Monday, March 24, 2014

Gilman - Women & Economics

Gilman's connection between the development of gender roles in society and social Darwinism is very striking, as I haven't thought about this issue in that way before - just as a species physically develops to fit with the needs of an environment, that species, too, must develop mentally in order to survive in a particular environment. This mental development, I feel, concerns the collapse, shift, and/or reevaluation of gender norms, for as society develops, so must the people and notions within said society.

I found this piece very interesting, particularly in the ways it reminded me of Nietzsche and the problems of language/representation. I saw these notions reflected in Gilman's argument that the inferior role of women in society is not inherent or ineradicable, but man-made, and self-imposed. Gender norms must shift with the needs of the people, just as religion; If religion remains rigid and unmoving, this religion will fall out of use or give rise to a new strain of this religion - the original belief system no longer serves those who created it (i.e. shift from Judaism - rise of Christianity). Furthermore, her argument that women trap themselves in these inferior positions by conforming to the patriarchal constructs of society, by pursuing only the role of mother and homemaker, is very interesting, as I feel the same could be said about women today in the analysis of gender advertising and stereotypes.

Women today, it has been proven, often seem to have the same stereotypes concerning gender as men. When an image is projected onto one enough, one may conform to the image - and it is this fact, I feel, that Gilman's discussion still applies to contemporary society and modern gender relations.

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