Gender Norms and Equality Through Centuries: Did Anything Change?

“Darling, I am done ordering. Are you finished with the menu?”

“It is okay. I am not hungry.”

“But you said you–.”

“I said I was fine. I will just have water because, obviously, I am not hungry.”

The husband stared at his wife. She shrugged and sipped her icy water. After his order arrived, she watched him eat with a deep frown on her face and an occasional deep sigh. As soon as he took the last bite of his beef wrap, she skittered out the door without a glance.

The poor man could not sleep that night. What could have possibly made her upset?

Apparently, he did not order for her like he used to, knowing she gets anxious talking to a server. It has been five years since she married this man. How could he still not know her? Did he expect her to get over her anxiety in a snap? Actually, that is what he thought, hence his ordering only for himself.

This anecdote demonstrates the differences between a man and a woman perfectly. These striking contrasts between genders may be the root of every gender norm and role and the off-balance of gender equality. Even before a baby is born, its gender is the first thing people consider to tailor their gifts and unsolicited advice according to it.

Since time immemorial, society has subjected men and women to specific gender norms and roles. Let us discuss the gender norms and roles in the past versus the modern age’s take on them and how it affects today’s silent battle for gender equality.

The past had treated women differently than men. Women were once considered property that could be gifted or bought. Women who could read, count, and write were considered witches or strange. Women’s opinions were seldom heard. By the time kingdoms were waging wars against each other, some women had gained status, especially if they were born royal. Everyone looked up to royal women, if not entirely worshiped. Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Wu Zetian, Queen Elizabeth I, and Catherine the Great are excellent examples. Still, if a woman was peasant-born, she was considered lower than men and had little to no rights.

As the eras progressed, women gained access to education, paid labor, and the freedom to live independently. In the late 19th century, women could manage their businesses, adopt pets, travel alone, vote, and leave their husbands as they saw fit. Nonetheless, these were still frowned upon due to traditional and religious views.

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Gender norms and roles for women might have been drastically changing every century. However, some gender norms and roles have persisted.

Some of these, but not limited to, are being submissive, family-oriented (having kids), nurturing, sensitive, emotional, bookish, gentle, classy, beauty conscious, and physically weak.

Modern women are free from the curse of being one’s property, lack of voting rights, wearing chosen clothes, and the imperative duty to be a housewife. Yet, society still expects women to stay at home to take care of the house and the kids. Other cultures still force women to marry a distant relative or someone older to please the family. Society still frowns at some women’s choice of being child-free, not wanting to get married, and being a nomad. Old traditions and control over women’s bodies are still prevalent today.

The good news is that society now welcomes women to engage in activities reserved for men. Acquiring an engineering or architectural degree, triumphing in the sports industry, and physically-taxing jobs. These are the results of women fighting for their rights.

Men, on the other hand, dominated the world in the past. Men were more trusted and depended on to command and create. A household without a man is an open pantry for evildoers. If newborns were male, it would be a cause for celebration. Men always had the final say, and people tend to take their words more seriously than a woman. Men were leaders, decision-makers, builders, and workers. Because of this, people honored and worshiped their work and success. Albert Einstein, Alexander the Great, Aristotle, Michaelangelo, and Jesus were just a few examples.

Although they monopolized almost everything under the sun, this did not mean they had more manageable lives than women.

Upper-class society subjected peasant-born males to slavery, hard labor, and wars. These demands forced men to leave their families for long periods. While women spent their hard days with their children or relatives, men spent their hard days alone or with other men with whom they could not form a comfortable bond. Even when a man was a royal, it was the norm that he spent weeks away from home to tend to important matters.

Nowadays, society still expects men to be physically strong and defeat challenges while maintaining mental and emotional composure. For centuries, tradition and culture told men to “man up,” be assertive, and be bold. This advice was a good trait for many situations and stayed in today’s culture. The society also pressures men to be financially successful and attain a good reputation. Men who lack these qualities will be bullied and looked down on. This treatment causes mental exhaustion and emotional incapability in most men, which would cause several suicides, mental breakdowns, and unstable relationships.

There is a silver lining, however. Modern society encourages men to express their emotions healthily. It gives them the freedom of career choices—fewer people bases men’s success not on their bank account but on their holistic characteristics. 

We have differentiated men’s and women’s gender norms and roles throughout the centuries, which leads us to the question: Are all genders equal? Is it possible for men and women to live in harmony?

Gender equality has been off balance for centuries because of traditional gender norms and roles cited earlier. However, with the help of new knowledge about the humanity and needs of all genders, and an open mind, men and women can live in harmony. The key to gender equality is practicing the basic human morals: Respect and compassion for one another.

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To Kill a Mockingbird Symbolism

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

The novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” is set in the fictional town of Maycomb. It revolves around separate but interconnected events– Scout and Jem Finch’s daily lives and their father’s (Atticus Finch) imperilment as a lawyer.

Maycomb is a prosaic town sprinkled with azaleas and geraniums but is a sleeping volcano of racist tendencies. This is why when a white woman, Mayella Ewell, accused Tom Robinson, a Black man, of rape, Maycomb did not think twice about convicting him.

A fair lawyer, Atticus Finch, did not think twice about defending Robinson despite the entire town turning on him.

Meanwhile, Atty. Finch’s children, Scout and Jem, and their friends go on their counterpart of drama and thrill as they nose around the weird Boo Radley, a recluse who became a local legend.

The novel climaxes as the case of Robinson v. Ewell heads straight to a hooking twist–Ewell’s father (Bob Ewell) assaulted her. Despite this conclusion being evidence-backed, the court sentenced Robinson to death. Maycomb killed a mockingbird. Meanwhile, Boo Radley killed Bob Ewell to defend Scout and Jem. Radley escaped conviction when Sheriff Tate refused to “… shootin’ a mockingbird.”

This award-winning novel by Harper Lee stayed one of the most celebrated for decades. The epic symbolism in the novel might be one of the reasons why To Kill a Mockingbird is a common favorite for distinguished people. 

The novel used numerous symbols, but this essay discusses only four of To Kill a Mockingbird’s symbolism.

Mockingbird Symbolism

A mockingbird is an enduring symbol of innocence and beauty in the novel. The mockingbird symbol is especially for Tom Robinson and Boo Radley–both falsely accused of crimes and scandals they did not commit. The mockingbird also symbolizes the dauntless innocence of Scout, Jem, and their friends.

When Tom Robinson was falsely convicted and sentenced to death, people called it “killing a mockingbird”–symbolized the death of an innocent man and a victim of racism.

Similarly, when Boo Radley killed Bob Ewell when Ewell hurt the kids, Sheriff Tate covered up for him because convicting him would be like “killing a mockingbird.”

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Finch Symbolism

Finch, a type of small bird, is Scout, Jem, and Atticus’ last name. This fact goes hand in hand with the motif (mockingbird) of the novel. Being friends and the defendant of the mockingbirds (Robinson and Radley) subjects the Finches to the violence of racism, bullying, and power play in the town of Maycomb.

Rabid Dog Symbolism

The dog gone rabid symbolizes how a mundane, amiable creature can suddenly pose a threat, just like how Maycomb went violent towards Robinson and Atty. Finch. The usual family-friendly town turned into a lynching, angry mob due to mindless racism. 

Atticus was the one who shot the rabid dog, justifying it as the better thing to do and the safest for everyone in town. This scene symbolizes how he was willing to “shoot down” racism in his town.

Geraniums Symbolism

Mayella Ewell, despite her second-hand murder and false rape claims against Tom Robinson and the deteriorated state of her house, still managed to grow and maintain beautiful red geraniums in her flower pots.

This symbolizes Mayella’s subconscious attempt to “beautify” or “save” her unfortunate family affairs and misery. It may also come to some audiences as a message of chilling hope that life and beauty will always coexist with death and the ugly.

For decades, To Kill a Mockingbird has been one of the major icons of the fight against bullying and injustice. It inspires and will continue to inspire people to stand up for what is right and maintain integrity at all times. To Kill a Mockingbird is not only an indelible experience once read but also a novel full of moral lessons people of any age must keep treasured. 

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Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Harrison Bergeron is a short story written by an American writer named Kurt Vonnegut Jr.. It is a satirical, dystopian, science fiction story based on a society whose desperate attempt to achieve perfection resulted in misfortunes. The story was initially published in October 1961 and was republished in 1968 by the Welcome to the Monkey House Collection.

The story takes place in the year 2081. In line with the amendments to the constitution, every American citizen is entirely equal. This means that no one is weaker than the other, no one is slower, no one is uglier, faster, or wiser— all are equal. Agents and generals monitor and ensure that the law of equality is enforced. 

The story starts on one fateful day in April. A then fourteen-year-old Harrison Bergeron was taken away from his parents—George and Hazel. However, both of his parents were not fully aware of this tragedy. Hazel’s intelligence is average, resulting in a lack of awareness of her surroundings. People like Hazel possess such intelligence and cannot think or stretch their thinking time. On the other hand, despite having great intelligence, George could not comprehend well because the law requires people with above-average intelligence to wear a radio twenty-four hours a day. The government broadcasts a noise over these radios, which interrupts the thoughts of intelligent citizens like George. 

When Hazel and George watch the ballerinas dance on TV, Hazel cries but can’t grasp the cause of her tears. After a while, She and George praise the dancers on TV. The ballerinas were masked to hide their good looks and were handicapped to make their moves appear average. After a few moments of watching, George’s thoughts were interrupted by a noise.

 Two ballerinas also appear to get distracted, which means they possess above-average intelligence. There was a brief moment when George thought about his son, Harrison, as another noise distracted him from his thoughts. Before thinking deeper, Hazel urges him to lie down and rest his handicap bag, which weighs 47 pounds. This bag was placed and locked around George’s neck. Instead of lying down, he decided to get up and fetch some beer to help him relax a little bit. Hazel just smiled and agreed. 

The TV soon flashes a piece of news that was read by a man who has a speech impairment. Hazel praised the man for trying and said that he deserved a raise. When the man gives up trying, he passes the bulletin to a ballerina. The lady then read it in her natural, lovely voice. Still, after being aware of what she had done, she immediately apologized and continued reading it using a low-almost-growling voice so that no one would get jealous. The bulletin says that Harrison has escaped from prison. 

They flashed a picture of Harrison on the TV. He is wearing his handicapped that were made to suppress his strength, good looks, and intelligence. There was a rumbling noise on the TV. What followed was a video of Harrison removing his handicapped and claiming that he is the emperor and the greatest ruler in history and soon took off his handicapped to reveal his good looks. He ordered everyone to obey his commands, and he would make them royalty. Harrison then looked for a potential wife, saying he would make her the queen of his kingdom. A ballerina stepped up, removed her handicapped, and revealed her goddess-like beauty. 

Harrison ordered two musicians to play a song, and he will make them royalties. They danced to the music, and as if defying gravity, they floated 30 meters up in the air where they kissed. Diana Moon Glampers, the head handicapped general, came to the studio with a shotgun and shot both Harrison and the ballerina. She also warned both of the musicians to wear their handicapped or she’ll shoot them too. The TV screen turned black, and afterwards, George came with his beer and asked Hazel why she was crying. Hazel, who couldn’t remember what happened, said she watched something sad. Unaware of all these happenings, George advised Hazel to avoid remembering anything painful. Up to the end, both are unaware of what happened to their son, Harrison. 

Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut is a tragic short story that bravely talks about different issues that we experience up to this moment. As they say, one cannot achieve perfection without flaws. This short story reminded us that overdoing something might make us forget the purpose of doing it all. Perfectionism is a disease that kills the hope for equality. Knowing and drawing clear boundaries between right and wrong should be the top priority to achieve equality.

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In conclusion, Harrison is an excellent example of someone who has been silenced and suppressed but bravely stood up, showing his defiance and hunger for power. Equality in this story was taken into literal form. In reality, equality pertains to the rights and freedom of everyone, not to how we look or think because we are all made different from each other. 

This story has raised awareness not only among many citizens but also among the leaders. Like Harrison, many of us are breaking free from society’s constraints of social norms. In the end, the story depicts how equally unequal their community is. 

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The Tragedy of Macbeth and the Importance of “Sleeping on It”

Is blindly and impatiently chasing something that was eventually lost sound familiar?

Shakespeare’s Macbeth certainly thinks so.

After several eras, the story “Macbeth” and its moral lessons remain relevant to the modern age. It is one of the major topics for critical, analytical, and literary essays for college students globally. “Macbeth” may be the shortest tragedy Shakespeare has written; still, it is not scarce on heavy themes, symbolism, wisdom, and drama. 

Macbeth’s story starts when three witches prophesied his dual title gain after his victorious battles alongside his friend and co-general, Banquo. Shakespeare was vague on why the witches deemed it necessary to prophesy Macbeth. However, this literary essay will clarify what Macbeth chose to do with this prophecy.

The play consisted of 5 acts. Heavy fantasy, medieval settings, and human emotions filled every scene. Let us tackle each.

In Act 1, Macbeth’s ego evolves when the witches’ first prophecy about him comes true, enhanced by the fact that he is a victor of multiple battles. This scene is where it all goes wrong. He had two choices: Be grateful and patient for the “King of Scotland” prophecy to happen naturally, or be greedy and rush the process. Mixing with his wife’s hunger for power, Macbeth chooses the latter.

Act 2 gives Macbeth the option to take the other road. However, his greed increases and Lady Macbeth nourishes this greed for personal gain. After killing his beloved King Duncan to accelerate his kingship, Macbeth sinks into tormenting guilt and self-loath.

In Act 3, Macbeth indeed becomes King of Scotland. Instead of being a good King, his rampant greed and remorse for killing his King made him a tyrant. Further, Macbeth’s paranoia about Banquo’s children overthrowing him compels him to murder another friend and his children. Here, Macbeth loses his chances of retribution, for Banquo’s son, Fleance, survives.

In Act 4, King Macbeth tries to soothe himself by seeking more prophecy from the witches. The three witches–may be sensing Macbeth’s dark intentions and brokenness–indulge him with vague predictions such as no man born of a woman can harm him.

This insatiable greed and blind chase for power denied him the signs of an upcoming rebellion against him by Macduff and King Duncan’s surviving son, Malcolm.

In the last Act,  Macbeth learns that Lady Macbeth committed suicide due to self-inflicted suffering. It is debatable that he could have chosen to surrender to the incoming rebellion led by Macduff and Malcolm. Instead, his greed and pride override his grief.

King Macbeth gloats over his enemies, knowing that the witches prophesied that anyone born of a woman could not harm him. Because of his greed and desperation for comfort from his grief, Macbeth fails to protect himself from Macduff, who was technically not born of a woman but was pulled out from his mother’s womb instead (caesarian).

Realizing his mistake of haste trapped him, Macbeth surrenders to Macduff, who then beheads him as a symbol of the people’s triumph over King Macbeth’s tyranny. 

Malcolm becomes King of Scotland to serve as a velveteen sheet over Macbeth’s betrayal of his father, the late King Duncan, and the people of Scotland during his reign of terror.

The story of Macbeth delivered not only a thrilling drama but also hinted at noteworthy lessons for people of any age and era.

First, “Macbeth” teaches us that “sleeping on it” is worth every second. When Macbeth received the glittering prophecy of his kingship, he let his excitement and pride run over his chances to take the news calmly. When Lady Macbeth suggested they kill King Duncan, Macbeth could have let the night slip away in peace and talked about the situation when their shock and greed subsided after a good sleep.

Second, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth could have avoided their tragedies if they had only taken their prophecy in the same way Banquo took his. Banquo accepts it with patience and humility, both of which Macbeth and his wife seemingly do not possess. Banquo could have killed Macbeth and his family to claim the throne for his children, but his morals prevented it. Macbeth sabotages his successful fate with his oversized ego and impatience.

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Lastly, this story teaches us to be careful about whom we listen to. Macbeth’s first mistake was listening to the three witches and taking their word at face value, knowing they could have been toying with him. Another one is him listening to all of Lady Macbeth’s wicked persuasion and the torture of his masculinity, constantly challenging him to “man up.”

In real life, we should always be mindful of whom we take advice from, even from a trusted friend or lover.

Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” is not as celebrated as his “Romeo and Juliet” or “Hamlet.” Still, its theme, plot, and character design give it an edge in the literary world. If anyone is at a point in life where they think they will never get there, Macbeth shows examples of why one should always “sleep on it.”

Pages 2
Words 834
Academic Essay
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