The story The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood illustrates a different type of dystopia from most other classic dystopian novel. It creates a world where women are used either for sexual reproduction or as a way to control other women who will be used for the same purpose. Attwood tells the story of America after the Gilead regime has taken over and sets things “in order” following a long period of anarchy which is referred to as the “time before” (Atwood, 5). The Gilead regime has taken control of the direr straights that the country has entered with reference to the birth rate. This need to control the population has lead the regime to connect sexual reproduction and policy making; in fact at the time of the Gilead regime sexual reproduction and politics have become so intertwined that it is impossible to talk about reproduction without talking about politics.
The main character and narrator of the story, Ofwarren, once lived in a world that was free from the Gilead regime. In the time before birthrates began to decrease at an alarming rate and people started to fear that the population would be decimated. She states that “The air got too full, once, of chemicals, rays, radiation, the water swarmed with toxic molecules, all of that takes years to clean up, and meanwhile they creep into your body, camp out in your fatty cells” (Atwood, 45) this lead to a great deal of infertility and stillborn babies. Such an atmosphere of fear and loss is ripe for revolution and the Gilead regime took the opportunity to strike. Though it is never stated what religion the Gileads prescribe to, they do not believe in any form of birth control and use the birth decrease to make it a crime. The regime takes every opportunity to place their ide...
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...hat is what the men are counting on. This type of hierarchy has been used throughout history to keep the oppressed, who are usually the majority or at least equal, from gaining power.
The Gilead regime of Margarete Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale has used every common and usual way of taking power and oppressing a people. They turn women against each other so that they will not revolt, just the way oppressed people have been treated in the past. Also similar to past treatments of people, they used sexual reproduction to turn women from living people with rights to walking birth machines who are worthless for much else. The men’s use of intersecting politics and sexual reproduction has stripped women of their purpose and created a society where it is acceptable to trade a handmaid from one house to another so that a stranger can copulate inside her and hope for a child.
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