Generation: Handmaid got its name due to a conversation between its founders a year ago in which they thought that The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood was eerily accurate in its predictions, as the mindsets and justifications of the oppressive government in the novel seemed and not too far from what they are today. An all-too-understandable estimated projection if lawmakers now continue to get what they want. That was right around when we discovered this article floating around the internet:
Evidently, as far back as 2006, some southern states have actually started arrested women for “chemical endangerment” of their fetuses. One case involved a pregnant drug addict who miscarried, which is a tragic circumstance, but not the only circumstance. One case involved a heartbroken woman who attempted suicide by consuming rat poison. Neither of these situations had concrete proof that the chemical ingestion is actually what caused the miscarriage (we understand the toxins probably didn’t help, but innocent until proven guilty, yes?). Then, other instances of women miscarrying, who perhaps had every intention of giving birth to and raising their child, have resulted in criminal charges as well. So are we at Generation: Handmaid so paranoid that we might actually have thought right?
A few weeks ago more articles started circulating the web, showing that more traditionally conservative states are following suit. Tennessee may actually sign a bill into law making it homicide to kill an embryo.
Now, before we assume that The Handmaid’s Tale has come true, there are counter-arguments out there that Section 2 of HB 3517 doesn’t actually criminalize miscarriage, but rather it adds a second count of homicide to a person’s charges if they attack and kill a pregnant woman, which is another issue altogether and doesn’t seem so horribly unacceptable. For example, here is an article written in response to all the hysteria on the internet lately:
However, the fine print of HB 3517 also includes things such as chemical endangerment, which is too vague to legislate because it could all too easily be interpreted against a woman who has suffered a miscarriage. Chemical endangerment of an embryo has, in that case, already been misconstrued and used against women. Simply read the individual stories from Lynn Paltrow’s article, or the earlier article from 2011. Perhaps run an internet search on your own. These laws are going in a direction that is terrifying for any woman. Miscarriage is a tragic yet unfortunately common thing, and we all known friends or people in our own families who have had to endure the miscarriage of a wanted child. What if these laws were demented into a criminal charge against them?
Below is an excerpt from the Wikipedia page about Margaret Atwood’s novel. Please read and think about the implications of these new bills being potentially bastardized.
Handmaids are fertile women whose social function is to bear children…Handmaids are produced by re-educating fertile women who have broken the gender and social laws. Owing to the need for fertile Handmaids, Gilead gradually increased the number of gender-crimes. The Republic of Gilead justifies the nature of the handmaids through the biblical stories of Jacob taking his two wives’ handmaids, Bilhah and Zilpah, to bed to bear him children, when the wives could not (Gen. 30:1–3), and Abraham doing the same with his wife’s handmaid, Hagar (Gen. 16:1–6).
…Unwomen are sterile women, widows, feminists, lesbians, nuns, and politically dissident women: all women who are incapable of social integration within the Republic’s strict gender divisions. They are exiled to “the colonies”, areas of both agricultural production and deadly pollution, as are handmaids who fail to produce a child after three two-year assignments, hangings and persecution for a woman who miscarries after a rape… (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Handmaid%27s_Tale)
In our last blog post, we shared the troubling notion that lawmakers consider unborn children more important and sacred than the women carrying them. Laws are being put into effect that reaffirms this fear, and the infuriating thing is that the government doesn’t care about these children after they are born, so long as they are not exposed to evolution or non-abstinence sexual education in schools. And the term “unwoman” actually removes a woman’s identity from her since she does not conform to what these men think that a woman should be.
These women who are now hearing about, who are suffering the consequences of these new bills and laws, are being treated as Unwomen. Even rights as fundamental as equal pay and the ability to file charges for sexual discrimination and harassment are being challenged. This is evidently due to the “lack of grounds” for sexual harassment complaints and the fact that women, as mothers and child-bearers, have no need for equal pay since we would be at home with children anyway and putting homemaking first. Are we “unwomen” if we put career first?
Are we “unwomen” if we suffer the heartbreaking and traumatizing loss of losing a child?
If standing up for what’s right makes us “incapable of social integration” as feminists and consequently an Unwoman, I for one would rather be dying of radiation poisoning in a colony that acting as a walking uterus for a powerful and completely damnable man.
“We are for breeding purposes. We are two-legged wombs, that’s all…ambulatory chalices.”
-Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale