Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014


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In her essay, “Oppression,” Marilyn Frye expresses the belief that men and women in today’s culture are required to be restrained.  She believes that men are required to be emotionally restrained and women, physically.  She states that men feel oppressed because of “their much-advertised inability to cry” (67-68). Men are taught, or conditioned,  by societal and familial influences, that being masculine is equal to being emotionally callused. Their feeling of oppression comes from the expectation not to show emotion as a result of the conditioning that being emotional exposes immasculinity. Another way in which this oppression could negatively affect men is in their communication, especially with women. This common misunderstanding between the sexes is largely due to men’s inability to communicate their feelings and women’s impatience with them. (Notice that the blame is shared here.)

The physical restraint that women feel can affect them in many ways. The common belief (among women) is that men want women to be “restrained” and controlled. As a result, the women that are in these types of relationships can have some very negative effects from this. They tend to feel dependent on men: financially, emotionally, etc. This can also make women feel as though they have to be submissive to men, and that they are not supposed to object to the man’s decisions. Frye gives us an example of what I think is a stereotype against women. On page 68, Frye talks about the difference between how a man’s sexual activity is received versus a woman’s. She states that it does not matter if women are sexually inactive or active, there is always criticism against them.


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