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Sexuality in The Handmaid's Tale

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Connor Lyn

on 21 November 2013

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Transcript of Sexuality in The Handmaid's Tale

Sexuality in The Handmaid's Tale
What is Margaret Atwood saying about sexuality?
1. A woman's identity to be a sexual object remains consistent no matter what her physical appearance.
A woman's identity to be a sexual object remains consistent no matter what her physical appearance.
Atwood says the act of sex has no value or emotion attached to it considering society's views on it.
Careless sexual acts that are seen as forms of abuse strip women from their identity.
Pre Gilead: "'... What's your paper on'? 'I just did one on date rape'. 'Date rape, I said. You're so trendy, sounds like some type of dessert'" (38).
"Sometimes the movie she showed would be an old porno film from the seventies or eighties. Women kneeling, sucking penises or guns, women tied up or chained or with dog collars around their necks, women hanging from trees, or upside down, naked, with their legs spread a part, women being raped, beaten up, killed" (118).
Conclusion
Through time from Pre-Gilead, to Gilead, to our modern world views on sexuality have not changed a whole lot. While there are significant differences we also see many similarities from then and now.
Presentation by: Gabby, Andrew, Amara, & Connor
2. Atwood says the act of sex has no value or emotion attached to it considering society's views on it.
3. Careless sexual acts that are seen as forms of abuse strip women from their identity.
Thesis: In Margaret Atwood's, The Handmaid's Tale, the role of women and sexuality warns society that oppresses human dignity.
Gilead: "There are no more magazines, no more films, no more substitutes; only me and my shadow, walking away from the two men, who stand at attention, stiffly, by a roadblock, watching our retreating shapes" (22).
"Modesty is invisibility, said Aunt Lydia. Never forget it. To be seen - to be seen - is to be - penetrated. What you must be, girls, is impenetrable" (28).

Modern World: Women in advertising
Pre Gilead: "The women teeter on their spiked feet as if on stilts, but off balance; their backs arch at the waist, thrusting the buttocks out. Their heads are uncovered and their hair too is exposed, in all its darkness and sexuality" (28).
Pre Gilead: "Luke wanted to make love" (182).
"The stains on the matress. Like dried flower petals. Not recent. Old love; there's no other kind of love in this room now" (52).
Gilead: "Below it the commander is fucking. What he is fucking is the lower part of my body. I do not say making love, because this is not what he's doing" (94).
"Can I be blamed for wanting a real body, to put my arms around? ... I can stroke myself, under the dry white sheets, in the dark, but I too am dry and white; it's like running my hand over a plateful of dried rice. I am like a room where things once happened and now nothing does" (104).
"What is going on in this room, under Serena Joy's silvery canopy, is not exciting. It has nothing to do with passion or love or romance or any of these other notions we used to titillate ourselves with" (94).
Modern World
"Those topics include controversial items like sex positivity, pornography, and the college hook up culture" (Stanford Daily).

"If teens don't see a bright future ahead then they tend to focus on the immediate, 'They're having sex', said O'Sullivan" (Globe and Mail).
Gilead: It was my fault she says. It was my own fault. I lead them on, I deserve the pain" (72).
"Copulating too is inaccurate, because it would imply two people and only one is involved. Nor does rape cover it: nothing is going on here that I haven't signed up for. There wasn't a lot of choice but there was some, and this is what I chose" (116).
"Consider the alternatives, said Aunt Lydia. You see what things used to be like? That was what they thought of women then" (118).

Modern World
"A study found that one in four Canadian women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime. Half of these assaults will be against women under the age of 16" (Brandon University).
"Estimated 20.9 million people are enslaved in human trafficking" (love146).

"Estimated 4.5 million in sexual exploitation" (love146).

"Estimated price for a 6 year old child to be sold into sex slavery is $72" (love146).
Discussion:

What do you think, are there many differences between Gilead and now?
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