Naomi reasons because men think they have the

Naomi Lee Castillo

 English Composition II

Susan Dickinson

Dec 1, 2017

it is Like to Be a Woman

            There are more than seven billion people in this world
and the majority of the female population do not love themselves. It is so sad
to see videos and articles about women being abused or mistreated for
unnecessary reasons because men think they have the higher power. This research
study will review one of Gail Godwin’s short story “A Sorrowful Woman” and
Alice Walker’s poem “A Woman is Not a Potted Plant”. This study will determine
the differences between multiple cultures and traditions with the roles of
being a woman.

two pieces were chosen because coming from a Mexican culture family, we think
differently towards the role of being a women than American cultures and other
cultures do. Gail Godwin is an American short story writer that is recognized in
our book “Literature to Go 2nd edition by Michael Meyer” and provides
a variety of stories and other fictional pieces; however, “A Sorrowful Woman”
published in 1971, is a story that explains the role of a sorrowful woman that
goes through real life situations but is not enjoying her role of being a
women. During the story her duties and chores are to care for her husband, her child
and the housekeeping.  Her frustration
with her role in life also leads Godwin’s character as the sorrowful woman to
encounter other roles.

            In Alice Walker’s “A Woman is Not a Potted
Plant”, this poem demonstrates a variety of women by relating the
difference between a potted plant and a woman. Walker then uses the comparison of
a potted plant to help visualize how women are not kept in one place. She
explains that “A woman is not a potted plant, her branches espaliered
against the fences of her background” (Walker Lines 10-18). To espalier is
to control the growth of a plant by growing it along a fence or frame. The author
is saying that women cannot only grow based on where they began. In the
following lines, she says that women are for more than following whoever
“Feeds and waters” (lines 25-26) them. She is stating that women do
not have to be bound to someone just because that person cares for them. In the
last part of the poem, Walker changes her tone and says that “A woman is a
wilderness, unbounded, holding the future between each breath” (Walker Lines
28-32). Walker tells us that a woman’s growth is not controlled and that she is
the one holding her own future. The author starts the poem with what a woman is
not, and the shift to what a woman is creates a change in tone from a slightly
more negative point of view to a positive one.

            Alice Walker is a great writer, in fact, she writes about
the power of women quite often in her pieces. There is another piece of hers
that was discussed in class, which describes the innocence of a little girl and
how she lost her innocence due to the cruel world. The story “The Flowers”
predicts a girl, her freedom and how women think. Growing up we are either told
or taught about how to treat each other. The girl in the short story “The
Flowers” by Alice Walker, talks about how Myop was a strong independent girl
who would wonder and explore the world by herself while her mom worked at home.
She shows her integrity and her confidence on how she can easily handle her
life without any kind of guidance or a man telling her what to do. It is obvious,
with the detailed evidence provided from the story, that Myop is African
American. Living in a world where people have no respect for other races or
other cultures is so misleading and disappointing to this country.

            Culture is a word that we hear often but do not know that
it has different meanings to it. According to this article, “Culture is part of
the fabric of every society, including our own. It shapes “the way things are
done” and our understanding of why this should be so” (Schalkwyk 1). There are
many traditions and races out there that go by a specific philosophy. Many of
these traditions, beliefs, and behaviors are often shaped by their cultures. This
is, indeed, true “In most societies there are clear patterns of “women’s work”
and “men’s work,” both in the household and in the wider community-and cultural
explanations of why this should be so” (Schalkwyk 1). Within societies and
different cultures, the role of being a man and woman are different than
American cultures.

 There are many men out there that mention how
their wives are either stay-at-home moms or work from home. With women having
different beliefs, “The political potential of such symbols is evident in the
ways that religious and political movements have focused on women’s roles”
(Schalkwyk 2). With Hillary Clinton being one of the first women to run for the
Unites States President, there was not many Americans that were very happy with
that. People used fictional stories against her and used the term “Women cannot
be presidents”. Why not? Psychologically and legally woman have the right to
run for anything if they want to. It is true that men take longer to mature
than woman and has quickly been recognized, but the fact that men still get a
higher power than women is unfair.


            Woman are very intelligent. We tend to be optimistic, try
to be the best wife, the best mother and the best housekeeper there is, but
sometimes that is not the case. Many of these traditional acts come from our
families “However, religious beliefs and national identity are also important
to women. This is evident in the efforts by different groups of women to review
interpretations of religious texts and to reaffirm values and traditions that
support freedom and dignity for women” (Schalkwyk 2). Many women are waiting
for marriage and they tend to be bashed on that. Most of religious women
believe in waiting to have sex until marriage and that is fine.

            As Mexican American woman there are some values and rules
that we have to live by; in other words, there are traditional factors that we
do differently apart from the American woman. There are rules such as feeding
the men first, women are expected to be homemakers which is ensuring that the
house is always clean while the men do the outside work, women are often
disciplined if seen outside the home without a man, and finally abuse is part
of the action. Over the years, Mexicans have migrated to the United States to
better their lives. With that being said, it is usually the men who migrate
over and the women stay in Mexico to care for their children and their home.
When the women migrate to the United States, they typically get jobs such as: housekeeping,
nannying, cooks, maids, and so forth. One can easily get the idea of what kind
of jobs they would have. Moving more towards a women’s role changing this norm
came across “Work enhances women’s self-esteem as wives and mothers, affords
them income to actualize these roles more fully and provides them with a
heightened leverage to participate equally with men in household decision
making” (Knapp 3).

            With women traveling from different countries, there are
some obvious reasons why roles and their values in feminism are being changed.
With so many issues going on in the United States “many of the women stated
that they felt more powerful in the United States because there were laws to
protect them against domestic violence but also stated that abuse and violence
were regular occurrences, so that men continued to run the household because of
violence” (Knapp 3). It is hard to understand how that would be right, but it
is not. Women in the United States or anywhere around the world are not
supposed to be abuse or should not receive any type of physical violence from a
male. Although moving to the United States there are some resources that those
women can use to help ease the pain of the abuse or leave their
husbands/boyfriends because they are tired of living that way. They feel like
they are just obeying their significant other.

            Nowadays, men are using women for sex and power, but in a
Mexican culture young people are not educated on this topic. Many Mexican
women, especially the older ones, do not visit with their daughters about sex
because that subject is sacred to them. Several of the Mexican American women
avoid sex for some time because they do not really know how it works and are
afraid to disappoint their spouse. In “A Sorrow Women” the author mentions how
her husband wants to have sex with her when she does not really want to. Ladies
are so insecure about their bodies. In this culture of Mexican American, “The
transformation in their sexual relations, from fear and objectification of her
body, to equality, pleasure, and respect, shows a parallel in the
transformation of their power relations and equality as a couple with trust
instead of only respect” (Knapp 5).

            With this study it shows that gender roles do change
within years. With the story that Knapp shared about “Women, Men, and the
Changing Role of Gender in Immigration” “When asked how their gender roles had
changed in the United States, three male informants who were originally married
in Mexico remarked that they can no longer beat their wives in the United
States as they did in Mexico for fear of police intervention” (Knapp 8). It is
sickening to know that men are okay with hurting their wives. Men are abusive
to their wives in Mexico to control the power of the household who feel like
they are the man of the house. There are some women are way too strong to not
put up with that nonsense many of them find a way to escape and not deal with
the domestic or verbal violence. In “A Sorrow Woman” the wife and the mother
did everything she could around the house while her husband was working and her
son would be in school. It was not working out for her. She was tired and
weary. She even isolated herself into a room and did not come emerge. Her
husband took the initiative and started doing all the house work for her, but she
was still not a happy wife.

            The issue about American Women is that they are raised in
different ways. American Women are known for their freedom and their
independence. Is that what “Sorrowful Woman” was thinking when she isolated
herself? Who knows. She tries to encounter different roles but those roles do
not turn out to be successful. The main point about this is that she was just
tired of doing everything around the house and she needed to stop doing it to
see if anyone would take over or make it a better place. Her husband did
everything for her, would yet she was still unsatisfied with her role. It makes
one think how someone like her have such a hard time with her life, when all
you can think of is the that she has the best life. Being a true believer of
“Everyone has a story” meaning that every single person in this world has a
realistic story to tell. The world should not be judging woman based on their
behaviors towards their husbands because they may be going through a crisis at

            Feminism “is a range of political movements, ideologies,
and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and
achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes” (Merriam
Webster) is talking about Mexican American and American cultures. If Woman are
happy with being a feminist and sticking to their traditional cultures then
that is acceptable. Women’s movement has been an enormous venture over the past
several years. Today, gender bias continues to create huge barriers for many
women. In history, it is shown that women have tried to fight for their
equality. Women all over the world are being treated differently and unequally.

            As mentioned the Mexican American and American cultures
towards the role of being a woman, it is necessary to talk about other cultures
as well. According to “Women, Development and Empowerment: A Pacific Feminist
Perspective” cultural differences in the pacific were recognized. The article
mentions how “In Tonga and Samoa, if women expressed themselves freely
sexually, they were considered “bad”, regardless of their role or contribution
in the society” (New Zealand 5). Mexican American woman and some American women
value the same beliefs as these women in these different cultures. There was a
part of this article that stood out “Some societies had different positions of
privilege and power, held by men or women” (New Zealand 5). That is so true,
different cultures and societies have diverse levels of childhoods and

             “A Sorrowful
Woman” and “A Woman is Not a Plotted Plant” they both had a very insightful
message about the role of being a women. With extensive research, it shown that
those women mentioned in those pieces are not the only ones feeling like that.
These pieces interpret a powerful word that may help women with their
self-confidence and make women realize that they are not just another species
living in this world. Women, as much as they do not show it. They want to feel
like they are on top of the world and feel that have they the honor to do
anything in the world. As G.D Anderson said “Feminism is not about making women
stronger. Women are already strong. It is about changing the way the world perceives
that strength” (Pinterest Pictured Quotes).

            With all that being said, despite the tremendous progress
made in the struggle for gender equality, women still face all these issues. Women
still face the issues such as abuse, inequality, and sexual interactions to this
day. Women do not wish to have power over me, but should have power over
themselves. It is important that these Women around the world feel like they
can rule and do anything they want in life. Feminist are women who think power
over privilege, “We need to live in a culture that values and respects and
looks up to and idolizes women as much as men” – Emma Watson (Entertainment Weekly)
women are people too: therefore, it is important to stand up for one another
and fight our wars and show men what we are capable of doing the impossible.











Development and Empowerment: A Pacific Feminist Perspective.” New Zealand Electronic Text Collection. Web.
26. Nov. 2017

Godwin, Gail.?”A Sorrowful Woman”.?Literature
to Go. 2nd?ed. Ed.?Michael Meyer. Boston: Belford/ St. Martin’s.
2014. 37-41. Print.?? 

Jenna, et al. “Women, Men, and the Changing Role of Gender in Immigration.” Institute for Latino Studies, Karen Richman,
2009. Web. 26 Nov. 2017

Paglia, Camille. “Feminism Past and Present: Ideology, Action, and
Reform.” The Legacy and Future of Feminism at Harvard University. Spring/Summer
2008. 1-17.

Shalkwyk, Johanna. “CULTURE: Culture, Gender
Equality and Development Cooperation”.?OECD:Bettern?Policies
for Better Lives,
June 2000. Web.?21 Nov. 2017 

Alice. “A Woman is Not a Potted Plant.”, Feb. 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2017.


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