Role of Women in the Society
Published 20 Sep 2017
Women must have the most complicated cluster in the society. The past few decades have defined the meaning of womanhood which gave the society an idea on the essence of women in domesticity alone. This meaning, however, has put women in the pedestal and while it placed them in the marginalized sector of the society. If men ‘s function is to provide for the family, women on the other hand, still have no permanent role. This is the reason, most probably, why the society still has the same connotation about women and the perception remains vague even after centuries of existence.
The society oftentimes views women merely based on what the culture has taught them. Unfortunately, history and culture dressed and named women based on how the people wanted women to function in the society. As women portrayed the role of the oppressed and vulnerable, this image gave the society the negative perception. Women lived in a world full of double standards and expectations from them. The society expects them to play the role of a wife to her husband and a mother to her children by taking care of the family ‘s domestic needs. Moreover, the society scrutinizes how women would take care of their bodies and physical appearance and how they present themselves. Women have become the symbol of beauty and domesticity, which at the same manner, also become the measurement of their womanhood.
In the poem Barbie Doll by Marge Piercy, the misconception of women about their looks was presented. The fancy and materialistic world gives young women an idea of unrealistic societal norms of feminine beauty. The poem described how people expect women to have a standard physical feature in order to fit in the society. And as such, physical beauty has defined womanhood. Unfortunately, most of the women in the society are trying to conform to the standard physical features set by the people for women. The poem shows how the society expects a girl to possess the desired qualities of female using the Barbie Doll as an ideal image. A Barbie Doll possesses a perfect body shape and flawless facial beauty. The girl in the poem died and only then the society viewed her as pretty because she was wearing a make-up and lingerie in colors pink and white that represented purity and femininity. This tragic story of a lady in the poem symbolizes how women make themselves pleasing and adorable in the watchful eyes of society (Piercy, 1999).
On the other hand, the unequal and uncivil treatment of women in marriages was presented in short story Sweat. It is a short story of a woman who had been doing domestic work for his wife and for other people in the community. One of the functions of women is domesticity. And as such, this story presents how women are treated by their husbands and how the society perceived them as wives and as women. This story also shows how the society deprived women of their rights by making them serve their husbands, while doing service for the entire community. Women also experience spousal abuse, but this was always considered as personal matters that should be fixed by the couple alone. Sweat reveals the disturbing role of women in the society in times when all their grievances were still kept and remained unheard. However, the main character symbolizes how women endured the hardships of being married to a husband who no longer treats her as a wife and emerged brave in facing the society that views her as hapless (Hurston& Wall, 1997).
Moreover, in the novel Siddharta by Hermann Hesse, the author gave another brief account of the society ‘s perception about women. Kamala, the female character in the book portrays a lady who taught Siddharta about physical love and served as his guide in finding the person who gave him an idea about business. In this book, women were presented as flirtatious and demanding because Kamala requested Siddhartha to offer her nice clothes, shoes, and money before she gave him what he really wanted from her. It shows that women should be given material things first before men can win their affection. Although, Kamala showed her concern for Siddhartha by helping him fulfill his needs and assisting him to discover his skills, women are still perceived in negative way because of how Kamala was portrayed in the novel (Hesse, 1957).
These three stories are just examples of how the society views women. The way the society views women in physical, emotional, and marital aspect has become the constructed reality for women that always leave them with two choices, either to conform or to evade the standard. Unfortunately, women ‘s beauty, body and domesticity have been the measurement in recognizing the importance of women ‘s role in the society.
- Hesse, H. (1957). Siddhartha. New York: New Directions Publishing.
- Hurston, Z. N.& Wall, C. A. (1997). Sweat. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press
- Piercy, M. (1999). Barbie Doll. In Barbie: The Icon, the Image, the Ideal : an Analytical Interpretation of the Barbie Doll in Popular Culture (pp. 36-37). USA: Universal Publishers.