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Women in Literature

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Jennifer Michelle

on 29 March 2015

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Transcript of Women in Literature

Women in American Literature
Essential Questions:
How are women perceived in literature? Has the image changed, and why?
Women's Roles in Literature
"While male characters have been given free reign to be and become what they like, even to fail if they choose, women characters have been written to play and re-play the same themes, limited as they are." - Dr. Jill Savitt, Yale
Did You Know?
Women are to be saved
Women are to be wives
Women are to be givers
Women are to be loved
Women are to be helped
Women are to be mothers
Women are to be nurturers...
Women are What? And to Whom?
A woman is never just a woman; she is always something in relation to a man.
"It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts." -President Obama's Second Inauguration Speech
Why does this occur?

Gender Schema
Male or Female?
Male or Female?
Women are seen in terms of the binary:
Angelic: Devil
Good Witch: Bad Witch
Mother: Old Hag (with cats)
Cold: Sexual
Virgin: Whore
UNC, Cristina Kimsey, 2011
UNC, Cristina Kimsey, 2011
Unequal Pay
On average, a woman earns 77 cents to every man's dollar.

In dollar terms, that meant that women working full-time earned an average of $691 a week in 2012, while men earned $854 on average
How many literary novels or stories can you name where the heroine or lead female character was economically self-sufficient?
How many literary novels or stories can you name where the heroine or lead character was economically dependent?
Did she live with dad?
Was she "saved" by a man? Did she fall in love and escape a doldrum existence?
Sexually: Women as Objects
Double Standards
Sexual Harassment
Sexual Crimes
Body Ownership

The Collective Unconscious: In Jungian psychology, a part of the unconscious mind, shared by a society, a people, or all humankind, that is the product of ancestral experience and contains such concepts as science, religion, and morality.
Five Main Feminine Archetypes:
pure in thought, word and deed
easily manipulated
Symbolically she may be described in terms of lightness, clarity, whiteness, shapelessness, with an ethereal luminescence.
sexual/sensual pleasure producing
exalted/adored by men in an earthy way
envied by other women
free of wifely-motherly qualities or tasks
powerful, in a limited sense, can bring men to failure or also move them to great works
uses her sexuality to manipulate
supportive life-producing
a workhorse
the disciplinarian
a nag/shrew/witch-like
aggressive (always behind her man or her children)
The Old Crone
asexual/sexually frustrated
cold/queer/weird (as viewed by others)
alienated from real society
a frustrated mother or surrogate parent
can be a tragic figure
An Archetype: a pattern; a universal theme that manifests itself differently on an individual basis; result of a collective unconscious; by Carl Jung

Two Categories:
1. Characters
2. Situations/symbols
1. Primordial
2. Universal
The Female Hero
helps others
can be sexual
helps rescue others
Double standard - the application of different sets of principles for similar situations, or two different people in the same situation.
So, what does this mean?
Kinsey Institute, 2005
"Notch on the belt"


"Hit it, and quit it"
"Find the one"

"Chastity belt"

"Purity ring"
What's the average age of first intercourse?
Kinsey Institute, 2005
•Males 30-44 report an average of 6-8 female sexual partners in their lifetime (Mosher, Chandra, & Jones, 2005).

•Females 30-44 report an average of 4 male sexual partners in their lifetime (Mosher, Chandra, & Jones, 2005).

•20% of American men, and 31% of American women, have had one sex partner in their lifetime (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994).

•56% of American men, and 30% of American women, have had 5 or more sex partners in their lifetime (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994).
But, Over the Course of a Lifetime
But, Over the Course of a Lifetime
Sexual Harassment
· Actual or attempted rape or sexual assault.
· Unwanted pressure for sexual favors.
· Unwanted deliberate touching, leaning over, cornering, or pinching.
· Unwanted sexual looks or gestures.
· Unwanted letters, telephone calls, or materials of a sexual nature.
Sexual Crimes
At least 1 in 4 college women will be the victim of a sexual assault during her academic career. Hirsch, Kathleen (1990)”Fraternities of Fear: Gang Rape, Male Bonding, and the Silencing of Women.” Ms., 1(2) 52-56.

At least 80% of all sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance of the victim. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001.

More than 70% of rape victims knew their attackers, compared to about half of all violent crime victims. Dennison, Callie. Criminal Victimization 1998. Bureau of Justice Stats, DOJ.

On average, at least 50% of college students’ sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use Abbey et al., 1996a, 1998; Copenhaver and Grauerholz, 1991; Harrington and Leitenberg, 1994; Presley et al., 199). Koss (1988), Within the study’s nationally represented sample of college students the results found that 74% of perpetrators and 55% of rape victims had been drinking alcohol prior to the assault.
Body Ownership
What is the standard of beauty?

Who defines it?

Who should?
Body Size
Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, she weighs 23% less.

The average woman is 5”4’ and weighs 140 pounds. The average model is 5”11’ and weighs 117 pounds.

Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women.

50% of women wear a size 14 or larger, but most standard clothing outlets cater to sizes 14 or smaller.
Fast Facts
1 in 5 women struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating.

90 % of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25.

It is estimated that currently 11% of high school students have been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

The diet and diet related industry is a 50 billion dollar a year enterprise.

According to a recent study, over 1/2 the females between the ages of 18-25 would prefer to be runover by a truck than be fat, and 2/3 surveyed would rather be mean or stupid.
NIMH, 2013
1. functional ranking — the tendency to depict men in executive roles

2. relative size — the tendency to depict men as taller and larger than women, except when women are clearly superior in social status

3. ritualization of subordination — an overabundance of images of women lying on floors and beds or as objects of men's mock assaults

4. the feminine touch — the tendency to show women cradling and caressing the surface of objects with their fingers

5. family — fathers depicted as physically distant from their families or as relating primarily to sons, and mothers depicted as relating primarily to daughters
Situational Archetype Examples
19th Amendment granted women the right to vote

Overturned Minor v. Happersett, SC ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment did not apply to women or give them a right to vote
Gender schemas: Sandra Bem, children learn about about gender roles from their surrounding culture
Social Learning Theory
Gender role: the set of societal expectations that dictates how an individual of a gender should behave, think, and feel.
Gender Identity:
Joy Luck Club
The book is structured somewhat like a mahjong game, with four parts divided into four sections to create sixteen chapters. The three mothers and four daughters (one mother, Suyuan Woo, dies before the novel opens) share stories about their lives in the form of vignettes. Each part is preceded by a parable relating to the game.
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