The new season of American television’s The Handmaid’s Tale is upon us, and we can’t help but compare the revolutionary world of Offred to Kc Speedway.
While the world of Gilead is consumed with the cult of the “angels” and the religious fervor that comes with subjugating women, the world of Kc Speedway is a place where NASCAR and football meet.
The parallels between the two worlds are more than coincidental. Offred’s handmaidens perform tasks such as taking care of children and driving cars, just as NASCAR drivers must contend with the responsibilities that come with being a professional athlete.
What’s fascinating is that the parallels between the two worlds are mostly limited to similarities, which give us a unique glimpse inside the thinking of Margaret Atwood, the author of The Handmaid’s Tale. Here’s a look at some of the things that the two settings have in common.
Fanvsion Is The Name Of The Game
The name of the game in Gilead is obedience and control. Women in this world are considered property, and any decision they make is beholden to their male lords and rulers. When a woman is found to be deficient in her obedience and deemed “unworthy” of being a Lady in Gilead, she is taken to a “re-education camp” where her “crime” is punished through forced labor and rigorous training. So while fanvsion is used to designate the allegiance a woman must display to her lord and master, in Gilead it is used to mean a woman’s subjugation.
In Kc Speedway, the name of the game is competition and fandom. The community of the speedway embraces the idea of female empowerment and celebrates the talents of its female drivers. The only requirement for a woman to participate in a NASCAR race is that she must be a “fansion”—a supporter of a particular team. Furthermore, it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind as often as she pleases, and she is expected to use her rational mind in the process. Obedience and control are not factors in NASCAR, and fans are encouraged to voice their opinions and support the causes they believe in. Women in Kc Speedway are considered to be just as intelligent as their male counterparts, and they are granted the same opportunities to show their abilities and compete on an equal footing.
The Women Of Gilead Are Unequal To The Men
One of the defining characteristics of Offred and the other Handmaids in The Handmaid’s Tale is their “unworthiness.” This is most evident in Offred’s case, as she is described as the “unwanted” second daughter who was “meant” to be a servant in her elder sister’s stead and to carry on the family line. As a result, she is subjected to the will of her male superiors, which causes her to lose her identity and separate herself from the other handmaids.
Though she is not explicitly described as more intelligent or capable than the other women in Gilead, it is clear that she is the least suited to inherit her sisters’ positions. This is due in large part to her gender. She is considered “unclean,” and is forbidden to wear the nicer clothes or eat the better food that her sisters are allowed. It is Atwood’s contention that women are inferior to men, and that their place is in the home, taking care of and serving their husbands and children. In a world where men are in charge, women should not question or oppose them; instead, they should obey. So while she might outperform her sisters in terms of intelligence, Offred does not stand a chance in the inheritance game. Her sisters, who were more obedient and “clean,” will outlive her because they were “meant” to be Mrs. Somebody.
In Kc Speedway, everyone’s equal. The women are as capable as the men, and they are granted the same opportunities to succeed. This is most evident in the case of Louise, one of the main characters in the show, who not only competes on an even playing field with the other female drivers but also proves to be their equal in the pit crew. This is made evident when she and the other women of the pit crew defy the rule that says that only men can be track workers and perform tasks that entail physical strength. The fact that they do this, and that they win just as often as the men do, contributes to the empowerment of the female drivers in Kc Speedway. It shows that gender does not necessarily determine a person’s ability or rightful place in society.
Obedience And Subjugation Are Key
To really understand the world of The Handmaid’s Tale, one must pay close attention to the details of Atwood’s writing. Though there are a considerable amount of parallels between Offred and Kc Speedway, it should not come as a great surprise that the two settings are more than just similar. Remember that Atwood based her writing on her experience as a woman during the height of the second wave of the feminist movement in the 1970s in Canada. This was a time when women were asserting their rights and fighting for equality, and it is clear that Atwood is expressing her opinion that this is still a relevant issue in the year 2019.
What’s fascinating about this parallel between the two worlds is that while there are similarities, the differences are just as significant. One cannot compare the world of Gilead to the world of Kc Speedway because they are not the same. This is why it is so crucial to pay close attention to the details of Atwood’s writing. With her permission, we can dive a little deeper and examine the differences between the two settings.
Racism In Gilead
Though there are no direct references to it in the show, we know that Racism and Ethnic Cleansing are a vital part of life in Gilead. This is made evident in Episode 8 of the third season, when Offred and her fellow handmaids are ordered to cleanse the “unclean” races from the gene pool. This involves taking “racially inferior” women and children and breeding them to “higher” races. There is no room for minorities in Gilead, and anyone who does not fit in with “the purest race” is considered an enemy and must be exterminated. This is most evident in the case of the Native Americans, who are subjected to forced removal and assimilated into the Cult of the “Angels.” Offred manages to escape this fate thanks to the intercession of her brother, who takes her to Canada where she will be safe.
Though it is a fictional story, it is clear that Atwood was expressing her opinion about the horrors of racism and ethnic cleansing
While we can see the parallel between the two worlds, it is also crucial to remember that they are two separate and distinct settings and should not be compared. The Handmaid’s Tale is a work of fiction, and though it is a story about a women’s oppression in Gilead, it would not be accurate to say that it is set in the same universe as Kc Speedway. This would only cause confusion and potentially lead to incorrect or incomplete conclusions. Though there are several overlapping themes, it would be a disservice to the story and the ideas that it represents to treat it as though it were real life.