Rhetorical Listening In The Handmaid's Tale

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Ratcliffe’s theory of rhetorical listening consists of four parts: “promoting an understanding of self and other,” “proceeding within an accountability logic,” “locating identifications across commonalities and differences,” and “analyzing claims as well as the cultural logics within which these claims function” (26). By following these guidelines and engaging in rhetorical listening, feminists can better understand the intersections that unite us as well as the intersections that create different experiences for each of us. Having a better understanding of our commonalities and differences, as Ratcliffe puts it, will result in intra-community accountability. According to Ratcliffe:
“… accountability signifies recognizing that none of us lives
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Typically, conservatives think of the novel as a work of dystopian fiction whereas feminists think of the novel as a work of speculative fiction. This seemingly meaningless distinction actually provides significant insight into the different ways conservatives and feminists engage with the novel and the protests it has engendered. According to Margaret Atwood herself, speculative fiction “refers to narratives about things that can potentially take place, even though they have not yet happened at the time of the writing” (Oziewicz 6). This stands in contrast to dystopian fiction, which neatly places itself in the realm of pure fiction.
Speculative fiction resists the totalizing binary of fiction versus non-fiction, which, fascinating in and of itself, also gives us insight into how the text functions for different groups of people. For feminists, The Handmaid’s Tale functions as a warning. A rollback of abortion rights, attacks on access to contraceptives, and the normalizing of increasingly demeaning language against women serves as a reminder that things could get much worse. For conservatives, however, the novel is a fiction for nations such as the United States, although it is perceived to be a reality in African and Muslim-majority

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