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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: White Feminism as a Show

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ first season is challenging, riveting, and about as white feminist as you can get

By Brandon DanielPublished 6 years ago 3 min read
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The Independent

The Handmaid’s Tale suffers from one glaring issue, which is the one everyone seems to be talking about — its lack of intersectionality. Yes, it is important to cast POC, non-cis, and non-hetero actors. But you have to actually use them. If The Handmaid’s Tale’s excuse is that it’s “post-racial,” et al, pardon my French, but that’s utter bull.

The show casts O.T. Fagbenle as June’s black husband and Jordana Blake as their mixed daughter. But it never deals with the complexities of having an interracial marriage or mixed daughter in a society that is so stark white. It’s not all white, you say? Oh yes, of course. There are some Latina and black handmaids. None of whom get named of course, with the exception of Moira, June’s black, queer best friend, played by the incredible Samira Wiley.

Even so, Moira does not get to tell her story properly. We don’t get a Moira episode. All we get is a quick diatribe between her and June later on in the season. We don’t get to see this riveting tale of her escaping and finding her way to the Jezebels.

The Handmaid’s Tale completely ignores the complexities of a black, queer woman living as a sex slave for white men (and it does the same for Latina women too; not to mention that there seem to be no women of other ethnicities shown, either). There is a ton of racial history and nuance that could have been dealt with, but rather is completely ignored. A show cannot ignore the history of its people, nor should it pretend that in the near future society is somehow going to be completely over racism. If current events have taught us anything, that is not even close to the case.

If you think that the show does not depict any sort of white supremacy type beliefs, look at the husbands, wives, and higher up authority figures. Surprise! They are all white. I wonder why that is?

And here is where another problem lies. You can look at The Handmaid’s Tale and think this could happen for real. If it did, the people who would lead the charge would be the same people who are utterly racist, sexist, misogynist, anti-homo and transsexuality. In their future, there is no place for anyone who is not white. They would say that raping non-hetero women is helping them. They would say that they are being and acting Christian-like and use religious rhetoric even though they obviously have no idea what any of that means.

The Handmaid’s Tale tries to be inclusive. But being inclusive does not mean ignoring the reality of these people. Being inclusive does not mean that you ignore the very fabric of this type of society, where all of these groups of people would be hunted and eradicated. In doing so, you are casting these people just for show. You are not dealing with all the problems that need to be dealt with.

The Handmaid’s Tale becomes a show solely about white feminism, because that is what happens when you act like people of other color, race, creed, sex, gender, et al, are exactly the same as you. But they aren’t. White feminism is focusing solely on white woman. If you pretend that everyone is white, even though they aren’t, you are still just focusing on that one thing.

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About the Creator

Brandon Daniel

Staff writer for The Unbalanced. All things culture, entertainment, and everything in between. Find me on all socials at @branddnh. Find me on YouTube at 'Brooke & Brandon'.

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