Page 127. " It was from the Bible, or so they said. "

Elements of this idea do appear in Acts of the Apostles, but the full slogan comes from Karl Marx, who intended it to mean that every man or woman should perform to the best of their ability for society and should be given by that society the resources to meet their basic needs.


Page 128. " Back then, the Unwomen were always wasting time. "
Feminist activists
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeFeminist activists - Credit: carolmooredc

In the film of the feminist march, Offred recognises her own mother holding a banner emblazoned with the slogan ‘TAKE BACK THE NIGHT’.

These women-only marches (known as Reclaim the Night in the UK) have been held internationally since 1976 as a protest against violence directed towards women.

Page 146. " We are for breeding purposes: we aren’t concubines, Geisha girls, courtesans. "

 Concubines are essentially mistresses. Historically a concubine would have been engaged in a long-term relationship – marriage in all but name - with a man of higher social status who they could not marry. The arrangement was sometimes voluntary, as it would provide a woman with an easy and secure living. In Ancient Rome and China, concubines had legal status.

Creative Commons AttributionGeishas - Credit: Joi Ito

 Geisha girls were originally a combination of prostitute and actress, in 17th century Japan. Today, they are entertainers, performing classical Japanese music and dance.

 Courtesans were female courtiers: people who attended the monarch’s court when such places were the centre of government. As royal marriages were primarily intended to preserve bloodlines, monarchs would seek out relationships with others residing in their court. In Renaissance times, the Italian term cortigiana came to mean ‘ruler’s mistress’. Such women were often well-educated, adept in the arts of dance and music and held in high regard. Today, the term is often used euphemistically in referring to high-class prostitutes.

Page 147. " Books and books and books, right out in plain view "

Oppressive regimes recognise the power of books to spread ideas and counter authority, and they frequently prohibit particular titles. The Third Reich were enthusiastic book burners, destroying even the works of Marcel Proust, Ernest Hemingway and H.G. Wells.

Nazi book burning
Creative Commons AttributionNazi book burning - Credit: BPL