Politics, The World

“Handmaids” protests are sweeping the globe, standing up for women’s rights and reproductive justice everywhere

Inspired by the Margaret Atwood novel, protesters are persistently fighting against anti-abortion policy.

The imagery sticks with you: Red-cloaked women in white bonnets, silently bowing their heads and standing side-by-side in unison.

The sight is confusing and eerie, but for many women, the red cloaks and white bonnets have widely become of symbol of women’s rights and reproductive justice. Based on the 1985 Margaret Atwood novel The Handmaid’s Tale, and now a Hulu original series, women are protesting against gender discrimination and infringements on reproductive health.

In the dystopian novel and Hulu series, women known as “handmaids” are forced to conceive and carry children for the wealthy. Women’s bodies are essentially vessels and are treated as property. Book sales have skyrocketed since Donald Trump was elected as president of the United States, according to Slate.

Check out some of the protests inspired by the Margaret Atwood book and Hulu original series that have been making waves across the world:

1. Canada


Widely reported as the first Handmaid’s Tale-inspired protest, a group of women called the “Radical Handmaids” held a rally in Ottawa, Canada in 2012 to protest an anti-abortion bill (Bill M-312) sponsored by Conservative member of Parliament Stephen Woodworth.

The phrase “The Handmaid’s Tale shouldn’t be an instruction manual,” which has since been a popular slogan in the Handmaids protest movement, was initially said by a Radical Handmaids member.

2. Texas


Often considered the first Handmaid’s Tale-inspired protest in the United States, a group of Texas women in early 2017 took to the Texas state capitol in the infamous red robe and white bonnet to protest anti-abortion policy being considered by Texas Senate.

These women were protesting SB 415, which would ban safe and standard second-trimester abortion operations, and SB 25, also considered the “wrongful birth bill,” which would allow doctors to lie to pregnant women about any health abnormalities of their fetus when they believe a patient is considering abortion.

3. Poland


During Donald Trump’s visit to Warsaw, Poland for the G20 Summit, a group of women showed up in the Handmaid’s Tale garb at Krasinskich Square, where Trump supporters were also gathering to welcome him.

The women were protesting against the Trump administration’s policies on women’s and reproductive rights, and joined fellow demonstrators who were also there to express their opposition to Trump’s policies and his visit to Poland.

4. Washington D.C.


In June, Planned Parenthood volunteers took to Capitol Hill in ‘Handmaids’ outfits to protest the Senate GOP’s controversial health care bill, which aims to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood. The protests were a part of Planned Parenthood’s ‘People’s Filibuster’, a series of speeches against the GOP health care bill.

“It would be the worst bill for women in generations and decimate women’s health care,” said Fern Whyland, communications director at Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts in an interview with The Hill.

5. California


Women from Northern California dressed up as handmaids to attend Republican Representative Tom McClintock’s Town Hall and protest problematic policy supported by the Congressman.

The activists handed out fliers to Town Hall attendees that outlined McClintock’s voting history against equal pay laws, the Violence Against Women Act, as well as his support of the 2017 GOP health care bill, which fails to give sufficient health care protections and support for women.

6. Colorado


Trump wasn’t alone in meeting the infamous handmaids. Protesters in Colorado Springs showed up at a speech from Vice President Mike Pence to ‘Focus on the Family’, a conservative evangelical Christian group with anti-abortion stances.

The protesters demonstrated how problematic Pence and Focus on the Family are with their stances on traditional gender roles, and being anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ.

7. New Hampshire


Protesters ascended to the New Hampshire State House to call for the resignation of Representative Robert Fisher, who has been accused of condoning rape culture and misogyny.

The Daily Beast uncovered that Fisher was responsible for creating and contributing to the subreddit forum called The Red Pill, which works to discuss “sexual strategy in a culture increasingly lacking a positive identity for men.” He resigned from his post in May.