YMMV / The Handmaid's Tale

  • Anvilicious / Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Religious fundamentalism can be just as oppressive as other forms of tyranny, and women deserve to be treated as equals.
  • Fridge Logic: The majority of the men in this society are a) armed and b) do not expect to have a chance at a woman — read: any legal sexual outlet whatsoever — unless they're really, really lucky because those government-run brothels are only for the high-ranking members of the government and foreign officials. Gilead shouldn't have lasted seven weeks, let alone seven years.
    • It's mentioned that some soldiers are hanged for "gender treachery" (i.e. turning to homosexual sex, probably due to this), but that just means a revolt should have been even likelier.
    • In addition, there's never any hint of action from the rest of the world regarding this- considering that any non-white, non-male, non-...whatever denomination of Christianity Gilead practices individual is either persecuted or executed, there must be some outcry from the rest of the world. At the very least, the UN would be giving the Republic of Gilead major sanctions for human rights violations.
    • Fridge Logic is easily explained by having an Unrealiable Narrator and the fact that it's highly implied throughout the book that the Republic is lying about almost everything to maintain some sort of semblance of function
  • Nightmare Fuel: A surprising amount.
    • A snippet from the book.
      "But WHOSE fault was it?"
      "Her fault. Her fault. Her fault."
      "WHO led them on?"
      "She did. She did. She did."
      "And why would God allow such a terrible thing to happen?"
      "Teach her a lesson. Teach her a lesson. Teach her a lesson."
      • Now factor this in: they were talking about a 14-year old girl being gang-raped.
    • The Colonies. You really don't want to be sent there. They're used for cleaning up nuclear waste until they die from the radiation poisoning. It's basically gulags. Also hinted is that "the Children of Ham" (black people), who are supposedly sent to "national homelands" (a la South Africa) may in fact be suffering extermination.
      • While we learn the (possible) fates of the black and Jewish populations, there is no mention of other ethnic or religious groups. What about the Asian, Middle Eastern, First Nation, etc, groups? We don't know, but we can imagine that it was horrifying.
      • In the book, it's mentioned that "the Children of Ham" are being sent to their homeland in North Dakota.
    • The whole concept of being a Handmaid. You're forcibly indoctrinated (including such charming little exercises as the one shown above) and then essentially passed around the upper echelons of the military as a brood mare. Your very name is taken away from you, to be replaced with a designation of whatever man currently owns you, e.g. Offred, Ofwayne. You're blamed if you're not fertile, even though it's most likely the men who own and use you that are sterile. If you don't manage to get pregnant with three successive households, you're declared defective and packed off to the colonies to die of radiation poisoning or slave labor. If you do actually manage to get pregnant and carry the child to term, it's taken away from you except for feeding times and, as soon as it's weaned, you're bundled off to another family to start the whole miserable process all over again.
      • Particicution, where the women vent their frustrations on male "criminals" (in one case a political dissenter) by ripping him to pieces with their bare hands. During that scene in the book, Janine, who's had at least two "shredder" babies finally loses her shit and wanders around with a bloody chunk of the person's scalp in her hand and a vacant grin on her face.
    • In the beginning of the film, there were women ruled as infertile being led into trucks and cells previously used for livestock (one soldier just crossed out the "Livestock" and wrote "116" and the Female Biological Symbol). There was one woman screaming "you made a mistake!" and the screams made it all the more jarring.
    • Offred doesn't know what happened to her husband and her daughter, especially considering that before the rise of Gilead, the reader learns that a crazy woman tried to take Offred's the baby daughter from Offred's shopping cart when Offred had her back turned to get something off the shelves. Yikes.
  • Scifi Ghetto: Margaret Atwood insists the book is Speculative Fiction, but not Science Fiction. "Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen." The book won the first Arthur C. Clarke award in 1987.
    • There are signs that Atwood's mellowed since then and the book is taught in University literature courses at least in Canada, France and the Netherlands.