Women are perceived in society to be individuals who rely on men on almost everything. Brownmiller and Woolf observe in their interview that women are not incorporated in societal activities fully, but instead they are incorporated as underdogs. This implies that men are dominant in every aspect of life, including education, as noted by Woolf.
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The views of Brownmiller and Woolf are analyzed in this paper in order to understand the feelings of women regarding their positions in society. The two women observe that men are believed to be strong while women are sympathetic and weak individuals. Furthermore, the common theme in the two interviews is that women are emotionally dependent on men. Finally, they both agree that women should be pure physically and emotionally.
Brownmiller notes, “The masculine principle is better understood as a driving ethos of superiority designed to inspire straightforward, confident success, while the feminine principle is composed of vulnerability, the need for protection, the formalities of compliance, and the avoidance of conflict. In short, an appeal of dependence and good will that gives the masculine principle its romantic validity and its admiring applause.” In her interview, Woolf observes that women are impeded by the extreme conventionality of the other sex. For though men sensibly allow themselves great freedom in these respects, I doubt that they realize or can control the extreme severity with which they condemn such freedoms in women.
It is clear from their interviews that the two women believe men are very strong in society due to cultural values and the defective social structure. Even though men advocate for freedoms in society, Woolf notes that they are reluctant to grant women their rights and freedoms.
This is surprising because men believe that women do not have rights, but they simply exist to serve men. For Brownmiller, men are very strong because masculinity is often associated with superiority and success in society. Femininity exposes women to injustices that are perpetuated by men in society, such as academic bias, as suggested by Woolf. For women to coexist peacefully in society, they should ensure that they do not interfere with the interests of men.
The Angel of the house reminded Woolf that she had to show that she was sympathetic. The following statement exhibits this: “my dear, you are a young woman. You are writing about a book that has been written by a man. Be sympathetic, be tender, flatter, deceive, use all the arts and wiles of our sex. Never let anybody guess that you have a mind of your own.” This statement is a proof that women are expected to be tender and emotional in whatever they do in order to win the interests of men.
Another aspect that the two women observe is that women are often excluded from public activities and are relegated to the private domain of the home. Brownmiller notes that the “world smiles favorably on the feminine women.” However, “it extends little courtesies and minor privileges on them.”
This statement means that women have been relegated to the domain of the home. In other words, women are restricted from participating in societal activities fully. Brownmiller goes a notch higher to observe that women are forced to compromise only to please men in society. In fact, she notes that femininity is interpreted to mean “the tool of appeasement in the modern society.”
Woolf observes in her writing that women have no right to express their ideas without considering the views of men. In fact, a woman is not expected to comment on sensitive topics, such as ethics, sex, and human relationships. Women must always lie in case they want people to believe them regarding the above topics. Women have always blamed religion for portraying them as evil people who brought tribulations to this world.
In this regard, they should be relegated to the domain of the home and be excluded from public activities, such as leadership, policy formulation, politics, and economic life. In the Bible, a woman deceived a man to do something that jaded God. God was so angry to extent of unleashing his wrath to human beings. Since then, women have been viewed as bad people who should not be involved in decision-making processes.
The two writers observe that women are subjected to stereotypes, which portray them as weak and emotionally dependent on men. The writing of Woolf suggests that women are expected to be passionate and loving. This would invite positive judgments from men. Moreover, this would allow women to associate well with men in society. Women writers are always careful in their writings because they should not contradict the views of men.
This is differentiated from the writings of men, which are free from restrictions. In her perspective, Brownmiller notes “masculinity is known to please by displays of mastery and competence while femininity pleases by suggesting that these concerns, except in small matters, are beyond its intent.” From this statement, the writer suggests that men are always right in what they do because the society recognizes their existence in society.
For women, they are allowed to make errors because they are not emotionally dependent. This affects women in education because men always pursue prestigious courses while women are denied to enroll in such courses, with incompetency being cited as a major reason. In society, masculinity is interpreted to mean superiority.
This perception has helped men in conducting economic activities because they believe that they will always succeed. Women on the other hand are individuals who need protection. In this case, they must avoid all forms of conflicts with men for them to survive. A real woman should show that she is dependent on a man in one way or the way. Due to this fact, Brownmiller notes that masculinity is expected to give an advantage to men.
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Woolf notes that the “purity of the woman was her chief beauty.” In the professional world, women were expected to support the views of men always. A fellow woman advised Woolf that she had to write something that pleases men for her works to be accepted in society. In her writing, Woolf was advised to be sympathetic, tender, and decisive in order to win the hearts of men. In other words, she was expected to use her femininity to satisfy men in her writings.
This means that women worked hard in everything simply to satisfy the interests of men. On her part, Susan Brownmiller notes that women were always restricted in society implying that they had to do things that were only approved by men. Even though there were some developments in 1980s, all changes were meant to please men. Women were allowed to “wear mini-skirts and apply lipsticks” in order to make them attractive. This would only benefit men, but not women.
From the interviews, it can be concluded that the existence of women in society relies on good will of men. Men will always ensure that women have no freedoms yet they claim that the society should allow individuals to exercise their freedoms and rights. Men are perceived to be strong while women are weak and emotionally depended on men.
This affects women in a number of ways. It places them in a position that they cannot compete with men. Woolf is of the view that the academic world is unjust to women because it relegates to them to weak courses. Brownmiller noted that masculinity is the major of cause of oppression.