Femininity and Gender Roles

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  • Topic: Gender role, Gender, Woman
  • Pages : 6 (2150 words )
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  • Published : April 6, 2005
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Feminism and Gender Roles
Society has set certain standards that women are supposed to follow. The most common image of women is that they are very passive and try to avoid conflict in any situation. More and more in society women are breaking down the social barriers that confine them to their specific roles. The movies The Graduate and The Last Picture Show reveal to viewers a side to females that is very untraditional. These two movies help to show how women are rebelling against sexual social norms, and they are taking a more active and aggressive role when dealing with heterosexual relationships.

Women in today's society seem to be having a very difficult time expressing themselves without dealing with lots of criticism. Common values are standing in the way of women's drive toward molding themselves into whatever they desire. Our culture has made standards about how should women look, act, and conduct themselves that greatly limits what they can do, and still gain respect. Martin S. Fiebert and Mark W. Meyer state that, "[there are] more negative [gender] stereotypes for men than for women." This idea doesn't seem to have a great amount of validity in our present society. Society set certain standards that men are supposed to live up to such as strength and confidence, which are more behavioral characteristics. Women seem to be more trapped than men by societies standards because they are supposed to live up to standards dealing with beauty and size, which are more physical characteristics These specific guidelines have been set by society that are sometimes unattainable for a majority of women. The women that follow the specific criteria are greatly respected, and the ones that try and be innovative usually are criticized if not disliked.

The movie The Graduate depicts a story about an older woman named Mrs. Robinson who is tired with her marriage and sex life and decides to spice up her life a bit with a different man. She notices a youthful man named Benjamin Braddock who just graduated from college and is very inexperienced sexually. She decides to seduce the young man, and does it quite successfully even though she is a married woman with a daughter the same age as Benjamin. Most mothers would consider Mrs. Robinson's situation as inappropriate because it does not send the traditional image to her daughter of what is right for women to do. While trying to seduce Benjamin, Mrs. Robinson is completely upfront with what she wants from him. In this movie Mrs. Robinson is displaying her non-feminine characteristics in order to accomplish something that isn't acceptable for women. Mrs. Robinson doesn't wait for the man to make his move; this woman is extremely aggressive and uses almost manly tactics to accomplish her goal. Manly tactics would consist of anything that is parallel to being aggressive or overconfident. Devor considers, "…masculinity [as] usually characterized by dominance and aggression, and femininity by passivity and submission" (447). Seduction is the process of inducing someone to have sexual relations. Women seducing men by aggressive or even passive means is usually rare, but a woman inducing a man to have sexual intercourse when she is two times older than the man is even rarer. One social myth describes that the older a woman is the more passive her personality and sexual drive is. One could easily see that this myth is not true because Mrs. Robinson has a very hardy sexual drive and is very aggressive at her ‘old' age. This movie was obviously very controversial because it was the first in it's time to show aggressive sexual power with a more mature woman. The Graduate also knocked open many doors dealing with women's aggression and cracked the social norms for other movies in the near future.

The Last Picture Show is also a film that deals with conflicts involving female sexuality. The main character, J.C., is a young woman of about eighteen years of age who...
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