Publication Details

Boyle, A. ""They Should Have Never Given Us Uniforms If They Didn't Want Us to Be an Army": The Handmaid's Tale as Transmedia Feminism." Signs: journal of women in culture and society 45 .4 (2020): 845-870.


Even prior to its premier in April 2017, Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale inspired a series of cosplay protests against antiabortion legislation at the Texas State Capitol. The red robes and white bonnets have since been popularized by the critically acclaimed series, and handmaid-style cosplay protests have continued transnationally, with the handmaid heralded as what the BBC calls "an international protest symbol" against heteropatriarchal oppression. Due to a surge of visible feminisms in popular media, it has become good business to create such female-centric, avowedly feminist texts. As the television industry has evolved from a broadcast network to a subscription market, content options have emerged that have both cultivated and responded to a feminist niche audience. Industry interests and feminist interests have seemingly aligned, with the adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale representing a pertinent example of the popular and the political intersecting. The Handmaid's Tale has been positioned by both industry and audience as a transmedia text that bridges fiction and reality to become part and parcel of contemporary feminist movements. This article will thus make an argument for how the shifting television landscape might enable new forms of public feminisms. Through a case study of The Handmaid's Tale, I will examine how transnational feminist communities might mobilize around such texts and how fiction and fan activities might be used to embolden feminist political action.



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