Radical Feminism Essay

1406 words - 6 pages

Imagine waking up to the President and Congress being gunned down and the United States run by radical “Christian fundamentalist” (Beauchamp). In Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, this terrible scenario is not a dream, but a reality. Atwood admitted in an interview with Mervyn Rothstien of New York Times, “I delayed writing it for about three years after I got the idea because I felt it was too crazy.” Indeed, the dystopian society of the Republic of Gilead, once the United States, is a chilling thought but raises questions on the treatment of women in today’s society. The Handmaids Tale is a futuristic science fiction novel told by a Handmaid, a woman who sole purpose is to conceive children, named Ofglen. The Canadian writer is known for the hints of feminism in her novels but The Handmaid’s Tale strays away from slight feminism to radical feminism. Feminism is an ideology that favors women’s equality to men and it has been an issue for centuries. In the United States, women did not get the right to vote until the 1920’s and women were also not accepted into the workforce until around the 1960’s (Loveday). Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale depicts feminism in an antifeminist environment through, point of view, restrictions on women, and male power.
Because of the increasing infertility rates, the Republic decided to enforce the use of Handmaids. The idea of the Handmaids came from the Bible, “Now Sarai, Abraham’s wife, bore him no children: and she had a handmaid, an Egyptian girl name Hagar” (The Hebrew-Greek Bible, Genesis 16:1). Abraham’s wife, Sarai could not bear children, so Hagar was appointed to bare children in Sarai’s place. Atwood was clever using Ofglen, a Handmaid, as the narrator of The Handmaid’s Tale because she had no right to her body. Ofglen watched documentary of a liberal feminist group holding a sign that read, “Freedom to choose. Every baby a wanted baby. Recapture our bodies” (Atwood 120). The Handmaids purpose opposed the views of the liberal feminist. The Handmaids had no freedom to their bodies. Ofglen proves that she has no right to her body in Gilead by her thoughts of the past, “I use to think of my body as an instrument of pleasure, a means of transportation, or an implement for the accomplishment of my will” (Atwood 73). Ofglen’s memories were a sense of longing and she even expressed her desire for the past to return, “I want everything back, the way it was” (Atwood 122). Ofglen’s desires of the past show that she supports freedom of women and because Atwood purposely wrote The Handmaid’s Tale in this point of view, one could infer she was also for women’s rights.
Yet, if the point of view would have been that of a Wife, or an Aunt, the reader would have seen views in favor of the Republic of Gilead’s actions. Though Wives did not have the privileges like the men, they still had many benefits. Wives could visit other Wives, work on their gardens and knit when they pleased. Wives also still held on to...

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