One of the more obvious examples of sexism that Atwood presents can be seen in her presentation of pre-Gilead society.
In the very beginning of chapter 7, Offred contemplates the words "lie" and "lay". She recalls the word "lay" as a colloquial term used to describe the action of performing sexual relations, for example, "Even men used to say, I'd like to get laid. Though sometimes they said, I'd like to lay her." Atwood's purpose in presenting this was to portray the objectification of women by men even in a pre-Gilead community. Men would often express the reasonable, yet considerably sinful, desire to "get laid", which portrays sex as not an act of love or for procreation, but as an act committed for the sole purpose of pleasure and ultimately Lust, one of the Seven Deadly Sins classified by the Catholic Church.
The act of "getting laid", however, requires a woman counterpart, and since the act is, in this case, purely for the sake of recreation, the woman counterpart that men would choose would tend to be physically attractive and/or sexually appealing, hence the phrase "I'd like to lay her", which suggests a man would favor one woman over another, basing his choice not on her uniqueness of being, her individuality of mind or her favorable personality traits, but...
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...tioned acknowledgement reinforces, is callous, and leaves out the expression of love that should accompany the act. Ultimately, this leads back to the original thesis that misogyny brings nothing more than the degradation of a human to mere existence as an object with a function, leaving out the intelligence, emotion, and personality of a person.
In recapitulation, then, Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" presents misogyny within Gilead as a government policy that debases women in order to promote functionality. Such extreme implications, as Atwood suggests, are echoed in the cultures preceding Gilead, and even those cultures that are present in our world. Atwood's writing also proposes that sexism is prevalent and deeply embedded in society, even outside of Gilead where it's embedding may not be intentional.
Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
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