The Handmaid’s Tale: How It Changed My Thinking

Born with the privilege of being a male, I have always known about the discrimination females have faced in society however, I never truly understood it. Yes I have heard many stories from my peers, sister, mother, and teachers about the oppression women face in general and I have tried to stand up for it but it never truly understood why this happens.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margeret Atwood written in 1985 is about a near-future dystopian society where most women are deemed infertile due to toxins and those who are fertile, are given the jobs to reproduce and only to reproduce with their owners.

This novel has opened my eyes to the reasons why women are oppressed. Due to commonly accepted patriarchal cultures in the past, these views take a long time to change. It was not only until the recent mid 20th century is when women started to really fight for their rights such as to vote and have equal opportunities as men. Although still facing oppression to this day, the fight for equality still goes on. The Handmaid’s Tale was able to paint a picture in my head, something which I was never able to do in terms of visualizing the issues women faced. By telling the story of someone who is forced to have sex whenever her owner demands, essentially being raped and not having the right to say no, is an exaggeration of what women face today. But how else was Margeret Atwood supposed to emphasize this problem without going to the extent of what a handmaid has to go through almost every day?

Media Bias

Media is filled with many opinionated pieces trying to swerve your view on an issue. “Trump impeached? He’s a good man, let’s go after the lady that impeached him.” Some Bias pieces in media form opinions instead of delivering news which sways the perspective of people. There are always two sides to the argument and there are always two different opinions on each issue.

Examples:

“SARS-Corona Virus 2019: Best Thing That Has Happened to Our World Since the beginning of the Human Race?”

With this current pandemic, everyone is mad at the virus for causing their lives to be put on hold. I, myself want my life to go back to normal and the common belief is that this current pandemic is bad. With this headline, it is contradicting the common belief that COVID-19 could be doing more good than bad. There are many articles stating that the pandemic has helped the environment a lot more than anticipated.

“Mental Health Medication: Manipulating Those in Need”

Many people around the world suffer from mental health conditions, and a percentage of those people are medicated. Many people believe that medication helps them, whilst others believe that it is a scheme to exploit those going through tough times. In a world where many different people have many different beliefs, everyone wants to voice their opinion on something.

“Higher Levels of Education is a Scam” 

With institutions of higher education being very expensive, many people are starting to consider if the money is worth the time. in a world with the internet, you can learn many new things for free or for a small price. It is a common belief that we have to go through University to get a job because we need to learn. What if we can actually learn the same thing we are paying $40,000 to $60,000 for $10 instead? People believe in higher education, others believe it is a way to exploit teenagers and their parents.

Morals: Home Fire

Morality stems from two sorts of decision-making systems: Utilitarianism – what we think is good, and Consequentialism – what we think is the best decision based on the known consequences. In defense of Isma, she was considering the consequences in terms of her family and in terms of the safety of her country. Isma was considering the safety of her country if her own brother, Parvaiz, who is a member of ISIS, were to be able allowed back into the country. Thinking about the impact it would have in general instead of just her family. The duty of thinking about the bigger picture instead of thinking of just her family which could potentially come off as selfish. The idea of virtue ethics where a good person would do what is good in general. In this case, Isma is portrayed as a good person throughout the entire novel as she wants what is best for others and cuts ties with those who have made ‘bad’ decisions. When she decides to report Parvaiz, she decides it in a way where if she were to step into someone else’s shoes and what would they want for the better of society.

Duty Ethics is the idea that you completely ignore the consequences and think about the duty you hold in your role. For example, Isma clearly cares about Parvaiz and Aneeka but did think about her role as a citizen of her country. Weighing out the pros and cons of what could potentially happen. She knows that it would ruin her relationship with Aneeka but thought about her duty to report such actions that someone did such as Parvaiz potentially being a threat as he is part of ISIS.

Mental Health of the Pioneer Generation – Yumna Al-Arashi Inspired Photography

(these pictures were taken with the consent of the man in the image, although he did not want to disclose his name)

Whilst walking through Pasir Ris Park, I noticed a lot of the older generation of Singapore sitting alone looking out into the sea. A common stereotype associated with the older generation is more insensitive, tough, thinking the younger/modern generation have it all easy, and either disappointed or grateful for their life.

In these two images, I have the same elderly man alone just sitting down enjoying the view of the sea. I decided to isolate my subject by making sure he was the only person in the frame, trying to use a lower aperture so there would be a little more background/foreground blur creating a shallower depth of field (which I was not able to accomplish due to wrong camera settings), and using the rule of thirds to frame him in the bottom left-hand corner to show that there is a lot more of the world around him.

I wanted to tell the story of a man who was contemplating his decisions throughout life, with all of us living in regret, just looking back and thinking about our past decisions really make us reflect on the mistakes we have made. A lot of the older generation say that they are satisfied with what they have done in their lives but is that really true? Everyone feels alone in this world, loneliness is one of the leading causes of depression, it is a common human instinct to want to feel appreciated and loved by another human being. This man might have lost a loved one, thinking about his future, his past, maybe suffering from a mental disorder, I will never know. Mental health among the older generation is something a lot of our modern generation do not consider as it is common amongst the younger generations.

We all have something we go through. My generation (Generation Z) and Millenials are not the generations going through something.

“Everybody’s got something” – Sneako

Home Fire (Novel) & Yumna Al-Arashi (Photography)

In both representations of Muslim women, they are conveyed as empowered women. In Home Fire, Aneeka stands out because she is Muslim in a non-muslim country such as the UK. Whereas the subject in Yumna Al-Arashi’s photos is wearing a Burqa whilst posing in confidently.

Although Yumna Al-Arashi’s photos are all taken in Yemen, which is a Muslim country, it shows the confidence in the subject as the photos do not isolate her. A common theme between all of Yumna’s photos is how she decides not to use a low aperture to create a shallow depth of field (background blur) which is used to isolate the subject in photography, instead, she chooses to create a large depth of field to show that Muslim women don’t need to be isolated from society, feel empowered and take on the world. Likewise, the subject is wearing a Burqa, which is a piece of religious clothing and strongly represents the Islamic religion to show how comfortable she is as she stands out.

In Home Fire, the hijab is used to mainly represent empowerment as she is in the UK and wears a Hijab throughout her everyday life. With the discrimination women of religion face in the UK, Aneeka wears a hijab to stand up against that discrimination to show that she can do what everyone else can just with a hijab. However, Aneeka is represented as someone who is religious and takes Islam seriously through her comments on how prayer is not about the transaction and how she puts on a bra for the sole purpose of praying. Although before and after she prays, it is suggested that Aneeka and Eammon had pre-marital sex which is either forbidden or looked down upon in Islam.

Top Girls: Marlene Monologue – End of Act 3

Angie: Frightening.

Marlene: Angie, what’s the matter? Everything is alright little pet? Just go back to bed okay?

V.O: Oh no, was Angie awake? Is she okay? I hope she didn’t hear anything. I think I should tell Angie. She’s already 15 years old, she’s grown up. She has the right to know. 

Little pet, you okay? Come here and lie down with me. Everything is alright there Angie.

V.O: What am I going to tell Joyce? If she realizes that Angie knows. What is going to happen between them? Will they be alright? Angie. Oh dear, I cannot imagine what she is going through. Angie, oh dear. I’m so so sorry my dear. 

Angie, you’re a big girl. Ignore what your mum said. She doesn’t know anything. You are a strong, independent woman, Angie. You will be just like me. You can visit me one day at the employment agency and I will show you around the building. Is that alright Angie? Your mum is just speaking nonsense, she doesn’t know what she is talking about. Don’t listen to her. Everything will be alright pet, your mother and I just had a small argument about some things, probably had one too many drinks. Just some adult things which don’t really matter. Just go back to bed okay pet? 

V.O: Oh no, what would happen to Joyce if she ever hears about this. If she realizes that Angie heard the argument, what would happen to them? 

Come on now Angie, get some rest. I need to go to bed because I have a long journey back home tomorrow. I’m sure I will come to visit you again sometime soon. If not, come by the office with your mum and you can stay in my apartment. Is that alright Angie?

Political Cartoons: Rape Allegations

In this political cartoon it is talking about the issue of sexual harassment and rape which are very big issues. This cartoon shows 2 young girls which we can assume by the innocent setting of playing with toys and the play room. At this day and age, women have to face the problem of not being believed when it comes to allegations of sexual harassment due to being looked down upon by society. There are many labels which society calls women due to their sexual activity whether there was consent or not with examples such as whore, slut, hoe, b*tch and so on. All those words are degrading and women are labeled those if they decide to speak up about those things. Unlike men, when men are sexually harassed or raped by a woman, they are normally congratulated or praised due to society creating stereotypes that men just want sex. This is the complete opposite when it comes to women because when women are sexually harassed or raped, they do not want to speak up because they do not want to be shamed by society and it’s labels. The humorous aspect of this cartoon is mainly just the way the cartoon is the drawing/painting style where small things suck as facial features and are exaggerated but in this case does not have any context.

Without any context, this political cartoon would not exactly make sense to someone who does not know about the apparent issues. Someone could just think “why wouldn’t her rape allegations be believed?” which makes us think about the real problem at hand, if people know about this issue.

Representation of Women Over Time: The Domestic Servant?

What values/stereotypes/attitudes are being conveyed? How are representation and Identity conveyed?

The message that these two advertisements are trying to convey of the domestic role of women in a household. 

Then: In the ‘then’ image, it is showing a woman trying to remove the lid of a ketchup bottle which is known to be easy. The main line in this ad is “You mean a woman can open it?” asking the question if women are strong enough to open something as simple such as a ketchup bottle. At the same time the lady in the image seems to be very delicate due to the way her hand is positioned next to the bottle. Also showing how she has to present herself for the men of the household though how her hair, makeup and nails are done.

Now: This image shows an egg covered in colourful lines. The main line of this advertisement being “Be a good egg. Treat your daughter for doing the washing up” showing that it is a girl’s job to do the dishes. Even at such a young age it is told that it is a woman’s role to do the household chores. At the same time, the way that they portray the girl as an egg with the connotation that the girl is fragile or sensitive due to the fact that eggs are easy to break whilst showing they are more than just an egg due to their colourful ‘shell’. 

 

How are the adverts similar/different in conveying this?

Other advertisements are using the similar idea of representing a woman through an object or something else. In general representing anything through an object.  Many adverts today like to convey people as other things which have a similar connotation to the demographic of people that they are trying to convey. An example of this would be any given Snickers advertisement where they show that before someone eats a Snickers bar, they are restless or more like an animal, and after eating a Snickers bar, they are more civilised and calm.

 

How do they provoke thinking about global issues?

In a day and age where the fight of equality is still going on even after centuries, this makes us really think if we are actually progressing. Both the ‘Then’ and ‘Now’ images have both connotations that women have to do things for men in terms of being put together for them, being fragile or weak, and do domestic chores. So it really makes me think, are we really progressing in the way some men see women in terms of men thinking they are superior. I would say this would make you really think about the global issue about identity as adverts like this is what sets men to think that this is the identity of women.

Representing People Through Different Forms of Media

When it comes with representing people through literary texts or film/movies I would say it really depends on who is representing those groups of people. An example of this would be how the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” represented asian culture. There are many tweets online of peoples opinions about how Crazy Rich Asians mainly used American Chinese actors to represent Singaporeans. At the same time, the Twitter community commented on how the movie only represented the Chinese asian community. In my opinion the movie is called “Crazy Rich Asians” not “Every Asian” so I would say that it is fair that they would mainly focus on a specific group of “Wealthy Asians” rather than the entirety of asian culture.

In terms of representing a group, I would say that those who are directly involved in that group should have some sort of say when it comes to representing the group of people. For example, the writer of Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan, is a local  Singaporean and knows about the whole general idea when it comes to the whole culture of Singapore. At the same time if someone else were to try convey a culture that they are not familiar with it would be different or sometimes even factually wrong when they try represent that culture. An example would be if I were to try represent Filipino culture I would be able to pretty well because I am Filipino and I grew up around filipino culture, but if I were to represent Japanese culture, it would be weird for me to represent Japan when I know nothing about their culture.

https://beta.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/08/10/is-crazy-rich-asians-asian-enough/?noredirect=on

The article above goes into deeper depth about how Crazy Rich Asians represent a specific group rather than the entire asian culture. – Linking it to the first paragraph.

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