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Free Handmaid’s Tale Essays: The Handmaid’s Dystopia

The Handmaid’s Dystopia

“The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a dystopia about a world where unrealistic things take place. The events in the novel could never actually take place in our reality.” This is what most people think and assume, but they’re wrong. Look at the world today and in the recent past, and there are not only many situations that have ALMOST become a Gilead, but places that have been and ARE Gileadean societies. We’re not in Kansas any more, Dorothy!

Even today there are places in the world where there is startling similarity to this fictitious dystopia. In Pakistan, women’s rights are non-existant, and many policies are that of Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale. In Gilead, the handmaids must cover their bodies and faces almost completely with vales and wings. In Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Bahrain, and similar South Asian countries, this is a must for women. Other Gileadean-like persecutions take place towards women. In Pakistan, women can be raped, and unless there is full proof that there was no consent, the man will get off scot free, and the women charged with pre-marital sex and sentenced to a prison term. In Afghanistan, the police force has and continue to torture and rape innocent women for unnecessary reasons. This is similar to The Handmaid’s Tale in that Offred, and other handmaids, not only go through the devestation of “The Ceremony”, but also can be used and possibly even raped by their Commanders, and there is nothing the handmaid can do about it. If she speaks, she is usually not believed, and then she is sent away because she broke the law. The handmaid would usually die for making such accuasations.

Women are given little to no rights in Gilead. They obey what they are told by the men or by the Aunts (who get their orders from the men). They are not permitted to read or write, or participate in any extra-curricular activity. They are alive only to serve a purpose. In countries such Iran, women are subject to similar laws. Although more recently they may be allowedread and write, it is on a strict level only, and activites are out of the question. There is no specific law against it, however with the Islamic government making it manditory for all women to wear complete body coverings, sports and other activities are nearly impossible.

Free Handmaid’s Tale Essays: Men Will be Men

Men Will be Men in The Handmaid’s Tale

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of Offred’s world is not even its proximity, but its occasional attractiveness. The idea that women need strict protection from harm is not one espoused solely by the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Pat Buchanan, but also by women like Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon. This protectionist variety of feminism is incorporated in the character of Offred’s mother, and to a certain degree in Aunt Lydia. Offred’s mother is just as harsh in her censorship of pornography as any James Dobson. By burning the works which offend her, she too is contributing to the notion that women’s safety is contingent on squelching the Bill of Rights. The restriction of sexually explicit pictures places the blame for sex crimes on women, again — the women in the photographs who supposedly drive men to rape. Where have we heard this before? Who else refuses to hold rapists responsible for their own actions, choosing instead to restrict the behavior of those they consider the catalysts?

Aunt Lydia is depicted as being mildly psychotic, but the “freedom from” that she offers seems oftentimes almost soothing. To be free of fear of rape would be a wonderful thing. To force men to act respectful seems not too bad. We can observe this attitude on our own campus, where the student government holds a “nightwalk” every few years. On these walks, dangerous areas are marked out and reported to the Physical Plant and the campus police. In response, bushes and trees next to walkways are demolished to discourage possible attackers who might conceal themselves in them. More halogen lamps are installed. More foot patrol officers walk potential problem spots. Every year the campus looks less like a university and more like an armed camp, but we accept these ugly alterations on our environment in the name of safety. It doesn’t seem like such a high price to pay.

In a way, many women already live in a sort of Gilead. They would not dream of going out alone. They feel unfulfilled without children. They do not read (they don’t have the time.) They occupy little more than a servant’s position in their own homes. Their access to abortion is denied. They already live under so many unreasonable restrictions and expectations — what’s a little more, if it comes with a guarantee of safety?

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