Changesin Gender Roles
Thedefinition of "feminism" is different to different peopleand at different times. Today, it means freedom of expression and theability of women to realize their full potential without genderlimitations. The feminist movement now includes the recognition thatmen and women play different roles in the society. Therefore, themovement is based on the need for recognition of role equality asopposed to physical equality. Phrases such as "what a man cando, a woman can do" are no longer useful to the movement becauseof the importance of recognizing the differences (Weinberger1).The society changes with time, and the changes are reflected in theroles of the individual members and the definitions of importantconcepts in the society.
Whatis feminism? The definition changes with time and incorporates theimportant aspects of the society at any given time. Social changesfollow the same routine they are motivated by the need to maintainbalance in the society and to create an aspect resembling equality inaccess to resources and self-determinism. Taylor Swift, a millennialsinger and among the most powerful women in the world recently saidthat "I don`t really think about things as guys versus girls,”(Weinberger1).Her statement is very important because it suggests that thetraditional definitions of the concepts, ones that pitted the sexesagainst each other, have been replaced by the belief that all in thesociety are equal, and they have equal roles to play. Therefore,feminism is not equality, and it depends on the social values andpredominant conditions at any given time.
Inliterature, the writers capture many aspects of the society whenaddressing a different aspect. In the book, "Babylon, Revisited”Scott Fitzgerald examines the strife caused by living life in acertain way and the importance of interpersonal relationships(Fitzgerald and Bruccoli 3). Scott Fitzgerald was a writer who mainlywrote about the effects of the twenties on the society and the socialvalues. The regret in the main character, Charlie, after the death ofhis wife, Helen, implies that the most important aspect of lifeescaped the Jazz age. In the writing, the writer shows therelationships between men and women and thus reveals the position ofwomen in the society at the time. Therefore, the book is a valuableresource for evaluating the evolution of the feminist movement.
Charlieis worried that Marion will turn Honoria against him. On his side,Charlie thinks that Helen is treating him unfairly because hemaintains it was not his fault that Helen died. Helen died after shehad to wonder in the snow when her Husband, Charlie, locked her outof their apartment. The suggestion that her death was somehow herfault suggests that Charlie was under the impression that women weresupposed to have a particular code of conduct. If they failed tohonor their purpose, they were useless and not worth letting into thehouse. Before her Death, Helen infuriated Charlie by kissing anotherman following an argument. In the book, the lifestyle of the mensuggests that if the situation were reversed, Charlie would haveexpected his wife to forgive him.
Theinsistence from Marion that Charlie ceased to exist when he lockedher sister out of his apartment reveals the position of women in thesociety at the time. Would it be possible to lock a wife out of hermarital home in the contemporary times? The values of the societyhave changed to the extent that in the event of a breakup, the manleaves the house as opposed to the other way round. Therefore, in thebook, Fitzgerald suggests that it was normal for a man to throw thewoman out because it was his property as opposed to the acceptedmutual ownership in the contemporary times. Scott Fitzgerald writes,“The men who locked their wives out in the snow because the snow oftwenty-nine wasn`t real snow. If you didn`t want it to be snow, youjust paid some money,”(Fitzgeraldand Bruccoli 229). This explains the relationships between the menand the women. Women were dependent on men, and where the men did notwant trouble with women, they simply locked them out of their lives.The implication is that the lives of women were dependent on the men,and the men acted like gods, taking what they wanted provided theyhad the ability to sustain the needs. Therefore, the quote shows thatat the time, the society was segregated on roles of gender. Men wereresponsible for the welfare of women, and it was the obligation ofthe women to make men happy. For example, if Helen had takenCharlie`s side, maybe she would not have died.
Arethe depictions of women a reflection of what the writer thinks aboutthe women? In the book, women are shown to be liberal and have rightsthat resembled the stature of men. In fact, sexually, the women areevery bit as liberal as men are and are not afraid to express theirdesires. Helen kissed a stranger and a woman proposition, Charlie,while he is out drinking. In fact, Scott Fitzgerald is liberal on theissue of women and tries to create a true mirror reflection of thesociety at the time and consider the present day, in a bar. Men areexpected to buy drinks for women because it is a social normespecially if the two are in a relationship. Does the expression meanthat the progress of the feminist movement is stunted? It merelymeans that women in the society have different roles to play(Cochrane 1). Therefore, the changes in the values of the society arereflected in other parts of life. For example, there are a risingnumber of professional women as opposed to the homemakers in thetraditional societies.
ScottFitzgerald would claim he had no bias against women. He was merelyattempting to show the problems in the society while holding thesocial values at the time as constant. Towards the end of the novel,Charlie realizes he is not a good match for Honoria. He conceded thathe can only ‘persist to buy her things` because she is hisdaughter. The suggestion creates the impression that women arematerial, and they are dependent on the support of the men in thesociety at the time. Based on the position of the contemporary woman,the view by Scott Fitzgerald is biased. It supports a male dominatedcommunity where the women have no choice in the directions theirlives take.
Itis possible that the writer is using symbolism to show the effects ofthinking about the past. For example, when talking to Marion and herhusband, Charlie remarks on the changes in Paris and Marion says sheis glad that there are fewer Americans in Paris. On his part, Charlienotices the changes in the City and is no longer appealed to thingsthat were important to him in retrospect. In this regard, the writeris saying that while the current conditions may be appealing, it ispossible that in the future, they will cease to have the same allurebecause the society no longer values the past and appreciates themistakes from the past. Application to the feminism debate, thewriter is creating the impression that the society had flawedideologies but is not able to see the flaws. Therefore, re-evaluationin the future reveals many flaws in things that were once classifiedas attractive and worth indulging in. The implication is that ScottFitzgerald would accept the changes in the society and grows toresent the treatment of women in his time.
Fromreading the book, it is increasingly clear that the position of womenin the society has been changing with time. The changes are reflectedin the past values of the women and the current roles the same womenplay in the society. The changes create the impression that thecurrent values influence the definitions of feminism and the aspectsof the society that women draw pleasure and satisfaction. In the JazzAge, the position of women was very low when it is compared to thecurrent position. However, it is important to note that the roles ofgender determined the specific position at the time and that ScottFitzgerald attempts to show women in the best possible light.
Cochrane,Kira. "The Fourth Wave of Feminism: Meet the Rebel Women."Theguardian.com. The Guardian, 10 Dec. 2013. Web. 3 Dec.2015.<http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/10/fourth-wave-feminism-rebel-women>.
Fitzgerald,F. Scott, and Matthew J. Bruccoli. The Short Stories of F. ScottFitzgerald: A New Collection. Routledge, 2007. Print.
Weinberger,Hannah. "Where Are All the Millennial Feminists? – CNN.com."CNN. Cable News Network, 10 Nov. 2012. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.<http://edition.cnn.com/2012/11/09/living/millennials-feminism/>.