Following the 1979 revolution, Iran became a theocratic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Newspapers and magazines opposing his rule were shut down (as happens in Gilead). Women were denied equal rights. Although university enrolment among women went up following the revolution, the marriage age for girls was lowered to 13; once married, they were forbidden to continue their education.
Women protested from the start, and in the 30 years since the Revolution many of the original policies have been suspended. However, segregation is still rigorously enforced and women caught by officials in mixed-sexed situations – however innocuous – can be forced into virginity tests. For pre-marital sex, the death penalty may be enforced.
Annunzio Paulo Mantovani (1905-1980) was an Italian light-orchestra conductor, popular in the mid-20th century.
Twisted Sister are a heavy metal band formed in New York in 1972. They had an extended hiatus between 1988 and 1997 before regrouping with a new line-up. They are still going.
Their sound and look fuses elements of early 1970s Glam punk (as opposed to Glam rock) a la New York Dolls, with the aggression of British heavy metal of the same period (e.g. Judas Priest, Black Sabbath).
This line tallies with Atwood’s assertion that she did not include anything in her novel that had not, at some point in history, been a feature of one society or another. The lecturer later says, ‘there was little that was truly original or indigenous to Gilead: its genius was synthesis.’
Byzantine has come to mean either highly complicated and inflexible or underhand and corrupt, both characteristics of the system of government in operation in the Byzantine Empire.