Despite the emergence of feminist organizations and anti-discrimination laws, the world is dominated by men. There is still a long way to go for males and females to be equal in all aspects of life. Even though men and women are of the human species, they have many differences that are sure to interfere in the process. In order to appreciate these differences, it is vital to acquire a historical perspective on the matter and understand how women and men are perceived by society and how they view themselves.
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During the last century, US society has changed its views about the role of a woman. Traditionally, women are viewed as weak mindless creatures that can achieve success only by getting married to a successful husband. In The Help, Stockett portrays all the female characters in the bridge club very stereotypically, since they can only waste money and spend their time on worthless activities.
At the same time, women have a vital role in society: they bring up children and ensure the comfort and psychological well-being of all the family members. However, the views are shifting rapidly, and women are more often regarded as strong, independent, and powerful. Lepore argues Wonder Woman is the symbol of a new woman since she “has been fighting for women’s rights for a very long time” (7). In other words, the perspective of society is changing, and women are no longer associated with their traditional roles.
At the same time, women no longer view themselves as mothers, wives, and housekeepers. Today, women believe that they are free to make their own choices, and they no longer depend on men. Just like Skeeter in The Help, modern women feel free to say and do what they believe is right. In other words, women want to take over the traditionally men’s role in society. However, since American society is still in a transformation period, women often find themselves playing all the roles, being the mother, the breadwinner of the family, the housekeeper, and the protector. Similar to Skeeter, women today often say, “I’d cry, if only I had the time to do it” (Stockett 414). The blurred lines between male and female roles have led to increased stress in women trying to achieve excellence by the men’s standards.
The process is directly opposite of men since they are becoming weak and helpless. Traditionally, men are considered the primary source of income and defenders of all the family members. However, today men more often decide to give up working and start to pursue elusive dreams instead just like William Marston, who decided to let one of his wives become the breadwinner of the family (Lepore). Men often beat their children and wives instead of protecting them from the dangers of the outside world, just like Leroy in The Help (Stockett 32). Therefore, modern society sees men as abusive, mindless, and arrogant human beings who are losing their virtues.
Unlike women, males remain deluded by the idea of superiority over females. Men view themselves as dominant rational creatures, who are the primary driving force of progress. However, the reality is that many men are unable to support their families and cook dinner, making them dependent upon their female partners. The issue is that many men have lived to accept the new gender role, which causes a disturbance in the traditional social structure since men are becoming more feminine.
The comparison of how women and men are perceived by society and how they view themselves demonstrates that there is an ongoing distortion of gender roles in American society. Women are becoming more masculine, while men tend to be more feminine than traditionally perceived. Although feminism has a certain impact on the community, it is hardly the source of the problem. In Buddhist scriptures, it is said that material abundance weakens men, forcing women to defend themselves, rather than rely on the protection of their husbands, fathers, and brothers. Therefore, feminism is a natural process, even though it produces strong women and helpless men. Even though the world is still ruled by men, the analysis shows that soon it will no longer be the case.
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Lepore, Jill. The Secret History of Wonder Woman. Alfred A. Knopf: 2014.
Stockett, Kathryn. The Help. Penguin Books: 2009.