The Internalized Misogyny in The Handmaid’s Tale
Women, are socialized to internalize a hatred of femininity and espouse the belief that they “aren’t like other girls” to separate ourselves from the generalizations. Phrases like “Women are catty” “Women constantly gossip, and are shallow” “Boys have less drama” homogenize the entire female gender down to a few negative stereotypes. When women perpetuate sexist stereotypes it is called internalized misogyny. Women are guilty of perpetuating misogyny as often as men. Often called girl-hate in colloquial media, society conditions girls and women to compete with each other, not for careers, or for accomplishments but for the attention and pleasure of men. In The Handmaid 's Tale by Margaret Atwood, many of the female characters symbolize internalized sexism, and are victims of it. From the Aunts, to Serna Joy, the wife, women are actively taught by society to antagonize each other.
The most prevalent theme in In The Handmaid 's Tale is the oppression of women. There are a few different roles the women in the new world may hold based on their social and personal functions; Wives and Econwives, Handmaids, Marthas, Jezebels, Aunts and Unwomen. A women’s status is determined much by their reproductive function, and birth.
Offred, the protagonist in Margaret Atwood’s tale, is a victim of internalized sexism. By present day, she has accepted the systematic oppression. Yet, in the past, women were free to wear what they wish, and do, to some extent, what they wished. In the “little time [it took] to change [the women’s] minds” (pp 36) the Republic of Gilead forced a new norm onto society. The impregnation ceremony, for example, Offred is forced into having sex with...
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... the other hand, expecting all women to follow with traditionally feminine ideals is just as bad. Finding balance is not impossible. In The Handmaiden’s Tale the main character has this ideal ingrained in her. When she sees a tourist in shorts with lipstick, she is repelled and disgusted despite the fact that she once wore the same. Gilead changed her.
There are many comparisons between The Handmaid’s Tale and our society, internalized misogyny is one big one. The author Margaret Atwood is clear in her depictions that it is not a good thing. The Aunts are portrayed as antagonists, thus we are meant to not support their views. The protagonist compares her views now, to how she used to see the world. Thus, we are meant to see how Gilead negatively affected her thinking. Misogyny is a prominent theme in The Hand Maid’s Tale, but internalized misogyny is most prominent.
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