Naomi Lee Castillo English Composition II Susan DickinsonDec 1, 2017Whatit is Like to Be a Woman There are more than seven billion people in this worldand the majority of the female population do not love themselves. It is so sadto see videos and articles about women being abused or mistreated forunnecessary reasons because men think they have the higher power. This researchstudy will review one of Gail Godwin’s short story “A Sorrowful Woman” andAlice Walker’s poem “A Woman is Not a Potted Plant”. This study will determinethe differences between multiple cultures and traditions with the roles ofbeing a woman. Thesetwo pieces were chosen because coming from a Mexican culture family, we thinkdifferently towards the role of being a women than American cultures and othercultures do. Gail Godwin is an American short story writer that is recognized inour book “Literature to Go 2nd edition by Michael Meyer” and providesa 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 thatgoes through real life situations but is not enjoying her role of being awomen. During the story her duties and chores are to care for her husband, her childand the housekeeping. Her frustrationwith her role in life also leads Godwin’s character as the sorrowful woman toencounter other roles.
In Alice Walker’s “A Woman is Not a PottedPlant”, this poem demonstrates a variety of women by relating thedifference between a potted plant and a woman. Walker then uses the comparison ofa potted plant to help visualize how women are not kept in one place. Sheexplains that “A woman is not a potted plant, her branches espalieredagainst the fences of her background” (Walker Lines 10-18). To espalier isto control the growth of a plant by growing it along a fence or frame. The authoris saying that women cannot only grow based on where they began.
In thefollowing lines, she says that women are for more than following whoever”Feeds and waters” (lines 25-26) them. She is stating that women donot have to be bound to someone just because that person cares for them. In thelast part of the poem, Walker changes her tone and says that “A woman is awilderness, unbounded, holding the future between each breath” (Walker Lines28-32). Walker tells us that a woman’s growth is not controlled and that she isthe one holding her own future. The author starts the poem with what a woman isnot, and the shift to what a woman is creates a change in tone from a slightlymore negative point of view to a positive one. Alice Walker is a great writer, in fact, she writes aboutthe power of women quite often in her pieces. There is another piece of hersthat was discussed in class, which describes the innocence of a little girl andhow 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 toldor taught about how to treat each other. The girl in the short story “TheFlowers” by Alice Walker, talks about how Myop was a strong independent girlwho 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 herlife 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 AfricanAmerican. Living in a world where people have no respect for other races orother cultures is so misleading and disappointing to this country. Culture is a word that we hear often but do not know thatit has different meanings to it. According to this article, “Culture is part ofthe fabric of every society, including our own.
It shapes “the way things aredone” and our understanding of why this should be so” (Schalkwyk 1). There aremany traditions and races out there that go by a specific philosophy. Many ofthese traditions, beliefs, and behaviors are often shaped by their cultures. Thisis, 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 culturalexplanations of why this should be so” (Schalkwyk 1). Within societies anddifferent cultures, the role of being a man and woman are different thanAmerican cultures. There are many men out there that mention howtheir wives are either stay-at-home moms or work from home. With women havingdifferent beliefs, “The political potential of such symbols is evident in theways 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 theUnites States President, there was not many Americans that were very happy withthat.
People used fictional stories against her and used the term “Women cannotbe presidents”. Why not? Psychologically and legally woman have the right torun for anything if they want to. It is true that men take longer to maturethan woman and has quickly been recognized, but the fact that men still get ahigher power than women is unfair.
Woman are very intelligent. We tend to be optimistic, tryto be the best wife, the best mother and the best housekeeper there is, butsometimes that is not the case. Many of these traditional acts come from ourfamilies “However, religious beliefs and national identity are also importantto women.
This is evident in the efforts by different groups of women to reviewinterpretations of religious texts and to reaffirm values and traditions thatsupport freedom and dignity for women” (Schalkwyk 2). Many women are waitingfor marriage and they tend to be bashed on that. Most of religious womenbelieve in waiting to have sex until marriage and that is fine. As Mexican American woman there are some values and rulesthat we have to live by; in other words, there are traditional factors that wedo differently apart from the American woman. There are rules such as feedingthe men first, women are expected to be homemakers which is ensuring that thehouse is always clean while the men do the outside work, women are oftendisciplined if seen outside the home without a man, and finally abuse is partof the action.
Over the years, Mexicans have migrated to the United States tobetter their lives. With that being said, it is usually the men who migrateover 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 kindof jobs they would have. Moving more towards a women’s role changing this normcame across “Work enhances women’s self-esteem as wives and mothers, affordsthem income to actualize these roles more fully and provides them with aheightened leverage to participate equally with men in household decisionmaking” (Knapp 3). With women traveling from different countries, there aresome 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 statedthat they felt more powerful in the United States because there were laws toprotect them against domestic violence but also stated that abuse and violencewere regular occurrences, so that men continued to run the household because ofviolence” (Knapp 3). It is hard to understand how that would be right, but itis not. Women in the United States or anywhere around the world are notsupposed to be abuse or should not receive any type of physical violence from amale.
Although moving to the United States there are some resources that thosewomen can use to help ease the pain of the abuse or leave theirhusbands/boyfriends because they are tired of living that way. They feel likethey are just obeying their significant other. Nowadays, men are using women for sex and power, but in aMexican culture young people are not educated on this topic. Many Mexicanwomen, especially the older ones, do not visit with their daughters about sexbecause that subject is sacred to them. Several of the Mexican American womenavoid sex for some time because they do not really know how it works and areafraid to disappoint their spouse. In “A Sorrow Women” the author mentions howher husband wants to have sex with her when she does not really want to. Ladiesare so insecure about their bodies. In this culture of Mexican American, “Thetransformation in their sexual relations, from fear and objectification of herbody, to equality, pleasure, and respect, shows a parallel in thetransformation of their power relations and equality as a couple with trustinstead of only respect” (Knapp 5).
With this study it shows that gender roles do changewithin years. With the story that Knapp shared about “Women, Men, and theChanging Role of Gender in Immigration” “When asked how their gender roles hadchanged in the United States, three male informants who were originally marriedin Mexico remarked that they can no longer beat their wives in the UnitedStates as they did in Mexico for fear of police intervention” (Knapp 8). It issickening to know that men are okay with hurting their wives. Men are abusiveto their wives in Mexico to control the power of the household who feel likethey are the man of the house. There are some women are way too strong to notput up with that nonsense many of them find a way to escape and not deal withthe domestic or verbal violence.
In “A Sorrow Woman” the wife and the motherdid everything she could around the house while her husband was working and herson would be in school. It was not working out for her. She was tired andweary. She even isolated herself into a room and did not come emerge.
Herhusband took the initiative and started doing all the house work for her, but shewas still not a happy wife. The issue about American Women is that they are raised indifferent ways. American Women are known for their freedom and theirindependence. Is that what “Sorrowful Woman” was thinking when she isolatedherself? Who knows. She tries to encounter different roles but those roles donot turn out to be successful. The main point about this is that she was justtired of doing everything around the house and she needed to stop doing it tosee if anyone would take over or make it a better place. Her husband dideverything for her, would yet she was still unsatisfied with her role. It makesone think how someone like her have such a hard time with her life, when allyou 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 arealistic story to tell. The world should not be judging woman based on theirbehaviors towards their husbands because they may be going through a crisis athome. Feminism “is a range of political movements, ideologies,and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, andachieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes” (MerriamWebster) is talking about Mexican American and American cultures. If Woman arehappy with being a feminist and sticking to their traditional cultures thenthat is acceptable. Women’s movement has been an enormous venture over the pastseveral years. Today, gender bias continues to create huge barriers for manywomen.
In history, it is shown that women have tried to fight for theirequality. Women all over the world are being treated differently and unequally. As mentioned the Mexican American and American culturestowards the role of being a woman, it is necessary to talk about other culturesas well.
According to “Women, Development and Empowerment: A Pacific FeministPerspective” cultural differences in the pacific were recognized. The articlementions how “In Tonga and Samoa, if women expressed themselves freelysexually, they were considered “bad”, regardless of their role or contributionin the society” (New Zealand 5). Mexican American woman and some American womenvalue the same beliefs as these women in these different cultures. There was apart of this article that stood out “Some societies had different positions ofprivilege and power, held by men or women” (New Zealand 5).
That is so true,different cultures and societies have diverse levels of childhoods andunderstandings. “A SorrowfulWoman” and “A Woman is Not a Plotted Plant” they both had a very insightfulmessage about the role of being a women. With extensive research, it shown thatthose women mentioned in those pieces are not the only ones feeling like that.
These pieces interpret a powerful word that may help women with theirself-confidence and make women realize that they are not just another speciesliving in this world. Women, as much as they do not show it. They want to feellike they are on top of the world and feel that have they the honor to doanything in the world. As G.
D Anderson said “Feminism is not about making womenstronger. Women are already strong. It is about changing the way the world perceivesthat strength” (Pinterest Pictured Quotes). With all that being said, despite the tremendous progressmade in the struggle for gender equality, women still face all these issues. Womenstill face the issues such as abuse, inequality, and sexual interactions to thisday. Women do not wish to have power over me, but should have power overthemselves. It is important that these Women around the world feel like theycan rule and do anything they want in life. Feminist are women who think powerover privilege, “We need to live in a culture that values and respects andlooks 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 anotherand fight our wars and show men what we are capable of doing the impossible.
WorksCited? ? “Women,Development and Empowerment: A Pacific Feminist Perspective.” New Zealand Electronic Text Collection. Web.26. Nov. 2017 nzetc.victoria.
ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-GriWom2-c1-6.html. Godwin, Gail.?”A Sorrowful Woman”.?Literatureto Go. 2nd?ed.
Ed.?Michael Meyer. Boston: Belford/ St. Martin’s.2014. 37-41.
Print.?? Knapp,Jenna, et al. “Women, Men, and the Changing Role of Gender in Immigration.” Institute for Latino Studies, Karen Richman,2009. Web.
26 Nov. 2017 latinostudies.nd.edu/assets/95245/original/3.3_gender_migration.pdf.
Paglia, Camille. “Feminism Past and Present: Ideology, Action, andReform.” The Legacy and Future of Feminism at Harvard University. Spring/Summer2008. 1-17. Shalkwyk, Johanna. “CULTURE: Culture, GenderEquality and Development Cooperation”.
?OECD:Bettern?Policiesfor Better Lives,June 2000. Web.?21 Nov. 2017 www.
oecd.org/social/gender-development/1896320.pdf.? Walker,Alice. “A Woman is Not a Potted Plant.”, Feb. 2012. Web.
21 Nov. 2017. anythingurban.typepad.com/the_manchild_swagga/2012/02/a-woman-is-not-a-potted-plant-alice-walker.html.