10 times The Handmaid’s Tale got way too real

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The Handmaid’s Tale — “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum” Episode 104 — Punished by Serena Joy, Offred begins to unravel and reflects on her time with Moira at the Red Center. A complication during the Ceremony threatens Offred’s survival with the Commander and Serena Joy. Offred (Elisabeth Moss), shown. (Photo by: George Kraychyk/Hulu)

Handmaid training

I’m treading lightly here, because I don’t want to be misunderstood, but I was raised in a faith tradition where sexuality was treated in a manner just close enough to Gilead that I can see echoes in June’s “education” at the Red Center in flashbacks throughout the episodes.

The way in which fertility and sexuality were treated as these sacred things around which relationships were defined, the implicit shame on the victim for being sexually assaulted, and the importance placed on producing children above all else are all very familiar themes I’ve heard before.

This is by no means an attempt to condemn religiosity, but rather to point out that the same harmful attitudes that are staples of Gileadian life already exist in our society, propagated by humans who want power and control whether or not they accurately represent the teachings of their faith.

It’s a fine, fine line to tread and a place where extremism easily finds a home if the base beliefs do not demonstrate a respect for human dignity and free will.