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Society, Gender Roles And Gender Conflict Essay

1799 words - 7 pages

Society, Gender Roles and Gender-Conflict

Time and time again gender-conflict is brought to the attention of the public in various forms. In our time someone who wants to make a point about gender-conflict and the inequality that is present will be more likely to use television or song to reach their audience. This however is a fairly new technology. Books or some form of writing on the other hand have been around for thousands of years. Gender-conflict is nothing new. It is not as though one day it just came out of no where. It has been around since the dawn of time. What is a man’s place and what is a woman’s place in society or is there really a specific place at all; further more are we even really that different to begin with? Two classic novels To the Lighthouse and Lady Oracle are perfect examples of how gender-conflict is viewed and present in our society, but what is it that they are trying to teach us? One of the central motif’s in To the Lighthouse is the conflict between the feminine and masculine principles at work in pretty much the entire universe. Mrs. Ramsay, with her emotional, poetical frame of mind, represents the female principle, while Mr. Ramsay, a self-centered philosopher, expresses the male principle in his rational point of view. Both of which are flawed by their restricted and somewhat ignorant perspectives. A painter and friend of the family, Lily Briscoe, is Woolf's vision of the ideal blending of male and female qualities. When looked at more deeply Lily does not only personifies the ideal male/female role in society but she is also representation of Woolf herself (Fokkema, 14).

Growing up as a female little alone trying to fit into the stereotypical role a women is expected to fill in a male dominated society can be a trying experience for any woman if not all women. Joan, the main character in Lady Oracle, is no exception from this. Joan is able to provide the reader with a vivid description of the anxieties and ordeals of being a female throughout childhood and adolescence. She starts out with the simple desire to love and be loved, to find acceptance. These desires are not gender specific, as both males and females strive to be love and be loved and find acceptance. The difference is how women and men actually find these. Due to constant victimization by others a pattern of outsiders becomes Joan’s guard and vengeance. Joan's early misery and resentment causes her to see life as her enemy. Because Joan is made to feel as though she is an object, as many women in her time as well as our own feel too, Joan learns to use idealization as a weapon that will reach her emotionally unreachable mother: Joan claims to defy every effort to make her reduce out of a fear of assimilation and loss of autonomy: "I wasn't going to let myself be diminished, neutralized. I wouldn't ever let her make me over in her image, thin and beautiful" (Atwood, 85-6). This in her mind would be surcoming to the gender stereotype that...

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