Beginning in 2017, in response to the emboldened sexism, white supremacy, and conservative policy threats under President Donald Trump’s administration in the United States, women across and beyond the United States have mobilized the figure of the reproducing Handmaid from Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel and the contemporary television series The Handmaid’s Tale to stage reproductive rights protest performances. Handmaid Protests cite a world where nonreproducing women are portrayed as tragic, villainous, or illegible while centering the experience of the sympathetic reproducing Handmaids. This essay argues that the Handmaid Protests traffic in biological essentialism steeped in white, cisgender feminism, where “woman” is conflated with “white woman who reproduces.” In this article, I create the neologisms “nonreproducing women” and “reproductive debility” to carve out space in feminist discourse that acknowledges women who are not becoming-mothers, which, as of yet, does not exist. From a performance studies and crip theory perspective, I challenge these performances of noninclusive feminism that pit (reproducing) women against (nonreproducing) women to imagine a world that allows for the complexity of experiences of all women whose bodies are constantly policed and politicized.


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pp. 79-106
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