Dressed in white bonnets and long red robes, a group of Costa Rican women looked like characters in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale when they showed up to cast their votes during Sunday’s presidential and legislative elections. With evangelical pastor Fabricio Alvarado – a frontrunner in the presidential election who led in the first round – seeing a rise in support after speaking out strongly against same-sex marriage, these women felt compelled to protest for the LGBTQ community and for other women.
In a letter signed by eight women, they explained their decision to wear the outfits. “We are very lucky. Still,” the letter begins, according to The Tico Times. “We grew up in a democratic and stable county, where media outlets are used to talking about a ‘fiesta electoral.’ Today we celebrate, and we decided to make it a costume party as well. Why? Because we want to and we can. Because protest is also a form of celebration. That’s how lucky we still are. We can pretend to be a part of renowned work of fiction, in the face of a fundamentalist threat that is anything but fictitious. We face a landscape where the material conditions for women have been a topic neglected by media and most political parties. Most political proposals towards women have to do with caring for others, and an apparent obligation to reproduce. Our obligations and participations as citizens, however, transcends that.
“We protest in favor of secular state that celebrates all liberties because there’s still a lot of work to do before reaching true equality. We vote for our rights. We vote for our safety. We vote for our freedom. Today we use our voices – because we still count on them and don’t plan on letting go.”
The costumes are fitting because in the dystopian universe Margaret Atwood created in the 1980s, same-sex relationships are forbidden and can cost you your life. And a handmaid’s sole purpose for existing is to reproduce. She’s stripped of her voice and her choices.
Atwood, who saw the images online, said she was “very touched” about the protests.