What is Freedom?

I found The Handmaid’s Tale really interesting. I really wanted to look into the relationship women had in the society more closely. At the end of chapter 21 on page 127 Offred mentioned that her mother wanted a ‘woman’s culture’. Even in the flashback beforehand, Offred talks about her mother as if her mother was a big supporter of women’s rights. I really found the word play interesting between the two different ideas of a women’s culture. The way the mother wanted women to be free and in charge was the complete opposite of the culture that appeared.

It’s the difference between a culture about women and a culture for them. In a culture for women, women are free in their ability to choose. Women are for themselves. It’s like the idea that people wear makeup for themselves and not for other people. Margaret Atwood’s society is the opposite. This culture is about women but as much as it revolves around them, it really isn’t for them. In this society women are like property. They are used and traded if they can’t have children. It something goes wrong then it is their fault. They can’t read and they can’t really choose. They can’t even choose to commit quick suicide if they want to. Although, I suppose if they wanted to die, they could just act out and be labeled as an unwomen.

The Aunts when speaking about the way women were oppressed before also intrigued me. They talked about how women weren’t considered to be important by showing them pornos and other movies. It confused me to how they thought that a society where women are like property and can’t read is more freeing than one where women have a choice. It comes back to the idea they brought up of Freedom from vs Freedom to. There is some truth to the idea that Freedom from is important and in itself a very special and carefully guarded freedom. But to me the two freedoms are not equal. The women are not more free because they no longer have to worry about the way they are portrayed in pornos.