Gender Roles in their Eyes were Watching God

Category: Culture
Date added
2021/05/29
Pages:  4
Words:  1155
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Relationships of power are also formed through social norms that society has constructed from the beginning of time on what it means to perform as a man or a woman. Judith Herman states: “to change something, we must first see it for what it is” (as cited in Flaherty, 2010, p. 225). Often times it can be quite difficult to admit there is an issue that needs to be addressed and it can also be uncomfortable to confront a situation but facing the situation head on will help alleviate the problem. According to Freire (as cited in Dietz, 2000) “any situation in which A objectively exploits B or hinders his or her pursuit of self-affirmation is a situation of oppression” (p. 373). In order to solve the problem of oppression, we must first acknowledge oppression. The only way to acknowledge oppression is to see it for what it truly is. Daunting. Gender roles create a division of labor and a system of power and privilege and with this comes oppression. From examining the Victorian Era, marriage is not defined as a unity of love but a means of security which can have a result of psychological trauma down the line. The act of empowerment and social justice will aid and diminish the powers of oppression.

Moreover, gender roles tend to create a division of labor and a system of power and privilege and with this comes oppression. The Victorian Era is not as glamourized as one would imagine. One of the defining characteristics in the Victorian Era is gender inequality that was ever so prominent. “Arguably, women bore the brunt of the inequality because of the inhuman treatment meted to them by the system” (Odubajo, 2017, p. 9224). Women and men in the Victorian Era were viewed quite differently in the aspect of social norms and performance. For example, women in the Victorian Era had “no public roles, her place was in the home which in turn was to satisfy the husband’s ego, and to bear and nurture children” (Odubajo, 2017, p. 9224). Through psychological manipulation and constant banter, this was enough to enslave the wife. “Science, religion and empirical deductions described the man as an active, rational and competent human being while in contrast the woman was seen as incompetent and a passive being” (Odubajo, 2017, p. 9224). Growing up we have that ideology that is engrained in our heads that men are supposed to be aggressive and hardworking while women are depicted with caretaking and being sensitive. The fact that we see men having that aggressive persona can lead to a dominant force over women resulting in women feeling helpless and with no form of escaping. For example, In Their Eyes Were Watching god, when Mr. Rochester speaks about Antoinette he states: “She’ll not laugh in the sun again” “She said she loved this place” “This is the last she will see of it” (Rhys, 1937, p. 99). “I’ll take her in my arms, my lunatic.” “She’s mad but mine, mine” (Rhys, 1937, p. 99). Mr. Rochester would rather hold Antoinette captive than to let her be free. Mr. Rochester would rather hold Antoinette captive because the thought of losing her would not only damage his ego but his reputation. In this particular area, marriage was seen as a social status and who would want to lost their social status?

In addition, from examining the Victorian Era, marriage is not defined as a unity of love but a means of security which can have a result of psychological trauma down the line. women were seen as objects as opposed to human beings. Women were seen as a means of pleasure and an object of veneration. The fact that women were only viewed as being a mother and a wife was very daunting. Marlene Springer states: “it was very wrong for husbands to bother their wives with uses they were not intellectually capable of solving” (as cited in Odubajo, 2017, p. 9227). This goes back to that ideology that women were only seen as objects of veneration and did not have the ability to solve problems that were outside of their scope. When I think of marriage I immediately think of unity and love that is so overwhelmingly beautiful that the thought of love makes you tingly inside. For men and women in the Victorian Era love was more seen as security and financial attainment. Unfortunately, love rarely consisted of actual feelings but more of security. “The Victorian Society was structured in such a way that women were poor, except those fortunate to be married to middle-class men” (Odubajo, 2017, p. 9227).

Social status and financial gain were seen in Their Eyes Were Watching god for example, when Nanny was pushing Janie to Marry Logan Killicks. At the time, Nanny wanted to make sure Janie would be secure and the only way Nanny knew this would happen is if Janie got married to Logan. In Nanny’s eyes, Logan was the perfect suitor because he had that financial security. For example, Nanny states: “If you don’t want him, you sho oughta” (Hurston, 1937, p. 23). “Got a house bought and paid for and sixty acres uh land right on de big road and…Lawd have mussy” (Hurston, 1937, p. 23). The fact that Nanny grew up as a slave and didn’t have that financial security she wanted to make sure Janie would make it in the world. We see that Nanny’s daughter ended up getting pregnant with Janie when she was sixteen so it makes complete sense why Nanny is pushing Logan onto Janie. The fact is that women did not have the same opportunities as men in this time. Women gained opportunity through the opportunities that were placed before their husbands.

Furthermore, since marriage was a result of financial stability this often resulted in severe psychological trauma down the line. The Victorian Era was known for lunacy and all that it entailed. At the time “female servants were more frequently afflicted with lunacy than any other class of persons” (Showalter, 1980, p. 157). One interesting study that John Thurman conducted showed that in “private asylums and provincial houses, male patients outnumbered women by about 13 percent (Showalter, 1980, p. 157). In the same year that this study was conducted parliament passed legislation and the Lunatics Act of 1845 was introduced “which required all counties to provide adequate asylum accommodation for pauper lunatics” (Showalter, 1980, p. 157). Before the Lunatics Act of 1845 was passed there was a division of those who were wealthy and those who were poor. The paupers who were poor were often times placed in poorhouses where the conditions were extremely dreadful. For those wealthy paupers they were often placed in houses of high extravagance. There was also a divide between males and females who were under psychiatric treatment. “In 1871, for every 1,000 male lunatics, there were 1,182 female lunatics; for every 1,000 male pauper lunatics, there were 1,242 females” (Showalter, 1980, p. 160). Even more astounding, “by 1872, out of 58,640 certified lunatics in England and wales, 31,822 were women” (Showalter, 1980, p. 160).

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Gender Roles in Their Eyes Were Watching God. (2021, May 29). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/gender-roles-in-their-eyes-were-watching-god/

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