US People Across U.S. Wear 'Handmaid's Tale' Cloaks to Protest Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court Nomination
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Women in cities across the U.S. donned "Handmaid's Tale" cloaks in a coordinated effort to protest against Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination.
Protesters in red cloaks and white bonnets took to the steps of state government buildings and courthouses, in cities such as Boston, Little Rock, Madison and Fort Myers, in a silent demonstration against Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.
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It comes as the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate swiftly moves Barrett towards confirmation to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the court.
Although the judge's confirmation is probably a foregone conclusion, protesters took to the street to publicly oppose the appointment on Sunday.
The Red Cloak organizers said the national action is aimed at publicly protesting the appointment of any Supreme Court Justice by Trump, "to affirm Equal Rights for Women, especially body autonomy" and "to honor the memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg."
The red cloaks are a reference to the costumes in the Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale which is about a dystopian society in the future where women face extreme oppression.
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After her nomination, it emerged that Barrett allegedly belongs to a Catholic group where members are assigned advisers of the same sex, called a "head" for men and a "handmaid" for women.
Why anti-Barrett protesters wore red cloaks
Protesters in the U.S. have been using Atwood's novel as a symbol of anti-Trump resistance, especially in demonstrations for reproductive rights.
The red cloaks point towards the outfits worn by "handmaids" and even before the Hulu-produced TV series was released, references to The Handmaid's Tale could be spotted at the January 2017 anti-Trump women's march.
In The Handmaid's Tale, a theocratic regime called the Republic of Gilead has taken over parts of the U.S., imposing severe limits to freedom and women's rights in a bid to increase fertility rates and control society.
Women are restricted to limited set roles within society with colour-coded robes to match. The handmaids are fertile women who wear red cloaks and whose sole function is to have babies.
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They are forced to undergo regular, strictly-regulated intercourse with the men in the families they are assigned to, in presence of the men's wives.
But for the purpose of protesting against Barrett—a devout Catholic and mother of seven—the parallel has been drawn because the 48-year-old and her husband Jesse Barrett, are both reportedly members of People of Praise.
Coral Anika Theill, a former member of a branch of the group in Corvallis, Oregon, told Newsweek that women must be "absolutely obedient" to their husbands and the men while those who aren't are "shamed, shunned, humiliated."
People of Praise members are also assigned advisers of the same sex, called a "head" for men and a "handmaid" for women. But the latter phrase reportedly became too charged following the release of Hulu's television adaption of The Handmaid's Tale so it was changed to "women leaders."
The group does not publicly list its members and Barrett herself has never commented on her supposed involvement.
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Barrett is also said to personally oppose abortion. Although she has not publicly come out against abortion during the Supreme Court nomination proceedings, her Catholic faith, accounts of friends, her supporters' confidence and suggestions in her academic writings point towards her being anti-abortion.
Scenes from the protests
In Boston, more than a dozen cloaked figures marched towards the State House holding placards which read: "Ruth Sent Us," "Reproductive rights are essential," and "Demand human treatment for all."
Lora Venesy, who dressed up as Ginsburg, led the group, telling The Boston Globe: "We're all mad as hell and we're rising up to show we won't go peacefully into this dystopian world of actual handmaids."
She told the crowd that Atwood's book is "a terrifying novel that should stay fiction."
HAPPENING NOW: a group called the Little Red Cloaks is protesting the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.
This is a part of a nationwide campaign. Hear more from the group tonight #arnews pic.twitter.com/slx0PKGl6N— KATV News (@KATVNews) October 25, 2020
Advocates at the event decried what they said was an "imminent" threat to abortion access across the country with Barrett in the Supreme Court.
In Fort Meyers, Florida, red cloaked-protesters gathered outside the Lee Country Justice Center to join the national action.
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Cyrstal Czyscon, organizer of Southwest Florida Red Cloaks told Wink News: "We must now be ruthless. We don't have anyone there to fight for us."
More than a dozen women showed up in Southwest Florida for the silent protest. They let their signs and costumes do the talking.
"We are bringing the fight to them. We're not just going to sit back anymore. We are silent no longer," Layla Woody, one of the women out protesting, told the outlet.
Cyrstal Czyscon said: "We feel oppressed. We feel afraid. We are not just pieces of property, for our lives to be decided by the government. The government should stay away from all bodies. Not just women's bodies, all bodies."
Protesters were also pictured in Little Rock, Arkansas carrying signs which read: "More than a womb," and "A woman's place is in the resistance."
Women also donned the red cloaks as well as signs which read: "Trump Pence Out Now!" to protest against the Supreme Court nomination in Washington, D.C. on Thursday last week.
What the organizers said
The protest organizers have been using the slogan: "Ruth Sent Us" in tribute to Justice Bader Ginsburg who said that no new Supreme Court judge should be nominated before the November 3 election, ahead of her death last month.
They wrote on their website ahead of the planned action that the protests would be silent and held for 30 to 60 minutes. The organizers said that all were welcome to participate in the protest but people who identify as female are the primary participants.
They said: "Participants are strongly encouraged to wear red cloaks and white bonnets."
They also said that "male allies" or people choosing not wearing Red Cloak "are encouraged to wear all black with either a red or black face mask, to march/stand behind Women in Red Cloaks, to assist by carrying water & medical supplies, and to photograph the event."
The organizers encouraged people to bring signs which paid tribute to Ginsberg and opposed the Supreme Court appointment.
Newsweek has contacted the national organizers for comment and information on all the cities which participated.
New Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett could have immediate impact on American democracy .
It won't take long for Republicans to learn if Barrett is the reliable conservative upon whom they raced to bestow a seat on the Supreme Court.Upon taking her judicial oath from Chief Justice John Roberts Tuesday, Barrett became the person who could tip the balance on challenges to state election procedures that could determine who wins the White House and control of Congress a week later.