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the casting call for male actors for Hulu’s new TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”: Guard with Machine Gun #1; Guard with Machine Gun #2; Cop in Riot Gear; Hangman, Hanged Man. They have no right to make the world but must make it keep going—by shopping, cooking, cleaning, and having children.

Of the three male characters named in the show’s first episodes, one gets shot almost immediately. The absence of husbands and jailers underscores the point that patriarchy is not a coterie of particular men—the particular men hardly matter. Atwood’s novel, published in 1985, has sold millions of copies and been translated into dozens of languages, so you may know the broad strokes of the story it tells. The place is Gilead, located in what was formerly New England.

The screenwriters use voice-overs to relay Offred’s stream-of-consciousness narration, drawing us into her mind.

The costumes hypnotize with saturated reds, buzzing whites, and greens.

In the novel, the world before Gilead resembles the America of the early nineteen-eighties. Serena Joy, Fred’s wife, recalls anti-feminists like Phyllis Schlafly, who built highly successful careers while publicly admonishing women to stay at home.

There are colonies, where they will send anyone who misbehaves to work to death, or so they threaten. Their lives have contracted to the private sphere or, more precisely, to the sphere of reproduction.

Women in scarlet robes and white bonnets, women in kitchen smocks, women in green sheath dresses, heels clicking through domestic interiors.

Consider the remarkable question, posed recently by the Illinois congressman John Shimkus, of why men should subsidize prenatal care.

I strong-armed my partner into watching press screeners of the show with me; when he winced at scenes of abuse and suffering, I kept promising that the feminist revolution was coming.

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