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Patriarchy and Changes in 1950s Essay


Patriarchy refers to gender inequality, whereby male dominance is realized in leadership both in government and in-home set up. Patriarchy was present, especially before the 1950s, when women were subjected to extreme discrimination. During the 1950s, sexism was greatly encouraged. It can be seen in the way mass media was organized at this period of time. Although, during World War II, women had obtained some rights and performed kinds of jobs previously held by men, however, they later went back to their initial state of being discriminated against. It happened because men came back from the war and therefore took back their roles in factories and public offices. The 1950s was the period of time in which America realized the prosperity of the manufacturing of home appliances such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners, cookers, and many others.

Because these appliances were created as an effort to create a heaven for men to come to after work, women were, therefore, entirely featured in the media advertisements on these items. It is paramount to acknowledge that though most of these advertisements were connected with home-based items, some of them, on the other hand, was connected with items consumed mainly by men, and therefore, women were used as means of enhancing male dominance.

Before World War II, women’s roles were entirely home-based. It meant that all other important issues, such as owning property or politics, were entirely left for men. Women were actually excluded from voting because it was believed that they would greatly influence society. During World War II, when men went to war, women took up positions in factories and other workplaces, and they became involved in nation-building. It was actually a very short period of time because as soon as the war was over, men came back to proclaim their positions; hence, women went back home.

Although, they came back to homes and became involved in some traditional women’s issues. However, they became rebellious due to the fact that women experienced some sense of prosperity during the war, which they had not experienced earlier. These rebellions are reflected in the poem Daddy by Sylvia Plath. This poem is the anti-patriarchy work in which Sylvia displays her anger against patriarchy. The poem indicates how deeply rooted male dominance was. It is important to note that women were taken as inferior to men and therefore were made to perform some work about the house being not able to say a word against it.

However, they obtained the desire to change the existing state of affairs. The lines “You do not do, you do not do /Anymore, black shoe / In which I have lived like a foot / For thirty years, poor and white” (Plath 1-4) prove this statement.

Besides, a great desire to change society and obtain freedom and equal rights, which is shown in the poem, is also supported by anger. The heroine’s despair and rage can be seen in the words “If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two/The vampire who said he was you/And drank my blood for a year,/ Seven years, if you want to know./Daddy, you can lie back now” (Plath 71-75). Even if “daddy” dies, she wants to commit suicide so as to get to his bones and strangle him. Though, analyzing the poem, it is possible to understand that showing her emotions and feelings a woman saves her soul and life. It can be taken as the symbol of the 1960s and 70s, where women began to attain freedom and prosperity.

However, it should also be said that the view of the woman and her image were changing. This process can be seen in the poem Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou. This poem brings out the figure of a modern woman who is adored by men. It is brightly shown in the following lines “The fellows stand or/ Fall down on their knees. /Then they swarm around me, /A hive of honey bees” (Angelou 17-20). This poem tries to show how the modern woman has freed from the prison in which she was locked up by men. These two poems are very different and help to understand better different stages of development of women’s conscience.

However, there are several similarities in these poems. In both works, the main speaking voice is a woman. In the poem Daddy, the voice belongs to a woman who struggles with men to become free from gender discrimination. However, in the second poem, the voice belongs to a woman who understands her femininity and beauty. However, they both address the same audience. First of all, women in poems want to be heard by men who were their main ideological opponents. However, it is also possible to suggest that society is also addressed as it promotes the development of stereotypes that determine women’s behavior.

The attitude of society can be demonstrated with the help of a sexist advertisement, which depicts a man blowing smoke in a woman’s face (Sexist Ads from the 1950’s para.1) Society considered it to be the usual attitude towards women. That is why the necessity of some change in people’s mentality was needed.

However, nowadays, the issues of sexism and gender discrimination have not lost their actuality. Besides, with the development of tolerance and conscience of people, women became very active in their desire to obtain equal rights with men. Moreover, mass media supports this struggle as a great number of different publications, or TV shows are devoted to the issue of gender discrimination. Additionally, a great number of outstanding women try to show the rest of the world that it is for them to decide how to act and what to achieve. Beyonce belongs to these women. Her songs If I were a Boy and Ran, the World is devoted to the role of women in society. She tries to show that now it is a woman who rules the world, and it is for her to determine her destiny (Beyonce Vevo, “Run the World (Girls)”).

Moreover, she underlines a greater level of responsibility peculiar to women. She shows that it is still much easier to be a man, though, women can manage their lives and be successful (Beyonce Vevo, “If I Were A Boy”). With this in mind, it is possible to say that the problem of gender discrimination still exists in modern society. However, women obtained more remedies to struggle with it and more possibilities for their self-expression. A great number of women become famous nowadays, and this fact just underlines that women’s attempts to improve their status were not useless and, moreover, literature played a great role in this process. Nowadays, a great number of women can serve as a good example that everyone can achieve successes, though, it is still more difficult for women to do it.

Works Cited

Angelou, Maya. . 1978. Web.

beyonceVEVO. “Beyoncé – If I Were A Boy”. Online video clip. YouTube. 2009. Web.

beyonceVEVO. ““. Online video clip. YouTube. 2011. Web.

Plath, Sylvia. . 1960. Web.

. n.d.. Web.

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