Portrayals of Femininity

Use this forum to discuss the October Book of the Month "McDowell" by William H. Coles.
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Radiant3
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Re: Portrayals of Femininity

Post by Radiant3 » 30 Oct 2018, 10:09

I found that there was a theme of loneliness for the older women in the book. Ann, Rima, Carole, Paige, Helga, Winona, Kitsy. They were older and had to fend for themselves. They were without a solid support from a partner or companion. Even Carole, when she was married to Hiram, she still felt alone. Ann had little support from Robert who was present but not really there for her and the children.

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Post by HollandBlue » 30 Oct 2018, 10:39

I think each woman is feminine in her own way, since they're all very different individuals.
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Post by Caylie_Cat » 30 Oct 2018, 18:30

Radiant3 wrote:
30 Oct 2018, 10:09
I found that there was a theme of loneliness for the older women in the book. Ann, Rima, Carole, Paige, Helga, Winona, Kitsy. They were older and had to fend for themselves. They were without a solid support from a partner or companion. Even Carole, when she was married to Hiram, she still felt alone. Ann had little support from Robert who was present but not really there for her and the children.
I didn't see this when I read the book, but I think you are right. In hindsight, the book treated women in general as 'necessary evils', who were mostly problematic to the male characters. Even the sexual partners and descriptions were portrayed in a dispassionate and critical manner.

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Post by Radiant3 » 31 Oct 2018, 07:27

I agree, do you think this is how femininity is interwoven into society?

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Post by Caylie_Cat » 31 Oct 2018, 19:27

Radiant3 wrote:
31 Oct 2018, 07:27
I agree, do you think this is how femininity is interwoven into society?
I cannot say 'yes' from my personal perspective as I have rarely been treated like this. However, one only has to look around at people you know to see that women are not as emancipated as we would like to think, and that a lot of men do have a problem considering a woman to be his equal.

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Post by Jacci » 31 Oct 2018, 21:29

I guess, William Coles just portrays our generation today so that readers will easily connects to the story. Even if traditional women sometimes got liberated as the times go by, but to me whatever they will do their body, they remain female.
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Post by JR Mercier » 05 Nov 2018, 07:36

AliceofX wrote:
22 Oct 2018, 04:09
JR Mercier wrote:
22 Oct 2018, 01:26
I haven't fully read the book but it sounds like they all fell back into their traditional roles, which to me is a bit disappointing. I think it would have been great to see them succeed and be happy outside those roles.
But isn't saying, "Traditional gender roles are bad," just creating new gender roles? Back in the day it was, "Marry and be a stay-at-home mom," and now it's, "Go to college and become a CEO." Personally, I don't see the difference between the two because it's just more people telling women what they should and shouldn't do with their lives. I don't think we're any more free from gender roles today, be they traditional or not, than we were a hundred years ago.
I said it was disappointing and not bad. We have a multitude of books portraying traditional gender roles and while the 'CEO type' woman is on the rise, it's still very little. It would have been nice if at least one of them chose the unconventional route. Because, as it stands, this book only seems to have representation for the traditional woman instead of all women - the mothers, the career-driven ones, and those that manage to do both. I don't disagree with the fact that we aren't getting rid of gender roles, they are just changing. But at least there is change. I hold to the hope that change, whether good or bad, means we are learning. We're still learning and learning allows for errors. It might not be tomorrow, but we'll start to realize what works and what doesn't.
And I see a big difference between being married with kids and no education versus being educated with choices like getting married or becoming a CEO. We need to stop thinking you can only have one and not the other. If you want an education and kids then do it. Being a mom is not a bad thing just like being an educated woman is not.
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Post by M Zee » 05 Nov 2018, 17:59

JR Mercier wrote:
05 Nov 2018, 07:36
I said it was disappointing and not bad. We have a multitude of books portraying traditional gender roles and while the 'CEO type' woman is on the rise, it's still very little. It would have been nice if at least one of them chose the unconventional route. Because, as it stands, this book only seems to have representation for the traditional woman instead of all women - the mothers, the career-driven ones, and those that manage to do both. I don't disagree with the fact that we aren't getting rid of gender roles, they are just changing. But at least there is change. I hold to the hope that change, whether good or bad, means we are learning. We're still learning and learning allows for errors. It might not be tomorrow, but we'll start to realize what works and what doesn't.
And I see a big difference between being married with kids and no education versus being educated with choices like getting married or becoming a CEO. We need to stop thinking you can only have one and not the other. If you want an education and kids then do it. Being a mom is not a bad thing just like being an educated woman is not.
I'm with you on this one, JR Mercier. Traditional femininity (or masculinity) isn't bad or lesser when it's a choice someone makes. Having the choice makes all the differnce.
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Post by Kibetious » 06 Nov 2018, 01:02

Caylie_Cat wrote:
23 Oct 2018, 19:04
Kibetious wrote:
23 Oct 2018, 05:53
Caylie_Cat wrote:
23 Oct 2018, 02:35

I agree entirely. In fact, I think we women have put ourselves even further into oppression by accepting the 'we can have it all' gender role. It has now become 'you MUST have it all', and whether we want to be a SAHM or a career woman or not, we are now expected to be both and do it without compromising anyone else. Men still expect a certain level of support from their partner but are not necessarily willing to step up and render domestic assistance to a woman who is assisting him in his provider role.
Nice point here. Nothing truer than this can be said. I tend to believe that the whole issue of empowerment should not really be about one gender being 'a doing it all' or 'having it all' but rather that both can co-exist without stepping on the other.
Yes, wouldn't it be great if 'having it all' really meant having your choice respected and supported? Obviously, there is a case for having to do stuff you don't want to do due to economic need or situational circumstances, but overall, teamwork is the only way to get through life with everyone feeling loved and included and nobody feeling overwhelmed.
This is the best point. After all, humans are made to be social beings and not lone rangers.
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Post by OrlaCarty » 08 Nov 2018, 14:08

I thought Anne was fascinating. A mother who is disturbed by one child and irritated with the other is not the kind generally portrayed in fiction.

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Post by cristinaro » 09 Nov 2018, 07:52

I've also noticed that the novel revolves around one strong male character and many secondary female characters. I somehow had the feeling that no matter what he passes through or his changing behavior, Hiram still doesn't learn to fully appreciate women or treat them as his equals.
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Post by C-Extra22 » 18 Nov 2018, 04:38

Coles actually found a way to re-contain these women in traditional roles. Example, Sophie later got married to a man, though she was a lesbian.

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Post by Shrabastee » 06 Dec 2018, 23:48

Although Coles made the female characters different than the conventional ideas, in the end I still felt they were portrayed as insecure, weak and sometimes clingy. I cannot honestly say I liked the women in this book. I expected more strength from them considering how independent (except Ann maybe) they are. Somehow, each of them disappointed me. I had this feeling that each of the female characters felt a little unappreciated, mostly by their partners.

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Post by Ekta Kumari » 08 Dec 2018, 09:26

I think every female character in this book had their own struggles; it was not only about their feminism, there was total lack of self-esteem on their part and the tendency to depend on other individuals to fulfill them emotionally. I think only Sophie was truly able to fight through her neediness and dependency issues.
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Post by cherrykarl » 16 Dec 2018, 04:18

Haven't read the book yet but base on the previous comments, this is something I'd love to discover on my own. As a mom, I'm mostly rooting for Anne and how she may or may not change the way she perceive motherhood.
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