Sexual Freedom

31 05 2017

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Over the weekend I caught up with the new TV adaption of one of my favourite recently-read books, The Handmaid’s Tale. It is a dystopian and brilliantly realised series about a woman who finds herself in a new world where women have been stripped of their rights and placed in a rigid, ritualistic hierarchy of oppression: from well-coiffed but powerless society wives to domestic drudges known as “Marthas” and then “handmaidens,” the women whose sole purpose in society is to bear children. The book was originally written as a chilling thought experiment, and the TV series is just as compelling.

It made me wonder afterwards – what is the connection between sexual and political freedom? Can sexually repressed countries ever be politically free? To what extent has the oppression of women thoughout history been driven by the wish to control their sexuality? Or is it the other way around, is that just a “symptom” of a powerlessness that is primarily economic?

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