Anti-feminism Apparent in The Great Gatsby

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She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. 'All right,' I said, I'm glad it's a girl.  And I hope she'll be a fool - the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool'" (Gatsby, 21).    


Despite the prevalent Women's Right's Movement of the 1920's, Fitzgerald instead depicts his women characters as they were stereotyped in earlier years - inferior to to men.  Daisy, a flirty and seemingly fragile young woman, appears completely controlled by her husband, Tom, who constantly condescends her.  Tom also disproves of Jordan Baker's flighty ways, including her traveling the country alone.  I find this portrayal to be rather unfair and disturbing.  During the time when the country was at its peak of it's feminist campaign, Fitzgerald still felt the need to dwell in the past rather than live in present of look toward the future of women's rights.  Historically, ladies in the 1920s organized protests and held seminars where women in order to obtain equality to men.  However, the women in this novel were portrayed as simply the property of men.  They had their love affairs in secret and their husbands' were able to put a stop to them as soon as their unfaithful behavior was revealed.  I'm not sure why Fitzgerald belittled women throughout his novel, but as a feminist reader, I greatly disprove.


4 Comments

Matt Henderson said:

I think you may be painting Fitzgerald a little unfairly. While it may not have been right, the reality of the 1920's was that many women were not crusaders for equal rights. They had just gained suffrage in 1920, and what many term the "second wave" of feminism, in which women fought for equality on all fronts, was not to come until the 1960's. While Daisy does at this point in the novel does seem weak and frail and at the mercy of her husband, can you honestly say that Tom Buchanan is portrayed in any more of a positive light? He seems to be portrayed as an insensitive brute who treats women terribly to me. By portraying this unhappy situation, Fitzgerald may be pointing out inequality as a bad thing rather than reinforcing it. All the main characters in this book seem to some degree to be secretly unhappy in their lives, though they try to pretend to be happy. Perhaps this is a bit of social commentary on America? At any rate, I think that Fitzgerald never intentionally "belittles" women in his novel; he is merely trying to portray realistically how women were treated and it is up to the reader to decide whether this is right.

thomas gentle said:

the feminist movement altogether is a joke. men and women WERE NOT created equally. biologically, physicall, mentally, they are not EQUAL. of course they should have equal opportunites, but the bottom line is that they will never be the same, and would we really want that? a dissolving line between the sexes? no. it will never happen and just accept it. im fine for equal opportunity, but many women's rights activist today would rather lower the standards on requirements into the army and fire departments so that women can join. IM sorry, but if a man can outperform a woman, it isnt because of a stereotype, its because a man may simply be better. If a woman can do it then great. If not, then you must realize it isnt discrimination. For example, one woman's rights activist of this generation wants woman to be treated qequally, yet also wants for a fire department to lower the strength requirement and remove the requirement of carrying a 200 pound person down stairs to 50 pounds. i dont care if youre a man or woman, if you cant carry me down the stairs when im trapped in a fire, you shouldnt work.

of course this is way off topic, but whenever i hear of a woman who loves showing off how much a feminist they seem to be, i like to remind them of how contradictory the "feminist movent" is... thank you

elizabeth said:

There may be that contradiction in the "feminist movement" and men and women may not be equal. You are correct there. However, the feminist movement is not supposed to equalize men and women. It's purpose is to ensure that men do not assume they are better or more intelligent or stronger than every woman out there. Of course there may be statistics that say that men run faster than women, but this does not mean that all men run faster than all women, which is why men shouldn't consider women as inferior but treat them as an individual opponent. It could therefore politically incorrect to say that women are unequal to men. Rather, this issue should be regarded as any other issue of diversity, whether it be race, gender, religion... One diverse and unique individual may not be equal to another individual, and even then, opinion plays a large role. Please do not call the feminist movement a joke.

Honduii said:

I think that F. Scott Fitzgerald portrayed women like this to show that even though there was the feminist movement going on there were women who conformed.

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