The Real-Life Mrs. Waterfords
How women enable the rape culture and oppression of other women) — Bohemian Visions
“We know that silence equals consent when atrocities are committed against innocent men, women, and children. We know that indifference equals complicity when bigotry, hatred, and intolerance are allowed to take root. And we know that education and hope are the most effective ways to combat ignorance and despair.” ~ Gabrielle Giffords
If you have been living under a rock for the last couple of years, then you haven’t heard of this TV show called the Handmaidens Tale. A Dystopian society where the United States is no more, Basic luxuries like the internet is restricted, and women are stripped of their basic fundamental rights.
They can’t read, write, hold a job, or even hold their own identity. Women are restricted to wearing only one color that signifies their role in Gilead’s society. What makes this TV show so jarring is the scary similarities to real life. Many protestors often wear red cloaks and white-winged bonnets due to the Handmaidens’ role on the TV show.
Now, if you haven’t seen a single episode of all three seasons and decide to read this article, don’t get mad. It’s your own fault. Clearly, this is a spoiler.
While mainstream media focuses their attention on the Handmaiden and their Scarlet Red uniform and White-winged bonnets. Their constant victimization and rape highlight how their individual rights and autonomy to their own bodies and identity are stripped and revoked. As a viewer in the audience, I feel for the Handmaidens. I want them to win.
My heart breaks for them when they are raped month after month, impregnated, forced to carry a child, give birth, then stripped away from them only moments after. I celebrate when they can escape from the horrors of Gilead and find sanctuary in Canada. While the audience cheers for the Protagonist and wishes the Antagonist often times the men to get what they deserve.
The men are not the only ones to blame for this nightmarish situation. The Wives are complicit in the orchestration of the creation of Gilead. Let’s not overlook the fact during the ceremony. It’s the Wives who are holding down the Hand Maids while their husband’s rape them. Even though the Wives are forbidden to read, write, have employment, or hold their own name. They look the other way.
They are participants in the stealing of babies from their mothers immediately after birth. They can’t have children of their own and happen to be married to a senior ranking official. They, too, are responsible for the kidnapping of older children from their biological parents.
The creation of Gilead all stems from the country’s drastic decline in births across the country. Due to the fact, fertile and young women of childbearing age did not have enough babies.
A group of psychotic religious fanatics decided to blow up the nation’s government and dismantle the country and its existence.
The worst of all the wives is Serena Joy Waterford. Not only was she complicit in the destruction of the United States, but she also helped write the laws and punishments of the new theocratic society. She epitomizes how women aid in the destruction and stripping of individual rights despite her own rights are also stripped away.
So how do a fictional character and dystopian society correlate with the real world? Just a TV show, the complicit actions the Wives portray mirrors that of the real world women who participated in the crimes against humanity. They enable the laws passed that restricted other women’s rights to birth control, adequate medical care, equal pay, and laws protecting women from violence, especially sexual assault. Pick any social issue, and I guarantee a group of women who supported these actions deprived others of their rights and civil liberties. Here are just a few examples of how women have aided in the stripping away of rights over history.
The governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, a woman, and being alive during pre-Roe vs. Wade, you would think safe abortions would be protected. In May 2019, she signed the most restrictive abortion law in the entire country. Virtually making obtaining a safe abortion nearly impossible for any woman living in the state. Alabama isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders regarding the nations ranking on social programs.
In September 2018, Brett Kavanaugh went before the Senate confirmation hearing to address being accused of sexual assault over 30 years prior. He was selected by President Trump to become the next Supreme Court Justice. This sparked a massive debate regarding the #MeToo movement and the statute of limitations to report the crime. After all the testimonies were given, the senate voted 51–49, and he was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice. Senator Susan Collins of Maine received the brunt of the backlash. Many rapes and sexual assault survivors called her a rape apologist. They stated her vote was a betrayal to the women who are victims.
Senator Collins was one of four female Republican Senators who voted yes for the confirmation. Yet her fellow female republican senators started coming forward with their stories of being sexually assaulted and harassed while the accused went unpunished.
This is where it gets super dicey. Many argued why come forward after decades of silence to report the rape. There is no clear cut answer to this. Everyone processes trauma differently. Many individual states have a set statute of limitations on when rape/sexual assault can be charged and prosecuted. When the victim is ready, it should be on her time and on her terms.
That type of trauma takes time to recover from. When a female Republican Senator votes against laws that protect women from workplace harassment and assault, it’s a problem. When Female Politicians at all levels vote against the best interest of the overall female population, I call it the Mrs. Waterford Effect. When it doesn’t apply to them but hurts the majority, they couldn’t care less. It’s not just female politicians; women who stand by and allow other women to be oppressed fall under the same Mrs. Waterford umbrella.
Kellyanne Conway, who publicly support men who have been accused of rape and sexual assault by multiple women, is the epitome of the Mrs. Waterford effect. When she turned around and told her story of being sexually assaulted, many people dragged her online for trying to cash in on the #MeToo Movement. Women like Sarah Huckabee Sanders are complicit as well. Her dismissive statements regarding violence and misogyny have been called out. When the same woman becomes a victim, there’s this internal moral conflict. On one side, there’s this desire to comfort and support her. But on the other hand, it’s like, Ha bitch you deserve it since you supported the very monsters that did this to you
Let’s go all the way back to Post Civil War. It was women who formed the group Daughters of the Confederate. They are responsible for keeping the Confederate culture alive and well in the south even today. They were the ones who changed the narrative regarding the reason for the Civil War. Since all the men who fought in the Civil War were dying out the history was also dying.
This organization rewrote the curriculum in southern schools and erected hundreds of confederate statues all throughout the south. They were responsible for creating Jim Crow laws. Although they didn’t necessarily write it, their husbands did. Even though women did not have the right to vote, hold government office, or be out in the front with their plan. Behind the scenes, coordination impacted the social, racial, and gender discrimination toward people of color and other women from various socioeconomic backgrounds.
It’s only when the oppression is applied to them. That’s when women from the upper class begin to care. Let’s take Susan B. Anthony, for example. It took the 15th Amendment to be passed, which allowed Black Men the freedom to vote. And this enraged her. A Black Man had the right to vote but not a White Woman? Throughout American History, she is known as the founder of the women’s rights movement. What American History fails to admit is Susan B. Anthony, even though she was active in protesting for Anti- Slavery, couldn’t care less about Black/African American people’s rights. Animosity over the passing of the 15th Amendment grew. She even aligned herself with Southern Racists to “neutralize” the Black vote.
These are just a fraction of examples where women aligned themselves to support oppression and discrimination. Sometimes it’s not as overt. In the workplace, women in power will often look the other way because they don’t want to rock the boat. Sometimes they treat women the worse.
The military has its share of Mrs. Waterfords in the ranks. Female General Officers, when interviewed, almost always dismiss their gender when asked. Often, they don’t want to talk about the challenges associated with being a military woman. It’s as if being a woman who serves is a stain despite the countless arguments and lawsuits of gender discrimination in the military. The very few who make it to the top will not speak up publicly on issues regarding female representation at the senior and general officer level.
The last time the Army had a female four-star general was 2004. Even though women in the civilian and military workplaces have to fight and claw their way to the top. Once they achieve the position, some forget. There is a whole new generation of women aspiring to reach that level but are left behind. The Mrs. Waterford Effect is everywhere and seen anywhere, even in your own homes and family members. The question is, how do you address gender issues when your own gender is enabling the oppressors?
The Mrs. Waterford effect could clearly be dismissed as supporting the male family members, co-workers, and their bosses. Still, these women are as much to blame as men. They perpetuate the misogyny and patriarchy that oppresses women and restricts any form of progression and equality. Even though Mrs. Waterford is also a victim of oppression, she helped orchestrate the patriarchy, thinking she can benefit from it. The truth is she isn’t.
The next time you read in the papers which men try to restrict women through various forms of oppression, just remember women are supporting him and the cause.
Originally published at https://bohemianvisions.com on January 1, 2020.