Feminist Lens - Rachel LeBlanc

The Handmaid's Tale - Losing her Job
Feminist Lens Analysis
Rachel LeBlanc
In evaluating the chosen passage from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, I was able to clearly see the definite problems in society concerning the establishment of human rights and gender equality. The power distribution and gender roles established to solve the nation’s decrease in fertility rates suggest that, despite a clear advancement in women’s rights, women are still seen as submissive objects that, when push comes to shove, are worth sacrificing for the sake of national interest.

The government’s diagnosis sends a clear message about gender roles. “But I could see out into the corridor, and there were two men standing there, in uniforms, with machine guns” (page 166, white version). The significance of Offred’s observation shows how men are considered powerful and dominant. In contrast to this, the women being stripped of their job at the library felt shame and dismay, as if they deserved this sort of inequality. When Offred tried to buy a cigarette from the new male clerk, the clerk treated Offred with little respect and patience. “He knew some private joke, he wasn’t going to tell me” (page 165, white version). In Offred’s job at the library, a single male director fires all eight or ten of the women in the room without a suitable explanation.

Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel that confronts the major crisis in society. Gender inequality is an issue that many women continue to face to this day. The roles men are assigned in this passage are all dominant; women, on the other hand, are consistently submissive and menial, to the extent where they feel shame and dismay, like domestic animals, without a proper reason. The political action and enforcement has been heavily influenced by genders roles and the power they reserve. This state diagnosis only further proves that women are still significantly inferior to men, and men will relish in this social structure for the take of obtaining, and abusing, this power.

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