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FEMINISM: The Great Gatsby and Beyond

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Elda Kusuri

on 21 February 2013

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Transcript of FEMINISM: The Great Gatsby and Beyond

DEFINING THE FEMALE PRESENCE 1920s Feminist Movement TRADITIONAL FEMALE ROLES + THE SOUTHERN BELLE THANK YOU THE GREAT GATSBY Expression for the dominance of the male voice and presence in literary works PHALLOCENTRISM DEFINING THE FEMALE ABSENCE INFLUENCE OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION ON GENDER ROLES No longer did families work together, dividing farming duties in small family businesses to support themselves As more workers earned their living outside of the home, the idea of the family home being the center of economic production disappeared (Swirk) INFLUENCE OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION ON GENDER ROLES
expected to remain at home to care for the children, clean, cook, and provide a haven for their returning husbands (Feminism in Literature).
had very few, if any political rights (Brislen)
once a woman married, all of her possessions became her husband’s property (Steele) THE GREAT GATSBY AND
Male presence is predominant and the female presence is often non-existent
Notion of male dominance and female absence is portrayed through the male characters and their relationships with females MALE DOMINANCE-
MALE PRESENCE AND VOICE Male characters in the novel have dominant roles in society with wealth and power TOM AND DAISY submissive to Tom
does not dare argue with him and follows his commands
knows of Tom’s affair, though she does not confront him because she knows that it is not her place to do so TOM AND MYRTLE WILSON Tom expects Myrtle to obey his every command
Myrtle viewed as property
Tom will not accept her expressing her own opinions that are contrary to his opinions
Myrtle silenced by Tom's physical dominance "FOOLISH" FEMALES environment where female intelligence is not valued and the subservience of females to males is valued.
females should be giddy and mindless in order to prevent trouble from challenging the social norms of how women should act.
Daisy’s subordinate status in her relationship with Tom allows her to understand that it is unacceptable for women to defy the value of female absence in this phallocentric society. THE GREAT GATSBY AND L'ÉCRITURE FÉMININE women were oppressed in the 20th century of The Great Gatsby and continue to be in the 21st century
feminist authors in the 21st century extend their knowledge of l’écriture féminine to help women break free from their gender comas NICK AND THE SECRETARY FROM JERSEY CITY never actually appears in the novel, therefore she is literally absent and silenced
stereotypical representation of the traditional female role in society Roaring Twenties / Jazz Age Economic and Sexual Freedom An era of huge societal transformation
economic prosperity
cultural development Modern Women became less controlled by Victorian customs and domesticity
rejected their mothers’ way of living for newer, modern choices
ventured into culture, employment and politics outside the domestic realm Flappers “Flapper”: women who defied conventional societal behaviour bobbed hair
short skirts
casual sex drinking
driving cars
smoking Generally disreputable women
redefined the role of women in society
frequented jazz clubs to dance provocatively and defied prohibition
contempt for authority
impact on the workplace and defied the traditional roles of women in society
challenge against conventional gender roles, religious commitment, and modesty
adhered to new concepts like consumerism and personal choice Alice Paul: Feminist, Suffragist and Political Strategist dedicated her life to assuring equality for all women
created and led the National Women’s Party 19th Amendment "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." passed on August 18th, 1920
gave men and women the right to vote Equal Rights Amendment “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.” first introduced to Congress in 1923
made all forms of discrimination based on sex illegal
did not pass Congress until 1972 Birth Control Movement In the 1870s, Comstock Laws had banned the distribution of birth control information and devices a way for women to gain autonomy over their bodies, sexuality and lifestyle choices
1910: Nurse Margaret Sanger founded the National Birth Control League
1916: Sanger opened a birth control clinic in New York (arrested later)
1922: Sanger founded the American Birth Control League
1923: organization opened the first legal birth control clinic Men left their homes to work in big businesses in large cities
more opportunities for leisure away from the home
returned to a tranquil space that would reinforce their morality (Steele)
considered to be the primary "breadwinners" Women epitome of the powerful male voice and presence in the novel
ideal man of the industrial age: strong, controlling, brutal, and intimidating
the “center” (his women are the “other”)
only cares about money and status
silences women by not acknowledging their opinions, seeing them as just objects of beauty and as a means to obtaining a powerful status in society Tom Buchanan Daisy's Absence both Tom and Daisy referred as the “Tom Buchanans”
Daisy’s identity is lost and she falls under as the property of Tom Buchanan Nick says, “I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans” (Fitzgerald,15) Fitzgerald writes, “Some time toward midnight Tom Buchanan and Mrs. Wilson stood face to face discussing, in impassioned voices, whether Mrs. Wilson had any right to mention Daisy’s name."Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!" shouted Mrs. Wilson. "I’ll say it whenever I want to! Daisy! Dai-"Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand" (125-127) Myrtle's Absence Daisy refers to her daughter, saying: “I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” (Fitzgerald, 19) The Secretary's Absence Nick recalls, "I even had a short affair with a girl who lived in Jersey City and worked in the accounting department...when she went on vacation in July I let it blow quietly away” (Fitzgerald, 62-63) becomes a fanciful affair, controlled by Nick on his terms
Nick makes decision to end the relationship because he is the all-powerful man HISTORICALLY CONTEXTUALIZING Education and the Workforce going to college became an emblem of class privilege and aspirations
woman that could extend outside of domestic occupations Pink-collar Jobs focused on education, nursing, fashion, and social work
made an impression on women in the workforce, but still faced discrimination when they attempted to advance
paid less than their male counterparts
employers believed that women’s wages were secondary to their male employees could not disagree with their earnings for fear of losing their jobs DEFINING THE FEMALE PRESENCE The Great Gatsby “girls were putting their heads on men’s shoulders in a puppyish, convivial way, girls were swooning backwards playfully into men’s arms, even into groups, knowing that someone would arrest their falls”
(Fitzgerald, 41) Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker, and Myrtle Wilson hair and clothing are very modern
not concerned with behaving modestly in public
Jordan also has a career in the male-dominated profession of golf
Daisy’s daughter is mainly taken care of by a nurse
her life does not revolve only around this maternal role
prefer the nightlife to the conventional home life
violated Victorian customs (premarital sex; extramarital affairs) Jordan Baker "There were several she could have married at a nod of her head”
(Fitzgerald, 189) THE HOUSEWIFE the role of women was to stay at home, clean the house, cook the meals and take care of the family
their sole purpose was to find a husband, have children and then serve the family
were controlled by men all throughout their lives
women were essentially destined to become housewives flapper
non-gender specific name
name associates her with cars (Jordan sports car and conventional Baker)
does whatever she wants
complete ‘self-sufficiency’
distance from any emotional entanglement
her sexuality and her emotions under control THE MARRIED LIFE getting married was a woman's top priority
single women were pitied and ridiculed
marriage was a lifetime commitment
divorce was rarely allowed
leaving a marriage had severe consequences
the husband had rights to everything his wife had THE HIERARCHY women were discouraged from working
weren't allowed to vote
all women were essentially powerless
still divided by different social classes
division of the classes was very distinct
had very different daily, family and working lives WOMEN OF THE UPPER-WORKING CLASS
UNDERCLASS WOMEN UNDERCLASS WOMEN deprived of education and respected work
relied on relief organizations
wore dirty, torn clothes and had unkempt hair LOWER-WORKING CLASS WOMEN the majority of women belonged to this class
girls began working from the ages of 8-12
they were ridiculed along with underclass women by the high society UPPER-WORKING CLASS WOMEN wore extravagant and luxurious clothes
usually had some sort of inheritance passed down to them
courted by wealthy men who wished to increase their own fortune
was allowed to receive a general education THE SOUTHERN BELLE wealthy young upper-class women of the Old South
raised to be charming, educated and well-mannered
they were the embodiment of Southern hospitality
would be educated to help prepare her for marriage “One of the greatest blemishes in the character of any young woman, is forwardness, boldness, pertness. The young girl who expresses opinions on all subjects with forward self-confidence, is rightly regarded by all thoughtful and cultivated people as one of the most disagreeable and obnoxious characters to be met with in society.” The Charm of Good Manners HER WAY OF LIFE JULIA KRISTEVA FEMINISM develops the term 'abjection" as the state of being cleansed through removal of unwanted elements of the self
a newborn child must separate from the mother in order to form an individual identity
elizabeth. joanna. elda. jessie. debutantes would be introduced to high society through grand and expensive debutante balls
had to be perfect embodiments of Southern charm and hospitality
once married, they were responsible for making sure the household was in order, and entertaining guests
pressured to look like they lived lives of complete leisure and luxury
had maids to do everything for them LUCE IRIGARAY criticizes Freud’s belief that women are inferior
‘penis envy’
Freudian ideology of femininity: THE ARCHETYPE "Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection" GONE WITH THE WIND A woman’s “sex organ, which is not a sex organ, is counted as no sex organ. It is the negative, the opposite, the reverse, the counterpart, of the only visible and morphologically designatable sex organ (the penis)” (Irigaray, 101) “This Sex which is not one" suggests that this way of thinking is limited as it explored matters only within SCARLETT O'HARA “Woman has sex organs just about everywhere … the geography of her pleasure is much more diversified, more multiple in its differences, more complex, more subtle than is imagined” (Irigaray, 103) projects the image of a true Southern belle
actually very conceited and manipulative
uses her feminine charm to deceive others for her own benefit
her imperfections and scheming ambition make her more relatable “masculine parameters” (Irigaray, 384) MELANIE HAMILTON WILKES traditional Southern belle
kind, docile and practical
contrasts to Scarlett
although she is much more pure, she is less relatable than Scarlett
not the preferred Southern belle THE GREAT GATSBY Southern belle with flapper influences
fashionable, endearing and has the qualities of a Southern belle
comes from a good family in Louisville, Kentucky “I’m p-paralyzed with happiness.” She laughed again, as if she said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see." (Fitzgerald, 9) sweet and affectionate
wants to be loved by others and craves attention
she wants wealth, status and love
actually very selfish I told her how I had stopped off in Chicago for a day on my way East, and how a dozen people had sent their love through me.
“Do they miss me?” she cried ecstatically.
“The whole town is desolate. All the cars have the left rear wheel painted black as a mourning wreath, and there’s a persistent wail all night along the north shore.”
“How gorgeous! Let’s go back, Tom. To-morrow!” (Fitzgerald, 10) HELENE CIXOUS “The Laugh of the Medusa" “Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies … Woman must put herself into the text – as into the world and into history – by her own movement.” (Cixous, 875) DAISY BUCHANAN claims women have been repressed from the written word; repressed from their own bodies and sexual desires
society is phallocentric
men commanded the laws of God, science, medicine, literature; asserted their power to define women
rallies women to continue writing, with nothing held back uses her Southern belle charm to catch a wealthy husband
loves socializing and showing off her daughter
behind her charm she is actually very vain, shallow, selfish and careless
acts caring but only cares about herself
she is a perfect Southern belle but not a perfect person DEFINING THE FEMALE PRESENCE FEMINIST MOVEMENT OF THE 1920s 21ST CENTURY VIEWPOINTS REDE 21ST CENTURY VIEWPOINTS OF FEMININITY FINDING A VOICE & L'ÉCRITURE FÉMININE “No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body.” - Margaret Sanger (Good Reads) INTRODUCTION throughout history, man has always regarded a woman as the ‘lesser’ counterpart
she is characterized by weakness, irrationality, and submissiveness
she is driven away from her body & subjectivity is suppressed
state of subordination by the male sex THE GREAT GATSBY: DAISY embodies the ideal when Jordan tells Nick she is engaged, he doesn’t believe her
she values her independence
idea of Jordan choosing not to marry shows how:
independent she is
she doesn’t fit in with society
solitary she is “beautiful fool” (Fitzgerald, 17) beautiful, but weak-minded; visual commodity to her husband and has no decisive status “She wanted her life shaped now, immediately – and the decision must be made by some fore – of love, of money, of unquestionable practicality – that was close at hand.” (Fitzgerald, 151) married Tom for three reasons; money, and supposedly love, though easily contradicted with “unquestionable practicality” THE GREAT GATSBY: MYRTLE although not as wealthy as Daisy, plays a similar traditional gender role
dependent on Tom for materiality and desire to live the life of an aristocrat “I supposed there’d be a curious crowd around there all day […] and some garrulous man telling over and over what had happened, until it became less and less real even to him and he could tell it no longer, and Myrtle’s tragic achievement was forgotten.” (Fitzgerald, 158) oxymoron refers to her death
all Myrtle ever wanted was to escape her class
morbid realization that death is the only way
like Gatsby’s mirror image, Myrtle also has a purpose in life: to move up in the great chain of being commanded by capitalism
unlike Gatsby, there is no place for a woman to fulfill her American dream Explanation for Quotation: Explanation for Quotation: THE GREAT GATSBY: JORDAN important juxtaposition to both Daisy and Myrtle
name is unisex
represents a ‘new woman’ of the 1920s
cynical and self-sufficient
a modern woman: independent and actively involved in her own interests
not yet willing to devote herself to a man “Jordan Baker instinctively avoided clever, shrewd men, and now I saw that this was because she felt safer on a plane where any divergence from a code would be thought impossible. She was incurably dishonest. She wasn’t able to endure being at a disadvantage […]” (Fitzgerald, 58) does not need a man to love in order to feel powerful
personality and dress show she is very strong
dishonest and lies to get what she wants
avoids being at a disadvantage just because of restrictions in her gender
attempts to break free from sexist traditions Explanation of Quotation: SEXISM IN THE 21ST CENTURY women are still struggling to achieve an equal status to men
yes, women have made tremendous gains in the past 50 years
still exists a persistent gender pay gap
young workingwomen continue to lag behind men in employment industry SEXISM IN THE 21ST CENTURY according to a study done in 2009 by the American Association of University Women, women working full-time earned only 82% of what their male counterparts earned in the same occupation (“Gender Pay Gap Persists”)
Institute for Women’s Policy Research reported in 2011 the only occupations in which the gender gap was significantly minimized were bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks – regarded as ‘women jobs’ (Institute for Women’s Policy Research) SEXISM IN THE 21ST CENTURY independent and strong-willed women are often frowned upon
categorized as domineering and controlling ‘bitches’
men are uncomfortable with their drive, ambition and intelligence
these traits are considered abnormal and unsuitable for the role of women
these negative connotations discourage women from liberating themselves from the bars of traditional female gender roles Women's Liberation Movement began in the 1960’s and aimed to defeat suppressed voices of women help women achieve equal freedoms and rights as their male peers (“Women’s Liberation Movement”) produced many feminist authors
their works explored language as an instrument for radical change in gender equality
‘L’écriture féminine’: form of writing that acts as a means of escape for women HELENE CIXOUS “The Laugh of the Medusa" “Women must write through their bodies, they must invent impregnable language” (Cixous, 886) women who do not adopt feminine writing reproduce phallogocentrism in their writing
language becomes a medium that oppresses women
suggests women should develop a different type of writing
a need to divert from perpetual masculine thinking
female subjectivity may be asserted through reconnecting with the female body l’écriture féminine can be unleashed only through the body
in this way, a woman is able to find her language and voice LUCE IRIGARAY “This Sex which is not one" averts from the male perspective of the female body by suggesting the multiplicity of the female sexuality: encourages women to rediscover their bodies through physical contact and reestablish their language and identity Works Cited the child must reject the elements of the maternal body – blood, placenta, umbilical cord, etc.; they are abject, vile and grotesque things (Kristeva, 101) this assigns the maternal female body as a grotesque and abject non-being "Alice Paul Biography." Alice Paul. Alice Paul Institute. Web. 14 Feb. 2013.
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