Introduction The issue that has been persistent for as long as one can remember is Misogyny in the society. The belief that women are inferior to men has been contaminating the human mind. The issue can be commonly seen in the society in form of domestic abuse, violence, objectification in name of advertisements, and especially in the music industry where the lyrics are filled with hateful messages towards women. Even though the governing laws consider men and women as equal, but the mistreatment of women continues to be the headline of every newspaper.
First Novel – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood The novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood was first published in 1985. The novel displays a society called Republic of Gilead that is dominated by a totalitarian government, where extreme Christian beliefs are being used to suppress the rights of women. The women capable of giving birth are being forced to have children for the rich men living in the society. The basic rights have been completely taken away from these women, and they are imprisoned in ‘Red Centers’, which are building especially made to isolate these women from the society.
Identification of Issue in the Novel Quote 1: In the Republic of Gilead “most of the stores carrying things are still open; it’s just the ones dealing in what they call vanities have been shut down” (192). Analysis: The women living in the Republic of Gilead are forced to live as mere shadows of men. All the women, whether be it the ones able to bear a child or not, are being treated as objects. Misogyny is embedded in the culture and the government has enforced laws that forbid the basic women’s rights. The government has even closed the stores that sell items for women because those stores are considered unnecessary.
The men however have complete facilities and comfort. The laws of Gilead are implied in a way to make men be able to control women. The women in Gilead are not given social and political rights, and are left to face the poor treatment and misogynistic governmental rules. Quote 2: In the society, “Money was the only measure of worth, for everyone, [women] got no respect as mother[s]. No wonder [women] were giving up the whole business. This way… they can fulfill their biological destinies” (254). Analysis: In Gilead, money defines the status of a person.
The government has manipulated the laws in such a way that forbids women to have a job or bank accounts, therefore leaving women with no source of money – which deprives them of their worth and status. The bank accounts of the women have been handed over to the male figures in their lives, which allows the men to have complete control over women. Women are not being credited for bearing pain in order to have a child. Women have no choice but to quit their jobs because the government believes that women are made to fulfill their ‘biological destinies’, meaning to have a child and take care of a family..
This takes away the women’s right to fulfill their own dreams and have a live of their own. Second Novel – The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin The novel The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin was originally published in 1969. It is a story of a man named Genly Ai who travels to a different planet named Gethen on a mission. As he gets familiar with the Gethenian system of living, he is shocked by the conventions of the gender neutral planet. He learns that gender stereotypes from Earth are not applicable to Gethen because all citizens are androgynous.
On the planet, judgment is made based on the personality and talents of an individual rather than gender. Genly gets confused because he is used to making judgments based on gender, and the planet challenges his notion of this belief and also teaches him an important lesson about equality of the sexes. Identification of Issue in the Novel Quote 1: The women “between seventeen and thirty-five or so is liable to be ‘tied down to childbearing,’ implies that no one is quite so thoroughly ‘tied down’ [on Gethen] as women, elsewhere, are likely to be – psychologically or physically.
Burden and privilege are shared out pretty equally [in Gethen]; everybody has the same risk to run or choice to make” (93). Analysis: Genly Ai considers the social norms for women on Earth such as to have children, take care of family etc. , and compares it to the androgynous society of Gethen where misogyny does not exist because its a gender neutral planet. On Gethen, nobody is held back because of their gender, which allows everyone to have the same opportunities. The message of the novel is to strive to be like Gethen because it is unobstructed from the social stereotypes of gender.
The comparison between the norms of Earth and Gethen, show the inequality women on Earth are facing. Quote 2: Genly Ai thinks “a man wants his virility regarded, a woman wants her femininity appreciated, however indirect and subtle the indications of regard and appreciation. On [planet Gethen] they do not exist. One is respected and judged only as a human being” (95). Analysis: Genly Ai again compares the conventional gender image of women on Earth with that of on Gethen where there is only one sex possessing both male and female qualities.
He says that a man on Earth wants to feel powerful and masculine while a woman wants to feel beautiful and feminine. The desire for such qualities does not exist within Gethenians. Everyone is judged based on their personality and other qualities. This indicates that the gender roles of Earth clutches its natives into following the controlling and dominating rules that dictate that women are inferior to men. Since these gender roles are non-existent in Gethen, nobody there suffers from such obstacles based on inequality of the sexes.