The Women’s March has asked attendees of this weekend’s abortion rights rally not to wear “The Handmaid’s Tale”-themed outfits, saying the costume “erases” the experience of black and otherwise oppressed women.
The protest organization issued guidance on its website ahead of Saturday’s Rally for Abortion Justice advising attendees not to show up dressed as the “handmaids” from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian 1985 novel, which was made into a popular Hulu TV series in 2017.
If you're joining us at a #RallyForAbortionJustice, here's what you should & shouldn't bring:
👟 Comfy shoes
💧 Water & Snack
⚡️ Portable Charger
🧴 Hand Sanitizer
👜 Fanny Pack + ID
❌ Coat hanger imagery
❌ "Handmaid's Tale" outfits
Are you ready to rally?
— Women's March (@womensmarch) October 1, 2021
“The use of Handmaid’s Tale imagery to characterize the controlling of women’s reproduction has proliferated, primarily by white women across the country, since the show has gained popularity,” the Women’s March said on its site.
- The organization objects to the novel and show’s depiction of women’s oppression as occurring in a “dystopian past or future.”
- According to the group, Handmaid’s Tale imagery has created “more fragmentation, often around race and class, because it erases the fact that Black women, undocumented women, incarcerated women, poor women and disabled women have always had their reproduction freedom controlled in this country.”
The Women’s March also discouraged coat-hanger imagery on the grounds that it reinforces the idea that “self-managed abortions are dangerous, scary and harmful.”
Both the show and the novel depict life in the fictional Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and patriarchal theocracy where women are subject to the brutal rule of men driven by fundamentalist Christian principles.
- The show’s debut in April 2017, coinciding with the early days of former President Donald Trump’s administration, prompted liberals to draw comparisons between Gilead and the United States under Trump.
- It wasn’t long before “Handmaid’s Tale” costumes became a uniform of sorts for feminist protesters, who began wearing them to demonstrations against Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence’s purported assaults on women’s rights.
- Feminists have adopted a popular phrase from the book as a rallying cry, with some even having it tattooed on their bodies.
Meanwhile, “The Handmaid Tale’s” TV writers have reportedly been grappling with the show’s relevance in a post-Trump world.