Feminism has always been important, and Margaret Atwood is brilliant at showing this. In 1985, Margaret Atwood wrote the dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale which has received several awards, and made into both a film and tv show. However, it is only since the release of its tv series that many people have related it to everyday life.
So why should everyone read this book? Or watch the tv show or film.
The plot is told by Offred, a handmaid serving under the rules of Gilead. She tells us of how Gilead rose and took over the former government. How her life was turned upside down as she became a Handmaid, a woman who is raped to reproduce a child for the Commanders and their wives. Here she shows the reader (or watcher) the everyday lives of people who live in Gilead. How she tried to run away from the system with her family. Instead, she was caught, separated from her family, then trained as a Handmaid under the watchful eyes of Gilead and the Aunts.
In the Handmaid’s Tale, women in Gilead are divided into categories, usually due their martial status and whether they can reproduce.
Yet, only a minute fraction of women in Gilead can read or write. No woman has no working job besides housework, raising a child or producing one. It is the men who are in charge, using only snippets of the Bible to support the rules of their society. These rules have severe consequences and can lead to painful and sinister punishments. Of course, for the Handmaids, it doesn’t matter if they lose a hand or arm, just as long as they can reproduce. In the Handmaids Tale, the Handmaids must either follow this role of being raped once a month only to get pregnant then, if you’re extremely lucky, give birth to a child. Or you are sent to the Colonies as punishment or if you cannot produce a child.
There are many similarities in our society today that can be drawn from the Handmaid’s Tale however, it was only when Trump came into power that the similarities were extremely recognisable.
We are finally starting to get our voices as woman and with men like Trump in power, woman voices are being pushed back. In America, it is considered difficult to receive contraception, however, with Trump’s actions, this is even harder. The disgusting actions he has made during the Presidential elections, the rape accusations and the inappropriate behaviour towards his wife, daughters and many other women are extremely inappropriate and unacceptable. These acts are from a man who treats women like second grade citizens and the worst part of this is is that he isn’t the only one who is acting like this. There are many cases of rape where white and rich men from privileged backgrounds are getting away with this behaviour and when they are getting punished for them, they are only receiving a slap on the wrist. Trump’s actions insult minority figures such as disabled individuals and those part of the LGBT community and these repulsive negative behaviours need to stop.
This mirrors Gilead however the consequences are more severe.
Homosexuals are publicly executed. Handmaids are treated as mistresses and executed or beaten if they are caught. If a Handmaid can’t get pregnant, it is her fault, not the Commander’s. Gilead’s goals are to make life simple and peaceful to live in, trying to remove many things that are sins. Instead, they have repressed the voices of women and many minority figures, pushing them into uncomfortable positions and execution.
So why should we know about The Handmaid’s Tale.
It’s a gripping story from start to finish. This tale is more than just a feminist story, it’s a reminder that women’s voices should not be repressed. Despite the repression of women in both the book, film and tv show, there are and will be groups who will resist and fight back against these injustices. Its dark but truthful and a great feminist story which will be remembered for years to come.