The Female Voice in a Patriarchal Society

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Violence agaisnt women continues to speculate across the media and within today’s society. Hannah Kent and Julie Turkewitz are both authors who liberate the stories of these condemned women whom are accused of witchcraft and deprived of their freedom and power.

The subordinate status of women in a patriarchal society is inevitable to an extreme extent. This degree of female oppression has ultimately become entrenched by the beliefs and dictations of a society led by males; and thus, society fulfils a role in perpetuating the myth of women as the weaker sex. In Hannah Kent’s novella, ‘Burial Rites', Kent gives Agnes Magnusdottir a voice and depicts what her potential truth could look like by writing from Agnes’ point of view and giving her a backstory. Through Agnes’ tale, modern readers gain invaluable insight into the plight of being a women in a male dominated society that stereotypes women as witches for being intelligent.

In ‘Burial Rites,’ men hold exploitative power over women and are forced to adopt the subordinate female role. The Icelandic setting during the 19th century in ‘Burial Rites’ influenced a dependency on the strength of the male sex, subsequently deferring control and power to them. This social inequality is reflected repeatedly throughout the novel, evident in the characterisation of women. Page 178 states: “Has Steina ever had to decide whether to let a farmer up under her skirts and face the wrath of his wife, who will force her to do the shit-work, or to deny him and find herself homeless in the snow and fog with all doors barred against her?”. Kent describes Agnes’ struggling experience using rhetorical question to provoke the readers to gain an understanding of Agnes’ hardships compared to Steina’s. Moreover, it demonstrates the superiority of men and their power to take whatever they want. This is further demonstrated in Page 263 when Natan slaps Agnes, followed by the words “remember your place.” The subordinate female role is explicit in Natan’s physical and emotional abuse of Agnes and Sigga.

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Agnes’ failure to conform to gender roles displays instances of female empowerment in the novel. Kent liberates Agnes by providing a kind of freedom for Agnes to tell her version of her story, which Agnes was never granted. Kent’s storytelling of Agnes allows her to gain a voice in the patriarchal world that has silenced her. Through her storytelling, she asserts her self-worth and dignity. Despite the fact she has been condemned and treated horribly by men, she displays strength and is able to face her death with dignity which means that to an extent, female empowerment has not been completely diminished in ‘Burial Rites.’ Agnes’ death is a representation of freedom, liberation and women empowerment.

Violence against women is also mentioned in the article ‘Women In Gambia Describe Torture After Ex-President Called Them Witches’ by Julie Turkewitz. The setting of gambia Nigerian women are sexually assault and kidnapped; men are allowed to do whatever they want. Turkewitz describes the such women’s experience and hardships in her article. In the article it is obvious that men have been allowed to exploit women and strip them of their dignity. Due to discrimination, women feel oppressed and need some liberation. They need freedom from oppression. The freedom of the oppressed are achieved to a certain extent. Turkewitz liberates the condemned women by writing the article in which it advocates for the Nigerian women who have been suppressed to tell their stories. Women are at last being offered the opportunity to speak up about the injustices perpetrated against them is indicative of the manner in which they have been suppressed. Liberation following extreme oppression are clearly evident.

Turkewitz writes the article to liberate these women which demonstrates female empowerment and advocacy for suppressed women to tell their stories. In this way, it can be concluded that the article itself is doing advocacy work by liberating Nigerian women.

Both Kent and Turkewitz uses aesthetic features to represent how the obstacles of social inequality, deep-rooted prejudice and beliefs can essentially reveal instances of female empowerment in their works.

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The Female Voice in a Patriarchal Society. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from
“The Female Voice in a Patriarchal Society.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
The Female Voice in a Patriarchal Society. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2024].
The Female Voice in a Patriarchal Society [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2024 May 21]. Available from:

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