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The Double Standard: Women Cast Into The Shadow’s Of Men

1684 words - 7 pages

From the 12th century B.C. to today women have been pestered by the double standard. They have had to endure constant reminders that it is a man's world and they are just living in it. While women have tried to and continue to fight the double standard through various feminist movements overtime the problem still persists. The "war on women", as some like to call it, is nothing new and judging by how long the double standard has been around, it seems unlikely that the bar of equality between men and women will ever be perfectly just. The Odyssey shows how the double standard was no stranger even over 30 centuries ago. The epic poem focuses on alpha male, Odysseus’ journey home. Throughout the novel Odysseus continues to be described as strong, intelligent, and courageous despite his character flaws. He is portrayed as the man everyone wants to be. The Wife of Bath Tale in The Canterbury Tales is another story that clearly illustrates the extent of the double standard and how similar it is to today and 12th century B.C. Chaucer explains the importance of men in the lives of women. Women need men in order to go about their daily lives. The existence of the double standard makes it difficult for women to assert themselves. They have to find different ways to do so for example, Penelope deceitfully tricks her suitors by unweaving her loom. Through these examples it is clear that finding different ways proved to be unsuccessful. This idea is overlapped in The Odyssey and The Wife of Bath and depicts how the double standard has held women back forcing them to remain in man’s shadow.

Although women in The Odyssey have a major role in their society they are still very susceptible to the double standard. This epic narrative is about the hero, Odysseus’ journey back home to Ithica. He is captured by the nymph Goddess, Calypso while trying to get back to his loyal wife, Penelope. Calypso holds and lures Odysseus preventing him from returning home. While Odysseus is at fault for yielding to temptation, Calypso receives the blame. When Hermes is sent, by Zeus, to order Calypso to set Odysseus free she replies, “You are hard-hearted, you gods, and unmatched for jealousy. You are outraged if a goddess sleeps openly with a man even if she has chosen him as her husband... and now it is my turn to incur the envy of you gods for living with a mortal man,” (66 The Odyssey.) Calypso is angry because she is in trouble for sleeping with Odysseus whereas if a man chose to sleep with a woman, openly, there would be no problem. Even though Odysseus is not being faithful to his wife in Ithica he is still portrayed as a hero and Calypso is the bad guy.

Penelope also shows how the double standard affects lives of women in The Odyssey. Even while being courted by many suitors and having been apart from Odysseus for ten years, Penelope remains loyal. She says to the suitors that she will choose one of them when she finishes weaving her loom when in reality, “ So by day...

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