To Kill a Mockingbird: Gender Inequality

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  • Gender and Sex
  • "The ladies were cool in fragile pastel prints: most of them were heavily powdered but unrouged; the only lipstick in the room was Tangee Natural. Cutex Natural sparkled on their fingernails, but some of the younger ladies wore Rose. They smelled heavenly." (Chapter 24. Page 307)
  • Gender Identity
  • "Hypocrites, Mrs. Perkins, born hypocrites," (Chapter 24. Page 313)
  • I was more at home in my father's world. People like Mr. Heck Tate did not trap you with innocent questions to make fun of you; even Jem was not highly critical unless you said something stupid. . . . There was something about them, no matter how much they cussed and drank and gambled and chewed; no matter how undelectable they were, there was something about them that I instinctively liked... they weren't— (Ch24. Pg 313)
  • Gender Inequality
  • "What are you doing in those overalls? You should be in a dress and camisole, young lady! You'll grow up waiting on tables if somebody doesn't change your ways," (Chapter 11. Page 135)
  • "Don't pay any attention to her, just hold your head high and be a gentleman." (Chapter 11. Page 135)
  • Sex is defined as the biological and anatomical differences. Gender is the social or cultural distinctions associated with being male or female. This quote exemplifies the gender ideology of the stereotype of what being a female pertains to. Women were expected to be presentable; wearing makeup, dressed appropriately, smell nice, etc. They were even scrutinized down to the detail of what colour of nail polish they were wearing. During their spare time they are expected to socialize amongst other women.
  • Functionalist Perspective
  • "Grandma says all men should learn to cook, that men oughta be careful with their wives and wait on 'em when they don't feel good," (Chapter 9. Page 109)
  • " I don't want Dill waitin' on me, I'd rather wait on him." (Chapter 9. Page 109)
  • Scout identifies herself as being more comfortable in the male domain. Exhibiting more 'masculine' attitudes/behaviours. She is under the ideology of gender stereotypes. In her opinion she feels as if being a male is more dignified than being a woman. Despite pointing out all the negative aspects of being a man; she still degrades women as being less simply for questioning what is around them. Men are perceived to be direct, while women are hypocritical. Yet she does not realize this is, because men are validated in their opinions. Whereas women sometimes must alter their beliefs in order to conform to the social norm.
  • Marxist-Feminist Perspective (Patriarchy: Freidrich Engels)
  • Mrs.Dubose is implying that Scout needs to dress like a lady, otherwise in the future she will be unable to find a husband. Therefore requiring her to work as a waitress rather than letting her husband provide for her. During this time period, Mrs.Dubose ideals were the standard. Women were expected to find themselves husbands, otherwise they would be looked down upon. In addition Jem's comment signifies that being a gentleman means being honourable. However, then what does it mean to be a lady? Did he expect Scout to respond in a 'feminine' manner that would not be as dignified as if she handled the situation like a man?
  • Marxist-Feminist Perspective (Patriarchy: Dr.Dorothy Smith)
  • [Calpurnia] seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl. (Chapter 12. Page 154)
  • Scout illustrates her belief that women should be the ones doing housework, such as cooking. Unbeknownst to her supporting the traditional gender roles. This ideology is the Functionalist Perspective justifying gender inequality by claiming gender roles maximize productivity. Talcott Parsons theorized that the gendered division of labour within the nuclear family. The father or male figures are the leaders who are expected to provide for the family. The mother and females maintain the house and take care of the children.
  • Freidrich Engels theorized that gender inequality came about with the development of agriculture. Men acquired private property (ie. animals, tools, land). Also there was surplus they could control; instead of working for basic daily necessities. As a result of this they established dominance in the household and society. They created patrilineal lines of inheritance and to ensure the legitimacy of their heirs controlled women's sexuality with chastity belts. Ultimately it was the beginning of a capitalist society and gender roles emerged. Women's domestic work did not produce any value in a capitalist society. Leading to their degradation being beneath males.
  • Scout portrays Dr.Dorothy's Smith's theory of Bifurcated Consciousness. Where women's experiences and work are not acknowledged in patriarchal culture. Her socialization led to her believing that women's work (ie. cooking) isn't as difficult as what her father does by providing money for the family to live. Ignorant to seeing how the house would not function, without these tasks being completed. Furthermore that it requires physical labour and is tiring as well.
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