The Handmaid&apos,s Tale is set in the futuristic Republic of Gilead. Sometime in the future, conservative Christians take control of the United States and establish a dictatorship. Most women in Gilead are infertile after repeated exposure to pesticides, nuclear waste, or leakages from chemical weapons. The few fertile women are taken to camps and trained to be handmaidens, birth-mothers for the upper-class. Infertile lower-class women are sent either to clean up toxic waste or to become "Marthas" house servants. No women in the Republic are permitted to be openly sexual sex is for reproduction only. The government declares this a feminist improvement on the sexual politics of today when women are seen as sex objects.