Stereotypical Gender Roles

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Within the first few pages of Washington Irving's "The Wife", I was able to identify the dominant idea of gender roles.  Throughout history, women were always thought to possess different, mostly more passive traits and qualities than men.  Women were and still are often negatively stereotyped with words such as "dependant", "weak", and "submissive".  Women were thought of as merely housewives who tended to matters of the home and to children.  Early on in "The Wife" a passage that supports these claims stuck out to me.  Irving's passage states:

Nothing can be more touching, than to behold a soft and tender female, who had been all weakness and dependence, and alive to every trivial roughness, while threading the prosperous paths of life, suddenly rising in mental force to be the comforter and support of her husband under misfortune, and abiding with unshrinking firmness the bitterest blasts of adversity.

In this passage I have italicized the words and phrases that are often used when stereotyping a female.  In "The Wife", I do not believe that Irving intends to insult the female character, especially considering that the story displays an admirable woman.  However I often find myself wanting to correct the use of female stereotyping.  Women throughout history, especially during current times are breaking these gender roles.  Women no longer stay at home and tend to houses, but instead balance careers and families.  Women of today's times are just as capable as men to be independant as well as providers for their families.  I feel that it is inappropriate to claim that only women are weak and dependant because it is known by all that men just as likely possess these qualities.  I think that more recent literature(as well as certain older pieces) is doing a good job of demonstrating how women have broken through these roles.  It is interesting to read a piece such as Irving's "The Wife" and then reflect on how women have changed throughout time. 


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This page contains a single entry by StefanieWiegand published on September 5, 2010 11:40 PM.

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