An online retailer learned this week that there’s nothing sexy about oppressing women.
Yandy on Friday stopped selling a Halloween costume that puts a sexy spin on the outfit worn by concubines in the Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The decision to pull the costume followed widespread outcry on social media.
The lingerie retailer’s website featured a model wearing a “Brave Red Maiden Costume,” consisting of a red skin-tight minidress, long red cape and white bonnet. In the dystopian series, women forced into surrogacy are made to wear a similar outfit – except with much longer hemlines.
In the show, handmaids are assigned to elite families and groomed into sexual servitude, where they are raped, impregnated and forced to give birth. They are also barred from working, owning property or handling money. Those who resist are beaten, tortured or even killed.
The series is based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel by the same name.
Yandy’s costume included a product description that appeared to reference the series: “An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women no longer have a say. However, we say be bold and speak your mind in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume.”
The costume immediately sparked controversy – with social media users expressing outrage that an outfit used to strip women of agency could ever be transformed into a sexy costume.
“We’re now beyond satire,” Zoe Margolis wrote on Twitter. “‘Sexy’ Handmaid’s Tale outfit. There’s nothing like fighting the patriarchy by sexualising a show about misogyny and rape.”
Amy Louise Doherty sarcastically tweeted: “Yes, this is what the handmaid’s tale was missing – more leg.”
Facing widespread criticism, Yandy pulled the costume and issued a statement saying its intent was not to offend.
“Over the last few hours, it has become obvious that our ‘Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume’ is being seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment. This is unfortunate, as it was not our intention on any level,” the company said.
“Our initial inspiration to create the piece was through witnessing its use in recent months as a powerful protest image,” Yandy added, seemingly referring to women dressed as handmaids at Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing earlier this month.
Since being published in 1985, Atwood’s novel has inspired women across the globe protesting a range of issues, including sexual harassment, the right to an abortion and adequate healthcare.