ICYMI: Hulu just released The Handmaid’s Tale, a made-for-TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 classic. The story is set in a dystopian near-future America, in which right-wing religious fanatics have overthrown the existing government and established the Republic of Gilead. The environment has gone to shit, and as a result fertility rates have dropped dramatically. Those women who are still fertile have been enslaved and now serve as “handmaids”, or surrogate mothers for high-ranking officials and their infertile wives.
While The Handmaid’s Tale does serve as a warning of the dangers of religious fundamentalism and misogyny run amok, it also serves as a window into the patriarchal world of Genesis, in which all of this was real. Jeffrey Salkin at Religion News Service writes about the dark parallels between the story and the dysfunction that lies just beneath the surface in the patriarchal stories of Genesis: The view of fertility as a blessing from God and barrenness as a curse, the routine use of servants/concubines as surrogate mothers when the wife is infertile, and more.