Theme of Misogyny in the Handmaid’s Tale

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Updated: May 31, 2021
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Theme of Misogyny in the Handmaid’s Tale essay

Our society presents an extreme example of misogyny and sexism by featuring the complete objectification of women in the society in which we live. Our society highlighting the inequality of women in our society now and the era that follows it. Our society demonstrates that misogyny and sexism are deeply embedded in our society and that serious and deliberate attention must be given to these forms of discrimination in order to eliminate them. An obvious example of sexism can be seen in the world’s society and the way women and men are treated, and how they treat each other. Women in this society are meant to have certain jobs, be treated a certain way, in which none of the way they are treated or what men think they are capable of doing, is correct. Misogyny brings nothing more than the degradation of human existence as an object with the sole purpose of, leaving out the emotion, intelligence, and personality of a person.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel that shows a dystopia, in which pollution and radiation have rendered countless women ability to become fertile, and the birthrates of North America are dangerously declining, which is becoming a huge problem. A puritan theocracy now controls the former United States called the Republic of Gilead sole purpose is to find Handmaids to reproduce. This novel illustrator Atwood’s strong sense of social awareness, as seen in the use of satire to comment on different social conditions throughout the novel. .The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel that demonstrated the rights that women had before at one point and then was taken away due to the fact of a misogynic government that took over.

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It is impossible to read The Handmaid’s Tale without being aware that issues of gender and aspects of feminism are central to the novel. Atwood has a very big feminist view, in her novel, she is never narrow-minded, and in The Handmaid’s Tale, she is open to other views rather than simply asserting her views. As Offered comments, “if Moira thought she could create Utopia by shutting herself up in a woman-only enclave she was sadly mistaken. Men were not just going to go away”(173). Nevertheless, women are the main victims in the society which Atwood conceives – the Republic of Gilead – and her vision of this society reflects (though it may also sometimes seem to exaggerate, by bringing together several diverse examples) many of the inequalities and abuses faced by women worldwide in the past and currently. In Gilead, female subjection is complete, and as far as the Handmaids are concerned even their identity is subsumed by the male who controls them. They are forbidden to use their real names but are instead made the property of their masters by being called things such as Warren, Offred, Ofglen. Moira, with her masculine-style clothing, her language, and her being lesbian, is the opposite. She is nothing that Gilead wishes to see in women. Through much of the novel, offers hope to Offred that there may be a chance of successful rebellion towards the government. Even with her efforts to change society, Moira was ‘in a women-only enclave’ – which men run for their own pleasure.

The Handmaid’s Tale demonstrates a perfect example of sexism and misogyny. Complete objectification of women in the society of Gilead is one of the main subjects of the novel. At the beginning of the novel, Offred contemplates the words “lay” and “lie”. She recalls the word “lay” as a colloquial term used to describe the act of having sexual intercourse for example, “Even men used to say, I’d like to get laid. Though sometimes they said, “I’d like to lay her”(240). Atwood’s purpose in presenting this was to portray the objectification of women by men even in the pre-Gilead community. Men would often express the reasonable, yet considerably sinful, desire to “get laid”, which portrays sex as not an act of love or for procreation, but as an act committed for the sole purpose of pleasure and ultimately. Which turns sex into lust. Lust is something that none of us desire, due to the fact that there’s no compassion or love because it is taken away and lust can be prevalently showing in something like sex if there is no compassion and it is completely sinful because that is so sacred to many of us. The act of “getting laid”, however, requires a woman, and since the act is, in this case, an outlet for the sake of recreation, the woman counterpart that men would choose would tend to be physically attractive and/ or sexually appealing hence the phrase “I’d like to lay her”, which suggests a man would favor one woman over another, based on his choice, which loses the individuality and traits of an individual. The act of lust and not caring who you make love with causes not only the loss of the individual but the lack of emotion. Due to the fact that you are not loved and without love, a person can’t be the best person they are capable of being.

Misogyny is often a principal foundation for the persecution of females in a society controlled by men. Misogyny is certainly alive in America and in entertainment all around the world. Women are never the center of attention in things such as comic books, music, or anything. But when women are they either don’t have as much popularity as men do for the popularity is gained by degrading our actions our body. Women are either the sidekick in novels and movies or are described poorly in lyrics and used in music videos and are told to act in a sexual way or told to look a certain way (usually sexual) to catch the attention of men and others. As Roxane Gay states; “We have all manner of music glorifying the degradation of women, and dammit, that music is catchy so I often find myself singing also….” (Bad Feminist), as well as she states how very well known singers do it; “Rappers like Jay-Z use the word “bitch” like punctuation” (“Bad Feminist”). Rappers like Jay-Z use words like that and they think it’s okay to do so, which causes viewers to also think it’s okay to do so which causes people to think it’s okay to call women things like that at all times. They think it’s harmless and just a word but it has a meaning to all women, which is nothing but nice. Women are represented negatively in many songs and videos because men believe it is okay to use words like “b*tch” and “h*” to refer to a female; and in other words, treat them as objects. This problem is not only prevalent in rap music, it is also present in genres such as metal, hard rock, and even country music. This generation of young women have only been exposed to music with lyrics as such, for such a long period of time; that will become the view they have of themselves or women practically.

Women are disregarded in any way they can. The first person that is always blamed is a woman because at the end of the day men are thought to be the alphas and are the best of the best when it comes to the ranking of society. Women are seen as property. When men can’t have the property they need they have nothing but hate for women. Incels are what they are called. Incels are men who have complete hatred towards women due to the fact that no woman pays attention to them and gives them no pleasure. So instead of blaming themselves and trying to find out why women aren’t attracted to them, they make women the problem. Men feel like women are supposed to give them pleasure and do what they desire, as Terri Coles states, “… deadly act by young men who feel like they are not getting something they are owed”(“How Men Get To The Point Where They Identify As ‘Incel’”). Just how men think of the act of “getting laid” as something that women owe them, if women can get away from not doing it, they do. Men have made something so sacred something turn into lust. Our society has created a stereotype that women are property and that they have certain roles to meet for men to be happy, so men have gotten to a point where they think women owe them things, like sex. But that’s incorrect. Men and Women should want to have sexual intercourse for love not for pleasure. If men don’t have it for pleasure when they need it or can’t find a companion to meet their needs they automatically think women ‘owe’ them something instead of thinking if they are the problem. Women owe men nothing. It’s the other way around society owes women an apology due to the lack of equality because humans are human’s it doesn’t matter what gender you are all humans are humans and should be treated equally. Society forgets the needs of women, but never of men.

Hatred of women is also so prevalent in today’s society. Hatred not only puts a woman down but also a man. Incels are jealous of things they can’t have that a woman won’t give them for a reason. Women are depicted and blamed for it as Terri Coles states; “Women are dismissed and dehumanized as females or females, excluded from the incel community because it’s believed they can get sex when they want it” (“How Men Get To The Point Where They Identify As ‘Incel’”). Nobody likes to blame oneself. Sex is something that everyone wants because it brings pleasure, but when a man can have sex they aren’t the problem women are. Women are hated for it, but that shouldn’t be the case. Behind everything, there is always a reason. The reason for this problem is the ‘Incel’s’ individuality. Instead of taking time hating on women, they should work on themselves.

This area of new women are not gonna be able to know what it is like to be treated ‘right’ as a women. Throughout many decades women have been struggling to be equal to men, both at home and in the workplace. Women have come a long way and are certainly fighting to gain that equality, but gender roles are very important in our society and still not equal. The treatment of the male gender is very different from that of the female. Many men believe that women aren’t good enough and capable enough to handle the sometimes high pressure that comes with certain tasks. Even though women are as tough as men, men don’t see it. Women deserve equality because they are compassionate, intelligent, strong, and work as hard compared to men. Women can defuse a situation in a compassionate, intellectual manner and work hard at it until it is reached. Others believe that women are better off taking the traditional gender role and staying home to take care of the family and household chores. Women end up doing things like taking care of households most of the time or have jobs that pay less than what men are paid even if the job is done better by women. It’s only due to the fact that we have grown up in a society in which men and others think it’s okay to do so. But it’s completely wrong. Women are objectified and put down in any way, but that has to change. At the end of the day without women, our world wouldn’t be the world it is today. Men wouldn’t be able to bring new life to the world, men wouldn’t do things that women like take care of households due to their mindset of thinking it okay and men wouldn’t do things like taking care of their children because it’s seen as ‘babysitting’ for them because it’s a woman’s job. All those things are taken for granted by men and seen as obligations that women have as women. It’s come to the point that these roles have become true to our society, and it is a widely accepted fact.

Ultimately, this leads back to the original thesis that misogyny wires men to turn a blind eye towards the influence and importance of a woman’s existence. Margaret Atwood shows misogyny in, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ within Gilead as a government policy that debases women in order to promote functionality. Through Terri Coles’, “How Men Get To The Point Where They Identify As ‘Incel’” and Roxane Gay’s “Bad Feminist”, they demonstrate how relevant and apparent gender inequality lives in society. Furthermore, the two sources fuel the fire of how misogyny brutally places a wedge between men and women.              

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Theme Of Misogyny In The Handmaid's Tale. (2021, May 31). Retrieved from