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The "Real Man" and the "Woman's Position"

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Introduction

The "Real Man" and the "Woman's Position" Illuminated Through Literature You play with dolls; you learn manners; you obey your parents; you never talk back. You marry; you give birth; you stay at home. Your husband goes out to work and you take care of the children. You are the submissive one; you are woman. Gender discrimination has been instilled in our minds and crept its way through the centuries. Despite all the changes and reformations that took place in the 20th century, one must admit that gender discrimination still exists in reality. From the very first Bible, to the newest released novel, gender discrimination is somehow illustrated. Many authors, either consciously or subconsciously, reveal the idea of "gender inequality" and each sex's designated roles through their works. By reading such literature, people are drawn into the chaos in the ambiance and ultimately reflect upon reality; how closely related they are. Likewise, Charlotte Bronte uses her novel Shirley to illuminate the issue of gender discrimination during the 1800's, and portray how people at that time reacted to the social conflict. She points out the stereotypes that people have on women and elucidates how such women feel about these conformations. Gender discrimination during Bronte's time was undoubtedly more perceptible than in modern days. ...read more.

Middle

In Shirley, there are countless situations where this kind of discrimination can be observed. For example, one of the male characters orders, "Cut it woman," and the "woman" cut it accordingly. From this seemingly minor phrase, we can infer how little respect men paid to women particularly in that era. He calls her "woman" as if she did not have a name, or that it did not matter anyway. Not only is there lack of respect, but the man is also ordering the woman to do things like she was his servant. This short episode can be magnified to symbolize the general relationship between the two sexes: the role of women is to serve men. The idea of females being inferior to males becomes more irritating when we notice how the advance in technology has only induced the bias. Males are viewed as more "valuable" than women, and thus families would always hope for a son. With the invention of sex-selective abortion, many families are able to choose whether they have a son or daughter. It is estimated that 60 million women should be alive today are "missing" because people prefer the male gender over the female. (Bellany). As sons are viewed as more "valuable", family businesses are usually passed on to the son rather than to the daughter. ...read more.

Conclusion

Yet, at a very young age, this illogic is programmed into the little minds. Even teenagers as old as Caroline, are encouraged to do what women do, and be the "perfect lady". (Bronte 122) When youngsters grow up as adults, they recognize this illogic and start to complain about "gender discrimination". How ironic that we recognize gender discrimination is wrong, and at the same feeding the next generation with the same misperception. We are the ones who created this social conflict. Undeniably, the issue of gender discrimination has certainly improved throughout the past centuries. With UN's Declaration on Elimination of Discrimination against Women 1979, the sexes are now considered "equal" under the document. But who are we to kid? In today's world, in the 21st century, gender discrimination still exists. Despite the tremendous changes in the community- economic growth, political transportation, and new means of communication and transportation - individual attitudes and behaviors have not changed. Women are still being discriminated against. In some cultures, girls are denied access to education; both girls and women are subjected to abuse and violence; women in the workplace are denied opportunities. Gender discrimination, as we can infer from Bronte's Shirley, may have changed form, but its essence never went away. The root of the problem, therefore, is unsolved. Unless the traditional roles and views are disposed of, we will never have gender equality. Now go back to your sewing. Don't forget: you are a woman. ...read more.

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