Apathy & Attachment: The Real Terror Of The Handmaid’s Tale


By Jesse Valenti
The Guardian (4/27/17)

When Hulu released a trailer for their adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale, some conservatives didn’t realize the series was based on a decades-old novel – they thought it was created in response to Trump’s presidential win.

The confusion makes some sense. Much of the show feels familiar in today’s political climate: children being wrenched from their parents’ arms at borders. A lesbian tortured in order, she’s told, to cure her unnatural appetites. Women forced to carry pregnancies after they’ve been raped.

But what makes The Handmaid’s Tale so terrifying is not that it’s timely, but that it’s timeless. And after watching seven episodes, what’s been keeping me up at night isn’t the explicit horrors as much as how the show surfaces women’s fear of what everyday sexism really means.

Because as much as The Handmaid’s Tale is about what happens when some men’s disdain for women boils over, it’s also about the danger of “good” men’s apathy and attachment to the privileges sexism affords them. Both are horrors women know well.

Before the handmaid era has been ushered in by a coup d’état, for example, Moss and her friend Moira (played by Samira Wiley) are called “fucking sluts” by a cashier at a coffee shop for no real reason. It’s as if the man, who seems to know about the impending government shift, is finally free to say whatever he wants to women – a misogynist troll empowered. (A sobering thought in any time, but even more so in the wake of the news that one New Hampshire politician got his start on Reddit forums calling for an end to women’s autonomy.)

There’s violence and sexual assault to spare, but it’s the milquetoast misogynists that feel more familiar: the boss who offers a meek apology when he’s forced to mass-fire female employees at a publishing company; the soldier who holds door open for the women as they file out of their workplace, knowing they’ll never return; the “commander” who allows his handmaid to read a now-forbidden fashion magazine so he can feel benevolent.

It’s a creeping sort of sexism that American women are all-too familiar with – the kind that pats you on the head instead of on the ass. …

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Trump Administration Moves To Roll Back Birth Control Coverage 

By Laura Bassett
The HuffPost (5/30/17)

WASHINGTON ― The Trump administration is on the verge of rolling back a federal rule that requires most employers to cover birth control in their health insurance plans at no cost to women.

The White House Office of Management and Budget posted on its website that it is reviewing an interim final rule that would allow religious employers to deny contraception coverage to their female employees. The details of the rule have not been announced, but Gretchen Borchelt, the vice president of the National Women’s Law Center, said it is certain that “some women will lose birth control coverage.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the move “sickening.”

“The draft rule announced today [5/30] attempts to tear away women’s control over their own private health decisions and put that control in the hands of employers and politicians,” she said.

The contraception mandate, enacted under President Barack Obama in 2012, for the first time in U.S. history deemed birth control an essential preventive health service that should be fully covered alongside well-woman visits, mammograms and sexually transmitted infection screenings. It guarantees coverage to more than 55 million women, saved women $1.4 billion on birth control pills in the first year it went into effect, and has contributed to the lowest U.S. abortion ratesince the procedure became legal in 1973.

Some religious employers have been fighting the mandate since it was announced. …

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Learn More About The Center For Reproductive Rights

The Center for Reproductive Rights uses the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill.

Reproductive freedom lies at the heart of the promise of human dignity, self-determination and equality embodied in both the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Center works toward the time when that promise is enshrined in law in the United States and throughout the world. We envision a world where every woman is free to decide whether and when to have children; where every woman has access to the best reproductive healthcare available; where every woman can exercise her choices without coercion or discrimination. More simply put, we envision a world where every woman participates with full dignity as an equal member of society.

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