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February 28, 2007

Long-liveth the Eve stereotype

"Women in literature written by men are for the most part seen as Other, as objects, of interest only insofar as they serve or detract from the goals of the male protagonist." (225)

I finally agree with the feminist on this one. In almost every work, the woman is either the sex object, the victim, or the "strong woman" that puts men in their place. Either way, the woman is placed there to make man realize just as Adam did Eve, that she is there to help him or lead him into destruction. I was watching North Country last night, so my vision is definitely swayed by this, but I saw this throughout the movie. Her husband beats her and her dad asks if she was with another man and that's why it happened. When she is the "strong woman" in the court woman she is making men realize something about themselves. While this is true, I think that men aren't intentionally trying to write about women only as objects, I think they write from experiences just as females do and if a woman acts like a stereotype in real life that is her own fault. We are each to blame for our own actions, whether we relate to Adam or Eve. If that ain't reality, I don't know what is.

Posted by ErinWaite at February 28, 2007 1:48 PM


I think that male authors tend to use their women characters in the way that they do because that is what they know. On the other hand, male authors do use women in powerful roles as well. From reading a lot of fantasy I have found that there is often very strong women and men in the course of the novels and especially those written by men. For example, Robert Jordan has created an entire society in his "Wheel of Time" series that are just women called the Aes Sadai and the men of their society answer to them. It is always good to keep in mind that for every male author that puts women down there is always someone that builds them up again.

Posted by: Tiffany at February 28, 2007 7:12 PM

I jokingly suggested to Vanessa that I did further damage to my Keesey book after reading this essay. Truth is, I am on the record on my blog as agreeing with a majority of this essay including the exploitation of women as objects in many works on film and in literature.

Posted by: Dave Moio at February 28, 2007 8:46 PM

I agree with both of you on concerns with male authors presenting female characters. I think that they did this, not because they were crude, but more or less because the society would understand these characters as "real" and understandable. If a woman in the 1950's were playing the role Superman, no one would really believe that she was a real character, unless she used character traits that are relatable to the women of a specific society. If a character like that was believable, they could play that role, but really, women were not viewed as heroes, so they were never portrayed. Women were imprisoned as Donovan mentions, and the equality to houses is something I find to be riveting. I appreciated the depth behind this essay much more than the Kolodny piece.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at February 28, 2007 10:56 PM

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I like that this is one essay that we all can agree on. The Kolodny piece was more of a bra-burner and this one was more burning the meatloaf on purpose and riding into town guns a-blazin' and putting men in their place in a more humane, mature way than just belittling them.

Posted by: Erin at March 1, 2007 10:08 AM

Donovan was able to approach the same sentiment as Kolodney, but in a much more professional manner. I agree with Donovan entirely, but I think the theory can be expanded a little.

Keeping this narrowed on women is understandable, as women have been the subject of ridicule and pressure from their male counterparts, but it can be expanded to all people. Expand it to all races and religions. All political sides.

By painting people into their respective groups as being only "this" or "that," we are encouraging things like racism and sexism.

Posted by: Kevin at March 1, 2007 4:21 PM

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