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The Handmaid's Tale's Samira Wiley Says 'This Is No Doubt a Feminist Work' 

The Handmaid's Tale's Samira Wiley Says 'This Is No Doubt a Feminist Work' 

Samira Wiley

Wiley defended the series as "feminist" in no uncertain terms in an interview with The Advocate.

Just days before the premiere of Hulu's series The Handmaid's Tale, based on Margaret Atwood's searing 1985 dystopian novel, Twitter erupted with screeds defending the text as "feminist" following a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival over the weekend in which cast members appeared to back away from the word. Atwood weighed in on Twitter, explaining that the cast members could have used a couple of caveats in their description of the text, but that their summation of the story as universal or "human" wasn't necessarily wrong. Atwood then offered that if there were any further concern, actress Samira Wiley (Orange Is the New Black), who plays Moira, the lesbian best friend of Elisabeth Moss's lead character, Offred, "will straighten it out." And Atwood was right. Wiley, in a phone interview with The Advocate, spoke plainly about the text and the series.

"This is no doubt a feminist work. It is a word that I don't want to be afraid of, and I think, point blank, there's no hiding it," Wiley said of the story about a totalitarian society in which women are valued merely as vessels for the viability of their reproductive organs.

The concern over the term "feminism" kicked into high gear over the weekend after a panel at Tribeca in which Moss, who identifies as a feminist, appeared to eschew the label when applied to the story Hulu intends to tell on the show.

"It's not a feminist story; it's a human story because women's rights are human rights. I never intended to play Peggy [from Mad Men] as a feminist, and I never expected to play Offred as a feminist," Moss said at the Tribeca panel, stepping away from the word even as she invoked Hillary Clinton's famous, widely considered to be feminist, rallying cry that she delivered at the United Nations' Fourth World Congress on Women in Beijing in 1995.

Further pulling back from the word was costar Madeline Brewer (Tricia from Orange Is the New Black's first season), who plays the true believer handmaid Janine.

"I think that any story, if it is a story being told by a strong, powerful woman ... any story that's just a powerful woman owning herself in any way is automatically deemed 'feminist,'" Brewer said. "But it's just a story about a woman. I don't think that this is any sort of feminist propaganda. I think that it's a story about women and about humans. This story affects all people."

While Wiley, who recently married Orange Is the New Black writer Lauren Morelli, attempted to unpack her castmates' comments, she remained steadfast that in her opinion the text is deeply feminist.

"I hope that what my cast mates were saying at the panel was not misconstrued too much," Wiley said. "I think the message that they wanted to get across is that there are people who are afraid of that word. There are people who also strongly identify with that word, and there is something in this show that is for both those kinds of people."

Wiley's comments mirrored Atwood's to some degree, who was pressed by fans on Twitter to comment on the uproar. Atwood explained in a series of tweets that while the cast of the series is pro-feminist, the actors are also aware that there are those for whom it the word conjures negative connotations. She wrote that she prefers to clarify if the person asking the question about whether or not something is "feminist" is for or against the word and what it stands for. She capped her comments off writing that she was there to restore understanding, but if that weren't enough, Wiley would clear it all up with the final word, which Wiley delivered in no uncertain terms.

"Point-blank and simple, this is one of the most overtly feminist fictions in print," Wiley told The Advocate. "I'm proud that it is, and I'm proud to be part of it."

(Video) Cast of The Handmaid's Tale Talk Women's Rights at Tribeca Premiere:

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