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Tara Ariano

S01.E06: A Woman's Place

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7 hours ago, EC Amber said:

Because he, like Serena, are actually "true believers" - It's not that they are using religious belief to find their way to power, it's that they believe the religion that is the source of these dictates to begin with. It's why he turned her away when she tried to fellate him, it's why they both believed she would be content to make their new house a home. I think it is their belief system that drives them, not necessarily greed for power as is often the case. 

I'm not sure how much of a true believer either of them are really.  After all, Fred breaks some pretty serious rules.  I think it's more about power for Fred, and probably always was.

Also, even today, I still hear women talking about how creating a home and having the man make decisions and the sacred role of a women to be subservient to a man, because her sacred and divine role is to have children and make a family/home, and how women's lib destroys all of that.  I see stuff daily on facebook glorifying gender roles--in the sweetest and most seductive words possible.   Hell, the Mormon church is based on the superiority of men "leading" their families, and as far as Catholics seen many women priests lately, or men wearing burkas?  Religions that proclaim women leaders or equal are few and far between.  Many religions are set up to keep women in their place, that's not just a show fantasy.

For most?  God is still a man, and Jesus a very handsome white guy after all.

6 hours ago, stagmania said:

I really liked this episode, and so far I'm impressed by the way the show has managed to stray from the book with untold backstory and whole new plotlines while still staying true to the themes and spirit of the original story. I especially loved the Serena Joy story-as Tara elucidated in the recap, she is a very familiar type of conservative woman who has deluded herself into thinking she can uphold the patriarchy but somehow personally stay above the oppression it enforces. She's the most extreme version of the women in this universe who went along with the changes without realizing what she was doing to herself until it was too late. The proverbial frog in the slowly boiling pot of water.

And she was very obviously trying to. The Mexican Ambassador was not there to learn the truth of how the handmaidens live; she was there to be told some reassuring lies and take in a spectacle so that she could justify human trafficking to herself and her country. It was so brave of June to tell her the truth, but I just wanted to cry as soon as she started, because I knew this woman would not help her. I like that this show doesn't shy away from the complicated truth about how women work to oppress each other. A true sisterhood, we are not.

Fred appears to have bought into his own religion's hype over time. In the early years, it seems that he and Serena Joy never really acknowledged the obvious end point of their belief system and what it would mean for her, either to themselves or to each other. That doesn't surprise me; religious people run around with extreme cognitive dissonance and ignore contradictions in their beliefs and values all the time. But as the takeover happened, he sunk more and more into the extremes and began to view his wife the same as all other women, which I'm sure was made easier by her being stripped of everything that made her unique and interesting to him in the first place. 

This kind of parallels with Luke's reaction to June losing her rights, though obviously Fred's trajectory is a more brutal version of the same idea. That initial horror, followed by the belief that he can somehow buffer the impact for her, followed by complacence because it's not ultimately him that's suffering, right? I'm very interested to see more flashbacks of the time after things changed, when June and Luke realized they needed to try to run with their daughter. What led them to that decision? Was protecting Hannah the key driver for Luke? Was it the government dissolving their marriage and coming for June? If June had been allowed to stay with him, would he have accepted the rest of her subjugation?

I also keep thinking back to Serena Joy's idea for a second book. Procreation as a moral imperative. Did she know then that she was sterile? How might that realization have shaped her beliefs and the dissolution of affection in her marriage?

I'm not convinced Serena Joy even IS sterile.  We have no proof of that.  We do have evidence that Fred may be though, so far, is this 3 women he has failed to impregnate?  Two of those women had babies before.  Who knows, after Serena had sex with Fred, she may really go whole hog and go have sex with someone known or suspected to be fertile, like

Spoiler

the doctor

and present it as Fred's kid.

----

Climate change was known when the book was written, as was toxic pollution and devastating chemicals used regularly on farms and washing into our watershed.  Love Canal had happened as well.  Atwood fully intended the book to be partly about that, it's not just a show thing.

Edited by Umbelina
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21 minutes ago, FozzyBear said:

I don't think when she started encouraging this horror show level of hatred of women it would include women like her. She just didn't give a shit about the women who aren't like her and then she found out the system she helped create doesn't give a shit about her either. Sound familiar?

Hauntingly.

5 minutes ago, Umbelina said:

I'm not convinced Serena Joy even IS sterile.  We have no proof of that.  We do have evidence that Fred may be though, so far, is this 3 women he has failed to impregnate?  Two of those women had babies before. 

Ooh, good point. And perhaps fodder for a future plotline.

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2 minutes ago, Umbelina said:

 

6 hours ago, EC Amber said:

Because he, like Serena, are actually "true believers" - It's not that they are using religious belief to find their way to power, it's that they believe the religion that is the source of these dictates to begin with. It's why he turned her away when she tried to fellate him, it's why they both believed she would be content to make their new house a home. I think it is their belief system that drives them, not necessarily greed for power as is often the case. 

I'm not sure how much of a true believer either of them are really.  After all, Fred breaks some pretty serious rules.  I think it's more about power for Fred, and probably always was.

 

I'd have to think about that. For Fred there may be some truth to that. The problem is that all the rules are "serious" at this stage in the game so I don't see him breaking them as a particularly good metric. His reluctance to engage in sexual sin with his wife is where I was coming from, though in reflection that could just be because she lacked appeal for him. 

Serena however, no, I would say she's a true believer through and through. I don't think she was in it for power. Her insistence for prayer before sex, all of her arguments and rationalizations, her acceptance of her place as stifling as it is - all of that stems through her faith and her warped interpretations. 

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Why do we think Fred was wearing an earpiece when the dignitaries came for dinner, is it a hearing aid or was he supposed to be getting information from a higher up without anyone's knowledge?

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1 hour ago, Baltimore Betty said:

Why do we think Fred was wearing an earpiece when the dignitaries came for dinner, is it a hearing aid or was he supposed to be getting information from a higher up without anyone's knowledge?

Could be anything really, his security letting him know when dignitaries arrived, wanting to be in the loop if ANYTHING was going wrong.

He was quite paranoid about everything going perfectly for this.  They are desperate.

As far as the rules Fred breaks?  Lets a woman read, meets in private with his handmaid, kisses her, has a forbidden magazine stash, and another big one to be revealed soon.  Fucking his wife is the least of his transgressions.

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Total conspiracy theory: Maybe the Mexican Ambassador and her aide are working together to smuggle Handmaids out of Gilead.  Trading  for Handmaids is just a ruse. She's playing the long game, see? She had to pretend to go along with the Commander, to pretend to be helpless to June so that no one would suspect. She is a masterful actress. When the Ambassador left with the Commander, the aide stepped in and offered assistance. A well oiled machine. 

Total blarney, probably.  Just a thought.  

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1 hour ago, rollacoaster said:

Total conspiracy theory: Maybe the Mexican Ambassador and her aide are working together to smuggle Handmaids out of Gilead.  Trading  for Handmaids is just a ruse. She's playing the long game, see? She had to pretend to go along with the Commander, to pretend to be helpless to June so that no one would suspect. She is a masterful actress. When the Ambassador left with the Commander, the aide stepped in and offered assistance. A well oiled machine. 

Total blarney, probably.  Just a thought.  

I had that thought too. That maybe they plan to use a trade deal as a way of smuggling women out of Giliad. I'm not hopeful though.

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5 hours ago, JasonCC said:

This episode has brought a lot of discussion about how inefficient the Handmaid system is if the goal is to bring up birthrates and save the human race.

Keep in mind, though, the Republic of Gilead thinks part--if not most--of the declining birth rate is God's punishment over things like abortion, morning after pill, contraception, women educating themselves & delaying marriage/childbirth, sexual freedom, orgies, Tinder, same-sex marriage, et. al.

The whole going to this bizarre Old Testament system is not because it's necessarily the most efficient way to get babies born....it's just the one that has some connection to the Old Testament (Rachel & Billah story). Other nations---especially ones that didn't have the Evangelical streak already present in them---are almost certainly trying other fixes.

 

2

 

I was thinking that if handmaids are numerous enough to trade, that they would instead give more than one handmaid to the Commanders.  More frequent ceremonies and more chances - and they could justify that from the Old Testament.  

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29 minutes ago, FozzyBear said:

I wonder if it's the children they plan to buy, not the Handmaids

 

I doubt that if only because the commanders do seem the type to want "prodigies" to rear and raise to follow in their footsteps, like most dictators with huge egos.

Of course I am going to guess a lot of those kids aren't the commanders biological children, since they seem to be impotent and infertile. I would guess a good number of the kiddos are the products of the Handmaids and doctors or guardians, etc.

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18 hours ago, Slovenly Muse said:

The Mexicans are likely not seeking enough Handmaids to "service" their population, and I doubt Gilead will make many available (although if they have enough that they can discard Handmaids after three failed households, maybe they have more than we think). Maybe just a few are on the table. Maybe just for those in power who really "deserve" it. The Ambassador doesn't represent the PEOPLE of Mexico, she represents the Government. A Government made of powerful people who can't seem to reproduce. Is it so farfetched to believe that those top-level politicians might consider trading away some of their peoples' wealth and resources in order to obtain treasure for themselves? The Trump administration's been doing it for months!

The ambassador seemed genuine when she said that she was doing this beause her country was dying. So I doubt she wants to procure handmaids for the ruling class.

If I had to fanwank this whole trade deal I'd probably say that it's likely that Mexico was hit harder by whatever the problem is, than the US. There was talk about exploding nuclear power plants in California because of earth quakes. Mexico would have been hit way harder by this than the east coast of the US. So it might be that they really don't have any fertile woman left and ran through frozen eggs long ago. So them trading for a hundret or so handmaids and harvesting their eggs could get the ball rolling again. I think as long as you control for the fathers, that should be enough for genetic diversity, especially if you only produce girls for the first few decades, which is not a problem with modern reproductive science.

On 18.5.2017 at 1:53 PM, Margo Leadbetter said:

Neither did the scene in the movie theater. Not their discussion about the upcoming bloodbath—nothing like hiding in plain sight to avoid detection—just the idea that they would have been in a movie theater in the first place. Prior to the coup, there had already been book burnings and other suppression of worldly entertainment so the idea that key figures in the revolution would have chosen to indulge in pop culture didn't ring true. Small thing, but it stood out for me.

Yeah but those two seem hypocritical a lot of the time. Serena wants to read and write and be in charge. Her husband plays scrable with a handmaid who isn't supposed to read or write or fraternise with him. They both have sex with each other when they are not supposed to, because only reproductive sex is allowed. etc.

So I didn't have a problem with it.

On 18.5.2017 at 2:44 PM, AnswersWanted said:

They refuse to even acknowledge that it's probably the men who are the reason the birth rates are so dangerously low in the first place. I personally think Offred was right when she told the Mexican ambassador that her country was already dead, because I do think Gilead is dead for its' premise was never going to prove sustainable in reality.

There are probably a lot of men who are infertile, but not nearly as many as women. Mens reproductive organs aren't as complicated and thus not as prone to failure. Either the boys swim or they don't. There is a lot more that can go wrong with womens reproductive organs, since they have to also carry a baby for nine months. Even if there are as many men infertile as women, you don't need as many men to make babies as you need women.

That seems to be bolstered by Mexico having a problem with their women being infertile, too.

I think June said that her country was already dead because her country was the USA and it with all it's ideals is dead. She wasn't refering to Gilead at all.

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11 minutes ago, Miles said:

The ambassador seemed genuine when she said that she was doing this beause her country was dying. So I doubt she wants to procure handmaids for the ruling class.

Whenever there is a severe shortage of a valuable resource, the ruling class *always* gets first dibs. If there is a finite number of fertile women, the male elite will get to reproduce first.

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1 minute ago, chocolatine said:

Whenever there is a severe shortage of a valuable resource, the ruling class *always* gets first dibs. If there is a finite number of fertile women, the male elite will get to reproduce first.

Two things can be true. I'm sure they'll be within the first round of sperm doners, but I doubt they'll tackle this problem in the moronic way Gilead does. They'll know that they'll need genetic diversity if their country and thus their legacy and heirs are to survive long term.

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If the infertility issues are global, how have other countries adapted? Obviously being able to reproduce moves you up the food chain in free societies. I'm guessing you can "work" by having babies. Where it is a choice. So it would be nice if Canada or Mexico was trying to free handmaids. Then again, some countries may not even be as "nice" as Gilead. They may have puppy mill situations. 

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2 hours ago, nachomama said:

If the infertility issues are global, how have other countries adapted? Obviously being able to reproduce moves you up the food chain in free societies. I'm guessing you can "work" by having babies. Where it is a choice. So it would be nice if Canada or Mexico was trying to free handmaids. Then again, some countries may not even be as "nice" as Gilead. They may have puppy mill situations. 

It's implied by the world wide boycott and refusal to trade with Gilead that the rest of the world is absolutely doing nothing like Gilead is doing. 

As for whether or not they have the same problems on every single continent that they have on North America?  I think that's a leap.  Did every continent use nuclear power and have earthquake accidents, did every continent liberally use harmful pesticides and herbicides and create toxic swamp with improperly disposed of crap, polluting waters and soil?  There is another possible cause that hasn't been brought up on the show yet as well, that answer is in the book questions thread if you want to see it.  All answers are spoiler tagged there, so you can just read the ones you are curious about.

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4 hours ago, JasonCC said:

Re-watching the episode made me realize that you know who is the true believer? Aunt Lydia. For all her sadism and cruelty she really did think the "damaged ones" were as worthy as the others to be praised and partake in the party as they were doing God's work and serving as handmaids too. If anything she might be * more * proud of them as they were the defiant ones who've been "rescued" and redeemed from their sad, sinful ways in her mind. I think pathetic stories like new-Ofglen's of turning tricks behind dumpsters for opioids and McDonald's makes Aunt Lydia believe this way is better for the women.

ETA: Anyone else notice what a master manipulator Aunt Lydia is in terms of knowing when to use the handmaid's real names?  She doesn't do it often, but she will use them at certain moments (calming Janine down) to create a Stockholm-syndromey "now really listen to me this time, I'm telling you what's best" effect.

I was having the same kind of thought. Mr and Mrs Waterford don't really truly believe in what they're doing, not to the point of wanting to be the ones making sacrifices. Aunt Lydia in her own horrible way does. I think if she were younger she would volunteer to be a handmaid. She really thinks of everything she's doing as God's will. Which sort of makes her the most frightening of all. You can't talk someone down when the other voice is God.

Edited by FozzyBear
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Anyone else notice how Serena Joy is taller than Fred in flashbacks? I guess she allowed herself to wear higher heels. In present day, she's the same height with heels or shorter without, so she looks up at him. I guess it's hard to feel superior over someone who physically looks down on you. Just thought it was an interesting subtle detail. As heart wrenching as this show is, it's acted and produced superbly. 

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Maybe i can shed light  on the domestic feminism theme.  I believed in this too.  Whee both parties are loving to each other and the man doesn't make decisions without knowing what his wife wants.  This is biblical actually so i do feel sorry for Serena joy and make no qualms about that 

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I liked this episode, but June/Offred's confession to the ambassador at the end felt very... Hollywood.  I doubt she would have that kind of time to speak to the ambassador in the Waterfords' absence.  She kept pausing before making her dramatic points, and I kept thinking: "Someone in that position, who knows what it means to get caught, would be trying to speak as quickly as possible, almost to the point of incoherence."

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1 hour ago, Brn2bwild said:

I liked this episode, but June/Offred's confession to the ambassador at the end felt very... Hollywood.  I doubt she would have that kind of time to speak to the ambassador in the Waterfords' absence.  She kept pausing before making her dramatic points, and I kept thinking: "Someone in that position, who knows what it means to get caught, would be trying to speak as quickly as possible, almost to the point of incoherence."

That was the first scene of this series that just felt badly written. I kept expecting it to be a fantasy. I feel like anyone in that position would have just said "Help me" or "asylum".

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19 hours ago, Ragingviolet said:

Maybe i can shed light  on the domestic feminism theme.  I believed in this too.  Whee both parties are loving to each other and the man doesn't make decisions without knowing what his wife wants.  This is biblical actually so i do feel sorry for Serena joy and make no qualms about that 

What you describe is the ideal. I don't think it works always works out that way in reality. What is going on in Gilead goes way beyond "domestic feminism" because the women's feelings aren't taken into account at all. I don't think this is what Serena had in mind. At least, not for herself. 

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4 hours ago, rollacoaster said:

What you describe is the ideal. I don't think it works always works out that way in reality. What is going on in Gilead goes way beyond "domestic feminism" because the women's feelings aren't taken into account at all. I don't think this is what Serena had in mind. At least, not for herself. 

That's my point tho.  That she thought she was helping create this world where they were going to live more biblically in her mind however she didn't realize that when these scenarios go bad they go really bad for the woman.  I have sympathy for her because she trusted her husband and thought he knew her value and maybe he did at one time but now she's just as trapped as the handmaids. 

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28 minutes ago, Ragingviolet said:

That's my point tho.  That she thought she was helping create this world where they were going to live more biblically in her mind however she didn't realize that when these scenarios go bad they go really bad for the woman.  I have sympathy for her because she trusted her husband and thought he knew her value and maybe he did at one time but now she's just as trapped as the handmaids. 

I understand your point of view.  I was raised under very similar beliefs, and, unfortunately, I saw how often the women's submission ended up being oppression.  

It is a viable choice, if that is what the couple wants to do. It can be positive IF there is love and consideration.  To me, the problem comes when individuals or societies decide to force these choices on others who may not share their views.

I do, to some degree feel for Serena. The outcome of her beliefs were detrimental to her, even more so for the other women. Perhaps she could not have foreseen the brutal turn her dream would take. She was the architect of her own undoing.

I feel that anytime you try to take other people's rights way, anytime you choose to be complicit it the oppression of others, then you are ultimately colluding in your own oppression.   

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Also, even today, I still hear women talking about how creating a home and having the man make decisions and the sacred role of a women to be subservient to a man, because her sacred and divine role is to have children and make a family/home, and how women's lib destroys all of that.  I see stuff daily on facebook glorifying gender roles--in the sweetest and most seductive words possible.   Hell, the Mormon church is based on the superiority of men "leading" their families, and as far as Catholics seen many women priests lately, or men wearing burkas?  Religions that proclaim women leaders or equal are few and far between.  Many religions are set up to keep women in their place, that's not just a show fantasy.

For most?  God is still a man, and Jesus a very handsome white guy after all.

Umbelina, you and I should hang out lol!  

On topic, yes, yes and yes. I am in business and have carved out very solid/senior positions for myself, but it seems that religion and politics are WAY behind...

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It is a viable choice, if that is what the couple wants to do. It can be positive IF there is love and consideration.  To me, the problem comes when individuals or societies decide to force these choices on others who may not share their views.

This.  Domestic feminism only works if people choose the lifestyle.   And the people who choose the lifestyle are able to enjoy making that choice because of those who fought for women to have these choices to begin with.  I have trouble feeling sympathy for Serena Joy.  She may or may not realize it, but she formed her opinions from the standpoint of privilege - she lived in a society where she was able to embrace her views, speak out on her views, publish her views.  She can hide behind her standpoint that "this is god's way" but she doesn't seem to understand that the society she helped destroy is the same society that allowed her to SAY "this is god's way" in the first place.  She helped create this world.  She's not a victim.  

Remove that choice, and what do you have?  Oppression.  Simple as that.  And in the case of Gilead, brutal oppression. 

So, I know that by making Luke alive, they are going to expand the story line in a different direction.  I just really hope they are careful how they do this.  As somebody said at the end, June's monologue felt very hollywood.  The entire ending felt hollywood.  I think there are so many things about Gilead to explore as it is, weaving the characters into the story, I'm not convinced that that having Luke be alive is the right way to go.  In the book

Spoiler

it's her daughter who she learns is still alive.  It's interesting that they haven't shown that but chose instead to keep Luke alive.  

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A good explanation for the low fertility could be if it was some kind of disease (maybe with an origin in biological weapon) which made most people sterile and somehow affected the pregnancy.

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On 5/17/2017 at 5:17 AM, txhorns79 said:

The best I could think was she wanted a more traditional role for other women, but had some kind of expectation that she could be a leader with influence in that type of society.  Essentially, she would still have power, while other women would be cut out.  Of course, the reality turned out to be that no woman would have power and Serena was "given" what she claimed to always want.   

See Phyllis Schafly and women like Kristen Hawkins, Star Parker and any of the adult Digger daughters.

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4 hours ago, red12 said:

See Phyllis Schafly and women like Kristen Hawkins, Star Parker and any of the adult Digger daughters.

Phyllis always infuriated me. She never would have gotten into law school without the early women's movement demanding the right to higher education, then she turned around and defeated the ERA. (Yeah, I'm old)

 

Im sure Serena Joy thought women could keep the right to work, provided they didn't 'neglect' their reproductive imperative. But she gets no sympathy from me. She's complicit in mass murder of the legislature, for starters.

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Wow, that was brutal in so many ways. For a moment I thought Aunt was going to stand up Serena. But no. Aunt Lydia does have a weird, sick sense of compassion that is fascinating and terrifying. 

I wonder if the children who were born with defects were kept away from the formal dinner. Because optics.

Loved the Mexican ambassador, and Fred feeling all superior over Gilead’s new society.

Serena made me uncomfortable partly because I consider myself an environmentalist, and Serena is equating environmental stewardship with moral purity.  The cruel irony is that reducing the population is one way to improve the environment. The irony cannot be lost on the New Order.

I’m starting to feel for Nick. His lot isn’t as bad as June’s, and he still has a tiny bit of privilege, but he is still trapped in this society. I like that we don’t have in backstory (yet?) so that we can judge him solely on who he is now.

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While it's nothing really new that dystopian fiction often uses societies with a questionable logical basis to make points about the contemporary world, the specifics around the desire for trade in handmaids in this episode were kind of silly to me.  The handmaids made more sense when I understood them to be kind of a perk to help the small class of commanders with fertility issues.  Making it so that cities of millions are not having any live births escalates the problem to the point where a handful of sex slaves wouldn't make the slightest difference to a society's long-term prospects.

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11 minutes ago, marinw said:

 

I wonder if the children who were born with defects were kept away from the formal dinner. Because optics.

 

 

Those children are called "shredders."  They are not kept alive.

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Just now, Umbelina said:

Those children are called "shredders."  They are not kept alive.

Another super-fun fact about life in Gilead! I suppose giving birth to a Shredder is totally a Handmaid's fault.

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On 2017-05-18 at 6:41 PM, guilfoyleatpp said:

I'm about to fan wonk the crap outta this, so forgiveness in advance...

What if all of our fertility tests and IVF treatments and ovulation predictors just stopped working? As in, they work for how we understand them now, but something so damaging (and perhaps dramatic - they mentioned "new weather patterns") has poisoned the world's food and water and air and changed the way human bodies process available and needed resources.  What if a higher carbon dioxide level in the air throws off reproductive systems in a way we haven't seen and don't understand? What if filtering water doesn't remove whatever new toxin we created for fertilizer? What if by modifying plants or animal feed we were creating a lack of some essential nutrient? It could make our standard fertility tests obsolete. A woman and man could seem perfectly fertile and still not manage to create a child. You would have to depend on women who have had children in the recent past to continue to do so. And if it's an accumulation of toxins or lack of a certain nutrient thing, then even their time could be limited.

Sometimes, even now, a woman just can't get pregnant and medical professionals can't figure out why. 

I'm assuming that the limited understanding of fertility from the time the book was written (early 80s) has somehow recurred and the entire world is impacted. 

From this episode you can see they are leaning more on the "organic" explanation. I would guess that with a world population that is decreasing they're not as worried about mass produced food. 

Something to note about using fertility treatments opposed to handmaids is that sex still has a higher success rate than anything else. So I can see if things got desperate that they might see handmaids as a solution instead of IVF.

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I'm wondering why June "went off" on Nick, (paraphrasing here) "you don't have someone shoving their dick up your ass".  I didn't get the context or even when it happened.  Help!!

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8 minutes ago, Medicine Crow said:

I'm wondering why June "went off" on Nick, (paraphrasing here) "you don't have someone shoving their dick up your ass".  I didn't get the context or even when it happened.  Help!!

She was already upset with herself when she came into his room, for not telling the Mexican ambassador the truth. Nick tried to calm her down, which made her even more agitated. She said if anyone found out she was seeing Nick she would be sent to the Colonies, but nothing would happen to Nick because he's an Eye. He started saying that wasn't true (that nothing would happen to him), and that's when she erupted and told him he wasn't the one being raped every month.

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There has been much discussion on this forum about how the treatment of Women in Gilead and Handmaids in particular defies science and logic. I think that's the point. A theocracy does not use science and logic. They aren’t having elections, so they don’t need to earn the people's vote. A repressive regime should destroy itself when the people suffer, but this is not always the case. See: North Korea.

I thought this episode did a good job at showing how other countries such as Mexico are complicit in Gilead’s treatment of it’s citizens. Refugees who can make it over the Mexican or Canadian borders seem to be granted sanctuary, but no effort is being made to rescue the women of Gilead. At least not publicly, Mayday may be part of a larger overall plan. The ambassador's assistant seems to be part of the Resistance.

This is all fascinating because it is the inverse of the Western World’s reaction of the suppression of women’s rights in other areas of the world

Edited by marinw
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They don't have the population or the overwhelming military equipment, bombs, tanks, planes, etc. to take on Gilead.  However, the Mexico stuff is a creation for the show, not from the book, so...

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13 minutes ago, Umbelina said:

They don't have the population or the overwhelming military equipment, bombs, tanks, planes, etc. to take on Gilead. 

Good point. Maybe this is why Canada hasn't invaded. Gilead may no longer be the US, but it has all of the former US's miltary stuff.

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On 5/17/2017 at 4:31 PM, HeySandyStrange said:

Also another thought occurred to me. Those attacks on the US gov't that Serena and Fred helped plan were originally attributed to Islamic terrorists, right? If so, I wonder what the possibility will be that those terrorists will declare war on Gilead, especially in the light that the Gilead Government probably executed many Muslims.

What I find weird is that these assholes were being tracked by the FBI, but then the managed to blow up the white house, congress and the supreme court without anyone pointing the finger at them?

On 5/19/2017 at 6:30 PM, Kim0820 said:

 

I was thinking that if handmaids are numerous enough to trade, that they would instead give more than one handmaid to the Commanders.  More frequent ceremonies and more chances - and they could justify that from the Old Testament.  

I don't know there seems to be a surprisingly high number of handmaids to me. Everytime June goes out it is women in red everywhere (and many of them). There can't be that many commanders can there?

On 5/20/2017 at 9:35 AM, JasonCC said:

ETA: Anyone else notice what a master manipulator Aunt Lydia is in terms of knowing when to use the handmaid's real names?  She doesn't do it often, but she will use them at certain moments (calming Janine down) to create a Stockholm-syndromey "now really listen to me this time, I'm telling you what's best" effect.

What is up with that lady and why does she do everything? She runs the indoctrination centre, she manages the Handmaids posted in Boston, she investigates any rebellion or rule breaking among them and she acts as mc for rapist executions. Is it just a matter of not wanting to cast other actresses or is there something else to it?

And speaking of rebellion it seems we aren't seeing more rebellion/insurgency. I mean I get that the commanders rule with an brutal iron fist, but at the same time you would kind of think that with all the brutality and executions, there would be a lot of people without a lot to live for.

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How big is Gilead supposed to be?  Is the group of Handmaids shown in this episode all that there is?  Is this just the group in one city in Gilead?  I'm very confused.

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Just now, Canada said:

 

How big is Gilead supposed to be?  Is the group of Handmaids shown in this episode all that there is?  Is this just the group in one city in Gilead?  I'm very confused.

 

In the books we're given only small indications to the geographical size, but to that extent the reader isn't given guarantees to what is true or not as we're limited by Offred's POV. 

The show has been given more and more ideas of what the boundaries are - and that it seems many boundaries are under dispute. Wartime is a rough time to determine where a boundary lies. At the absolute best we know that Boston is entirely under control of Gilead, and I don't think it would be unsafe in assuming that spreads down the mid-Atlantic to at least NC through to the Canadian border. 

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You can ask in the book questions thread if you like for more details.

The show has already told us it is the entire continental United States.  We are only seeing Boston when we see Offred's scenes.  They've also told us there are on going wars in several areas of the former USA, Chicago, etc.  We also know "the colonies" for cotton, oranges, and nuclear waste issues are in the former USA.

The current United States of America consist of Hawaii and Alaska with Anchorage as the capital, also mentioned in the show.  Obviously, all of Gilead is not like Boston, or soldiers/angels wouldn't constantly be off fighting "the rebellion."

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5 hours ago, Canada said:

How big is Gilead supposed to be?  Is the group of Handmaids shown in this episode all that there is?  Is this just the group in one city in Gilead?  I'm very confused.

Serena Joy mentions these are the children born in the district. So I would assume that is only the children born in a certain area. How big the district is is anyone's guess at this point.

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What I find weird is that these assholes were being tracked by the FBI, but then the managed to blow up the white house, congress and the supreme court without anyone pointing the finger at them?

It occured to me today, that when they blew up the white house, it must have included every member of cabinet, because there is a presidential succession line that I believe goes right down to the secretary of veteran affairs?  We have systems in place to ensure the government keeps going should something of this magnitude happen.  And let's not forget the shadow government, which I assume still exists, although perhaps not to the same extent that it did post 9/11.

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It occured to me today, that when they blew up the white house, it must have included every member of cabinet, because there is a presidential succession line that I believe goes right down to the secretary of veteran affairs?

I believe they said in an earlier episode the US Constitution was actually suspended because of the Congress/White House terrorist attacks so they don't keep following the line of succession: it's become a military coup/police state. The official line of succession (POTUS, VP, Speaker, on down the line) is only a thing if the US Constitution is still law of the land.

Although, for all we know, the US Secretary of State or whoever was next in line and escaped could indeed be POTUS out of Anchorage. It's been a few years, though, so they may have had elections in what is left of the US.

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A late post, as I am a little behind in viewing...   a few notes and questions...

1. One little nit to pick - about 1/2 dozen or so handmaids were excluded at the last minute, yet there was a perfect handmaid-to-dinner table ratio when they all sat down a few minutes later.  Shouldn't there have been some empty seats?

2.  I felt that Serena Joy's "welcome" speech was out of place, but not so much as she was seen as the event's hostess.  So in that sense, it made sense for her to be welcoming the guests. 

3.  I have also been wondering about the size of Gilead, so thanks for the explanations above.  But even if this "district" were about the size of Boston, were these supposed to be *all* of the district's handmaids?  Or are these just selected representatives that got to go to the dinner?

4.  Are commanders and their wives not allowed to have sex at all?  I assume that being assigned a handmaid means that the wife has been deemed infertile, so any sex would be non-procreative and therefore banned.  So what would happen if Serena Joy (or another wife) ends up pregnant? 

5.  I thought for a while that June's plea to the ambassador was going to be a "in her head" type of scene, but then it kept on going.   I was also surprised that they left the two of them alone for that time. 

6.  I would think that being a handmaid in Mexico would still be better than being a handmaid in Gilead.  You may end up being a glorified lab rat, and possibly  still a prisoner of your environment, but any nation still using science would most likely not resort to physical rape.  I would like to think that science based nations would identify women who could have children, and incentivize the hell out of getting them to willingly cooperate with scientists and be surrogates.  And I would like to think that in the situation of a world wide fertility crisis, any (most?) women who could have children would agree to being surrogates to help boost population. 

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1 hour ago, chaifan said:

One little nit to pick - about 1/2 dozen or so handmaids were excluded at the last minute, yet there was a perfect handmaid-to-dinner table ratio when they all sat down a few minutes later.  Shouldn't there have been some empty seats?

I noticed that too. Thought it was odd that there were the perfect number of seats and the perfect entrance with the removal of the "wings" - without regard for half dozen being taken back. 

 

1 hour ago, chaifan said:

3.  I have also been wondering about the size of Gilead, so thanks for the explanations above.  But even if this "district" were about the size of Boston, were these supposed to be *all* of the district's handmaids?  Or are these just selected representatives that got to go to the dinner?

I believe these are all the handmaid's for the "Boston" district, minus the "damaged ones" that were selected to attend. 

 

1 hour ago, chaifan said:

4.  Are commanders and their wives not allowed to have sex at all?  I assume that being assigned a handmaid means that the wife has been deemed infertile, so any sex would be non-procreative and therefore banned.  So what would happen if Serena (or another wife) ends up pregnant?

No sex unless for procreation, thus saith their lord. If a wife ends up pregnant... well it's speculation, but much joy would be hand, the handmaid would be posted elsewhere and the wife would be expected to have and stay pregnant as much as possible. Since their marriage is legal by Gilean law, the wife would not be forced to become a Handmaid until one or both were found breaking the law. However, she may become an "Ecnowife" (see the book thread for more info as that isn't part of the tv show so far). 

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15 hours ago, chaifan said:

1. One little nit to pick - about 1/2 dozen or so handmaids were excluded at the last minute, yet there was a perfect handmaid-to-dinner table ratio when they all sat down a few minutes later.  Shouldn't there have been some empty seats?

There were either 2 or 4 empty seats at the end of Offred's table

15 hours ago, chaifan said:

2.  I felt that Serena Joy's "welcome" speech was out of place, but not so much as she was seen as the event's hostess.  So in that sense, it made sense for her to be welcoming the guests. 

Judging by initial surprise looks form Fred and some of the Commanders she was not supposed to give the opening remark

 

Heh, Fred is turned on by women who would challenge him but the society of his own design would make sure he would not get it, at least not legally.

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