Activists are using a decades-old novel as a protest

Story highlights

  • Women used the dystopian novel to protest abortion laws
  • Trump supporters are calling a show based on the book 'liberal propaganda'
  • 'The Handmaid's Tale' was first published in 1985

(CNN)Last week, a group of women showed up to the chambers of the Texas Senate building clad in blood-red robes and white caps.

To anyone who has read Margaret Atwood's iconic novel, "The Handmaid's Tale," the look was immediately recognizable: They were channeling the protagonists of the dystopian story in which a new ultra-religious American society strips women of their agency and reduces them to servile, child-bearing flesh vessels.
The protesters in Texas showed up to voice their opposition to a series of bills that would tighten abortion laws in the state, making access to common procedures more difficult for women.

    The Handmaids are about to hit the Senate.

    A post shared by Nan Kirkpatrick (@nanarchist) on

    Relevant for some, enraging for others

    "The Handmaid's Tale" is an intrigue du jour, and not just because activists find it painfully relevant to their struggle for reproductive rights. A TV show based on the novel is coming to Hulu soon, and trailers for the show have caused a minor crisis.
    The first full trailer dropped recently, and it contains this chilling monologue from Elizabeth Moss, who portrays the titular Handmaiden:
    "I was asleep before, that's how they let it happen. When they slaughtered Congress, we didn't wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the Constitution, we didn't wake up either. Now I'm awake."
    Supporters of the current administration have called the show "leftist propaganda" and "anti-Trump."
    (A lot of this talk came on Youtube, where unpopular comments are sometimes hard to find or are deleted by their authors. However, screenshots live on, as above.)

    Not exactly contemporaneous

    Even Atwood herself was forced to point out the obvious: "A Handmaid's Tale" is more than 30 years old.
    And, no, Hulu didn't pick it up as some sort of snub to the current White House. The series was picked up in April 2016, before Donald Trump even became the Republican nominee.
    However, there are certainly some coincidences involved in the resurgence of these crimson-cloaked harbingers of tyranny. After President Trump took office, classic dystopian novels surged on Amazon's bestsellers list -- Orwell's "1984;" "Bradbury's Farenheit 451;" Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here."
    For the record, Trump's own "The Art of The Deal" got a boost too. If nothing else, we are living in literate times.