#SWAAYthenarrative

What It's Like To Watch 'The Handmaid's Tale' As A TwentySomething Female

Culture

As a TwentySomething female, I’ve studied the women in history who permitted me to have the privileges I’m lucky enough to live with today. To watch it all stripped away in Hulu’s original series The Handmaid’s Tale has taken me through a complex set of emotions, ranging from pity, to anger, to fear. As I dove deeply into the first four episodes, I realized these emotions were centered around the thought of something like this happening in my lifetime. The unfortunate truth is that though it didn’t occur in my lifetime, everything that occurred in the show has happened during somebody’s lifetime.


Based off Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, the series follows a theocratic society living under a fundamentalist dictatorship in the Republic of Gilead, formerly known as the United States. Here, women are forced to leave behind their previous lives and identities in order to oblige as concubines, useless to their commanders and mistresses until impregnated.

The Handmaid's Tale via Marie Claire

It’s a chilling, humbling, and disturbing plot that packages women as items. Whether the female characters are sexualized through their role as handmaids or as slaves, they all exist in a man's life – and in society as a whole – as voiceless, helpless objects.

The Handmaid's Tale, via TV Guide

Unfortunately, once protagonist Offred, portrayed by Elisabeth Moss, begins to find a voice and to commiserate with her “partner" Ofglen, played by Alexis Bledel, she quickly loses Ofglen. Their storylines separate, depicting two very different, though both oppressed, situations: sexuality versus fertility. This enforces how the female body is treated in Gilead.

Like Angelica Jade Bastièn highlights in her recap of the third episode in The New York Times, “Both Offred and Ofglen’s plots underline the ways in which female bodies carry currency in this world and how quickly this worth can change.”

When Offred is presumed to be pregnant, all behavior towards her shifts. She becomes humanized by her mistress, the help, and the men, as they become invested in her best interest and show concern for her emotional and physical state. Yet, upon learning she’s not pregnant, she goes back to being treated like an object. Watching Mrs. Waterford toss Offred back into her room demonstrates poorer treatment than before. I wondered: how do these mistresses have no empathy for their fellow woman, after coming from a society where women had come so far? How could they allow this future to happen, by reverting to traditional and conservative roles?

In Offred’s flashbacks of living with her husband and daughter, we get a glimpse of the past society. It’s also relayed through Offred’s narrative in her present life in Gilead. Her words make comments that will affect all audiences, women and men alike.

Regarding this topic, Elisabeth Moss told GQ, “I do hope – whether you’re a man, whether you’re a woman, whether you’re gay, straight, whatever religion you’re a part of, whether you’re right-wing, left-wing – whatever the hell you are, I hope that you see through your own eyes, and through your own experience, and apply what is talked about through the show through your experience. That’s how we come together, and that’s how we learn.”

And I think that “coming together” is a huge theme in the show. Each handmaid struggles with different issues, but their struggles are what bring them together. Women are much stronger together when they exist as a unifying force. Coming together is depicted both positively and negatively in the cult-esque handmaids, but it’s clear they recognize they have no other choice than to conform, and if they are to survive, they'd have to do it together.

The Handmaid's Tale, by George Kraychik

I have to echo Moss’ words – watching the show isn’t just an eye-opening experience to what women once endured, it’s also applicable to learning and understanding the present and future. It’s about survival as a humanity and a peek into how far we’ve come as a society. We’ve made too much progress to watch that unravel to the circumstances portrayed in the show, and the only way to move forward is to unite as a collective.

4 Min Read
Career

Using COVID-19 To Build Emotional Intelligence

COVID-19's impact on the world economy was virtually impossible to predict and fully prepare for. Governments balancing citizens' immediate health and safety vs. their financial needs resulted in emergency regulations that have hurt businesses worldwide. Today, the cannabis industry is considered essential, but as we entrepreneurs know, operating any business is a challenge. The entrepreneurial spirit burns brightly in tough times as we constantly look for ways to survive and improve our business while overcoming hardships.

But how do we do it? Especially with the growing rate of anxiety and depression?

Resilience and Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional intelligence means the ability to adapt to the stresses, tragedies, and discomforts that happen in everyday life.

Lao Tzu once said: "Strong is he who conquers others, but powerful is he who is able to conquer himself." Being an entrepreneur is liberating but at the same time requires great responsibility. Being emotionally intelligent will help you think rationally, make clear decisions, and deal with people better. Being smart in the emotional field is a skill acquired over time. It takes consistent practice and dedication. It's similar to building a fit body through exercising; you will realize that the more you exercise, the more you are able to achieve your aim. The steps to building emotional intelligence include:

1) Understand what it means to be emotionally intelligent

You cannot achieve what you don't know. Before training to be emotionally intelligent, understand what it means and why it is important.

Emotional intelligence means the ability to adapt to the stresses, tragedies, and discomforts that happen in everyday life. Being emotionally intelligent does not mean that you will not suffer or be upset, rather it means that you will be able to recognize and evaluate your feelings and others' feelings and plan on how to deal with them. It is also important to understand that achieving this is a gradual process and that people learn in different ways. Regular practice is necessary.

2) Think before making decisions

A lot of times when we are pushed to the wall or completely stressed out, we tend to act irrationally and end up regretting our actions. The best way to address this is to think before acting. Thinking before making decisions bring clarity about the situation and helps to avoid conflicts and unnecessary regrets.

3) Be empathetic

Everyone is in the same boat, and we never really know what's going on with the others around us. It is important to know how to put yourself in others' shoes, try to understand their behaviors, and always be open to new ideas!

4) Learn to relate to people

Good leaders are characterized by their good relationships with people. Having a genuine interest in people and encouraging their growth creates happy environments, and happy people are naturally more productive.

Seek not only to speak but to listen to people and try to understand what the other person is saying. This might be difficult, but it is a skill that produces a long-term benefit when you learn it.

Be open to receiving feedback and accepting diversity. The best way to grow professionally is by investing in relationships, as no one is or does everything alone all the time.

The entrepreneurial spirit burns brightly in tough times as we constantly look for ways to survive and improve our business while overcoming hardships.

5) You are in control of your reactions

Everyone has feelings, and we feel different things every day. The key is to know how to act on those feelings.

For example, I can feel angry and:

  • a) Keep it to myself
  • b) shout and attack someone
  • c) understand the reason for the anger, express what I'm feeling and why I'm feeling it

In all the reactions listed above, what triggered them is the same - anger. The reactions show that you might not be able to control what life puts in front of you, but you will always be in control of how you react.

6) Act with intention

Be in control of your focus, understand what is happening, and take action consciously. Mindfulness helps you focus on the present without letting the past or future affect you; it helps the mind to become healthier and happier.

7) Identify your strengths

Make a list of your best strengths and qualities and read them aloud. Remember that knowing your qualities helps you to become more focused and confident. This helps to increase your strength and emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is a process. Give yourself time to practice these steps, and gradually you will see improvement in your business and personal life with each day that passes.