"From Herland to The Handmaid's Tale: The Complicity of Women in Oppression"
French, Jane Ellen, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Chong, Sylvia, Department of English, University of Virginia
This paper examines the complicity of women in the oppression of other women considered "less fit" in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland (1915) and its sequel With Her in Ourland (1916). It traces this to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985) and its 2017 Hulu television adaptation. The paper argues that each of these texts, over the span of roughly 100 years, offer a whitewashed version of feminism that allows white, middle and upper class women to be both victims and saviors, while simultaneously suppressing the racist and eugenicist dimensions of reproductive discourse therein.
MA (Master of Arts)