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Feminism is defined as a collection of movements and ideologies that are focused on establishing equal economic, political, and social rights for women. This includes equal employment opportunities for women. There is a big misconception of the feminist movement. A lot of people take a radical approach; they focus on a theory that there is a male supremacy to oppress women.
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The radical feminists tend to strive for greater feminine power and deviate from the original concept of feminism that strives for equality. Feminism was first introduced into literature in the nineteenth century. The number of published women authors was greater in the nineteenth century than in any preceding century. Women's access to higher education increased exponentially during the century, providing them with skills that they could use to develop their art.
The growth of market economies, cities, and life expectancies changed how women in Europe and the United States were expected to conform to new social pressures, and made many women more conscious of their imposed social, legal, and political inequality. Many social reform movements led by nineteenth-century women, such as religious revivalism, abolitionism, temperance, and suffrage; gave women writers an audience and a forum in which they could express their views. Before the feminist movement migrated to literature women writers were largely confined into writing children’s poetry and literature.
Women started migrating and started writing fiction. However the critical reviews of the age pummeled their works for lack of critical judgment and rationality and dismissed their work as being designed for the unrefined taste of women readers. Great novelist like Mary Shelly, George Sand and George Elliot never completely escaped the harsh criticism of their work based only on their gender. The legacy of sexism has been a historic element that helps dismiss the work of many great women writers. Feminist women writers come from all over the world, including Puerto Rico.
Julia de Burgos is a well-known puertorican writer, but Burgos is best known for her feminist poems. Julia de Burgos poetry includes a variety of themes, including an inclination to the erotic and to social activism. Burgos feminist poems present a philosophical view of the role of women in Puerto Rican society. Burgos explores womanhood issues in her efforts to break away from hindering social patterns. Burgos stands out as an early feminist activist at a time when Puerto Rican culture restricted women to the traditional roles of spouse and mother.
Authors of the feminist movement differentiate between gender and sex. They believe the person’s sex is predetermined and natural. Meanwhile the gender has been created by society along with the perception of gender roles. They believe that gender roles can be altered over time. The predominance of one gender of the other is seen in almost every society. The fact that this dominance is not in favor of women is a characteristic of feminist literature. Feminist authors argue that any society that does not provide equal opportunities to both genders is not an unbiased and complete society.
Women in feminist literature are presented as protagonist, who usually does not accept the traditional predetermined roles dictated by society. Feminism in literature is not strictly limited to female writers; an example of this is James Joyce. Joyce’s texts are filled with feminine images. The way Joyce depicts women in his text may be tricky for people who reading his text for the first time. Joyce presents all the sufferings and hardships women go through. In Eveline the narrator talks about talks about a deprived female, referring to Eveline.
Eveline lacks basic things that most people around the world have. For example she didn’t have a happy childhood. When she was playing as a little girl in the field her dad would chase her. In this example we can see the father is a dominant male figure that restricts the female of basic things like playing. Works cited Hudock, Amy, et al. Feminism in Literature. New York: Thomson Gale, 2005. Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature. New York: Facts On File, 2006. Joyce, James. Eveline. N. p. : Pennsylvania State University, 2005.
Feminist theories are an extension of feminism into theoretical and philosophical discourse. They aim at understanding of the nature of gender inequality . They in turn examine women’s social roles and life experiences . While in general some provide a critique of social relationships . Most feminist theories also focus on analysing gender inequality and the promotion of women’s rights, interests and issues . Among such theories are the Liberal feminism and the Radical feminism theories.
While Liberal and Radical feminism both seek to ensure that women have access to resources and human rights in a gender equal environment they however do not necessarily employ similar methods in achieving these results. Each has its own distinct reason behind whatever methods they engage to achieve their goals. Wikipedia the free internet dictionary defines feminism as “the belief that women have equal political, social, and sexual, interlectual and economic rights as men do. It a discourse that involves various movements, theories and philosophies which are concerned with the issues of gender differences .
The adaptation of the equality for women and the campaign for women’s rights and interests”. Ritzer (1992) indentifies feminism as that board of theories which analyse the social world of the point of views of women and other minority groups and the major objective is to investigate the situations and experience of women in diverse societies. Britannica encyclopaedia indentifies the term feminism as used to describe a political or economic, cultural, or economic movement aimed at establishing equal rights and legal protection for women. It involves political, cultural sociological theories .
As well as philosophises concerned with issues of gender differences. It also is a movement that advocates for women’s rights and interests. Patriarchy according to Robert (1991) is “derived from a Greek word Patria means father and arche means to rule, beginning, and origins. A male head of the family excising autocratic authority or by extension a member of the ruling class, government of a society controlled by senior men. ” Scafer (2000) describes a radical group as a group that is set apart from others because of obvious physical differences.
According to Bryson in Haralambos and Holborn (2000), “radical feminism is a theory that views women as an oppressed group which has to struggle for its liberation against its oppressors. ” According to Harton and Hunt , “a liberal is one who accepts the social system as basically sound but feels that extensive reforms maybe needed. ” Liberal feminism is the first form of feminism recorded; it asserts the equality of men and women, through political and legal reform. It’s mostly individualistic thus it focuses mainly on women’s ability to show and maintain their equality through their own action and choices .
It looks closely at the interactions that occur between men and women in the public sphere . Liberal feminism cites such interactions as the starting ground from where to transform society into a more gender equitable place . However other issues important to liberal feminists also include reproductive rights , abortion access, sexual harassment voting , education , fair compensation for work , affordable health care , and bringing to light the frequency of sexual and domestic abuse against women. This philosophy tends to have a neutral vision towards different gender.
It requires women to mould themselves to fit a citizenship that already exists. On the other hand Radical feminism is a movement that got its inspiration largely from the Marxist theory. It addresses issues Liberal feminism overlooked. It is a “current” within feminism that pays a great deal of attention to the theory of patriarchy. According to Haralambos, Horlborn and Heald (2000), “Radical feminism blames the exploitation of women on men. ” The term Radical is derived from the Latin word Radix, radic, meaning the root.
Radical feminist strongly believe that the root cause of the oppression of women emanates from the patriarchal society that they exist in. The main perpetrators being male. They identify patriarch as a system of power that organises society into a complex of relationships based on an assumption of males being the more superior of the sexes. The end result in such societies is the oppression of women by men . Radical feminists identify only one solution, to challenge and completely overthrow patriarchy by whatever means possible . Including opposing standard gender roles. Whatever they see as male oppression of women calls for a reordering of society”, Wikipedia the internet free dictionary. Liberal feminists generally work for the eradication of institutional bias and the implication of better laws. They legally challenge ideas and practices that result in women being seen as second class citizens. They do not challenge capitalism, patriarchy or any other fundamental structures of society.
They a dvocate for transformational changes. Liberal feminists wish to achieve gender equality by working with the system rather than over throwing it , or example liberals do not call for the abolishment of the marriage institution instead they want the institution to be structured in such a way that it is not oppressive and imbalanced . In contrast Radicals are extremists and they strongly believe in a revolutionary change. Radicals on the left wing according to Henslin (1995) believe that subjugation of women is the most basic and fundamental cause of oppression. Radicals therefore believe that the only way to deal with that oppression is to have a complete radical change .
They unlike the liberals, they call for the eradication of the existing structures that result in women being oppressed. Campbell and Warsaw (1970) postulate that radical feminism aims to challenge and over throw patriarchy, opposing gender roles and what they identify as male oppression of women. Liberal feminist movement is preferred by government than other forms of feminism movement’s. The liberals see value in working with the system therefore usually the liberal feminists work hand in hand with the governments.
For example in the United States of America Liberal Feminism have historically worked for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment which ensures that men and women are treated as equals under democratic laws that also influence important spheres of women’s lives including reproduction, work and equal pay. In Britain they supported such measures as the Sex discrimination Act (1975) and the Equal Pay Act (1970) in the hope that these would help end discrimination. Were as radical feminists don’t work closely with the government and neither does the government desire to work with them.
To them the government also represents within it patriarch. At the same time the government views the radicals more often than not undesirable as they advocate certain changes that do not necessarily work hand in hand with what the government desires. Most times conflict occurs between the two. Radical feminism places emphasis on the oppression of women by men . This idea distinguishes the Radical theory from the Liberal theory as the later concentrates on the oppression of both men and women.
Unlike the radical feminists, liberal feminist take into consideration less dominant men who are oppressed by other men. Thus liberals view gender inequality as power that men have as a group over women and also the power that some men have over women. According to Valerie Bryson (1999) radical feminists see women as an oppressed group who had to struggle for their own liberation. Radical feminists view society and especially the society and especially the family as the key institution oppresses women in modern society. Similarly, liberal feminist also believe that the social system catalyses gender inequality.
They believe that society should not impose separate roles for women and those they should be allowed to compete freely with men and they should enjoy the same privileges and opportunities. Radical feminists challenge and thrive to completely over throw patriarchy, by opposing the normal gender roles. They believe that male domination over women is as a result of gendered roles. Such roles have a diminishing effect on the importance of women is society. They argue that men exploit women because of the free domestic labour that they provide.
Women are excluded from other important issues such as politics and positions of power and influence. On the same note liberal feminists identify gender roles as one of the main reasons responsible for gender inequality. They believe that childhood conditioning prepares the children for the inflexible and rigid gender roles that they take up in the future. Valarie Bryson (1999) identifies Radical feminism, “it tends to ignore variations in experience of oppression of women of different classes and ethnic background. Radical feminism originated from the west.
Most radicals are white hence radical feminism tends to concentrate on those problems that affected the white women. Very little attention is paid to those that affected the black women. Similarly, liberal feminism originates from the western hemisphere hence most who subscribe to this school of thought are white women . According to Giddens (2004), “liberal feminists aim for gradual change in the political, economic and social systems of western societies. ” Therefore liberal feminism too tends to ignore the experiences of women in other societies.
The liberal feminists have played a huge rule in ensuring that women in Zimbabwe have access to resources and opportunities . They set up organisations that see to the welfare of women. For example the Musasa Project. This project aids mostly women who would have been subjected to violence and the aid is for free. It has assisted women to come to terms with issues such as physical abuse by spo uses and boyfriends as well as to help them realise that it is not right them to be abused in such ways.
Likewise radical feminists have fought for women to have equal access as men to resources. Through doing so several groups have been formed by the Radical feminists in Zimbabwe organisations such as WOZA and Girl Child. WOZA, Women of Zimbabwe Arise is an organisation that was started in 2003 by women who felt compelled to empower female voices in Zimbabwe. Their main objective was to achieve social justice for women as well as to provide them with a forum on which they could speak about the things they want for their country.
In conclusion both liberal and radical feminism provide women all over the world with a platform to share their experiences. They both involve the formation of organisations that provide a voice for women to be heard. While Liberal feminists challenge only ideas and practises that treat women as second class citizens. They concentrate mostly on the public sphere issues, for example representation off women in politics and women being paid equal salaries with men when performing similar jobs.
While on the other hand the radical feminists challenge the private interaction that exists between men and women. They concentrate on the private sphere issues, for example non-rights to sexuality, rape and violence. The end of the day both theories work towards enabling women to achieve their full potential.
The Three Big Waves of Feminism First-Wave Feminism: Women’s Right to Vote In 1776, the then First Lady of the United States was the first to raise her about women’s rights, telling her husband to “remember the ladies” in his drafting of new laws, yet it took more than 100 years for men like John Adams to actually do so. With the help of half a dozen determined, and in this case white upper-middle-class, women the first-wave feminism, which ps from the 19th century to the early 20th century, finally led to their goal after 72 years of protesting. The Nineteenth Amendment, which secured the rights for women to vote finally passed in 1920.
This grand victory brought other reforms along, including reforms in the educational system, in healthcare and in the workplace. Second-Wave Feminism: Personal Means Political The First-Wave was significant to feminism as it established a safe footing from where women could start off. The second wave of feminism, however, was crucial to everything that followed after. This wave marked everything the early 1960's to the late 1980's. Of course feminism didn’t die out completely, in between the first and second wave feminism, as the media tried to make many people believe.
In fact feminism was still a topic among women; they just didn’t crowd at polling stations anymore. Instead many small groups of women activists were fighting for birth control or the women peace movement. Then, during the Second World War women suddenly played a major role as work forces and could get a taste of independency. Though after the war, now that the men were back with their glorified heroism, it was expected of women to silently head back into the kitchen and act out their “natural” role as mother and wife, which has been pressed onto them from the very start.
Obviously that didn’t sit well with many of them. However before the the Women’s Liberation movement and before the Sexual Revolution in 1968, there have been the Civil Rights Movement and the antiwar movement. Those two were the first two major social movements to be displayed through television, as well as they were the forerunners of the following feminist movement. They showed that women, too, could become political. Women from Rosa Parks to Coretta Scott King made political protest seem necessary and encouraged many women all over America, regardless of race and ethnic background, to speak up for their rights.
It was the feminist movement’s turn then to get real personal and by getting real personal it didn’t get any less political. Women had enough of the sexual harassment and domestic violence going on behind doors, of being kept out of law and medical schools and thus being restricted to low paid jobs, of being confined not only in domestic but also in public spheres. To make it short: women had enough of being looked down at. With these problems the key demands of this movement were: “the right to safe and legal abortion, the right to accessible and affordable childcare, and the equal opportunities in education and employment”.
Another demand was more support of battered women's shelters, and changes in custody and divorce law. This wave of feminism brought up the most of changes regarding women and laws. Affirmative Action rights for women were extended and acts like the Women’s Educational Equity Act, which allowed educational equality for women, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibited “sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy”, were passed. Amongst these acts a law passed in 1975 that required the U. S.
Military Academies to admit women, as well as marital rape was made illegal and the no-fault divorce legal. Even though the last two laws were not recognized by all states, it was still considered an enormous success. In the early 1980s the biggest strength of the second wave, the grand diversity of feminism and organisations, suddenly became its biggest weakness as the media started the so called “feminist sex wars” by pitting women, especially two of them, against each other, trying to destroy the image of sisterhood pointedly.
Even though the Women’s Liberation movement clearly refused to pick a leader, the media singled out Gloria Steinem as the leader of this movement. Gloria Steinem was a single and childless career woman, who compared marriage to prostitution and insisted that “if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament”. On the other side there was the media’s darling Phyllis Schlafly, who almost single-handedly brought down the Equal Rights Amendment. Also known as the ERA, this mendment demanded that the “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied nor abridged by the United States or any state on the account of sex”. It was first introduced by Alice Paul in 1923, a woman truly ahead of her time, but didn’t get ratified by enough states to get legalized. Whether this happened because of Phyllis Schlafly herself or the way media presented the feminists of that time is debatable. In the end the ERA may not have gotten legalized and women were still oppressed, but sisterhood was very much alive and blooming.
In sisterhood women found strength and with this new found strength they started breaking the blockades which had been keeping them from climbing the career ladder and decided that it was long past time to start taking charge of their own lives. Third-Wave Feminism: Finally Diversity After ERA was defeated, a vast amount of media coverage over the supposed “death of feminism” appeared on the TV screen of Americans. Those who truly believed them were surely gobsmacked by the third wave of feminism which found its start in the mid-90’s.
Caused by the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings and the evident spite and disdain the accuser, Anita Hill, was met with by the all-male jury, women decided that once men crossed one line too many. The most obvious difference between the third wave movement and its sisters the first and second wave movements was the embracement of diversity. With feminism becoming global it became available for women of any race as well as any social class, but also threw away the mass media’s “ugly braless bubblehead” stereotype of feminists with women like Pinkfloor stating: “"It's possible to have a push-up bra and a brain at the same time. Being feminine and a feminist was no longer mutually exclusive and with the so-called “grrl” feminists, women started to show up as strong and empowering, while reclaiming everything feminine, from wearing high-heels to lipstick. The key demands of the Third Wave are much harder to pin point, as the range of issues grew by women not only concerning themselves with the gender oppression but with economic oppression and environmental issues as well.
However one crucial aspect was the deconstruction of categorical thinking and its endless attack on unrealistic beauty ideals set for women ever since television was invented. The third wave of feminism has not ended yet. It is history in the making, as new issues to deal with arise as soon as old ones are solved. The probably greatest achievement of these waves is the awareness of oppression they’ve spread, the feeling of community between women they created as well as turning feminism from an abstract thought into a widely accepted truth.
In simple terms feminism can be defined as the belief in equality between the sexes, based on the idea that gender should not affect a persons social identity, or socio-political or economic rights, and complete equality regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation or identity. (Wikipedia, 2006) Complete equality between the men and women can be further broken down into three main categories; social, economic and political equality. In my essay I will assess the extent that the goals of each individual category have been accomplished.
However as feminism is a very broad doctrine, and some feminists are much more hard line than others, deciding to what extent goals have been achieved is dependent on whose definition of the goals you use. The first area I would like to discuss is that of social equality between men and women. One of feminists' main social aims is to eliminate the double standards that occur between men and women in all aspects of life, varying from women being expected to take maternity leave instead of men, to sexual equality between intimate partners. Ward Crowe 1981)
This idea is at the heart of the whole feminist ideology and so is very important, however like almost all-feminist goals, the extent to which it is complete depends on which feminist you speak to. Although this is the case there is little argument between feminists that double standards between the sexes have been reduced dramatically in the last one hundred years, and most would say that this goal has almost been achieved. Another major social goal for the feminist movement is the equal treatment of women in the media, including an end to media and advertising exploitation of women's bodies.
This has always been seen as a crucial area by feminists, as sex-role theory states that men and women will mirror the characters they see in the media, meaning that they will continue with sexist stereotypes that are being shown to them. (Craig 1994) As the media is an area that has traditionally been totally dominated by males, they stereotypes used often to be prejudice against women, and even when they weren't, the mere fact that no women read news or did any other presenting jobs left its own sub-conscious message in the populous.
Although the feminist movement has been successful in wrestling some of the power away from the predominantly male industry, the media is an area where there is still plenty of work to be done before there goals are complete. Although in the modern world female presenters are considered the norm, and women are not just portrayed as doting mothers, the issue of the media, especially advertising exploiting women's bodies is still huge. In my opinion feminists will find it very hard to change this fact simply because there will always be women willing to do it and it will always increase sales.
As I said, I think the feminist movement has managed to improve the treatment of women in the media, but will never be able to find complete equality with men in this arena. Getting rid of the acceptance of misogynist language and derogatory terms for women is another of the feminists' main social goals. This is a difficult area for the feminist movement to make progress because terms that are considered derogatory for women such as, 'the missus' to refer to ones wife are massively widespread and not considered to be sexist by most of those who use them.
Therefore the only way that feminists can try and prevent these terms remaining in everyday language forever is through educational policies. As many of the people who accept this misogynistic language are not interested in being educated against it, it becomes very hard to find a way to change the situation. Having said this, slowly as time goes on and people become more understanding, the situation has been slowly improving although I think only the most liberal feminist would claim that linguistic equality has been anywhere near achieved.
The last important social goal that I want to look at is the acceptance of women in history. This is an interesting area, as some feminists don't see it as a major issue, while others reckon it is crucial to establishing total equality between the sexes. As historically the world was based on a much more patriarchal system and men controlled almost all the power, there are few examples of women playing significant roles in history. Whether this is because they didn't have the chance to or because their deeds weren't recorded is the focus of much debate, but most feminists would say it was the second.
However even if this is the case it is very hard to give women credit for un-recorded deeds and so feminists have been fighting an up-hill battle to try and get these ladies their recognition. The second main aspect of the feminist ideology is the economic equality of men and women in all areas of their lives, this is crucial to feminism as economic equality moves women away from being stereotyped as house-wives. The first economic goal that I want to look at is the idea of equal pay for equal work.
The main thrust of this agenda is the removal off the gap in wages that occurs between men and women doing the same jobs. The removal of this difference, known as the 'wage-gap' has been one of the major rallying points for the feminist movements as since women entered the work-place they have been paid significantly less than men for the same work. Although the wage gap still occurs today it has been reduced by up to 15% since 1970 according to some estimates (Wellington 1993) and other say it may well disappear entirely within the next ten to fifteen years.
Although feminists have not at this point in time eliminated the wage gap, they have managed to reduce it massively and it looks to keep getting smaller, so most feminists would say that this goal is on it way to being completed. Coupled with this idea of equal pay for equal work is another of feminism's main economic goals; equality between the sexes in the hiring promotion and treatment of employees. There are employees who are less willing to hire women as they risk losing them after they have children, and will have to pay for maternity leave.
The feminist movement had tried to address this through a series of legislation, which to a certain extent has helped although the problem definitely still occurs. They have encountered similar problems with promotions as although at lower levels promotions of men and women have become a lot less bias than they were in the past at higher levels a 'glass ceiling' still seems to remain in place. This term refers mainly to the business world where although women can gain promotion up through the company they still seem to find it very hard to reach the very highest levels, and men still massively dominate the boardroom.
Although this problem has started being addressed by companies in recent times, removing it further is still one of feminism's main goals. The goal of equal treatment of employees ties in with the idea of lookism, once again especially in the business world. Lookism is the discrimination against people based on the way they look or dress, and although it does occur to men in is mostly a female problem. Although the situation has improved it is still the case that it is much easier for a woman to find employment in the business sector if she is comely.
Feminists have been working hard to try and stop this discrimination for example, by eliminating dress codes which could exploit women's bodies. However it is very hard as there are many other factors which could effect employees decision on who to hire, making it almost impossible for feminists to confirm when it has taken place. The third area that feminists have focused on trying to obtain equality is politically, as without this equality in the other two sectors will not make the difference it should.
One of the main things that they strive to achieve in this area is that men and women should have equal rights under the law. Although it seems amazing now up until 1918 women were not allowed to vote in Britain, and not until 1928 was the voting age lowered to twenty-one in line with men. (Holten 1986, p134) Since then many more improvements have been made in making the sexes more politically equal, with women allowed to represent in the House of Commons, however hard-line feminists would say that even now we are not politically equal in Britain, as men still dominate the House of Lords.
Although in Britain women have succeeded in gaining almost equal political rights, in other parts of the world women are still much more oppressed. In Kuwait for example, the parliament just rejected a bill that would have given women the right to vote and stand in parliament, and so the feminists' have not nearly achieved their worldwide goals. Another major political goal for the feminist movement is that abortions should be legal, accessible and affordable, without parental or spousal consent laws. Feminists feel this is important as they feel all women should have the right to their individual choice whatever the circumstances.
In Britain feminists have come some way to achieving these goals, although abortion is still not technically legal, the abortions act of 1967 has made it legally defensible to have an abortion in certain circumstances, and there is much less stigma against abortions than there used to be. However feminists would say much more should be done, feeling that re-cooperation services should be available and that more open law should be put in place. Feminists also believe that women should be allowed to serve in the military as well as men, and that men should not be drafted ahead of women in times of war.
Once again in Britain they have come some way to achieving these aims with women now allowed to work in all sectors of the military except the front line. Although feminists try to campaign for this to furthered to include women being allowed to serve in the front-line I do not think this will occur for some time, if ever, as women and men cannot serve in the same units. In other parts of the world, again the political system is less relaxed on this issue, and women are not allowed o hold any positions in the military establishment, so as a goal of feminism it has not come close to being achieved.
Overall I think that socially and politically many of the goals of feminism have been achieved, at least to a large extent, whereas economically women are still disadvantaged compared to men, especially in the business sector where many things work against them. However I feel that in Britain, all three areas that feminists are fighting for equality in are improving, and there is no area where the levels of inequality are rising.
On a global scale on the other hand the scene is not nearly so positive, with many nations still giving their women no political or economic power and forcing them through social customs to leave education early and follow their mothers into early marriages and house-keeping. In my opinion the feminist movement would be well advised to stop worrying so much about supposed inequality in the West and instead focus their attention on the very real problems faced by women in the third world.
Anaysa Viviana Arce Professor Dr. Don Macon English Literature 1302 21 April 2013 Feminism & Sexism: The Scarlet Letter “In Heaven’s own time, a new truth would be revealed, in order to establish the whole relation between man and woman on a surer ground of mutual happiness” (ch. 24). The Scarlet Letter; where there is a woman, a husband, and a lover. A story where women are downgraded, humiliated, punished, and judged for their actions. It is an obvious that eras have changed as well as customs, women now have a say in our government.
Therefore, we mainly focus on two political issues that have affected our society, feminism and sexism. We go in depth of researching how their definitions have changed throughout time and how they have affected our society solely in the United States. The Scarlet Letter, is a good representation of how feminism and sexism was affected in the era of the Puritans. Within the story, women were thought of as lesser than men. Women’s purposes were to raise children and give them good morals and values.
Women did not have jobs; they wore the plainest clothes, and sat quietly by their husbands’ sides. Passion and happiness were considered to be a sin in the Puritan faith. Hester Prynne, (the main character in the story), has to overcome many obstacles in the novel, emotionally, socially, and psychologically. Living in a Puritan Society, where they had strict rules that everyone had to abide by, the society showed that men overruled women, and women were subjects to men. Hester’s place within Puritan society changes within the novel, where she defies male authority.
Feminism in its definition according to Barbara Smith in This Bridge Called My Back (1981) means; "Feminism is the political theory and practice to free all women: women of color, working-class women, poor women, physically challenged women, lesbians, old women as well as white economically privileged heterosexual women. Anything less than this is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement. (Web. Vanderbilt. edu)" Hester Prynne was forced to wear an embroidered "A" on her bodice of every garment as a signification of adultery. Women then, were punished more for such sexual transgressions.
Unlike men, according to the Puritans women were considered to be ruled by their emotions, while men were considered to be governed by reason (Web. Public. gettysburg. edu). Therefore, we could conclude that women were humiliated and had no contribution to their society; feminism was at its minimal. Women then in the United States started fighting back, which lead to The Women’s Movement. This organized feminism first initiated in 1848 (Web. Feminisim. eserver. org). From this movement several branches formed such as the Abolition of Slavery, the Social Purity and Temperance movement.
Furthermore, after 70 years (1928) women were granted to vote and finally have a word in society. Therefore, in comparison with The Scarlet Letter and feminism, women have significantly evolved to become great idols in society. They have freedom and are at the level of a “male’s authority”. There is no such humiliation or judgment for committing any sin, women are allowed to be happy, independent and be with whomever makes them happy. Commonly, in today’s society it is most popular that women are single mothers with a stable career to support their child.
Consequently, women today are not forced to wear such embellishments like Hester Prynne, binding the before-and-today comparison on feminism and the impact it has on women today. Sexism, as previously mentioned has also been a political issue in women. Sexism means the prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex. The main overview of The Scarlet Letter is that Hester gets punished for committing adultery and conceiving a child out of marriage. In reality the only reason why Hester gets punished and forced to wear an “A” is because she is a female.
Dimsdale, Hester’s lover, being a pastor is suffering internally as the community is rising against Hester. Although the community doesn’t know of his crime, he is remotely thinking of his rejection as a pastor in the case they ever do find out. Even then, the community will not severely punish him, judge him or make him wear an embroidered “A” solely because he is male. Just like feminism, sexism also presents itself as a discrimination and it is still being seen in today’s society even with feminism reformations. It may be less than the puritan era, but questions such as: “Why don’t we have a female president? arise. Overall in reality, unlike feminism, sexism will always be present. The discrimination of “because she is a woman” will still influence many points of view in people. Why do women commit adultery? What cause them to take such step? Questions that we wonder but at times have no answer. Although in Infidelity Facts. com we find a confounding answer as to why: “Statistically, women don't cheat for the sake of sex. It's of secondary concern for them. The #1 reason why they cheat is for an emotional connection.
And this is particularly true of women over the age of 30. In more than a few instances, women won't even cheat physically. They will carry on emotional affairs... where they'll fall in love and experience emotional intimacy with a men, while never taking it to the physical level. It's these type of affairs that can continue on for years, without ever being detected, and often leaving a wake of destruction in their path. Studies have found that in long-term relationships, women, whether they work outside of the house or not, often find themselves "shut out" emotionally.
Over 70% of women are still the primary caregivers for their children while also being the cook and the maid... whether or not they have a full or part-time job. This leaves them precious little time for themselves to foster a woman's natural urge to grow emotionally. An urge typical ignored by men whose primary interest is physical contact. Thus the longing for a man who can "see who they really are" begins. And in the weeks, months or even years that follow, they will usually find such a man - or think they've found one.
An interesting point to takeaway of this female need for an "emotional bond”: affairs initiated by women generally last 3 times long than those initiated by men”. We then refer back to the novel and as readers we discover a connection with what is presented and with Hester. Hester did not commit the affair because of “sex”. She was looking for love, love that Dimsdale had for her. Technically she did have a child out of marriage, but she did not have her because she was prostituting herself; Hester had Pearl from deep intimate love and passion. All she wanted was someone to be by her side and love her for the person she was.
Obviously in the Puritan community, adultery was a great sin but in today’s society it is an open common issue. Some statistics on adultery include: That over a third of married men will cheat on their wives; That nearly a quarter of all married women will cheat on their husbands; And that more than 50% of all marriages will be impacted by one of the spouses being unfaithful. Back in the 1960’s it was usually the husband who was unfaithful. Today, researchers are finding that women are just as likely as men to have an affair .
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