The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel that takes place in a future where America has become a religious patriarchy which turns women into sex slaves. Because the novel is now a TV show, we’ve all been subject to an endless number of think pieces about the significance of the Handmaid’s Tale to this moment in history. From the Washington Examiner:
The New York Times noted that Atwood’s novel — in which the United States collapses into a religious dictatorship intent on enslaving women and brutally suppressing dissent — had “a newfound and unexpected relevance in Trump’s America.” The Washington Post called it “timely.” And the San Francisco Chronicle said the story feels “chillingly real” in today’s society.
This week fans of the show celebrated when lead actress Elizabeth Moss won an Emmy for her work on the show. The general celebration of the win included details like this statement written on the bottom of her shoe:
Note the message below the photo which says you have to guess what the other shoe says (I’m guessing a word that starts with ‘F’). This is directed at “the patriarchy.” So Elizabeth Moss isn’t just playing a role in which she fights the patriarchy on TV, she’s fighting the patriarchy right here in Trump’s America with secret shoe-messages!
All of that is pretty standard fare for Hollywood celebrities, but there’s one wrinkle in the story that caught my attention. Elizabeth Moss is a member of the church of Scientology. And she appears to be more than a casual member. Last month when actress Leah Remini won an award for her show criticizing Scientology, Moss walked out of the room. From the Mercury News:
Moss, 35, was celebrated for her role in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” while Remini, 47, won for her A&E documentary series “Scientology and the Aftermath,” which investigates the Church and its cult-like activities.
A writer attending the ceremony tweeted that Moss was so unhappy over Remini’s win that she left the room while Remini accepted her TCA award.
So even as Elizabeth Moss is being celebrated for fighting “the patriarchy” she is a member of a church which has been accused of all manner of abuses including, ironically, a male leader who (allegedly) physically attacked members of his staff. The Mercury News reports not all of Moss’ fans found this easy to accept:
@novi_scott_ asked Moss how she can support an organization that “stalks ex parishioners, launches smear ads against people, asks disconnection, has a concept like SP, and asks for massive amounts of money from its followers?” This person pointed out that “no other major religion does that.”
While such abuses may not be happening to Moss, “they are happening,” this user continued. “How can you turn a blind eye to the pain this organization causes good people” Seems so ironic given the character you play.”
Maybe Elizabeth Moss has found a way to rationalize her support for Scientology with her belief that she is battling the patriarchy, but the rest of us don’t have to pretend it makes sense. If you want to see what someone who really fights a religious patriarchy looks like, check out Leah Remini’s show, Scientology and the Aftermath. It’s one of the few things on television which is actually taking a brave stand as opposed to pretending to do so.