Sexism In The Handmaids Tale

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Eventually, the eroding of identities and sense of agency eliminates the ideological resistance needed for a genuine uprising. Duncombe continues that the creation of a “’false consciousness’” occurs when an oppressed group is indoctrinated with a belief in the justice and uprightness of a system that oppresses them (2107). In fact, this same “false consciousness” seems to apply to Aunt Lydia herself, as she shares misogynistic values. She does not seem to consciously acknowledge her own oppression, such as forced illiteracy, within the republic she so vehemently promotes. So, while she is undeniably complicit in the continuation of the status quo, she also remains a victim of the dangerous doctrines of a misogynistic government. Aunt Lydia…show more content…
The female characters internalize the hatred and degradation, resulting in the loss of dignity and self-respect. This internalized sexism morphs into harmful action. This action prevents the end of the oppression because oppression is no longer coming from only the external world and groups but from within. The danger of internalized hatred is that no resistance or revolution can bring the suffering to an end without an internal reformation. As long as internalized sexism remains unaddressed and unhealed, mistrust and “horizontal oppression” will continue (Szymankski 103). Internalized sexism “[reinforces the] web of insecurities and rigidities” between women (Pheterson 159). Relationships between women in The Handmaid’s Tale reflect this. The acrimony between Offred and Serena Joy or Aunt Lydia and the novice handmaids both reveal the same truth; the female characters in The Handmaid’s Tale antagonize one another because of the toxic situation in which they must live. In their attempt to survive, they become complicit in the society that restricts women. Internalized oppression of women in a society dominated entirely by men degrades female self-respect and “[continues women’s] external oppression” (Dillon 53). This internalized oppression in turn produces further complicity and the inability to form an organized…show more content…
Unlike most female characters in The Handmaid’s Tale, Moira, an avid feminist, is not apathetic. When the United States still exists, Moira and Offred’s mother protested the sexism of the United States. Moira encouraged society to fight against the oppression of women in everyday life from microaggressions to hate crimes. Offred, however, did not feel that these interactions were a problem that she must address as individual. Instead, she felt that Moira and her mother are overreacting to the problems in society and that they should be handled on an individual level. Stillman goes so far as to characterize Offred as “unwilling” and “unconcerned with women as a group”
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