Throughout history, we have seen the exchange of how art influences change and reality affects art. We use art of all forms, painting, movies, books, etc., to tell our stories and share truths when words may not suffice. One show that I feel represents an alternate universe of a current issue is The Handmaid's Tales.
The Handmaid's Tale is a television show based on the novel by Margaret Atwood. I have unfortunately not read the book, so I will focus on the television show. The Handmaid's Tale is about the United States under the totalitarian reign of fundamentalist views. The story follows Offred, a woman who is forced into sexual servitude in the United States. It is a time when with dropped birth rates and environmental disasters, women are treated as property, and the few women who can have children are forced into sexual servitude. The story mainly centers around Offred, name June before she was enslaved, who was married and had a daughter before this time. They were captured and separated as she and her daughter tried to escape the United States.
I believe that this show touches on many realities of today. This article from The Insider touches on the real history that influenced The Handmaid's Tale. One is the impact of religion on our government. The "elite" in the show are religious men and women. The current condition of life in Gilead is based on religious beliefs. The men are in command, holding the highest status, while women, who previously had jobs and families, are placed into different forms of serving these elite couples. Even the women married to the men, who are not held in low status, have no rights. This has been seen recently with the push for religion within our rights. Hiding behind their fundamentalist beliefs, they treat women with the least amount of value. This is often seen in the Bible, how women were treated lowly and as if they did not have value in society. This ties into the other reality, which is, as mentioned by Rachel Harmon, women's reproductive rights.
The entire show is built on women's reproductive rights. These have been rights that women have been fighting for years throughout the world. The Handmaid's Tale has become a glimpse into a world that could happen if systemic change doesn't occur. The mistreatment of childbearing women, who are truly the most valuable in this community, is representative of the fight for women's rights.
This show shows our society's direction if change doesn't occur. This article from BBC talks about how Margaret Atwood wrote this book as speculative fiction. Speculative fiction is an umbrella term for any writing about non-realistic worlds. She talks about how the story was inspired by actual events in the 1980s and are all issues that can occur if technological advances do not happen. This reality requires a shift in the way our society is headed. This is not a reality we want to experience.
The alternative world that is Gilead does take some aspects of current conditions. I understand; much of the story can be considered dramatizing current conditions. I feel the story is more of a warning that this can eventually become a reality without actual change.