Ever since Trump took office, with Mike Pence faithfully by his side bringing his brand of anti-LGBTQ, anti-reproductive rights history with him, there have been numerous people touting an encroaching “Handmaid’s Tale”-esque era in America. With a number of appointees in the Health and Human Services department pushing abstinence-only instead of fact-based comprehensive sex education, and taking away funding from teen pregnancy prevention programs, not to mentioned Trump gutting the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act, the cried of “Gilead!” aren’t exactly a stretch.
With the recent announcement of US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy retiring this summer, many right-wing conservatives are excited at the thought of Trump nominating and the Republicans confirming a new conservative justice who could potentially overturn Roe v Wade (legalized abortion), Griswold v Connecticut (legalized birth control) and Obergefell v Hodges (legalized gay marriage).
In fact, one of trump’s floated nominees, a law professor named Amy Coney Barrett, a devout Catholic, is a member of a group called People of Praise. Members swear a life oath of loyalty, called a covenant, are accountable to a personal adviser, called a “head” for men & a “handmaid” for women. Life imitating art, in the scariest way possible. Given the political climate we are living in, the work of advocacy organizations and awareness-raising by notable public figures are artists is more important than ever.
And it’s not just the potential threat of what is to come, speaking in regard to the Gilead world of HULU’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ series, based off of Margaret Atwood’s iconic 1985 novel. There are major issues being fought against right now that show just how deep the gender inequality already is in our society and power structures. An organization we are proud to support, Equality Now, have teamed with cast members and creators from the actual ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ series for a campaign called ‘Hope Lives In Every Name’, bringing awareness to gender violence issues in a unique way.
The centerpiece of the campaign is a 90 second film in which members of the cast and production team share testimonies that may sound as if they are from the show, but are in fact the words of real women with person experiences of issues covered in the hit show, including sexual violence, trafficking and female genital mutilation. The film features series writer Bruce Miller, producer Warren Littlefield and actors Joseph Fiennes, Samira Wiley, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, O-T Fagbenle, Amanda Brugel and Alexis Bledel.
An essential first step to addressing injustice is equality under the law. Equality Now’s international network of lawyers, activists and supporters use laws to protect and promote women’s rights around the world, and to hold governments to account over ending legal inequality, sex trafficking, sexual violence and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage.
This campaign calls on people to speak out in support women and girls rights, and to support Equality Now in harnessing the power of national and international laws to achieve gender equality and justice. Stories in the film came from women in Sierra Leone, Britain, Tanzania, Jordan, Bolivia and the United States.
Thompson Reuters says the campaign draws parallels eerily similar to that of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale, addressing sexual violence, sex trafficking and female genital mutilation. Equality Now’s Global Executive Director Yasmeen Hassan told Reuters: “This is Margaret Atwood’s so-called fiction but it’s really not. It’s a fiction that is closer to reality than most people think … We have cases on all the issues that are shown in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ in real time.”
Margaret Atwood has even spoken at length about her fiction work, explaining how every topic and theme included came from real-life instances that she pieced together, so the idea of making a “real life” Handmaid’s Tale isn’t exactly a stretch. The author herself tweeted about the Equality Now campaign:
Cast member Amanda Brugel who was involved in the campaign shared the following tweet:
If you are feeling distraught and hopeless about the current state of politics, we encourage you to take hope that there are organizations like Equality Now and many others as well as high-profile individuals who are determined to fight for human rights and stop the abuse happening around the world, and the creeping Gilead that is being seen here in the US. Share the campaign video and join Equality Now in the fight against gender violence.