Essay: Kimmel, it Is Gender Inequality

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[. . .] The story dwells on the woman's vanity, but it excuses the woman showing how the superior treatment that she received came as a result of her enhanced appearance. Again, we have a case of society treating a woman in a certain way based on appearances alone and, in a cycle of cause-and-effect, this makes the woman feel good and may well drive her to similar behavior in the ffuture. Here we have behaviorism at play where positive reinforcement generates addiction and replication of certain behavior whilst punishment (for instance, condemnation of society) would extinguish that.

The third story, too tiring to follow, was about how male society urges man to follow a certain template. One is only male once one follows that template. Failing to follow it invites ridicule.

As to whether or not it is existent today, my vicarious and experiential travels in different countries, regions and different periods makes me think that gender inequality, being socially constructed, varies from place to place, form society to society, and even form family to family. There have been women throughout history who have somehow managed to escape being demarcated and demarcating themselves. Louise Alcott was an example in kind. She believed herself to be worthy of respect and her family, usually though they were, brought her up to become the kind of woman that she became. (And she in turn authored Jo in ': Little Woman' - another female who traversed all boundaries).On the other hand, most of Freud's patients, on whom psychoanalysis was built, were women (*). His theory of hysteria and submerged psychopathic tendencies were built on women who, compelled to live and conduct themselves in a certain way, evidenced many of the symptoms of the woman illtustered in *.

Kimmel would likely see the symptoms of these women as being socially constructed, forced to become so due to the treatment of the man. Freud saw it in a different way and came to his particular conclusions.

Pippi Longstocking strikes me as another example in kind. Written in Sweden during the height of the Victorian period when females had to follow certain norms to the point that one could not mention table legs and had to cover them for the sake of being 'modest', Astrid Lindgren produced a girl who contradicted any and all expectations of females. Pippi was strong; she was masculine; she fought policemen; danced with beggars; avoided school -- and got away with it all in a laudatory manner.

Even today, amongst higher middle class societies and sometimes it seems to me predominately in the suburbs, I have seen women who seem bored. Married to wealthy men, they seem to be properties of their husband as Irene in the Forsyth Saga was, expected to 'decorate' their husband's home by serving tea and arranging potluck parties. Time is spent by attending gym, playing tennis and engaging in similar relaxation redolent of a specific class. Note: it is not the men who serve the tea or entertain. It is the women, who are expected to do so as well as to provide their scintillating, illuminating, yet frivolous talk.

True it is that men and women appear different. Biological differences have made us so. Ye these differences need not spell unequal treatment. In the animal world, too, animals indicate differences. Yet one animal does not appear to be treated by his cohorts differently than another. Differences do not lead to unequal and unfair treatment. It is rather, as Kimmel states, sociological realities that, for reasons of male power, define women in a certain way, consequently treating them as such. Self-reinforcement entrenches the characteristics. Some women rebel against these social norms and break out of the pattern. Some men treat women as equals. Some women treat themselves and other females as inferior and here and again they treat a man as the one who is inferior. The pattern varies from society to age to family to individual. Ultimately it is the social construct that makes the differences rather than the reverse.

Sources

Chopin, K. A PAIR OF SILK STOCKINGS"

www.gutenberg.org/file/160/160.

Kimmel, MSA. The Gendered Society. New York: Oxford University Pr ess, 2000

MacHaffie, Barbara J. Her story: women in Christian tradition. Fortress Press, 2006

Stetson CP The yellow wallpaper

Wright R.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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