She Can Only Go Home: Gender Roles in the Domestic Sphere
In the film Tough Guise the narrator flashes a scene from The Wizard of Oz as an example of the masks that males in western culture are expected to wear as an expression of their masculine gender. It made me think about the roles the women play in this film and how that relates to how women are expected to wear their gender in the public and private spheres, and how these roles relate to the expectations placed on women in their work and home life.
Women in American culture have some pretty clear expectations placed on them as to what their role in society entails. A little girl’s first toy is often a baby doll, followed by a play kitchen, an Easy Bake Oven, a Barbie, fashion magazines, clothes, and make-up. The message is pretty clear, a woman’s value is found in her ability to conform to domesticity: to be a mother, to cook, clean, and make her self up to be a beautiful wife. Women in film are often depicted as: already fitting into this domestic realm, striving to find their place in the domestic realm, or suffering some sort of repercussion for their inability or disinterest in participating in the typical domestic sphere. Each of these scenarios are depicted in the film The Wizard of Oz, in Dorothy, the Wicked Witch, and Aunty Em.
In The Wizard of Oz Aunt Em is a practically a caricature of the self sacrificing Woman of the House. Perhaps because she seems to have no child of her own, her role as matron must be so exaggerated and unyielding, or perhaps it is because she is the role
She Can Only Go Home: Roles of the Female in the Domestic Sphere 2
model of transition for Dorothy into th...
... middle of paper ...
...unt Em for her lack interest in the domestic affairs, is shown through the severity and isolation of the Wicked Witch, where such indifference can lead. It is important for the ease of the audience that Dorothy learn quickly that the home is her place.
It is very clear in this ‘coming of age story’ that society’s views are that the female’s primary place is in the home, while as Scott & Weber (2005) point out “As she (Dorothy)learns this difference, the reader confronts two antithetical drives: the female
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urge to incorporate is juxtaposed to a masculine desire first articulated in The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman.” (p. 21) the males in this story, as in society, have a variety of desires they could be seeking, all of which serve to assist them in their expansive pursuits in the wider world.
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