The Handmaid's Tale: Why It Matters Now More Than Ever
In case you didn't know, The Handmaid’s Tale, a Hulu series that debuted earlier this year, has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards. While the streaming service has received nominations before, none of them were for above-the-line awards — until now.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian drama based in the near future, where fertility rates have dropped to almost nonexistent numbers. This collapse leads to a chaotic civil war, in which the current government is overthrown and the United States is turned into a patriarchal run society, Gilead.
The new government completely strips away all women’s rights — women are not allowed to work, own money, or even read. Those that are fertile, the Handmaids, are imprisoned and assigned to the elite’s homes. There, the handmaid’s sole purpose is to reproduce. Each month, the handmaids are raped by their commanders in hopes of being impregnated. The handmaids are held to the highest standards and most strict rules, and if they step out of line, are subject to brutal disfiguration — losing hands, eyes, or even their lives.
Women’s Rights Are YOUR Rights
The show, at its core, is a cry for feminism. The Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson wrote that it “is a warning, about how oppression can creep up on you, and what happens when women’s lives are no longer their own”.
The Handmaid’s Tale touches on sexual assault, reproductive rights, social rights, racial and gender equality, and just how easily these rights can be stripped away if given the chance. The show also helps bring to light how, even in 2017, women’s rights are still SO fragile. Infringement on basic human rights is very, very possible. …As seen with TrumpCare.
Elizabeth Moss told Huffington Post, “Women’s rights are human rights … And I welcome the conversations. Anything that brings feminism into the spotlight, anything that brings reproductive rights into the spotlight, is a great thing. Whatever that is. We should be talking about it.”
Why Those 13 Emmy Nominations Matter. So. Much.
So exactly why are those Emmy Nominations so important? Aside from validating the women’s rights issues raised in Handmaid’s Tale, it also shows an improvement in the Emmy Organization in general.
Here are some depressing stats:
Since 1929, when the Emmy’s began, only ONE female has ever won the Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow, 2010, The Hurt Locker).
Only FOUR women have ever even been nominated for the Best Director award (Lina Wertmüller, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola , Kathryn Bigelow ).
That means that only 5.8% of women have ever even been nominated for Best Director. 5.8% … ouch.
But there is hope! This year, among numerous other nominations , the Handmaid’s Tale has been nominated for Outstanding Director for a Drama Series, Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, and Outstanding Drama Series.
To put it in perspective, 66.7% of the series writers and 80% of the series directors are WOMEN for the Handmaid’s Tale. That is a whole lot of women driven, bad ass content that is being acknowledged.
This means that the Handmaid’s Tale, while raising questions about serious women’s rights issues, is also being recognized for its majority female cast and crew. And while this isn't the first series or film to make positive strides for women’s rights, the wide popularity of the show (in all genders) shows a “YUUGE” step in the right direction. And every little step counts.
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