In “The Handmaiden’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood the Republic of Gilead expose women to oppression wherever they go and it is reinforced by certain individuals who would benefit from their oppression, basically the government wants women to be mindless, thoughtless beings who are essentially slaves. One quote that shocked me was that how even women can profit off of rape instead of helping others thru there issues.”Its Janine, telling about how she was gang-raped at fourteen and had an abortion.” (71)In this society when something happens to a woman is it always the woman’s fault? The reaction of Aunt Helena answers this question when she asks this question. ” But whose fault was it? Aunt Helena says , holding up one plump finger” (72) everyone in the crowd agrees and repeats “Her fault . She did” (72).
To further the point of oppression Offred is treated just like a sex object, a human flesh-light in chapter 16 by the Commanders. “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” (94) What’s interesting is how she believes this is not rape at all, just a job to do. Why does she not see that society is raping her of her future, free will and respect by having a job that requires you to be a slave. She even tries to stay on the positive side of things. “At least he’s an improvement on the previous one, who smelled like a church cloakroom in the rain” (95) We see how the sex is her duty is not allowed to intimate with each other. “Kissing is forbidden between us. This makes it bearable.” (95)This shows something into the mentality of the Commander’s as they tell her that the job she has is a privilege but treat her like a prostitute in the street before they go home to their wives.
But what interests me the most is how Offred has a flashback of the past where time where more normal to our everyday life like homework. “What’s your paper on? I just did one on date rape” (38) Offred’s flashback shows the past how it was like and what moments she took for granted which in this dystopian state is probably something more common than a paper for class. We see how she jokes about this topic of women’s issue because she believes the world is trying to be a better place for everyone. “Date rape, I said. You’re so trendy. It sounds like some kind of dessert. Date rape.”(38) With this these quotes we see the shift in the country of Gilead has become one that tried to fight for women’s rights to one that batters and oppresses woman to the point where they can not be anything but what the country needs. With everything going against woman how can one change the country when the natural fundamentals of revolution is being choked by an authoritarian rule over the land.