Welcome to this week’s installment of Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week, wherein we shine a spotlight on the geekilicious women who inspire us. Our crushes range from fictional female characters in our favorite genre shows, movies and books… to creators in geeky media. We celebrate you, oh women of geekdom!
DISCLAIMER: The following contains spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale original series from Hulu. This article will also spoil the book, but as the book was encompassed in the first season of the series and we’ve moved forward in the world of Gilead… we’re focusing on the series. If you have not seen it, you are in for the most disturbing, horrible, wonderful, heartbreaking, dark, empowering, terrifying treat! Go to Hulu and binge both seasons now!! And, read Margaret Atwood’s book while you’re at it… while you still can. May the Lord open.
Offred (played by Elisabeth Moss) starts the series as a defiant handmaid in Gilead, the new theocracy that has arisen after the overthrow of the government of the United States. You learn quickly that she tried to escape with her husband and child. Her child was ripped from her arms and her husband; presumed dead. She was caught, intimidated, trained and placed in the home of Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Feinnes) as his handmaid. Her burden is to survive ritual rape, systematic oppression and extreme threat to her life while living for her daughter. Her will is strong. Her actions are subversive. Her inner monologue is awesome.
Through the first two seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred is beaten, threatened, separated from her child, cattle-prodded, paraded, used, impreganated, arrested, chained to a bed, separated from her child again, and then again by choice in order to get the first one!?! GAH!
She manipulates her captors, defies her oppressors, joins the resistance, leaves the resistance, falls in love, risks everything to get out, escapes, gets caught, helps make policy in the government that confines her, saves multiple people, gets multiple people hurt, gives birth on the floor, and goes rogue in the face of a coordinated escape. She has no power and she is the most powerful.
The Real Deal:
Offred is not a victim. She is a fighter. When she loses hope, the fight finds her and she cannot resist it. Despite her surroundings, she finds compassion, camaraderie, love, friendship, and humanity in a most inhumane world. She is smart, witty, sly, determined, scrappy, obstinate, adaptable and ultimately capable. There is no terrible situation or abusive individual that can conquer her will. Gilead begins to seep into who she is and she uses it to her advantage rather than letting it destroy her. Her drive to protect her children overrides every other horror that she might endure. Offred is woman. Hear her roar… in her thoughts so no one hears.
Why She Matters:
Gilead is a dystopian world that emphasizes brutality, authoritarianism and sexism in order to shine a light on the strength of humanity in adverse situations; and more specifically, women in those situations. If The Handmaid’s Tale is about the strength of women to endure, Offred is the embodiment of that strength. That’s why she matters. She is a light in the darkness; proof that the human spirit cannot be imprisoned. She is the inspiration to fight hatred and oppression. She will not give up. She will not give in. She will not let the bastards get her down. That matters a great deal.