The Relationship Between Mary Poppins, Socialism and Feminism

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In the following essay it will be explored the lengths women had to go through in order to rise their role in the social, political and economical life so that they could obtain or try to reach a similar status as men; the reason why women feel to fight against law will be explained in the upcoming paragraphs. It will be also examined the stereotypical behaviour of men and women through the ages, starting from the Ancient Romans up to the contemporary ages, and how this generalizations will push them to achieve equality. Gender roles in society mean that, based on our biological gender, we were indeed expected to act, speak, dress, groom and act differently. For example, girls and women are commonly supposed to dress and also to be polite, welcoming, and fostering in traditionally feminine cases. Broadly speaking, males are supposed to be tough, aggressive, and audacious.

There are expectations of gender roles in every society, ethnic group and culture, but they can vary from one cultural ethnicity to another. For example the color pink has always been seen as feminine color and the color blue as a male one. A stereotype is a well-established judgment based or bias regarding an individual or group, though it might be overly generalized and perhaps not accurate. Gender stereotype can lead to discriminatory and unequal treatment because of sex. This way of acting is know as sexism. Introducing the first point which is women and their unequal treatments, states the fact that women should be at the same level of men, not only because of all they have fought for, but the fact that men have always been seen superior and never had to fight to obtain something; for example, the Islamic law states that men and women have different rights and obligations, indeed men are seen such as the “dominant” figure of the family and society. This male-centered society can be seen not only in the Islamic world, but also in Western society, as many movies highlight this inequality between females and males.

In ancient times nearly every culture thought that women should be subjugated by men. Starting from the “patriarchal family”, in fact the ancient Romans, Greeks and Persians lived under this impression and belief. In the year 200 a.C. it was proposed by the feminists of that time to abolish the law that repealed women to own more than one piece of gold, to wear colorful clothing etc., they didn’t succeed due to the male-dominant culture. The “feminist” movement of those times, in ancient Rome started the first movement to defend their rights. In the medieval ages the figure of the women changed, thanks to those intellectuals that would get involved in long discussions on whether the women could be comparable to men, meaning that it would have a soul or it was more similar to animals. This presumptuous inferiority of women was stated also by the law.

During the Renaissance the social status of women didn’t evolve, but those who were part of the higher ranks managed to reach the highest level of education, these were only rear occasions, thus women would have to wait century still to see some equity in the rights. The feminist movement has always been present and a pressing matter, also in modern and contemporary times. This movement saw the light of the day in France during the French Revolution. The term “female vote” indicates the right to vote extended to women. The political movement with the aim of extending suffrage to women has historically been that of the suffragettes. The modern origins of the movement are to be found in 18th-century France. The first European state to recognize universal suffrage was the Grand Duchy of Finland, with the first women elected to parliament in 1907. In Russia during the revolutionary provisional government in November 1917, elections were held for the constituent assembly to Universal suffrage.

The right to vote for women was introduced into international law in 1948 when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Women also began fighting for change within society in the United Kingdom, supported from the outset by the work of women leaders in women's rights, such as John Stuart Mill when in 1869 he published his book “The Subjection of Woman” of John Stuart Mill published in 1869 this essay identifies how women are unequal to men in the society. He proposed the idea of ​​female suffrage in a program presented to voters in the United Kingdom in 1865 and was later joined by numerous men and women, ready to fight for the same cause. Mill’s book has led British women to fight for this gender gap. A suffragette was a passionate supporter of militant feminist organizations in the early 20th century that fought for the right to vote in public elections, known as female suffrage, under the banner “Votes for Women”. ​The suffragette movement, as a national movement seeking female suffrage, only saw the light in the United Kingdom in 1869. It was therefore from this date that it was possible to speak, for all intents and purposes, of suffragettes, because only then did a movement take place national to claim the right to vote, still unacknowledged, which led in 1897 to the formation of the National Society for women's suffrage. ​In 1903 a feminist political party rose, fought against the male centered society with public manifestations and rallies in order to obtain the right to vote. However, only in 1928, the Government had decided to make into act the law called “the representation of people act”, which gave women the authority to vote in municipal elections. After this big innovation, women started to see some other changes in the way society saw them (in a positive way) and started obtaining concrete importance in the social life. Going back to the roles of women and men, and how movies represent them, Mary poppins (1964) is for sure one of those. This Disney cartoon is closely affiliated with the feminist movement due to the fact that it is centered on women as protagonists and on the Suffragette.

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Indeed, the wife of the male protagonist, Mrs Banks stands up to the Patriarchal figure who is her husband, and she is also the leader of the suffragette movement. In one of the first scenes, Mrs Banks marches in the house with her housekeepers urging them to rebel against that society that considered women as “objects”; furthermore it is visible the prints of feminism in Mary Poppins movie, indeed, Mrs Banks also encourages the housekeepers to sing the slogan of the feminist movement. Nevertheless, even though the wife starts this revolt, Mary Poppins is the one who personifies the most the feminist movement. Mary Poppins doesn’t follow the rules, she only goes by what she wants and feels right for her. She is the one that stands up to the “boss” of the household, Mr Banks. The most known scene of the movie is also the main one for the incarnation of the feminist movement: when Ms. Poppins flies away is the symbolic meaning of her freedom from that repressed society. Mary Poppins movie demonstrates how women rebelled during the years in order to try to be at the same level of men; it is fascinating that disney movies, which are meant to be for children, are always part of a larger scale, and examine a issues that is nowadays very common.

Another exposed issue in Mary Poppins cartoon, is the socialism. Socialism is a political concept based on equality in the juridical and social-economical field. In the movie we can see how socialist philosophy is seen through the movie. During the whole length of the movie is very visible that women are repressed and kept in the house, and it is also noticeable the different social classes and the different roles that each one plays in society. Mary poppins comes and “saves the day”, by helping the family with her “magical” powers and with her unconventional way of being for those times she states that women as not less important than men and that they should be responsible for more instead of only being accountable of taking care of family and home duties. ​Marxists, like feminists, struggle to end oppression of women, even though they view this struggle as part of a more comprehensive struggle against all forms of oppression. Already in the first half of the nineteenth century, the utopian socialist Flora Tristan emphasized how the struggle for women's emancipation is inextricably linked to the class struggle. Marx and Engels included some of Tristan's ideas in the Communist Manifesto, and Engels in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, uses anthropological evidence to explain the origins of oppression on women and how this oppression can be overcome . Marxism has provided, for the first time, a scientific materialistic basis not only for socialism but also for the cause of women's liberation. Marxism has explained the role of the family within a society divided into classes as an economic contract and in its primary function of perpetuating capitalism and the oppression of women.

He opened the path of women's liberation. In this way Marxism has eliminated the utopian character of socialism and of the struggle for the emigration of women, demonstrating that capitalism itself generates strength, the proletariat, powerful enough to destroy it. Marx says that 'If the immediate effects (of the work of children and women) are terrible and repugnant, at the same time it contributes to giving women, young people and children of both sexes an important part in the production process outside the environment domestic and in the creation of new economic bases necessary for a higher form of family and relations between the two sexes.

Socialism, on the other hand, allows the socialization of domestic work and prevents exploitation through wage labor, as was shown in Russia after 1917. In other words, the struggle for socialism eliminates the material basis of gender oppression. This struggle can be carried out only by the working class as a whole, thanks to its fundamental role in production: therefore Marxists participate in the class struggle, intervening in the movements and mass organizations of workers and young people, to put an end to exploitation of the proletariat and oppression of women.

But such methods do nothing but turn the problem upside down: it is not male dominance in mass organizations that fuels gender oppression - it is the sexist prejudice inherent in class society that leads to such dominance. The unions, uniting the working class, can be used to destroy class society and are therefore a means of eliminating the oppression of women. Creating a model of ideal union, 'pure' and free from sexist prejudices, cannot be an end in itself - in reality such a model of union can never exist as long as society as a whole is not fundamentally changed. ​These and other practical successes of Marxism on the question of gender oppression constitute an inseparable link between the labor movement and thestruggle for socialism. As Marx and Engels underline: 'The history of every society that has existed up until now is a story of class struggle'. The working woman in capitalism is subjected to different levels of oppression. On an economic level, a woman's salary is normally lower than that of man and the secular domestic confinement means that many of our working sisters are totally dependent on man economically, a condition that hinders any attempt at emancipation. Receiving worse wages women generate greater surplus value for the entrepreneur, with the result that, as we said before, the increasing access of women to the world of work is the result of a need of the system and not of the destruction of gender barriers. That is, what was presented to us by bourgeois feminism as the economic 'emancipation' of women is nothing but the clear example of wage slavery within the capitalist system that working women suffer more than men. Only socialism will break economic inequality between working woman and man. In a classless society, in which the system has the mission of securing the needs of the working class, women's dependency relationships are destroyed. Only in socialism can we therefore have the economic emancipation of women: not being bound either by the threat of unemployment or by man's maintenance, the woman is really free to develop her life as she wishes. But this is the consequence of the new relations of production in socialism, where the working class controls the political and economic power of the state that it needs to continue to gradually destroy all the aberrations of the ancient capitalist society. Therefore it is socialism that will guarantee real equality and the emancipation of the working woman. Socialism will determine the end of inequality between man and woman in terms of wages, hence the need for the working woman to fight doubly against capitalism: as a worker and as a woman.

The women's movement aimed at achieving equality with men not only from a political point of view but also from a legal and economic point of view. Women wanted to be able to teach equality of civil rights in high schools, carry out the same professions as men and above all enjoy electoral or suffrage rights, a term from which the name used to indicate the participants in the movement is derived : Suffragettes. To conclude socialists and feminists wanted to obtain the same rights and fought against society in order to be at the same level of men for women and for socialists class ranks wise. Women have come a long way since they first started fighting for their rights, but there still are countries in which women are seeing as inferior of men and they are still fighting in order to gain the same level of importance in society as men.

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