Gender Discrimination And Racism In The Works Of Virginia Woolf And Brent Staples

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Throughout history, gender has been a big issue among Human beings. Women have come a long way, protesting against abuse to gain equality. Unfortunately, gender has led to inequality within diverse societies of the world. Disadvantages in professional life, as well as cultural benefits, are factors accompanying gender inequality. Many talented writers were critics after World War One known as Lost Generation in which Virginia Woolf was inspired and criticized the unfairness of women in the career field. On the other hand, Brent Staples talked about the hard lifestyle of black men during the late '90s and many more criticizing cultures and modern day society. Although some people might argue that gender has a positive impact on life in general; however, according to gender sources, the adverse effects are more predominant since it interferes with the chances of choosing one's way and ability to be recognized in society.

Gender can be practical when associated with one's looks, acts, or career choices. 'Professions for Women' by Virginia Woolf demonstrates how gender affects women in lifetime jobs. She states that 'You have only got to figure yourselves a girl in a bedroom with a pen in her hand. She has only to move that pen from left to right - from ten o'clock to one. This is a powerful saying from Virginia Wolf because it shows women's role in society. The first portion of the quote states that women are suited for 'insignificant' jobs only, such as writing. Writing is regarded as a feminine job because it requires no strong muscles and can be done at home. In other words, women can work as well as attend to the daily needs of their family members and household tasks. Another significant aspect of the quote depicts how women were allowed to work limited hours in a day, and only when children were put to sleep. Thus, women are regarded as housekeepers even with the choice of a career at hand. This situation is also similar to the way black men were viewed in New York. Brent Staples states that black men were seen as aggressive thieves both in life as well as in professional careers. 'One Day, rushing into the office of a magazine I was writing for with a deadline story in hand, I was mistaken for a burglar.' One can note both, gender as well as racial inequality in the previous statement. White people used to be scared of black men with no well-justified reason. There is a prejudice based on historical stereotypes that affect how one is perceived in society as well as at a workplace. The examples noted above demonstrate how gender inequality can interfere with one's desired life curriculum and professional dream.

Gender also affects people's behavior; thus, how they are perceived in a given surrounding. In the 'Myth of the Latin Woman' by Judith Ortiz Cofer, she talks about her experiences as a female in the Latino culture. She states, 'that of Hispanic women as the Hot Tamale or sexual firebrand' this quote from Her essay shows the expected behavior of women. It seems that the soul aspect of a Latino female is to be an object for men. In other words, to look sexually appealing but never intellectually involved. The quote also refers to the place of women in Latin American culture: to exist for the pleasure of men only. Such unequal treatment affects the overall life of women in Hispanic society since gender undermines any significance of female value. Black men have also been negatively affected by their gender, placing them in a community where they did not have a choice to choose. As Brent Staples said in his essay 'Just Walk on By A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space,' 'I often witness that 'hunch posture' from women after darn on the Gwarren like streets of Brooklyn where I Live.'

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Furthermore, 'I came to doubt the virtues of intimidation early on. I chose perhaps even unconsciously, to remain a show - timid, but survivor.' These two pieces of evidence from Brent Staples's essay show how hard his gender and race have affected his place in society, making him behave differently than his true self. The author states that to assure that women were not scared of him, he had to behave unnaturally merely to please the expectations of those around. In other words, black men's gender and race have placed him in a prison where he had to find alternative, unnatural behavioral patterns that would make him look 'harmless' in the eyes of white women. Latina women and black men are both victims of gender inequality. In such cases, gender has completely eliminated the idea of choice from the lives of Latina women and black men. The earlier being viewed as sexual accessories and later as dangerous thieves.

Gender can positively affect people's place in society. That's what some would think because they can argue that it made everything much more straightforward. According to the HuffPost article 'The Rules Have Changed: Gender Roles in Modern Society,' modern society is less affected by gender and the way it stratifies people. 'Just a mere 50 or 60 years ago, roles in relationships were much more clear-cut. Two people knew what to expect from a relationship when they came together. Men's chief duties dealt with issues outside the home, while women covered the responsibilities pertaining to the home. Therefore, no matter where you grew up or what your parents were like, across the board, marriage conveyed certain principles for both men and women.' This quote refers to the fact that by enforcing gender equality, we have complicated things even further since modern society is utterly devoid of any gender roles and emotional responsibilities they carried. The later could be regarded as a positive aspect of gender influence; however, the negative effects are more dominant. In the 'Professions for Women,' Virginia Woolf talks about a relationship between a woman and her husband. 'Had I not killed her, she would have killed me.' The woman had to kill her husband to overcome the stigmatized character given to her by gender. It is unfair how one needs to fight a taboo, in this case, gender expectation, that is assigned at birth. In rare cases, women were able to overcome the pressure of gender to win their dream life. Nevertheless, for many, the pressure was too intense; thus, they remained under, and obediently carried the title assigned.

Lastly, nowadays, gender has a very negative effect on women because it pressures them into the materialistic lifestyle and the materialistic side of society. The poem “Barbie Doll”shows how modern society sees women and appreciates them only because of how they look. In the poem, it says, 'She was healthy, tested, intelligent, possessed strong arms and back, abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity. She went and apologized. Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs.' The quote demonstrates how people judge a character based on physical appearance. 'So she cut off her nose and her legs and offered them up.' This quote shows how her gender has pressured her negatively into leaving her natural state and joining into the materialistic place of society to be accepted as a beautiful female which is also relatable to 'There Is No Unmarked Woman' by Deborah Tanen in which she shows women are affected in career and relationships because gender has placed them into the always hot looking society which also goes back to Latino women who still have to look sexy to be considered as successful women. In her essay, Deborah Tannen states, 'The third woman's hair was wild, a frosted blond avalanche falling over and beyond her shoulders. When she spoke she frequently tossed her head, calling attention to her hair and away from her lecture. 'this quote shows that woman had to go out of their way and dress and look as fancy as sexy as they can to have success in getting them significant or just an interview for a job for example if a woman is dressed basic with no makeup and natural hair came against the woman described in the quote the woman in the quote would get the job because of gender placing women in the materialistic place and they are only appreciated by the way society tells.

Gender influence in our society could be positive as it brings balance and simplicity to life. However, historically assigned taboos to male and female sexes in diverse societies of the world complicate the lives of many. The inner self of a person has subsided due to gender stigma, thus making it problematic for one to be natural and authentic to oneself. Women are forced to undergo dramatic physical changes not to be perceived as sexual objects. On the other hand, black men are encouraged to change their manner of behavior to be seen as less 'dangerous.' It is absurd how taboo and stereotypes pressure the whole understanding of gender and its manifestation in society. However, it is essential to acknowledge the profound change that has occurred throughout the years and only hope for a more harmonious and less disgusting society in the future.

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Gender Discrimination And Racism In The Works Of Virginia Woolf And Brent Staples. (2021, August 31). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 23, 2024, from
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