Women in Society: Historical and Modern Roles

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 2
Words: 505
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: School

History remains significant in understanding the contemporary woman, her roles, challenges, and evolution. Traditionally, women were confined to their homes, with roles ranging from cooking for the family and raising children. However, events such as the world wars, civil rights movements, and industrialization liberated women by giving them a chance to step out of their houses and work in organizations. By 1970, there was a significant paradigm in the public/private lives of women (Helly and Susan 1). Although women are increasingly working in industrial settings, they still do many of the traditional feminized jobs like house chores and caring for family members.

The traditional women were forced to live in absolute submission to men because they did not own any property or resources. Girls received less education, were prohibited from advancing to universities, and had the sole purpose of marrying and reproducing (Arniati 622). A woman’s worth was in her husband, the head of the household, and owned everything, including the wife and children. A barren woman would be considered an outcast and divorced. Thus, women’s work was striving to please their husbands while reproducing for them.

The plight of women in an overly patriarchal society is evident in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. In the play, the male characters try to victimize women by abandoning them. However, Laura and Amanda decide to strive and find their own identity by making a decision to defile the norm. For instance, Amanda is a single mother and raises her daughter such that she is neither engaged nor dependent on a man (Williams 438). The changing roles of women stepping in to become leaders and providers in their homes show some changes from traditional confinement. However, the functions of caring for the child and doing all house choir are still largely on women.

The other significant shift in women’s roles is the embracing of the gay movement. Particularly, people who were assigned the female sex at birth identify as men. For instance, in After the Ball, women who identify as gay are described as “frankensteinian thug-women with bolts on their necks” (Kirsch). They try dressing and behaving like men and prefer to be addressed as males. Society is yet to embrace the queer ladies fully, but it is a significant change from the traditional women’s roles. Gay females can marry other women and act as a male figure in a romantic relationship or family. The law has legalized such marriages, but the contemporary society still condemns such women as immoral, evil, and promiscuous.

Conclusively, there are some changes in regard to the historical and modern roles of women. In the past, women did not own anything but depended on men. Their ultimate role was raising children and working in the house. However, now there are gay women who assume the role that men traditionally took. Moreover, the contemporary woman has evolved and can engage in industrial work and earn. Nonetheless, men are still slow to step up and work in their homes, making the women’s job double.

Works Cited

Arniati, Fitri, et al. “Mother Behavior to Their Daughters as Seen in ”Pride and Prejudice” and “Little Women”.” ELS Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, vol. 2, no. 4, 2019, pp. 620-625.

Helly, Dorothy O., and Susan M. Reverby. Gendered Domains: Rethinking Public and Private in Women’s History. Cornell UP, 2018.

Kirsch, Jonathan. “Book Review: Provocative Call to Arms on Gay Rights.” Los Angeles Times, 2022.

Williams, Tennessee. “The Glass Menageries.” Plays 1937-1955. Eds. Mel Gussow and Kenneth Holdich, New York: Library of America, 2000. 390-482.