The Handmaid's Tale

The Gilead Regime and the regulation of sex.

One of the main goals of the Gilead Regime seems to be to control and regulate sex and sexuality. Do you think they succeed? Are sexual relations more ordered and "normalized" under the new regime?

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The focus of the Gileadean regime is on the control of sex and sexuality. They execute gays and lesbians; they destroy pornography and sexual clothing; they kill abortion doctors; they outlaw divorce and second marriages; and they ritualize bizarre sexual relations that they believe are supported by the Bible. It is unsurprising at the end of the novel to learn that the Gileadean regime eventually destroys itself. In attempting to separate sex from sexuality, the regime demonstrates both its underestimation of and fear of sexuality.

The regime, it appears, is right to fear sexuality, for the extent to which illicit sexual practices undermine the regime quickly becomes clear. The Commander reveals not only that he carried out a series of affairs with his Handmaids, but that there is a more or less "secret" club where higher-ups consort with women solely for sexual purposes. These actions demonstrate that the government cannot expunge illicit sexual acts merely by threatening fearful punishments. In fact, by destroying the privacy of even condoned sexual acts, the government seems to encourage those in power to act out against these regulations. Finally, when Offred takes a series of tremendous risks to continue her affair with Nick, she demonstrates the power of sexual acts. The regime can impose as many punishments as it wants; it can force women to watch other women be hung; it can torture and abuse, but no matter what it does, ordinary women like Offred will continue to risk everything for acts of sexuality inspired by the possibility of love.

As for ordered and normal..... that would mean your opinion.


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