From my back ground reading of Margaret Atwood and the few poems my class and myself have read so far, it is quite clear that this particular poet is simply a feminist. However, it is all well and good to say this if the meaning of “feminism” is known. So the question that must be asked is “What is feminism?”
From the early stages of “man”, there is an indication as to the well-fare of women and the way they have been seen and treated. Most religions portray women to be special and almost sacred from their ability to bare and give birth to a child. Women are also presented in many sacred books such as the Bible (New Testament) and the Quaran as be treated with equality to men and with humanity. However, over thousands of years women have seen dramatic and fundamentally life changing situations right before their very eyes.
In the Bible- more commonly Genesis- the story of man and woman is told. As many people take this “MYTH” to be literally true, it is seen as man was made before woman. This has also stereo typically been seen as man was created first, hence are the superior of the two sex’s. The “story” of Adam and Eve and The Garden of Eden brings to the attention that many believe woman or “Eve” to have been easily charmed by the “Serpent” and then used her manipulation skills to tempt “Adam”-man- to eat the forbidden fruit. This strong image of Eve being one of the main culprits for the loss of immortal life for humans, gain of pain during childbirth and the knowledge and experience of pain and suffering increases the understanding as to why women were seen as evil and were to be controlled by their husbands at this period of time.
However, the story of Adam and Eve in The Garden of Eden has been extremely westernised by today’s modern age.
From history, we today see that women were quite clearly treated cruelly by men in many ways as well as by other women. Margaret Atwood achieves us pondering her points throughout each and every poem. As a woman myself, it is clear that she presents women’s biology to work against us during history and including today through the act of rape used in war. Women are seen more vulnerable than men with them being able to give birth to a child, making them physically unable to protect themselves during pregnancy and also displays women to be physically weak beings, having to rely on men to work and bring home food.
Women were always considered to be the home makers throughout history, with many young girls being taught how to act and behave by their mothers for when they are married. However, after the industrial revolution seen in Britain for example, women’s roles have changed greatly. When Queen Elizabeth the first was in power, it became popular for women to become educated for fun, after the industrial revolution though, women were using this education of theirs to gain access to jobs, pay and housing. This helped unmarried girls to become payed working women, for shadowing things such as the vote for women in early 1900’s. Girls were able to work up until marriage and were still highly educated. From this point on in Britain, women gained more respect and were on the road to equality.
A popular figure to mention would be Mary Wollstonecraft. Her idea that “women were entitled to orgasms” shocked the world, creating new questions about sex. Another subject of which women were seen as the submitter and did whatever the man wanted only being there to produce children. Sex had always been an enjoyable role for men, with women purely having sex to become pregnant. (Although women who did have sex for pleasure were usually seen as prostitutes or witches.) Wollstonecraft re-educated the world, emphasising women’s real intelligence. A wave of feminism followed such as the suffragettes, and many activist groups helping to gain equal rights for women.
In conclusion, many women have been feminist throughout history, playing an important role to our success today. Today, most women across the planet are seen as being feminist and to not be is hard to apprehend, but even in countries today we see women being treated as though they are in early 1600’s. To be feminist is to have pride in your ability as a woman. Margaret Atwood displays the change throughout history for women, and seems to ask deeply meaningful questions in her poetry of how women are treated. I find Atwood’s poems to be enrapturing with the way in which she writes and the way in which she displays women and their lives.
“Virtue can only flourish among equals- Mary Wollstonecraft”
Thanks for reading