The Affects Gender Roles Have on Women

March 15, 2013
In the book The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros tells the life experiences of a girl named Esperanza and the people around her. Cisneros provides very detailed vignettes about women and how men view them as weak, useless property made to impress. Other men view them as powerless human beings who can’t support themselves without a man. The idea that gender roles state all these things is because women are expected to act a certain way, and that certain way is to be controlled by men. Gender roles in society and in the book state that women who are opposed to them are rebellious “horse women” who wouldn’t make a good wife or mother instead of viewing them as women who are independent, powerful, and strong in society. Sandra Cisneros is trying to tell us that society’s gender roles are unfair to the women who don’t want to be controlled by them.

Sandra Cisneros shows us how beauty affects the lives of women in society. In many vignettes, she states that beauty is something that should be hidden from the outside world. Women who are too beautiful like Rafaela in “Rafaela Who Drinks Papaya Juice on Tuesdays,” need to be held hostage in their own home. This is the act of the husband’s selfish, impulsive ways because he thinks locking her away is a solution to his problems. Women are mostly insecure human beings who want to look pretty to impress others, this is a problem to their husbands and they can’t control other people from liking the way they look. Beauty shouldn’t affect the trust the husband has for his wife because this means they don’t trust their wives to go outside for something so simple as to buy sweet drinks and one day women would realize that staying with them isn’t worth anything and leave. In What Sally Said, Sally is being abused by her father because since she is so beautiful, he is afraid she might run away with a boy. He doesn’t want this to happen, but since he abused her too much she ended up doing exactly what he never wanted in the end. For example in the vignette Linoleum Roses, “She says she is in love, but I think she did it to escape.” Sally’s idea to escape her father’s abuse was to get married to a salesman at a very young age, she is beautiful and that would make it easy to find a man somewhere. Even though she’s not happy now, it was her father’s fault for not trusting his daughter and abusing her to the extent of making her go away. A woman’s physical appearance shouldn’t represent her weaknesses and knowledge.

Cisneros shows readers that women in society depend a lot or feel the need to depend on men. Women, who think they are too weak or irresponsible to be alone, depend on men completely. They would stay at home and lean out their windows like Rafaela and let the opportunities they could have slip out of their hands. They wouldn’t have a care in the world, and are always daydreaming instead of working like they are supposed to because their man works for the whole family. They think its okay to depend on men because everyone tells them so, and every woman does. It’s like they are being brainwashed from all the things they could possibly do in life. It is unfair that women have to think that being different is rebellious and all women should act the same. It’s not wrong to be different; uniqueness is what makes women, women. Women have the right to control and live their own life because they aren’t slaves to keep in the house doing chores instead of becoming doctors, or authors. Gender is only a physical structure; it doesn’t mean anything and shouldn’t be separated because even though women aren’t men, they have the possibility to even do better. According to Marin she wants to look beautiful to get a man, “You always get to look beautiful and get to wear nice clothes and can meet someone in the subway who might marry you and take you to live in a big house far away,” This shows that all Marin wants is a man who can work for her and buy her a big house far away, she plans on doing that by deceiving him with her beauty. Marin is like many other women in society who think they are too weak and powerless to move on without a man. They believe that if you just look pretty for your husband, he will give you anything you please. This is wrong because women don’t need to look pretty for men to like them, its just society’s point of view. Being dependent of someone is not something to be proud of, to be proud of something is to say you’ve accomplish your life time goal and you feel strong. No one is going to help you forever and women need to realize that to get somewhere in life, they need to learn how to control themselves mentally and physically. It’s not every day you see a man ready to support you in a subway; it’s so rare that women should just move on and do what they need to do in life and after they’ve got a house of their own, they will someday meet the man whose worth it. You could even make a difference in the world, and prove to men that women are just the same as them, even better.

The author states that in many families, women are forced into marriage. First of all, forcing someone into doing anything is injustice. It should never accrue to anyone to do such an impulsive thing, because in the end it will never turn out right. If forcing a woman to marry someone she doesn’t love makes you happy, you are a selfish, impetuous person. Women have the right to fall in love and marry that one person; they aren’t property for people to sell to others as a woman made for impressing. For example, Esperanza’s great-grand mother experienced the same situation. According to My Name,” Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carried her off. Just like that, as if she were a fancy chandelier. That’s the way he did it.” This shows that men believe women are material things that can be sold to anyone even though they don’t want it. The woman who is forced to marry a man she doesn’t love experiences painful memories of her marriage since she never wanted it from the start. It’s usually because they can’t have the woman that men take advantage of her gender and force her into marrying him. Marriage is supposed to be pure and sweet not filled with forceful memories which could traumatize the woman until she dies. It’s a sad thought to believe that women are arranged to marry strangers and unwanted men. No woman wants to live a life of regret and sorrow as stated by Esperanza in My Name,” I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window.” This shows that women don’t want to be forced into anything and wait their whole life for a miracle to come and save her. Women are strong enough to control themselves and live life the way they want to. They would never be happy if they were forced into a life they never wanted from the start. Arranged marriage is like a way to show women they are weak and that nothing will come out right if you are a woman. They are wrong, but if not even women can realize that themselves, how are they supposed to believe they are strong and independent? Women can make their own choices and not be forced into something they don’t want to do.

Sexual harassment is a very common action because of gender roles. Women have been abused by men; it’s like a way to tell women that men and stronger and powerful than them. Of course when a women gets abused she feels like a weak person and it’s hard not to get traumatized by it. Men take advantage of the way that women are “weak” humans and feel that they can do anything they feel like to them. Women are usually physically weaker than men and this is an advantage to men because it makes it easier for them to do anything. For example, in the vignette Red Clowns it states,”It wasn’t what you said at all. What he did. Where he touched me.” This shows that men can abuse women anywhere, anytime. Esperanza was just waiting for Sally’s return when a boy came up to her and started to do strange things. She didn’t want this to happen, she wanted it to be like in fairytales where she was ready and in love. She became so traumatized that she blamed it all on Sally and the fairy tale books who said that first times were supposed to be welcoming. This was the fault of gender roles in society because men in many countries around the world have the right to do anything to women. Society needs to realize that if women do have equal rights, men shouldn’t abuse them while knowing. They still treat women unfairly and they do it on purpose. Even in jobs, Esperanza was forcefully kissed in the mouth by a man a lot older than her. He comforted her and made her feel safe and that made Esperanza feel that she could trust him. He deceived her to fulfil his desires and she fell for it because she trusted him. It is illegal, but men feel that they have the right to take control over women’s bodies with their own. Society is at fault and if no one opposes it, it will not stop.

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