Gender, Gender And Social Values Essay

Gender, Gender And Social Values Essay

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Gender Roles in the 1930s
Gender bias is very common in the corporate world. Throughout history, males have been dominant in the workforce, whereas women have been excluded. Currently, only 4.6 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, women rarely even work outside of the house. In this novel, Harper Lee shows the differences between the roles of males and females, specifically the distinctions between occupations and social values in the 1930s.
Throughout the novel, many adults criticize Scout for acting and dressing like a boy. When Scout and Jem pass Mrs. Dubose’s house on the way to town, Mrs. Dubose shouts, “What are you doing in those overalls? You should be in a dress and camisole, young lady!” (102). Mrs. Dubose is publicly criticizing Scout because she is wearing “boy clothes”. Furthermore, Aunt Alexandra tells Scout not to wear pants because girls don’t do activities that require pants (82). This shows society’s views on what males and females should and should not do. Scout is the only female who even thinks about doing activities normally associated with boys or men. On the contrary, the other women don’t question society’s norms—instead they just follow along with what the men think. By saying this, Mrs. Dubose and Aunt Alexandra convey their perception of the ideal feminine roles: to take care of all of the housework and look after the members of the family.
When Aunt Alexandra is with the family in Maycomb, she gives Scout personal experience as a lady in the Maycomb Missionary Society. When the ladies are at Atticus’s house for the missionary circle, Aunt Alexandra says, “Stay with us Jean Louise” (229). She is trying as hard as she can to make Scout more lady-like. Aunt Al...

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...roles of most males in this type of society. He is never seen cooking or performing tasks considered to be a “woman’s role” at any point throughout the novel. Atticus appreciates everything Calpurnia has done for him, so even when Aunt Alexandra comes to stay with him, he keeps Calpurnia in his house (136).
Harper Lee wants the readers to consider how gender roles affect societal roles and how the lives of men and women are drastically different during the novel’s time period. Women now have many more opportunities than they did in the 1930s, yet it is still sad to see very few women working in the higher level positions in larger companies today. However, this is a great improvement when compared to a society where women rarely worked outside of the house. Hopefully, this gap between men and women will continue to shrink at a much more rapid rate in the near future.

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