A Little Respect, Just a Little Bit: On White Feminism and How “The Handmaid’s Tale” is Being Weaponized Against Women of Color

Max S. Gordon
24 min readJul 4, 2019

by Max S. Gordon

“All I’m asking is for a little respect when you get home (just a little bit).”
Aretha Franklin, Respect

(Please note: this essay contains spoilers from Seasons 1, 2 and 3 of The Handmaid’s…oh, fuck it. Either read it or don’t.)

FOR AN AUDIO VERSION OF THIS ESSAY CLICK HERE:

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Two weeks ago, I was kicked out of a Facebook group devoted to discussing Season Three of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. It is still unclear to me why I was ejected, as I never received a warning from a moderator or even a private message. I went to check on a comment I had left on the page earlier in the day and discovered that not only was I unable to find the thread I had started, I couldn’t locate the group or its notifications in my history. I was completely disappeared.

The criticisms I posted about the show weren’t new; I’ve written twice now about The Handmaid’s Tale since the show premiered, seasons one and two, and I continue to express my frustration about the show’s treatment of race — or lack thereof. To some, Bruce Miller’s decision to blind-cast his series based on Margaret’s Atwood’s 1985 novel was admirable. Miller claimed to be committed to diversity, appalled, in 2017, at the idea of creating an all-white show.

I wanted to give Miller and his team the benefit of the doubt, and like someone in an abusive relationship, I’ve continued to come back to The Handmaid’s Tale hoping that it would have a moment of insight and become the show it might have been all along; a drama that would include examples of white and black female resistance. I hadn’t anticipated writing about the series a third time — twice was more than enough to make my point — but what I saw in the episode that premiered last night was disturbing on so many levels, so antithetical to what I know about black women, both historically and from what I have seen in my own life, that I feel the show has now become a tool to be weaponized against women of color.

Atwood’s novel about a dystopian society in which the religious right has run amok is a…

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Max S. Gordon

Max S. Gordon is a writer and activist. His work has appeared in on-line and print magazines in the U.S. and internationally. Follow Max on twitter:@maxgordon19