The Handmaids Tale's Complex View of Feminism Essay

Submitted By Jasejase
Words: 904
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Jayson Elhajj
Mrs. Bailey
AP English IV
26 August 2013

Political Instruments The Handmaids Tale is a feminist work of literature although the work is definitely a very complex view of Feminism. The story is of an entirely patriarchal world where theocratic organized, Christian nativest-derived, cult took over the current location of the United States. Where “legitimate” women are subjected to their jobs as a Wife (married to high-ranking men), daughter (natural or adopted), handmaids (breeders used to bear children for the wives), Aunts (train the handmaids), and Marthas (older infertile women, servants). “Illegitimate” women who were women outside of the mainstream society as Unwomen (sterile women, widows, feminists, lesbians, nuns, and all women not able to be integrated into society), and Jezebels (prostitutes or entertainers). Offred the narrator’s body is used as a political instrument, to be a “handmaid” or to carry on the lineage of high-ranking men in office. On the other hand, she would be until she could no longer have children, then she would be exiled to “the colonies” which were areas of pollution and farms, with the Unwomen. The book is a warning really, and a disturbing fact that this actually could happen. Slowly but surely, a religious group such as the one in the book could defiantly take office and rule over the United States or whatever the name would change to. The book shows a point in that men in his state of power with a religious view and rule could take away the rights of women that they have worked so hard to achieve, and it would not take much to unravel the workings. You could easily think the book is only fiction, but if you turn, your head to what is actually occurring in the world today it is not so improbable. Many countries and cultures such as, Afghanistan, Congo, Pakistan, India, and Somalia still do not have any rights or strictly limited rights for women, so it definitely is entirely possible to have what we have in the United States today taken away. There are different forms of Feminism in this book however, for example one of the main beliefs composed by Offred’s mother. She was a pre-Gilead woman who owned property. She marched for the banning of pornography. In addition, marched for liberal ideas like abortion freely and openly. “A man is just a woman’s strategy for making other women. Not that your father wasn’t a nice guy and all, but he wasn’t up to fatherhood. Not that I expected it of him. Just do the job, then you can bugger off, I said, I make a decent salary, I can afford day care. So he went to the coast and sent Christmas cards. He had beautiful blue eyes though” Offred’s mother. (131, Attwood). The stances her mother was taking did embarrass her then, she just did not understand what she had and what would soon be taken away. The form of feminism she was expressing was of free speech and equal rights. “I do not wish them to have power over men, but over themselves.” –Mary Wollstonecraft. In this quote, Mary Wollstonecraft speaks of feminists and what she views as feminism, which I believe, is what Offred’s mother also believes being the strong-willed women she was. Another view or expression of a different side of Feminism in the book is of a more authoritative stance. Moira’s belief in feminism is that women should live entirely separate from