Theme Of Feminism In The Handmaid's Tale

Decent Essays
Atwood’s Gileadean society does more than simply demonstrate what could happen if anti-pornography feminists reigned victorious. Atwood demonstrates that the present in The Handmaid’s Tale technically meets all of the desires of an anti-pornography feminist utopia, despite the fact that it is so grim in terms of female equality. Feminist studies author Barbara Ehrenreich writes that anti-pornography feminist’s goal is to, “create a ‘women's culture,’ envisioned as intrinsically loving, nurturing, and in harmony with nature—before we are all destroyed by the toxic effects of testosterone” (Ehrenreich 34). These women want a world where women support women on the endeavor to eliminate male domination, and Gilead is formed in such a way where …show more content…
Ehrenreich comments on this fact by writing, “Revolutionaries seldom do get exactly what they want, but at least with The Handmaid’s Tale, we stand warned” (Ehrenreich 35). Not only does an anti-pornography dream world take away all of the freedom that women have fought so tirelessly to receive, but it also impedes on the inclusionary actions made previously in the feminist movement. Not only would such a world halt the feminist agenda, it would actually send the movement back tremendously. By the time Atwood writes the novel, women have fought to vote, to work, and for so much more. The anti-pornography desires, however, repeal all of this and diminish many rights beyond this. Ehrenreich adds on to this idea by saying, “We are being warned, in this tale… about a repressive tendency in feminism itself” (Ehrenreich 34). Atwood’s message is clear: these feminist extremes will ultimately result in more oppression, not less. That equality cannot be gained through censorship, whether that censorship be of pornography or of anything else. That anti-pornography feminism, in a twisted way, is anti-feminist, and that a world where they reign victorious such as Gilead will only result in …show more content…
During the time of pro sex, women have the ability to do whatever they please, but Atwood’s world lacks ‘freedom from’. Freedom from random sexual assault, domestic abuse, and over sexualization like being cat-called on the streets, to name a few. Offred reveals how the lack of ‘freedom from’ ultimately impedes on the magnitude of ‘freedom to’. There is an endless list of things that women cannot do during this time because of a lack of negative freedom. Atwood highlights that too much sex positivity would bring her dystopian society to life, along with the destruction of freedom and many other negatives within it, such as the decimation of human reproduction ability and a rise in the rate of sex crimes. The victory of the feminists who are anti-pornography, however, is equally unfavorable. Gileadean ideals start with the burning of pornography by feminists, but ends with women being categorized and enslaved in a male-run, reproduction driven society. In this futuristic dystopia that technically meets the desires of feminism, Atwood demonstrates the atrocious lack of freedom that this flavor of feminism creates. While the society does have women supporting women, just as American cultural feminism pictures, and all the ‘freedom from’ that a pro-sex society lacks, positive

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