womenrcool. YOU do not need telling. If only there’d been someone with your good sense running Gilead.
Thankfully, the future IS in your hands – and the world IS a better place with you in it.
Now all we need to do is make sure you’ve got the tools you’re going to need to achieve what you want to achieve. We’re going to begin by making sure you pass your English Literature exams!
Let’s start by listening to this playlist.
We picked out our favourite feminist anthems from each of the ten artists on that list, then we picked out a series of the most powerful statements from within each of those songs:
when everyone believes ya, what’s that like? (Taylor Swift, ‘The Man’)
oh I’m just a girl (No Doubt, ‘Just A Girl’)
more than just a picture (Maggie Lindemann, ‘Pretty ‘Girl’)
eating a burger (Muncie Girls, ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’)
nobody’s perfect (New Years Day, ‘Shut Up‘)
ripping all your floors out (Hayley Kiyoko, ‘Girls Like Girls’)
can’t live without me (Ava Max, ‘Kings & Queens’)
oh I know what they say (Grace Davies, ‘Just A Girl’)
out of the woods (Lily Allen, ‘Hard Out Here’)
little lady, give us a smile (Halsey, ‘Nightmare’)
I’m sure you spotted the acronym!
Each of those 10 key lines say something really significant about the female situation. As students of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, you’ll be familiar with the ideas.
TASK 1: Identify the technique used within each of the quoted lyrics and explain what each technique emphasises about the female situation. You might want to mindmap the quotes in the way we’ve done directly below Look here for more critical quotes and then look to the end of this lesson for an extra paragraph full of language-related thoughts.
Now, to Atwood’s text. Here are the 10 quotes we think you could learn in advance of your assessments. The acronym will help you remember them.
whose fault was it?
Out of sight, out of mind (the pain women subjected to)
Maybe he even likes it.
expectation, of something without a shape or name
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
Certainly I am not dismayed by these women
Oiling themselves like roast meat on a spit
only women who are fruitful and women who are barren
TASK 2: Identify the technique used within each of the Handmaid’s Tale quotes (listed above) and explain what each technique emphasises about the female situation. You might want to start by reminding yourself of where in the text exactly each quote comes from. ‘Light’, for example, is the very final word of Offred’s narrative (that is significant!). Do feel free to look directly below before working on this task. You can read the paragraph we wrote about the ten lyrics – each of the ideas explored in that paragraph are relevant to these ten Handmaid’s quotes. It is these links which will help you to lock these ideas down.
TASK 1 IDEAS: Taylor Swift wants to know why a man’s opinion is perceived to be more valid than a woman’s. The rhetorical question acknowledges how great it must feel to be automatically respected – how much easier it must make life. No Doubt’s use of adverb highlights the actual reality for women. Gwen Stefani is viewed as “just” a girl, limited in a way that men for some reason are not. Maggie Lindemann relates to that feeling of being minimalised. Her metaphor clearly underlines the fact that she feels appreciated only on a surface level. Muncie Girls know what she means. They criticise the men who condemn a woman for “eating a burger”. The burger symbolises the unspoken restrictions placed upon women. Women are weighed down by a whole fleet of irrational expectations, but New Years Day remind us that “nobody’s perfect” – the pronoun underlining the ridiculous nature of society’s skewed standards. Not that women are allowed to address this inequality. When they try to talk about it, they’re painted as aggressive. Hayley Kiyoko’s metaphor gets to the heart of the issue. Men don’t like women “ripping all your floors out” – it’s destabilising. Ava Max uses a modal verb to emphasise the obvious: men absolutely “can’t” live without women. She imagines a world where males and females work side by side, but Grace Davies points to the chasmic divide that still exists between the two genders. “I know what they say,” she sings and the separation between those pronouns “I” and “they” speaks for itself. The world may have fooled itself into thinking that life isn’t tough for women in the 21st Century, but Allen’s metaphor makes it clear that we’re not “out of the woods.” Women are still expected to perform according to men’s expectations of them. Halsey’s use of imperative makes that point VERY clear.
Please send us your own writing – whatever you’ve written about the lyrics and/or what you’ve written about the Handmaid’s quotes!
If you’re studying for A-Level exams, Taylor Swift can help you with your unseen poetry!
If you’re studying for GCSE exams, Against The Current can help you with your unseen poetry!
Main image by Cottonbro.