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Studies show that women have never enjoyed their freedom in society due to barriers put in place by men, especially in politics and economics. Feminist theorists consider ways in which physical differences between men and women are used to show that women should be allocated inferior and degrading activities in society.
Moreover, women are subjected to stereotypes, which portray them as weak meaning that they cannot contribute in political debates or even economic development. Women are often excluded from public activities and are relegated to the private domain of the home while men are appreciated in socio-political and economic life. In society, women are ascribed feminine qualities and identities through the process of socialization, which show that economics and politics belong to men (Williams, 2000).
Women grow up knowing that their existence in society depends on the decisions made by men, even on matters touching on their welfares. Therefore, women live in a state of false consciousness. To determine the position of women in society, primary sources, such as videos, play a critical role. This article uses one of the videos to assess the position of women in society.
Synopsis of the Video
The Glass Slipper is one of the movies that show the position of women in society in mid 1950s. It starts by portraying Ella as a lonely and confused young woman, who is confronted by several challenges. Ella is an orphan, a condition that exposes her to all forms of injustices in society.
Her stepmother misuses her in performing household chores yet she is not provided with necessities such as education. Ella is misunderstood for her humbleness because she is believed to be a social misfit, given the fact that she does not associate herself with men. Men accuse her of boosting yet she has a different problem.
Charles is the prince of the principality who studies at the University of Paris. She comes back home after completing his studies, something that is celebrated for at least three days. Charles had memories of an old girl friend who was always sad. Ella is afraid of the Prince. She runs away to the secluded pool near the palace grounds where she meets an old woman named Toquet. Ella goes back to the poolside the following day with the hope of finding her friend. However, she meets Charles and Kovin at the pool.
Charles and Kovin identify themselves as children of employees of the Palace, even though Charles identified Ella as a girl who was always sad in her childhood. Since Ella feels embraced after being notified that she was always sad at childhood, she pushes Charles to the pool. This makes Charles fall in love with like her even more. While back at home, Ella is expected to receive some visitors.
She realizes that she does not have shoes since she had forgotten them at the pool. She goes back to pick the glass slippers, but finds Charles waiting for her. She apologizes for pushing him to the pool and promises never to repeat it again. Charles makes an apology for throbbing her feelings and goes ahead to request her to attend the bash at the palace the following day. Ella claims that she cannot dance. Charles teaches her how to dance and kisses her.
After the party at Widow Sonder’s home, Birdina and Serafina leave while Ella is left alone at home. Mrs. Toquet pays Ella a courtesy call with a wedding dress and a pair of goblet slippers. At the same time, Mrs. Toquet hires someone to take Ella to the palace, even though she was to come back before midnight. While at the palace, some men confront Ella wanting to dance with her, but her attention is on Charles.
She moves towards the kitchen hoping that she would find Charles there. However, she is shocked to learn that her friend is the prince. Before midnight, Ella goes back to Widow Sonder’s home, even though she forgot one of her glass slippers at the party.
The following day, Prince Charles notifies the King that he has found a girl he loves so much and wishes to get married as soon as possible. Kovin reports to the king that the girl is from Egypt. In the following morning, people gather at the palace to see the girl that the prince was going to marry.
Villagers are happy to note that their prince was going to marry a girl from Egypt. This surprises Ella because she knows that she is not an Egyptian princess. She runs away towards the pool hoping that she would find her best friend Mrs. Toquet. Ella is disappointed. She throws herself down and starts yelling. The prince comes to her rescue and promises that he would marry her.
Analysis of the Movie
Some feminists view oppression of women as inevitable in all male dominated societies. Since political and economic power is concentrated in the hands of men, women have little chances of excelling in the society. Radical feminists observe that there is a substantial social differentiation between sexes.
Functionalist feminists agree that it is impossible to change gender roles in society without revising the social structure since the current social structure supports the activities of men in politics and economics. In this regard, the main aim of functionalist scholars is to revise the social structure in order to reflect the interests of women in sciences.
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The main concern of the radical feminists is to incorporate women into socio-economic and political activities. For functionalists, if change in the social structure were enhanced, social disorder would be inevitable, even in economics and politics. Therefore, gender equality in society should be approached cautiously. Conflict theorists on their part observe that no social structure is safe if it is maintained by oppressing a majority of its citizens in one area.
For such feminists, women are to be allowed to participate in politics and economics without discrimination. In this case, women are to be allowed to come up with scientific discoveries, participate in research, and present their scientific discoveries during international conferences without discrimination. In many societies, women are not allowed to engage in certain activities, especially those activities that are perceived to belong to men (Schiebinger, 1999).
From the pre-industrial period, men were powerful because of their physical strength and freedom from childbearing duties. Feminists observe that these factors allowed men to dominate women in the society. Major inventions are claimed to have been generated by women, but men took over and reported them as theirs. In this regard, the aim of women is to ensure that physical differences are not used to assign responsibilities to individuals in society.
Cultural values in society support a societal system that places men in powerful positions of influence. From early childhood, children are socialized to accept traditional gender roles as natural and just. Women are against this perception because an individual’s capability is not dictated by gender.
In many societies, some scientific courses are reserved for boys while girls are advised to take inferior courses related to arts. The prestigious scientific courses are believed to be pursued by men while women pursue the less prestigious ones (Sullivan, 1989).
Feminists demand that the society ought to appreciate the fact that women have the same capabilities as those of men and therefore they need to be allowed to pursue scientific courses in colleges. Using Marx class analysis, feminists observe that men are like the bourgeoisie while women are the proletariat because they depend on men for survival. Men control most of society’s science, research, and power.
Women are compared to the proletariat because they are like the workers who work under the directives of the bourgeoisie. Women are exploited and their culture is always devalued while that of men is valued. Most of the women’s scientific research is devalued. Feminist scholars have challenged the stereotyping of women and argued for a gender-balanced study of society in which women’s experiences and contributions in society are visible just like those of men.
All women agree that subordination of women to men in the society is a result of socio-economic factors, but not biological factors. Women are present in most economic and political fields, but their presence is not appreciated. Where they are not present, it is not because of incapability or lack of interest, but because there have been deliberate efforts to exclude them. Where women are present, they perform less prestigious roles such as research assistants, nurses, and support staff.
However, historical developments have presented enormous opportunities to women in the society. Developments in the law have helped women to reassert their positions in society. In England, the law prohibited unmarried women from owning property and entering into the contract with other members of society. The law allowed married women to inherit properties from their husbands.
Similarly, only married women could be allowed to participate in scientific discoveries because their findings could be published under their husband’s names. However, things have changed due to historical developments. The modern law identifies the legal status of women, both married and unmarried (Paci, 2001). A woman in the modern society can conduct research freely and the law protects her rights.
In 1960, the US came up with a number of laws aimed at improving the economic status of women. For instance, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed to empower women economically. This had a great impact to the activities of women because they had enough capital to fund their private investments. In 1964, The Civil Rights Act was passed in the US, which demanded that a company respects the views of women.
This implied that the organization had to fund both women and men regarding career development. In 1967, A Presidential Executive Order was approved, which illegalized all state contractors that neglected the views of women. In the UK, Equity Law was developed to allow a woman to sue her husband over misconduct.
Through this law, women could publish engage in politics and economics individually. Similarly, a law was developed in the US in 1839, which allowed women to own property without necessarily holding marriage certificates (Lyonette, 2010).
This gave women advantage in politics and economics because they could set up their companies. In the nineteenth century, Britain and the US passed laws that allowed women to work in companies and other organizations operating outside their towns. This was a milestone because women could engage in business without necessarily informing their husbands
Lyonette, C. (2010). Gender Inequalities in the 21st Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Paci, P. (2001). Unequal Pay for Women and Men. London: Oxford University Press.
Schiebinger, L. (1999). Has Feminism Changed Science? New York: Harvard University Press.
Sullivan, A. (1989). Buying and Nothingness. The New Republic, 3(1), 37-41.
Williams, J. (2000). Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do about It. New York: Oxford University Press.