowledging the actual past that black people lived through or the reality of how racism affects their lives today? Why is it problematic that the TV series features black actors, but the Gilead portrayed in the show does not bring up racism, as if this future society has magically erased that problem while compounding so many others (sexism, religious fanaticism, homophobia, etc.), especially when the Commanders portrayed in the series are all white? In such a thought-provoking work, it is a lost opportunity to ignore American society’s worst, most shameful, and still very pressing problem: anti-blackness and systemic racism.