“Maybe the wife should be there for the act. It would be less of a violation.”— Commander Pryce suggests "intramarital" intercourse to maintain the ban on adultery.
My red skirt is hitched up to my waist, though no higher. Below it the Commander is fucking. What he is fucking is the lower part of my body. I do not say making love, because this is not what he's doing. Copulating too would be inaccurate, because it would imply two people and only one is involved. Nor does rape cover it: nothing is going on here that I haven't signed up for.
Afterwards, the Handmaid is meant to rest on the bed, with her feet propped up on a pillow to "increase the chances" of conceiving, whilst the Wife uses it as a time to reflect and pray in silence (although in the novel, as soon as the Commander has left, the humiliated and frustrated Serena Joy instead orders Offred to "Get up and get out"). The Ceremony is intended to be the only time that the man of the household may have sexual contact with a Handmaid, although some men, such as Commander Waterford, break this rule. The Ceremony is also the only sexual contact Handmaids are permitted as well; sexual relations at any other time, or with anyone other than the man they are assigned to, is considered 'fornication' and is sinful.
- It is unknown if lower-ranking men and their wives are also required to observe sexual relations as strictly or have some kind of ritual they must adhere to.
- It is suggested in Margaret Atwood's novel that the lower-ranking men cannot have sex until they are promoted and issued Handmaids.
- It is unclear how the correct method of the Ceremony is enforced, as the only participants involved are the Commander, his Wife, and their Handmaid. Therefore, it stands to reason that, should they be so inclined, they could potentially flout the regulations imposed by the Ceremony without anyone's knowledge, though, like many practices in Gilead, it is possible that fear of God and damnation serves to ensure self-policing in regards to the Ceremony.