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The Handmaid’s Tale Paints A Grim Future For Queer Women

Lesbians are tortured in the dystopian TV show "The Handmaid's Tale."
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In a world where women are tortured and harvested, LGBT women get the worst treatment.

Enter the realistic torture chamber that is Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the horrifying Margaret Atwood novel of the same name.

In this women, women are stripped of their identities and assigned to men for procreating. Their very existence revolves around heterosexual reproduction.

So what happens to queer women?

In Atwood’s book, the government immediately hanged all lesbian, bisexual and queer women, but the TV show decides to explore their predicaments a bit more in-depth. Two queer women help anchor the narrative.

First, there is Ofglen (Alexis Bledel). She’s a headstrong lesbian who refuses to bend to the establishment.

Bledel says,

In playing her, I certainly felt that she had more at stake than some of the other handmaids because she would be deemed a gender traitor. She’s a lesbian, and they don’t approve of her sexual orientation, so she’s really vulnerable.”

Add that vulnerability to the fact that she’s a major player in the resistance movement, and Ofglen is a walking target.

But the most heartbreaking narrative is that of Moira, played by Samira Wiley, who recently faced a horrifying death in Orange is the New Black – she can’t get a break. A few episodes in, the audience is told that she has been killed.

The only reason that the government allows queer women to live is because their ovaries are functional. Before the fascist revolution that led to the enslavement of women occurred, there was a major environmental disaster that sterilized many women.

The queer ones who were unable to have children were shipped to colonies and left to die.

In the third episode, Ofglen is publically declared a gender traitor. In what is the most heartrending moment of the series, she is forced to undergo physical and emotional torture, humiliation and mutilation.

Of course, all of this torture is carried out in a way that will prevent Ofglen from ever experiencing any type of sexual pleasure in the future, but will still allow her to have children.

Why tell such a horrifying story? And why now?

With a President that seems hellbent on stripping away the rights of women and LGBT people, these types of stories are more pertinent than ever. They’re a warning: Fight for your rights before it’s too late.

Watch The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu.

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Author
J. Marie graduated from Duke University with a degree in International Relations and dreams of being a creative writer--dreams she's now realizing as a musical theatre writer in NYC. She's passionate about global black identities, black representation in media, and leather-bound notebooks. She also loves backpacking through a new country at a moment's notice, and speaks Spanish, Swahili and Standard Arabic.

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