Speech - Gender Roles

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Out of curiosity, can you please put your hand up if you think “Women should still inhabit the domestic sphere, or as you adolescent males put it “staying in the kitchen and making sandwiches?” Good morning Year 12, I am Professor Belen from the University of Sydney. I understand you have been studying gender this past term, so I am here today to enlighten your minds on how different composers have reflected the concerns of their society, in regards to gender, through a variety of texts. I will be focusing on two texts in particular, an excerpt from The Princess entitled “The Woman’s Cause is Mans” by playwright Alfred Lord Tennyson written in 1847 and the film adaptation of the play “A Streetcar Named Desire” originally composed by Tennessee Williams in 1947. Both of these texts offer readers an insightful analysis of the gender issues prominent at the time. A key gender issue that is present in both texts is the idea that women are inferior to men. In addition to this, the concept that females will always be dependent on men is also explored within the two texts. For many centuries, it was always seen that men dominate society. Although this may seem less obvious in this day and age, it was very much accepted in the Victorian era and the mid 20th century. It is interesting to note that despite the 100 year span that separates these two texts, many key issues remain the same. The life of the woman in the Victorian era was very restrictive. It was summed up as, “married life is a woman’s profession.” Women were seen as property of their husbands. These social norms come to the fore in Tennyson’s A Woman’s cause is Man’s. Within in the poem, Tennyson’s continually expresses that women can liberate or advance themselves in society, but only with the help of men and only if they remain womanly in nature. The repetition of “with man” in lines 7-9 emphasise that only with the help of men; can women liberate themselves, thus, demonstrating their inferiority to men....
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