Serena Joy and Anita Bryant

We talked about the roles of women in Gilead in class recently and the real life figures that were thought to have influenced Margaret Atwood. The character of Serena Joy a former televangelist seems loosely based on Anita Bryant, as well in parts Tammy Faye Bakker and Phyllis Schlafly. I mentioned that you can see what Anita Bryant was like if you go and see ‘Milk’ as she features prominently in news footage used in the film. Serena Joy is now a Wife in the fundamentalist theocracy she helped to create. All power and public recognition have been taken away from her by the state, as for all women in Gilead. Assumed to be infertile (although the possibility is raised that it is the Commander who is actually sterile), she resents the indignity of having a Handmaid and being present every month during a fertility ritual.  The name “Serena Joy” is a pseudonym, concealing her real given name of Pam.

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