First came the election. Then came the skyrocketing U.S. sales of dystopian classic novels such as The Handmaid's Tale and 1984. Then came the visual adaptations — Broadway, Hulu, what have you. Then, the handmaids themselves descended upon SXSW in the eeriest way. And now, they've arrived on the Texas senate floor. It's official: Dystopia is upon us. We can't say Margaret Atwood didn't warn us.
Today's handmaids, however, had a more meaningful purpose than the SXSW film publicity stunt: These women are pro-choice activists who showed up to protest several bills that would limit abortion rights, The Huffington Post reports. One of these is Senate Bill 415, which would effectively ban second-trimester abortions (by banning the common and safe dilation and evacuation procedure). Another is SB 25, which would allow doctors to lie to their patients in order to prevent them from opting for an abortion.
So basically, these are bills that work to create a misogynist dystopia in which women have no control over their own bodies and are forced to breed children against their will. Surprise: That's the exact setting of The Handmaid's Tale.
Which is why these protesters hit the senate in full creepy handmaid regalia: to illustrate the very fucked-up future towards which our country is rapidly hurtling.
Photos of the quiet but powerful protest made the rounds on social media alongside the hashtag #FightBackTX.
"We think as progress being a straight line forever upwards," The Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood told The Guardian of the 1985 book's resurgence in popularity. "But it never has been so...you can think you are being a liberal democracy but then — bang — you’re Hitler’s Germany. That can happen very suddenly."
“When it first came out it was viewed as being far-fetched," she said of her novel. "However, when I wrote it I was making sure I wasn’t putting anything into it that human beings had not already done somewhere at some time... You are seeing a bubbling up of it now."
Yet so many refuse to acknowledge the slippery slope of the U.S. government's antiquated approach to women's rights. But thanks to these Texas protesters, it's pretty hard to turn a blind eye to just how far that slippery slope may take us.