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Tara Ariano

S01.E02: Birth Day

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Offred and her fellow Handmaids assist with the delivery of Janine’s baby, prompting Offred to recall her own daughter’s birth. Offred draws closer to Ofglen while dreading a secret meeting with the Commander.  

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Offred is so bad at being stealthy.  Ofglen wasn't much better with that chat while they were in the van with all the others.  How did everyone not hear?

I was a bit unclear what was going on outside the hospital in the flashback.  It looked like they drove past a protest and then there were people right outside praying.  Was that an anti-abortion thing or were they praying for healthy babies to be born?

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This was horrifying...the scene where they killed that supposed rapist or the scene where that girl gave her account of rape and the women told her she brought it on...very dehumanizing...watching these women try to survive

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I'm only two episodes in but I can see that hypocrisy is going to be a recurring theme. These wives have the nerve to refer to the handmaidens as whores when they have no choice in being raped, forced to carry babies to term, and then give them up. These wives seem to have no gratitude for the fact that if not for these "whores," they wouldn't be holding any babies.

I don't know what the commander is up to. How far into the future is this supposed to be? Meaning did he choose his wife before or after the war began? Did he marry her for love or for some other reason? From the little we've seen, they don't seem to have a very warm relationship so does playing Scrabble with Offred satisfy his minimal need for female companionship? Or is he just testing her to see if she will break the rules? Or trying to figure out if half of his kid's genes will be halfway smart?

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@cuppasun, this book has been on my TBR list for ages and I never got around to it, but once I knew they were making a series I decided to wait (heh, a good reason to procrastinate!). Usually if I read a book before I see the movie/tv show, I spend too much time nitpicking the changes and wishing they hadn't cut X, Y, and Z. But if I see the adaptation first and then read the book, I usually enjoy the show/movie and then I feel like the book just gives me more information. I have this book ready and waiting to be cracked open, but now you are making me want to start reading it before the series ends! Thanks for the info about Serena. I wonder if that will be covered later in the series.

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2 hours ago, PreviouslyTV said:

Not very, and not for long, but it's something.

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"...we know the Waterford household is her first assignment..."
Just a quick correction: this is June's second assignment; Serena Joy specifically mentions that when she arrives, and makes a point of commenting that it reduces her need to "train" June. So presumably it's been some time since even the Red Center (and we don't know how long that indoctrination took, either), since there's almost certainly some minimum number of "tries" before scrapping an assignment and moving on.

eta: Also, duh (just realized, because math is so not my thing...): since Janine had to be placed at least once, and bring a pregnancy to term, I think we can safely assume it's been at least a year since the Red Center. Maybe as much as a couple years since the coup, but that's more of a guess. (I think I've become too used to TV Pregnancy, which often seems to take either six weeks, or 15 months...)

Edited by cuppasun
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Yeah, I know exactly what you mean--if I haven't already read a book, I will sometimes wait to do so until after seeing the adaptation. There have been a few exceptions for me, and I've generally been glad for those. Maybe a compromise, start reading (or listening) the book halfway through the series? This is one time I do genuinely believe the written work won't devolve into frustration over adaptive changes, in part because the mode of storytelling is very very different. The book is an entirely first-person account, and a somewhat fractured one at that, something that can't really be replicated in film (and in my opinion, shouldn't attempt to be), so it allows for differences that feel organic. It makes me think of the book and film versions of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest--vastly different, pretty much by necessity, but both amazing. Reading and viewing, in either direction, really doesn't detract from either medium.

Of course, you should always do what feels best to you! I just have a sneaking suspicion the kinds of things you're going to wonder about ep to ep are likely to be things you'd get from the book, which would offer depth rather than disappointment. Then again, what do I know? : )

okay, total aside: literally (yes, literally!) as I was writing this, I got a (probable) spam call on my cell from some number in "Mount Gilead, OH". Yikes! After the last few hours submersed in the fictional horror of Atwood's Republic of Gilead, no way would I answer that!

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53 minutes ago, cuppasun said:

"...we know the Waterford household is her first assignment..."
Just a quick correction: this is June's second assignment; Serena Joy specifically mentions that when she arrives, and makes a point of commenting that it reduces her need to "train" June.

Ah, good call. Will correct.

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eta: Also, duh (just realized, because math is so not my thing...): since Janine had to be placed at least once, and bring a pregnancy to term, I think we can safely assume it's been at least a year since the Red Center. Maybe as much as a couple years since the coup, but that's more of a guess. (I think I've become too used to TV Pregnancy, which often seems to take either six weeks, or 15 months...)

I didn't necessarily assume Janine's earlier pregnancy was from a previous Handmaid placement, but might have been from "before."

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1 hour ago, Tara Ariano said:

I didn't necessarily assume Janine's earlier pregnancy was from a previous Handmaid placement, but might have been from "before."

Ah, my bad for unclear phrasing (clearly too little sleep, not yet tempered with enough coffee!): I didn't mean Janine's earlier pregnancy, I meant the one we saw (which presumably took ~9 mos., and presumably didn't occur until after she left the Red Center). My assumption is that Offred & the others all left the RC for their placements around the same time. Doesn't much matter either way, I think; this is more me trying to practice clarity of thought! (I already know how I'm doing, peanut gallery can quit snickering any time, thanks.)

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3 minutes ago, hatchetgirl said:

Is this just 3 episodes? The book was so intense, I expected more. I've not seen episode 3 yet.  

No, it's more (though I'm not sure how many); they dropped the first three at once, then are doing the rest once a week on Weds. From what I've heard, there's even a possibility it will run more than one season, but don't know much about that either.

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This is Offreds second or third posting from what I remember (it's been a while).  Serena holds it over her head that she has to have a baby this time, or she'll be sent away.

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5 hours ago, vinnieprice said:

The whole thing with the wife holding the handmaid's hands during the ceremony gives me the chills. It's all so dehumanizing, on purpose I know but still. Especially knowing these women still have memories of before. Someone asked me today what was different about this show from other dystopia things and I said it was because it's a first-generation dystopia. You normally see things like Hunger Games where this new system has been around for a few generations and is the new normal, and this one is still new and is still trying to get that hold. Utterly terrifying.

I expected the sex scene to be creepy, but having the wife there holding the handmaid down by the wrists made it feel even rapier. I'm assuming that the entire process is institutionalized which makes is even worse.

I was thinking about the first generation dystopia mostly when I saw Offred looking at the little girls in the first episode because it made me realize the stark difference between a handmaiden like Offred who knew what life was like before all the shit hit the fan and the children who are being born into this hierarchy. The first generation will chafe against the regime more because they remember what it was like to be free, but the next generation will accept things more readily because they've never known anything else.

But that made me wonder about the reasons for the infertility and pregnancy issues. During June's flashbacks, I think she said that even then only one in five babies who were born survived. What caused the low fertility rate and the low survival rate? Was it environmental? If so, why are some of the women still able to get pregnant and others aren't? But beyond that, where are the future handmaidens coming from? Offred said that the commander's driver hadn't been assigned a woman yet because he was so lowly, which made me assume that only higher ranking men were allowed access to handmaides. Fertility is a precious commodity and there seems to be a limited amount of handmaids, so are they saving all of them for the important men? Or are there some handmaids who are being bred with less fancy people so that they have a new generation of handmaids? And what happens to the children born to people like the commander? If Offred gets pregnant and has a daughter, if they learn way down the line that the daughter is fertile, will she be allowed to marry another high ranking person and have children with him? Or will she be taken away from her high ranking parents to be turned into a handmaid (which seems less likely)?

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The use of (Don't You) Forget About Me at the end was jarring, as is much of this show. It's very strange to see this as a tv show. (I've never seen the movie adaptation) but it's also a beautiful show. Shot beautifully and I love Elisabeth Moss in this role. There were so many scenes that were just so much ickier than I expected reading it and the disconnect between the wives and the handmaids is so insane, especially in this episode. Also, I'm loving the use of flashbacks. Very good so far. The idea to release the first three episodes, then do it weekly was smart, because now I am hooked. 

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As icky and scary as it is, I wish we didn't have to wait for one every week, after this. My perfect binge amount of episodes is three - then I start to get tired, or distracted. 

I hate that the girls have to deal with the hatred of the wives, as well as enduring rape by their husbands. It also bothered me that they had the wife set up in a bed, as though she'd actually given birth. Poor Janine. 

Did Nick tell on Ofglen? 

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Everything about this premise is horrifying but that cookie scene was just... ugh. "Would you like a cookie?" "Yes, please, and fuck you very much."

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The cookie scene was another great example of how the handmaids are damned if you do, damned if you don't. If she had turned down the cookie, the wives would have criticized her but saying yes let them call her spoiled. Ugh.

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Two episodes in. I'll probably keep watching, but every episode could be about 10 minutes shorter if they'd cut all the long close-ups of the women's expressionless faces. Yes, we get it, everyone is repressed.

Also, I thought from the last episode that Janine had gone crazy, but she seemed pretty lucid here.

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What caused the low fertility rate and the low survival rate? Was it environmental?

Partly, it was also caused by an apparent sexually transmitted super bug that had no cure, hence why the center teaches the girls that infertile women were "cursed by god" for being sluts and whores. 

The show also added in current day topics such as the use of the morning after pill as well.

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The 'sympathetic pregnancy" taking place with the wives reminded me of the practice is some cultures of males pantomiming the event (minus the actual pain, of course), and the annoying trend of couples announcing that "they" are pregnant.

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43 minutes ago, NorthstarATL said:

The 'sympathetic pregnancy" taking place with the wives reminded me of the practice is some cultures of males pantomiming the event (minus the actual pain, of course), and the annoying trend of couples announcing that "they" are pregnant.

That always annoys me too. You might be expecting a child but only one of you is pregnant.

The whole surrogacy thing really is taken to extremes from the conception right through to the birth. They really do everything they can to reinforce that the handmaid is merely a vessel. I am a little surprised they don't take it even further and have the wives pad their stomachs to further the illusion. 

One thing I do wonder about with the infertility is have the modern fertility treatments stopped working? I understand that the regime is fundamentalist Christian and they don't believe in medical intervention in procreation but the fertility crisis started before they gained power. Was it more that the women who got pregnant couldn't carry to term? 

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I think the issue was not just infertility but that many of the babies that made it to birth were considered defective—"unbabies" or "shredders" as they were called—which leads me to believe that eugenics was part of the Gilead plan and the shredders were disposed of. Didn't Offred say that only 1 in 5 babies was born okay? She was tremendously relieved when Hannah passed her genetic testing shortly after birth. 

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20 minutes ago, Margo Leadbetter said:

I think the issue was not just infertility but that many of the babies that made it to birth were considered defective—"unbabies" or "shredders" as they were called—which leads me to believe that eugenics was part of the Gilead plan and the shredders were disposed of. Didn't Offred say that only 1 in 5 babies was born okay? She was tremendously relieved when Hannah passed her genetic testing shortly after birth. 

I don't think her relief after Hannah's birth was because something would happen to Hannah if she didn't pass, but that the chance of birth defects were high due to the environmental situation at the time (which was also causing the infertility).  However, I do think that there is an element of eugenics in the "current" Gilead story line.

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Am I misremembering, or did one of Offred's voice overs say that Anchorage was the capital of Gilead? I'm hoping someone else knows because I think the show is a little too intense for a rewatch. If I'm remembering correctly, it's such a bizarre detail. How on Earth would Anchorage become the capital? You'd have a better chance of taking over Canada than Boston from there. Is it just a really round-about Sarah Palin joke? Did they say something normal and I just completely misheard it?

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6 minutes ago, legxleg said:

Am I misremembering, or did one of Offred's voice overs say that Anchorage was the capital of Gilead? I'm hoping someone else knows because I think the show is a little too intense for a rewatch. If I'm remembering correctly, it's such a bizarre detail. How on Earth would Anchorage become the capital? You'd have a better chance of taking over Canada than Boston from there. Is it just a really round-about Sarah Palin joke? Did they say something normal and I just completely misheard it?

She said Anchorage is now the capital of what is left of the United States. She said the flag that flies over that city has 2 stars on it. So I figured that meant something like Alaska and Hawaii were still the US and Gilead took over the continental US.

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13 minutes ago, Rilla-my-Rilla said:

She said Anchorage is now the capital of what is left of the United States. She said the flag that flies over that city has 2 stars on it. So I figured that meant something like Alaska and Hawaii were still the US and Gilead took over the continental US.

That makes so much more sense, thank you!

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11 hours ago, vinnieprice said:

I believe in the center one of Aunts says "they polluted the water and destroyed the land" or something like that, so I had assumed it was basically things becoming toxic after industrial progress.

I don't think it was just industrial progress. It wasn't stated explicitly, but to me it sounded very much like the Gilead regime had employed chemical/nuclear warfare to defeat the US, and that's what has led to the dramatic decline in fertility and healthy births, and created all that toxic waste in "the Colonies". The way they were talking about the "unbabies" sounded a lot like what was happening in the Chernobyl area after the 1986 nuclear disaster.

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1 hour ago, chocolatine said:

I don't think it was just industrial progress. It wasn't stated explicitly, but to me it sounded very much like the Gilead regime had employed chemical/nuclear warfare to defeat the US, and that's what has led to the dramatic decline in fertility and healthy births, and created all that toxic waste in "the Colonies". The way they were talking about the "unbabies" sounded a lot like what was happening in the Chernobyl area after the 1986 nuclear disaster.

Well, the decline started circa 1985 from the chart shown and the show takes place in 2017.  The coup only happened within the past few years.  Gilead may well have used nukes and/or chemical weapons but the birthrate was already way down.  Note how empty the hospital was when June/Offred had Hannah.

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14 hours ago, NorthstarATL said:

The 'sympathetic pregnancy" taking place with the wives reminded me of the practice is some cultures of males pantomiming the event (minus the actual pain, of course), and the annoying trend of couples announcing that "they" are pregnant.

As someone who is currently pregnant-pregnant, yeah. Growing a baby? No? Then you're not pregnant. That's right up there with mothers/mothers-in-law who call their grandchildren "my baby."

5 hours ago, Shaynaa said:

Well, the decline started circa 1985 from the chart shown and the show takes place in 2017.  The coup only happened within the past few years.  Gilead may well have used nukes and/or chemical weapons but the birthrate was already way down.  Note how empty the hospital was when June/Offred had Hannah.

Yes, I think 1x02 implied that it was the precipitous decline in fertility which gave rise to increased religiosity and then to the Gilead militant faction, not the other way around: June fretting over her pregnancy's viability when she learns of her pregnancy (mentioning her coworkers having miscarriages), the empty hospital nursery, the woman willing to commit murder to make off with baby Hannah, the crowds of people praying outside the hospital, the religious language of the nurse ("Praise be," the dead babies are "with God"), etc. June gave birth to Hannah years before the coup.

Edited by Eyes High
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 I didn't read the book, and maybe this belongs in a different thread, but I was wondering if  men also experienced low sperm count/sterility, or If the virus only affected the women.

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There was a throw away comment that the problem could be with the men, but that there weren't tests done to them.  Basically going to the historical view point that all pregnancy problems and baby sex/defects were mother caused.

I'd really like to see an unattractive or overweight handmaid.  also, I know pregnancy's were rare, but it would be nice to see at least one or two other pregnant ones.  The comment "who is it" when the birth mobile comes makes no sense otherwise because obviously it would have to be Ofwarren (Janine).

ETA:  I meant to say "weren't" tests done to them.  Patriarchal society- it's the womens fault

Edited by Ripley68
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The fact that they won't consider that the men could also have fertility issues is going to ensure that the regime will be wiped out eventually. Forcing the handmaids to have sex with powerful men who might be incapable of impregnating them is both cruel and stupid. If the only value they place in handmaids is that they can produce children but they deny them the opportunity to get pregnant by giving them to infertile men that is an added cruelty. If the birthrate is as low as it is portrayed then it seems that they are a few generations away from extinction. To deny men any blame for the problems and to not do everything possible to raise the birthrate is stupid. 

I suppose the regime is a mix of the truly devout who actually believe the infertility is god's punishment and those who saw an opportunity to gain some power and took their chance. I have to say though, even for those in positions of power life doesn't seem that great. 

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I wonder if the 1 in 5 babies that are born healthy, a statistic we hear of only in Gilead, indicate that there is a very strict criteria in the new regime that deems a baby healthy enough to be viable. Obviously the flashbacks show that there is a real problem with fertility and the health of new babies but the existence of a 'shredder' makes me believe that in Gilead a lot of perfectly viable babies are being killed because they don't meet the standard the society has created. I think it's safe to assume that any sort of obvious condition that indicate long term disabilities would be considered unviable, Down's Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, etc. What about blindness, deafness or a missing or deformed limb? I wouldn't hold out much hope for those babies' chances. What about really minor deformities like a two inch birthmark that will have no impact on the child's mental or physical development but is on the face and can't really be hidden? I'd say it's touch and go if those babies get to survive.

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It's probably a good thing that Hulu isn't releasing this all at once the way Netflix does because this just isn't a bingeable show for me.  For as much as I'm normally not one to get too emotional over TV, the first episode got into my head enough that I needed a couple of days before diving into this one.

Madeline Brewer did standout work this episode.   I think in the book it's very easy to get caught up in Offred's general irritation with Janine, starting from their time together at the Red Center, and not fully appreciate how heinously awful her story is.  The uniquely female experience of giving birth is so perverted here with her doing all the work of pushing out that child only to see it immediately handed off to another woman giving herself new mother airs in the bed and naming said baby like Janine has ceased to exist.  And she can't really react to any of it because that's the entire setup and she knew that going in.  The nursing scene hit me particularly hard as you could see that she was trying to maintain her emotional distance for her own self preservation but then crumbled as you do in that quiet time when there's no way to not look that child in the eye and instinctively interact with her.

The double birthing stool setup with the wife fake laboring comes off even more ridiculous on screen than it did on the page and it was a nice touch seeing that Serena even from her relatively privileged position saw that too.  Offred's interaction with the wives came off so demeaning like they were talking to a pet, which was clearly the point.  It's only been a few years at best under this new order and these women are a textbook lesson in how those allowed even a little power in such an authoritarian system will be quick to fully embrace that power and wield it over those with even less.

Offred's near hysterical laughter over the world's scariest oddest Scrabble game was nicely done.  It was clearly not lost on her in shaking the Commander's hand that it was the first time they've touched each other beyond the sterile genital to genital contact of his state-sponsored raping of her.

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I have so many questions about the (alleged) rapist.

  • Could he be innocent of rape and had consensual sex with a handmaiden resulting in her being pregnant by him instead of the husband so a desperate handmaiden terrified of it being discovered that she was not pregnant by the husband has him charged and convicted of rape to cover up the fact that he was the biological father? Or it's a conspiracy between the husband and wife to hide that the husband is not the biological father?
  • I would think the news that the Elite fathers being revealed to not being the biological fathers might become destabilizing to the male hierarchy in this fucked up system,  as far I can understand it at this point.
  • Is the death sentence at the hands of the handmaidens done to serve as lesson to other men who may consider such a relationship with a Handmaiden?
  • Are the wives possibly arranging for these other men to impregnate the Handmaidens to save themselves from the wrath of the husband who may be infertile? And then have them charged and convicted of rape to kill off the men who are the biological fathers.
  • Is Death by Handmaiden used to distract the Handmaidens from the fact that they are being systematically raped by the husbands and wives and it allows the Handmaidens to unleash all their pent up rage, anger and frustration on to a man who who may or may not be guilty of rape at all but as long as the Handmaidens believe he is guilty then that repressed anger won't eventually be turned against the systemic rape in this horrifying culture?
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There is a bit of a contradiction between the scene at the Red centre where Janine is blamed for her rape because they say she clearly invited it through her behaviour and the way they judge the supposed rapist. How can the rapist be at fault when the women are all sluts who lead men on? It would make more sense if they were punishing a man who dared to become involved with a handmaid. The handmaid's bodies don't belong to them, they are property of their commanders so they can't consent and any sex they have with anyone else could be classed as rape by the regime.

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Well, it makes sense to me in that Janine's rape happened Before. The way that pretty much all women behaved back then was, in the opinion of the Gilead leaders, slutty and probably asking for it. But now, women's behavior is so circumscribed that I can buy Gilead believing that a woman who follows all the rules isn't provoking men. Not provoking men is probably the point of some of the rules, like the outfits.

That said, I'm suspicious enough of the Gilead government that I don't quite buy anything that they say. So my money's on it wasn't rape. I'm more likely to believe that in Gilead, a woman who is actually raped is asking for it, and consensual but not state-sanctioned sex is rape. After all, a woman's body isn't hers to use as she wishes - it's the government's privilege to say who gets "access". 

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2 hours ago, snowwhyte said:

There is a bit of a contradiction between the scene at the Red centre where Janine is blamed for her rape because they say she clearly invited it through her behaviour and the way they judge the supposed rapist. How can the rapist be at fault when the women are all sluts who lead men on? It would make more sense if they were punishing a man who dared to become involved with a handmaid. The handmaid's bodies don't belong to them, they are property of their commanders so they can't consent and any sex they have with anyone else could be classed as rape by the regime.

My guess is that it is one of two things (or a combination thereof):

1 - There was at least some time between the scene where Janine was blamed and the "rapist" was killed...like at least 9 months.  The Gilead society is not stable at all and, in situations like that, the "official line" changes quickly.  So, yes, the woman might have been at fault at one point and, 9 months later, the man is.

2 - It was convenient for the government to place the blame the way they did.  By making a point that Janine is responsible for her rape, they can use that to make her submissive to their system.  The male rapist, while we don't know the circumstances of his crime, was obviously not conforming to the way society wanted him to.

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1 hour ago, legxleg said:

Well, it makes sense to me in that Janine's rape happened Before. The way that pretty much all women behaved back then was, in the opinion of the Gilead leaders, slutty and probably asking for it. But now, women's behavior is so circumscribed that I can buy Gilead believing that a woman who follows all the rules isn't provoking men. Not provoking men is probably the point of some of the rules, like the outfits.

That said, I'm suspicious enough of the Gilead government that I don't quite buy anything that they say. So my money's on it wasn't rape. I'm more likely to believe that in Gilead, a woman who is actually raped is asking for it, and consensual but not state-sanctioned sex is rape. After all, a woman's body isn't hers to use as she wishes - it's the government's privilege to say who gets "access". 

In the book it wasn't rape. The particicution takes place much later in the story--close to the end and Ofglen is still around. He was a member of the resistance and the rape charge was trumped up. Ofglen deliberately stuns him before he's torn apart.

I can see why a man would still be prosecuted for rape, even if the blame is placed on the woman for "asking for it." It's still a sin of the flesh and a violation of another's property, but certainly not a crime against a woman. 

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On 4/26/2017 at 10:47 AM, cuppasun said:

ElectricBoogaloo, I strongly recommend you read the book. My personal experience (having read it several times, including a recent reread via the audio version magnificently narrated by Claire Danes) is that it doesn't in any way reduce the effect of this filmed version, despite knowing some of the plot already. Because there are variations, for me, it actually enhances it, since I already understand some of the things you're asking about; so far, for me, the two are working very well together.

And yes, I agree, the hypocrisy is infuriating and horrifying, but I feel that is a common part of any fundamentalist agenda. 

One answer I'll provide to one of your questions (going to spoiler tag this, hope I've done it right since I never have before!): 

  Hide contents

Serena Joy was already the Commander's wife from "before." In fact, the hypocrisy and irony run especially deep for her--and other "Wives" like her--as she had a career before the coup, and was an architect of the new regime...right up until she was closed out because she's a woman. Her status and position, as well as her background and participation, make her both an oppressor and a victim in this. It's quite grim (not that anything in this story isn't!).

Serena Joy was modeled on some of the women in the 1980s in the religious right, specifically Tammy Fay Bakker, Phyllis Schlafly, and Anita Bryant, all of whom were notable in their hypocrisy in being very public views about women's place being in the home and emphasis on traditional values, when all had very public careers.  In Schlafly's case, the woman had nannies and housekeepers, all while leading the movement to defeat ratification of the ERA.  In Atwood's book, Serena Joy is described as older, which is more in line with these women.  I know the casting of Yvonne Strahovski whose is the same age as Elisabeth Moss was controversial for that reason. It does make some sense, especially if this version of Serena Joy is more akin to Megyn Kelly, Tomi Lahren, and Kellyanne Conway, with their career choices in the right wing news and politics. 

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6 hours ago, snowwhyte said:

There is a bit of a contradiction between the scene at the Red centre where Janine is blamed for her rape because they say she clearly invited it through her behaviour and the way they judge the supposed rapist. How can the rapist be at fault when the women are all sluts who lead men on?

Well, an aspect of Gilead that has been alluded to more subtly on the show (such as with this very situation), but not outright addressed, is the way Gilead paints "the time before" as a terrifying lawless hellscape for women, in order to keep women in line now. They'll say "back then, you couldn't walk down the street without fearing for your safety," and they'll remind the Handmaids of violent attacks and mutilations, domestic violence, men who tortured and raped women for pleasure... Gilead claims their regime has saved women from living in that kind of fear, and that the Handmaids should be grateful for the fact that rape "doesn't exist" anymore (because, of course, Handmaids are totally doing this all of their own volition, and it's definitely not rape, because they're free to go die anytime they like, except all objects with sharp edges have been removed from their rooms, but it's all totally consensual now, honest). Gilead claims that they have "saved women" from the sort of violent attacks they were subject to "before," and part of that is going out of their way to paint rapists as the enemy, the REAL villains of the world, from which Gilead has delivered all women. Before, when women wore whatever and behaved like people, if anything happened to them it was all their fault. Now, thanks to Gilead, women are covered and their behaviour is strictly regulated, so if there are attacks on Handmaids, it is because the MAN is an evil rapist, and the women are truly blameless. Whether or not the man they "particicuted" was a rapist at all, or a freedom fighter, or any other sort of enemy of Gilead, we have no way of knowing, but the point is, by slut-shaming women for the ways they acted before, and demonstrating a zero-tolerance policy for rape now (ha!), Gilead is fostering a paternalistic sensibility. They're protecting women from themselves, and ALSO protecting them from evil men, while also conveniently providing them an outlet for their pent-up rage.

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The use of (Don't You) Forget About Me at the end was jarring

I agree, and not in a good way. My mind went: Breakfast Club. Also, the use of "You Don't Own Me" was relevant, I guess, but also jarring since it's now a car ad as well as the end song in The First Wives Club."

 

Other than the jarring music, I thought the show was well done, except I had to keep explaining things to Mr. Author because I've read the book (and seen the movie) and he hasn't.

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