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The Real Handmaid's Tale

The official outfit of the #Resistance used to be a black mask or private parts hats. Lately it’s been the pseudo-Amish outfit of an oversized bonnet and long red dress from The Handmaid’s Tale.

You can find lefty protesters dressed like Amish prison inmates protesting the Kavanaugh hearings by looking firmly at the ground. Alyssa Milano, a has-been child actress, brandished a “Never Kavanaugh, Never Gilead,” sign while dressed in the goofy signature outfit of the Hulu series. Lefties outfitted as, what the show’s costume designer has described as, “walking wombs”, protested Pence’s arrival.

The silly protest style has also been picked up by pro-abortion protesters in Ireland and Argentina.

The Handmaid’s Tale cosplay is, like so much of postmodern feminist outrage, a dystopian fantasy in search of a reality. Its imaginary universe, of the book and the show, in which men are innately predatory, validates their conviction that Brett Kavanaugh must be guilty, because he is a conservative white Christian man. And they’re all rapists. Just like the oppressors of Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale.

The Handmaid’s Tale is to postmodern feminists what Birth of a Nation was to white nationalists. Both are fantasies by which the powerful justify their oppression by imagining themselves to be powerless.

Wealthy career women pretending that they’re slaves, staring at the ground as an aggressive protest, dressing up like nuns, the Amish or other members of religious communities that they despise, is a costuming that reveals the malicious hypocrisy of the lefty protesters, not of their conservative targets.

But The Handmaid’s Tale, a bad book, has always been tainted with pious hypocrisy and bad faith.

Margaret Atwood, its author, drew inspiration from the events of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, but she projected the treatment of women in Muslim countries on to “fundamentalist Christians” in America instead. The Hulu show picks up on the abuses inflicted by the Islamic State on women in Iraq and Syria, and once again projects the abuses of Islamic theocracies on to Trump, Republicans and Americans.

The Handmaid’s Tale appropriates the suffering of women in Muslim countries and uses it to nurture the inflated sense of victimhood of American feminists without ever acknowledging the source. Not only are American feminists appropriating their suffering, but they’re exploiting it for a political cause that is supportive of the Islamic theocracies that are repressing, imprisoning and killing those women.

Gilead, the imaginary dictatorship that oppresses women, really does exist in Iran and Saudi Arabia. It nearly came into being in Egypt and Tunisia because of the “Arab Spring” perpetrated by the Obama administration and backed by some of the same Washington D.C. career socialites who like to pretend that they’re oppressed Christian concubines on the weekends. The Offred cosplayers can be found at lefty conferences and protests alongside Muslim Brotherhood front group activists wearing hijabs.

But the hijab and the burka is, as every good lefty knows, empowering. As are genital mutilations and honor killings. Mohammed, who raped and enslaved women across the land, was a feminist. And every immigrant from a religion, whose texts prescribe beating women and whose laws legalize the rape of unaccompanied women, is another triumph for diversity, feminism and the right side of history.

The Islamic State’s mass enslavement of women, the forced gender apartheid of the Muslim world, the mass sexual assaults by Muslim migrants in Germany, the Muslim sex grooming gangs in the UK, all vanish to be replaced by safe American Christian male villains who validate the politics of the left.

The original feminists were Christians. Gilead, the caliphate of the Handmaid’s Tale, has no resemblance to any actual Christian society, but its system of concubines, of mandatory clothing for women, has obvious resemblances to Islamic theocracies. Including Iran: whose regime is backed by the left.

If the Handmaid’s Tale protesters were serious about women’s rights, they would be protesting John Kerry’s collusion with the Iranian regime, and Obama’s illegal shipments of billions to that regime, instead of pretending that Mike Pence, who won’t even be alone with a woman who isn’t his wife, wants to stock up on concubines from the ranks of the Washington D.C. chattering classes.

The Handmaid’s Tale takes a real threat to women and allows the political allies of that threat to instead project it elsewhere. That was the function of the book, and it’s the essential function of the Hulu series.

The Handmaid’s Tale, the Hulu show even more than the book, serves to advance modern feminism’s reductionism of women’s rights to abortion. The difference between abortion on demand at any time and any restriction on it is the difference between some European feminist nirvana like Sweden, (with several times the sexual assault rate of the United States), and the Tale’s Gilead.

This reductionism makes it easy to ignore the plight of women in the Muslim world. If the defining issue of women’s rights isn’t the right to own property, to walk the street or to not be beaten, but abortion, then wealthy white feminists are just as potentially oppressed as Iranian or Qatari women are. And when Muslim Brotherhood front groups sign on to the lefty united front, even when it includes abortion, that must mean that a repressive Islamic theocracy is actually more liberal than America.

When the core of women’s rights is abortion, then it’s easy to ignore the actual oppression of women.

The cheap costume theatrics of lefties in bonnets obscures the horrifying mutilation and abuse of women in the real world while allowing the powerful to feel good about their own hypocrisies.

When Margaret Atwood, the Handmaid’s Tale Canadian author, showed up at the prestigious Hay Festival in the UK, a group of women in red dresses and white bonnets followed her around.

There, Atwood suggested that Mike Pence could use her book as an “instruction manual” and that had Hillary Clinton won, they might have said, “look at what we have just avoided’.”

Hillary Clinton had laughed about her tactics in helping a 12-year-old girl’s rapist get away with his crime. And if there’s anyone who belongs in the hierarchy of Gilead, it’s Hillary, a greedy egomaniacal creature who covered for her husband’s abusive appetites for women by going after his victims.

But postmodern feminism is filled with such hypocrisies and absurdities.

While The Handmaid’s Tale has been touted as a work for the #MeToo era, Atwood ended up on the wrong side of the movement when she championed the cause of a male professor accused of sexual assault. “Am I a bad feminist?” Atwood demanded, in an essay which rejected the fundamental premise of #BelieveAllWomen by declaring, “that women are human beings, with the full range of saintly and demonic behaviours this entails, including criminal ones. They're not angels, incapable of wrongdoing.”

But Atwood’s most famous work plugs into a poisonous postmodern feminist culture that uses fantasies of victimhood to demonize one gender and sanctify another. #BelieveAllWomen is the flip side of #YesAllMen. Evil is defined by identity. Kavanaugh is a man and a devil. His accuser, obviously an angel.

The costumes, invoking fundamentalist beliefs, are actually fairly apt.

The lefty protesters have no religion, but they have a black and white view of the world, a Manichean clash between angels and devils, between Democrats and Republicans, feminism and masculinity. The political hysteria is redolent of Salem with witch trials, feverish purges and self-righteous terror.

Their mistake was believing that they could wear a costume to criticize someone else. Like a Rorschach inkblot, the costume you wear doesn’t say anything about other people, it says something about you.

The Handmaid’s Tale outfits are the costume of a fundamentalist political sect that stigmatizes and represses an entire gender and wants to remake America into a dystopian society where masculinity is a crime and kangaroo courts punish people with no evidence but the crime of their gender.

If you want to find Gilead, don’t read a book, visit a college campus.

Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine.

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Thank you for reading.


  1. The reality doesn't matter. They BELIEVE that Christian fundamentalists think and would act this way, and they act on that belief. It's like attacking Sarah Palin for things that Tina Fey had the "Sarah Palin" character on Saturday Night Live said -- they believed that was the sort of thing she would have said, so they attacked the real Palin (who was, admittedly, no prize) for what her parodier said.

  2. Anonymous4/10/18

    Do women have abortion rights in the Moslem world?

  3. great article and very true

  4. 'Waaaaaay back in 1990 I heard Juan Williams read a Margaret Atwood poem and fell in love with her. I wrote her a fan letter, thinking that she was a genuine poet in pursuit of truth. I have since been disabused of Miz Atwood's authenticity as a poet. She is an authentic Leftist who flashes an honest expression when "honesty" serves her purpose. "Margaret Atwood, you broke my heart!"

  5. I remember the 1990 movie of Handmaids, and I haven't seen the 2017 TV version of the story. The two are very far apart in terms of tone and purpose. The chief concern of the 1990 movie was what happened to the woman's daughter after the border guards shot her husband and it's never learned what happened to the daughter. There was no overt political theme to the 1990 movie, but for reasons unexplained Canada was seen as the "escape to" country (though it isn't now, since it fires anyone who bad mouths Islam).

  6. "If you want to find Gilead, don’t read a book, visit a college campus."
    ....or the "Democrats Senate !
    However, the Handmaidens' outfits are, at least aestethically, an improvement on the "pussy hats" :

    Oh, and you remain one of the most brilliant writers alive !

  7. Although I've only seen snippets of the 2017 TV version and remember the 1990 movie, I'm still struck by both of The Stepford Wives, in which the wives of men who moved to some town are turned into obedient robots when the men are inducted into the local men's club. The movie and the TV series predated The Stepford Wives by decades, but the anti-man theme was there, too.

  8. JK Brown7/10/18

    The error is in thinking The Handmaid's Tale is about the men. The men are in many ways trying to escape the restrictions imposed by the old women just as the young women are. I came to this summation:

    It is a dystopian tale where evangelical Christians adopt Sharia law.

    It's mostly about old women controlling and dominating young, fertile women as a means for the old women to maintain their status as spouses of powerful men. Basically, the Bill and Hillary story with cosplay.


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