Hulu's upcoming series The Handmaid's Tale, based on Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel, is packed with deeply troubling parallels to modern-day America, and the relevance has already gone beyond subtext. A group of women wore red robes and white bonnets to the Texas Senate gallery yesterday, mirroring the uniform of the "handmaids"—women forced into sexual slavery in a world where reproductive rights have been abolished.
The women were protesting several pieces of new legislation that could limit access to abortion. One of the bills would effectively ban a method of second-trimester abortion, The Huffington Post reports, while another would make it easier for doctors to lie to pregnant women about fetal anomalies that might incline them to opt for an abortion.
The Handmaid's Tale takes place in a future where environmental disasters and rapidly declining birthrates have transformed the United States into the Republic of Gilead, a theocratic military regime that treats women as property of the state. The protagonist Offred (played on the show by Elisabeth Moss), as one of the few remaining fertile women, is forced into sexual slavery as a "handmaid"—or a host, you might say.
The relevance of this misogynist dystopia is distressing, but at least it's already providing women with a potent new visual language for activism.