The Handmaid’s Tale is a pretty successful show. Hulu doesn’t give ratings, but come on, you know people talk about it. The book didn’t do too badly either. A full 33 years after it was first published, Amazon named it the most read book of 2017.
Unfortunately it doesn’t look like anyone working for a upcoming development in Macarthur, NSW, is a fan. That’s probably how they came to name their new project "Gilead." The website for Gilead—the actual town one, not the horrific dictatorship version—promises “a new master planned community from Australia’s premier award winning developer.” Notice the unfortunate use of the phrase “master planned.”
For anyone lost, the original Margaret Atwood-imagined Gilead is an authoritarian, theocratic republic set up after the US falls to a ultra-religious, terrorist regime that prizes procreation above all things. In this Gilead women have no rights, and fertile women are forced into ritualised sex slavery to bare children to government officials. Free speech is also non-existent, and you can be killed for literally doing anything that even hints at opposition to the government.
The new Gilead is beside the Nepean River, and actually sounds pretty nice. It’s 10 kilometres from Campbelltown and promises that “residents will enjoy the beauty and convenience of beaches, adventures, hikes, walks and foodie hubs, at their doorstep.” They also stress a focus on community and belonging.
The name Gilead has been around for a long time before The Handmaid’s Tale was published in 1985. In Arabic it refers to a mountain region east of the Jordan. It’s used several times in the bible: as a meeting place for Jacob and Laban in Genesis, and to refer to several people. In Hebrew it’s a boy’s name.
The name has already drawn attention online, with Facebook page Talk About Creative sharing screenshots of the site, with the observation “When you don't even Google your development's brand name. Not once. May the lord....open Google.” Solid advice.