Society for their suffering on earth. By keeping women

Society in all cultures share a common trait: Religion. Religion in any society reveals many of their traits and explains the actions of the individual. In religion women can be seen as subordinate to men. Simone de Beauvoir saw religion in a similar way to Marx, however instead of oppressing the working class, it causes inequality between men and women; Inequality can be seen in many major, mainstream religions such as Christianity, the Bible states that God created men in “the image and glory of God”, whilst women were made for “the glory of men”. She argued religion can be used by men to control women, and it serves in compensating women for their second class status and gives women false hope, that they will be repaid in eternity for their suffering on earth. By keeping women in a state of false consciousness religion helps to maintain social order and makes women passive victims of a male domination. For example Catholicism, becoming a nun can be viewed as either oppressive or highly liberating. Nuns are stereotypically viewed as being sexually repressed women who transfer their sexual libidos into their religious beliefs. On the other hand becoming a nun can been seen as an act of protection from sexual gratification experienced by women in modern western societies. The Handmaid’s Tales shows the possibility of the existence of an all powerful governing system. This is portrayed through the lack of freedom for women in society, from being revoked of their right to own any money or property, to being stripped of their given games and acquiring names such as Offred and Ofglen, symbolising women’s dependant existence, only being define by the men which they belong to. This portal of women demonstrates the idea that individuals are unimportant, that the goals of the society as a whole are more pertinent. Whilst ‘Brave New World’ religion is replaced by mass consumerism, sexual promiscuity and, most significantly, excessive drug taking. Through the use of conditioning, citizens of the World State are taught to have multiple sexual partners and to take pleasure in superficial entertainment such as the ‘feelies’, a satire on Hollywood ‘talkies’. Huxley’s use of biblical allusion underscores the innate necessity of spiritual belief, in even the most mundane society, by incorporating religious references into the manipulation of female identity as a mean of social control; differentiating the roles of men and women, where men are powerful figures and women are only a mere sex objects.  From the beginning of the novel, the author gives several clues that men are superior to women in the World State. First, when the Director is giving students a tour of the Hatchery, the reader is aware that all students are males; none are female. Then, when the Director is explaining the process of reproduction to his students, he explains that many of the women are sterilised in order to control the rate of reproduction by removing ovaries and keeping them at blood heat since “full blood heat sterilises”. He also explains that women have the burden of contraceptives in order to prevent pregnancy. Men, on the other hand, experience no hardship to control and stabilise the population. Throughout the novel, the role of women seems to revolve around one thing: sex. Women are not viewed as motherly figures or even creators of life, but only as sex objects. On the other hand, the role of men is to be in charge. Males hold the power and authority in work positions and governing the state. Every person in charge is male. The Director and Henry Foster are in charge at the Hatchery, and Mustafa Mond runs the government within the World State. The only time woman seem to be equal to men is in sexual relations, because each sex is able to interact freely between one another, and each is supposed to find as many sexual partners as possible. Maybe Huxley creates these two different roles in order to satirise the early twentieth-century society, a time where flappers emerged, many women were just starting to be educated, and many did not work out of the home. In most religions, women tend to be portrayed in terms of their “traditional” social characteristics. Huxley uses Henry Ford’s principle of mass production and applies it to biology to carry on the ideologies through the manipulation of female control by genetically altering female characters, who seem to face the most significant medical interventions with their bodies, specifically on the front of reproduction. Since babies are created in laboratories rather than born, the whole concept of “pregnancy,” “childbirth,” and “motherhood” is incredibly taboo to the point that “mother” is seen as so profane that it is described that “the blood rushed to  cheeks” of a grown man at the use of the word “mother”. Atwood has also included many Biblical references and religious suggestions throughout ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ to demonstrate manipulation of the female identity as mean of social control . By implementing extremist religious views on the people of Gilead, they created a society that basically destroyed the rights of women, ethnic minorities, and basic freedoms like freedom of speech and freedom of religion. They set up so many boundaries and rules so that they could illuminate the bad things like rape from the time before. However, they abuse this because women in Gilead have lost their freedom and are treated inferior to men. For example, when the handmaid’s were being trained they were shown films of women being raped and murdered to try and convince them that they are better off in Gilead’s regime. But, illuminating these things meant that they would lose their freedom and self respect. The Aunts say things like, “You see what things used to be like? That was what they thought of women, then”. They give the women no other choice into what to believe. Moira, who represents Offred’s guidance and hope tells her the film is probably a fraud so Gilead’s regime is trying to get the handmaid’s to feel as if they are privileged to be in their position because the time before was horrific. However, Atwood shows us how unhappy women are now that Gilead stopped them from having any freedom. For example, the fact that they have so many boundaries and Gilead is a society where religion is used to control people. Furthermore Offred clearly hates the world she now lives in and is constantly wishing to go back to the life she had with her husband and daughter. However, Offred isn’t the only character who suffers from the radical religious views of the Republic of Gilead. Interestingly, the Commander and Serena Joy also become victims of the regime as well. The Commander craves an emotional connection with another women, while Serena Joy is miserable in her own home, with almost nothing to do but knit or take care of her garden. Offred even knows what the commander wants from her but yet she still can’t seem to “love” him as she says: “What he wants is intimacy, but I can’t give him that” . Everyone under the Gilead regime suffers in their own way, while some are more miserable than others. Moreover , because the laws in Gilead are based on a twisted interpretation of the bible, severe punishments are given to people who commit things like adultery or even attempt to escape. When a radical religious group seizes control of a nation, they allow heinous things like hanging homosexuals, or decapitating women for reading, by using the bible in this case to justify their actions. Atwood uses the Republic of Gilead as an example, to show how dangerous a society can become when following any extreme religious view.An important similarity is the oppression and control of women. In both texts, women are in subordinate position and “otherness” in a male dominated society, constructed in such a way to maintain women in the inferior position and ignore their wills and basic freedom. However, this is more so portrayed in The Handmaid’s Tale, where women are victimised and marginalised by the state, reduced to slavery status and being mere a means for reproduction and man’s use so much that protagonist Offred refers to herself as mere  “a rat in a maze”.  The Handmaid’s tale is misogyny, the oppression and control of women; female oppression and control in The Republic of Gilead is so ubiquitous to suggest that the women are deprived and enslaved to the point of biology and sexuality, denies their basic freedom and ordered to serve the state in different ways and functions. Every facet of society works in concert to control women of Gilead; their subjugation is total. Beauvoir argues in The Second Sex theory to show women and their social condition in a patriarchal society, being defined as ‘Other’ relative to men; women are oppressed, marginalised, and placed in the secondary status in the society. Atwood describes a patriarchal society in which women are not considered as autonomous beings, but rather as “Others”. They are sexual objects for men’s pleasure and needs, subjugated to men based on their biological capacity and sexual slavery: a woman is imprisoned by her body, only her body identifies her.In the patriarchal society of Gilead, the state controls and manipulates women’s biological and reproductive capacities portraying women as nothing more than ambulatory wombs, two-legged wombs, an ovary, and the female as Offred states: “we are all for breeding purposes. We aren’t concubines, geisha girls, courtesans. On the contrary: everything possible has been done to remove us from that category there is supposed to be nothing entertaining about us … we are two-legged wombs, that’s all: sacred vessels, ambulatory chalices”. The women in Brave New World are oppressed, however it is not as pervasive as in The Handmaid’s Tale. Women are oppressed in Brave New Word in the way that there are no Alpha females mentioned and as means of their role in the society. This brings the readers to believe that the society feels as if women are too inadequate to be on the top of the hierarchy, and that they belong below men.