“A Woman’s Role’
There’s an inherent rift caused between the relationships between men and women. Placed at an early age, we have been taught that the two sexes cannot co-habitat in the same sphere for fear of any funny business occurring. It’s deeply embedded in cultural tendencies, politics, and most pointedly religion. As we move forward in this world of disturbing sexism, it becomes more and more apparent that this rift is part of what makes being a woman so difficult in society; we must be better, or we will face the consequences.
Serena’s past life was eye opening to the audience in both the character and the cause. She’s described as pushing a domestic feminism that allows women to become empowered, while fulfilling their “god given destiny” as home makers and baby machines. There’s nothing wrong with wanting this life, but the idea that all women must also strive to achieve this goal is just preposterous.
Serena played fast and loose with her words and ideals, and as her husband rose to prominence it was her unending confidence that convinced him of a woman’s place in the world. This life that Serena is stuck in, is horrifically of her own making, and the pain and anger she exudes every day are a product of this knowledge.
What’s interesting is the loss of sexualization that comes with being the wife to the commander. It isn’t until Serena takes initiative and shows off what she’s good at that Fred even realizes he’s attracted to her. We’ve been reminded so far that one must not mistake meekness for weakness, so why is it that he seems to forget more than anyone?
As the continued disconnect between men and women is the only life this world knows, Offred and Nick are now in a strange place. The momentary freedom they gained by choosing a passionate sexual encounter now holds weight in a way that Offred would have never intended had this not have been the state of the world. They found solace in one another, but the sex was just supposed to be a happy by-product of the union, not the only thing.
Nick and Offred’s relationship only has one place it can go. He obviously cannot disconnect his feelings for her from their friendship, so Offred will have no choice but to accept the role of damsel in distress, to maintain any bridge to a world in which she is not less than. It’s frustrating to watch, as this is an occurrence in the everyday world as we know it now, but for us we have the option to steer clear. Offred’s lust will eventually die, but will she still be able to keep up a charade in order to maintain that one thread of freedom?
The fact that Luke (Offred’s husband) is still alive will lift her spirits and allow her to keep fighting. But, it will also place a cog in the relationship she’s now stuck in with Nick. She already felt like she was cheating on him when she thought he was dead, how will she be able to find solace in the arms of the only man who is treating her like a human being?
That the Handmaid’s are being treated as a commodity is no surprise considering the extreme lengths the aunts go to make sure the girls are compliant. It’s the same way a breeder will break a horse, so it allows the rider to stay on without killing it. A wild horse can be a dangerous animal if you’re not careful, and while these girls are at the bottom of society, they hold a power no other woman has in this world; they are literally the keys to keeping humanity afloat.
Offred’s admission to the Mexican ambassador was heartbreaking, but also a hint at the coming resistance. This world is not sustainable. There’s a reason that society has moved passed the “traditional ways.” Women are equal members of society, putting forth just as much (if not more) into the folds of the world. The resistance is aware of this, acting as the only island in a sea of chosen ignorance put forth by those who now run the country.
The overt sexualization of women is made up in the heads of the men (and few women) who fear not being needed. The fact that most of the commanders are infertile is a testament to this idea, and the ritualization of intercourse is literally their way of flapping their dicks around to maintain dominance. This isn’t the way nature works, and just as women rose to prominence, and humanity began to die out, nature will eventually take its course.