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Like many of us, I eagerly awaited the Hulu production of The Handmaid's Tale. The book it's based on is essential reading, and I am a fan of the 1990 film adaptation. In recent weeks I've had a bit of trepidation -- the casting of Elisabeth Moss, a devout $cientologist, as Offred, is problematic to me, since that cult is not known for espousing reproductive autonomy, and a panel where Moss and other crew members tried to distance the story from feminism was pretty fucked up.

Still, I paid for a couple months of Hulu commercial-free, because I believe it's important to financially support art that carries a message. I binged the first three episodes available yesterday.

There are changes. Gilead is no longer a homogeneously lily-white nation as depicted in the book, no mention of the "Children of Ham" being forcibly relocated. Offred/June's husband is black, her stolen daughter biracial, her best friend Moira is also black. Nick is played by a British multi-ethnic actor. Non-white Handmaids, Marthas, and Eyes are seen--so far, though, no Commanders or Wives are POC that I noticed.

It's interesting to me how some have drawn parallels from the hierarchy of Gilead to that of areas controlled by Daesh or the Taliban. Pointing at the costumes of Handmaids in their body-obscuring robes and sight-obscuring bonnets, conditioned to meek complacency and saying "this is just like shariah!"

Well...yes and no.

[Possible spoiler ahead]

At the close of the third episode, a character is sentenced to state sanctioned genital mutilation for the crime of "gender treachery", i.e. lesbianism. The judge claims she is sentenced to "redemption" rather than death, because she is useful to the government for her fertility--her lover is not so lucky. The audience is left to wonder what "redemption" means until we see her wake up in a blinding-white hospital ward, wincing in pain. She gets to her feet and raises her gown. A patch of bandages covers her pubis, she has surgical hose on over it. The Aunt in charge of her strides in and briskly informs her that "the stitches will come out soon" and this has been done because "you cannot want what you cannot have."

The inference, of course, is that she has at the very least been subject to a clitoridectomy, perhaps infibulation as well. Her pleasure has been excised from her. Taking her reproductive freedom was not enough.

Let me pause here for a minute because FGM has always made me physically ill.

Okay.

Now, recently in the news, a female doctor in Michigan, a practicing Muslim, has become the first American physician to be charged with performing female genital mutilation on children. That's already a horror. And it adds to the cries of "creeping sharia" that anti-immigration crowds use to whip themselves into a frenzy.

Except...she's not the first to do this in the United States. And this is not anything new. And it is not only a Muslim practice. It's not even a Muslim practice at all. (I must defer to the scholarship of Qasim Rashid, but I know that there is no mention of FGM in the Koran.)

Do you like corn flakes? Or graham crackers?

Both John Harvey Kellogg and Sylvester Graham endorsed clitoral mutilation to curb what they deemed the "dangerous practice" of masturbation in women. Usually by burning the tissue with pure carbolic acid, or surgical removal in certain "advanced cases".

Clitoridectomy was on the books to treat "hysteria" as late as 1946. Performed on children as young as toddlers. And it continued long after that.

To white girls.

Here are the stories of several white, American and Canadian women, in their own words, who underwent unnecessary clitoral surgeries long after the 1946 cut off (pun not intended). https://sites.google.com/site/completebaby/female

In the last decade a prominent white, American body modification blogger was arrested for colluding to perform clitoral excisions on two young girls brought to him by their parents. At the time of his arrest, police found that he had prepared a bath tub full of some sort of noxious herbal solution for them to sit in while he cut them. His full-time BDSM slave spoke of how eager she was to have him remove her own clitoris and feed it to her as what she described as a "complete act of submission" to her "master".

Submission. Removal of autonomy, removal of anatomy. Removal of pleasure. All you are is a hole. All you are is a vessel. Now there's this trend of "stealthing" in the news where men feel entitled to sneak condoms off and "spread their seed". I've had too many creeps on twitter argue with me that this is not rape. They probably don't think what the Commanders do to Handmaids is rape. I wonder what they'd think of Lebensborn? Well, with the rise of visible Nazism since 45's election, they probably think it's a swell idea. Round up all those blonde Fox News anchors and install them in rape racks and Richard Spencer and his cadre can have a go. No wonder Tomi Lahren got fired, she's no longer a potential incubator for them.

I look at the Duggar family, the most media-friendly "submissive" women out there right now. How the cult they belong to values them only for looking pleasant and remaining "fruitful". Curled hair, body-obscuring clothing in any climate, and always, vapid smiles, because you cannot sell the idea of heavenly contentment even if your dissatisfaction is destroying you inside, even if your elder brother comes into your bedroom and diddles you, even if you are told from childhood that you cannot grow up and live your own life. Smile for the cameras, and mark the big kitchen calendar for Mommy's fertile days, because everyone in the house needs to know when Daddy is going to fuck her.

I look at the FLDS cult run by Warren Jeffs, Again, women are commodities, with only the most prominent of men in the group allowed to collect, amass, and hoard them. Again, long-sleeved, elaborately-coiffed, and admonished to "keep sweet" at all times to please their God and their shared husband, who is supposed to be their God on earth. Again, smile, smile, smile, keep your head down, be humble, never show any sign of any honest emotion. What use would that be? You're livestock. Chew your cud and birth your calves and look pretty, at least until the Prophet assigns someone younger and prettier to your celestially-bound spouse.

I don't need to look at American Muslim cultures to see parallels to Gilead. The original book wasn't written as such, and I first read it back in 1988 or so. I can just turn on Lifetime, or go to Colorado City. I can look at Steve King, who only wants white babies born in Iowa. I can look at Mike Pence, for whom Gilead must be a wet dream. I can look at Trump and his love of eugenics and how he thinks he has superior genes (sorry, dude, have you looked at your sons? Beavis and Butthead?). In Oklahoma, a legislator referred to pregnant women as "hosts". A New Hampshire legislator was recently outed as having created the infamous "Red Pill" subreddit, dedicated to the idea that women do not and have not ever contributed anything to society beyond sexual release and incubation, and do not even possess SENTIENCE.

This has been a long ramble. I'm not one to go back and edit beyond fixing typos.

Typos are easier to fix than a fucked up society that is getting worse by the day. Trump just stripped funding from women's programs.

I remember what Moira said to Offred, I'm paraphrasing here: they had to do it this way. They had to do it all at once, so that we wouldn't have time to escape.

Sometimes the bastardes carborundorm.

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