The Gender Roles in Society

In The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood we continue to see how gender plays a major factor in society. Even the word that we use has an effect on gender. One example is the difference between lay and laid. “Lay is always passive. Even men used to say, I,d like to get laid.”(chp 7) Its interesting to see how gender roles are changing it seems that all that woman fought for during the woman’s suffrage era is gone.

“What’s your paper on? I just did one on date rape” (Chp 7) These moments in Offreds life lets us see how the past was like and what moments she takes for granted. We see how she doesn’t really care about woman’s issue as she jokes about stuff like date rape. “Date rape, I said. You’re so trendy. It sounds like some kind of dessert. Date rape.” These sorts of issues while taken seriously in the past we take for granted the right just to take these issues without being scared of the repercussions. (Chp 7)

We also see how Offred is now ashamed of her own body now. “Shameful, immodest I avoided looking down at my body, not so much because it’s shameful or immodest but because I don’t want to see it.” (Chp 12) At this moment we see that Offred has lost the will in to believe in herself as she see her own body immoral and it seems that even the thought of herself seems to disgust her. The new government seems to be winning every day in brainwashing the woman of the new country and making them believe in the new rules and laws.

We truly see the way the Handmaids are just sex objects in chapter 16. “I do not say making love, because this is not what he’s doing.” But interestingly Offred does not consider this rape as she chose to be Handmaid and she seems fine with this life. “Nor does rape cover it: nothing is going on here that I haven’t signed up for” (chp 12) Interestingly we see how she is even a littler relieved because at least this commander does not smell, as bad as the previous Commander who she was with. “At least he’s an improvement on the previous one, who smelled like a church cloakroom in the rain” (chp 16) We see how the lovemaking is a job and they are not allowed to get attached to each other. “Kissing is forbidden between us. This makes it bearable.” (chp 16)

Another interesting way we see gender roles have a part in this world is we see the jealousy that Serena Joy has towards Offred. Serna Joy is quick to make Offred leave after she has finished her duty as a handmaid. “Serena Joy lets go of my hands. “You can get up now, “she says. “Get up and get out.”(Chp 16) We see how see seems threatened by Offred but Offred seems to  understand how she feels. “Which of us it worse for her or me?” (Chp 16) Offred feels compassion for Serena Joy but the feeling that doesn’t go both ways.

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