Amy Bailey: The really scary thing about “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Remember what Madeleine Albright had to say about women supporting women?

I do.

In February 2016, at a campaign event for then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state said, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

That caused a lot of people to lose their minds, including a lot of women who were not interested in electing Hillary Clinton. And they definitely weren’t interested in being told what to do based on their gender.

Albright had actually been using that quote, in some way or shape for years before saying it at the pre-Democratic primary campaign event in 2016. But, less than a week later, she went on to walk it back to some degree in a New York Times Op Ed, noting it was “the wrong context and the wrong time to use that line.”

More than three years have passed and now, in 2019, I’ve personally moved from “not interested in being told what to do” to “being pretty tired of being told what to do.”

I’m tired of being told how to act (you know, the nonsense about graciously “leaning in” to difficult situations like a lady without being a crazy bitch).

I’m sick of being told what to wear (God no, not the yoga pants!).

And I’m downright exhausted by hearing, time and again, that – as women – we can’t make choices about our bodies and our pregnancies.

Bills aimed at eventually overturning Roe v Wade, some of which have been signed into law, are popping up across the country. This legislative effort, and related discussions and debates, have made it easy to draw parallels between this time right now in our country and Hulu's disturbingly realistic "The Handmaid's Tale," which has a new season streaming on June 5.

Photo via AP

It’s an especially easy comparison when protesters in 2019 are wearing red robe replicas of the Handmaids in the series. Those robes, and the Handmaids’ head-covering “wings,” represent oppression. But I don’t think that is the most frightening part of the series. The thing that scares me the most about the series? Those women in blue, some of whom helped develop the rules for this new society and some of whom helped rape Handmaids.

Those women scare the shit out of me. And there's a version of them out there right now.

They’re the women who think feminism is a nasty word. They’re the women who think gender equality has been achieved. They’re the women who fret over “fathers and sons” and lay the heavy burden of blame and shame on the sisters and daughters.

Maybe Albright did go too far in 2016 when it seemed like she set aside a special place in hell for women who didn’t support the woman running for this country’s highest office. It might not mean hell for failing to support the sisterhood, but it will mean a longer stay in purgatory.

Photo via Working Mother.

Amy Bailey was a member of the Michigan Capitol Press Corps from 2000-2006. She lives and works in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband, son and an easily excitable Australian Shepherd. Amy's guest column, Something to Say, will publish the first and fourth Wednesday of every month. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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