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Feb—The Color Purple (2016) > Roots of Sexism in Society and Education

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message 1: by Noah (last edited Feb 25, 2016 11:10AM) (new)

Noah | 3 comments Hello everyone,

I've finished the book a few days ago and I loved how the author showed us the impact society and education has on sexism.
When Celie was growing up she had to fit in the predefined role from her "dad" and society. The people around her and her family expected that.
Quite contrary to that is Shug. She grew up completely different (remember how her mum is described) and is quite happy with her life .
And then there are the native Africans. Women there seem not to even notice that they are discriminated against, seeming like there has never been anyone who tried to rebel.

When I read it, I had to think about how it is today. In 2016. How the way you raise a child can change her/his life completely and how society is still influencing the role of women.
There are no laws that prevent women to become what they want to be (at least in western countries). But then there is only a small amount of women in engineering courses and other domains which are seen as "jobs for men". It makes me sad, that we are wasting almost 50% of our potential in these fields, just because you listen to other people too much.
We need to free ourselves from the thought patterns in our head and realise that we can achieve things regardless our gender.

Just a thought.


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 25, 2016 11:42AM) (new)

Great insight, Noah! I love that you point out that, while there aren't bars on women's abilities to enter certain professions in the United States, there are still very gendered professions. It's amazing how society can have such a hold on people, even after the law has stepped in to help equality along. I have a short story that seems to illustrate this issue.

My husband and I are currently working on finishing our basement in our house, which requires a lot of "masculine" work, like building walls, plumbing, etc. When we decided to finally start construction, my husband and his father went to the basement and started working. I decided to go in the bath and read a book. As I was grabbing the book I was going to read (My Life on the Road, in fact), I took a second to look at myself. Without a thought, I was being excluded/excluding myself from the work in the basement. I decided to figure out why that was; after all, I consider myself a feminist and think women can do anything men can! I realized that I am just as capable as my husband. Neither of us has any experience with construction, but I also do not have the expectation to ever learn. Since no one expected it of me, I almost didn't do it.

I have been helping with some aspects of the construction of our basement, but I realized that day that many women likely do not enter certain fields because they know that no one expects it of them. Trying to get yourself to do something is extra difficult when you know that no one else expects you to do it either.

P.S. - I also think that it's a shame that "women's" professions (childcare, education) are generally not valued as highly as "men's" professions (engineering, law).

message 3: by Noah (last edited Feb 25, 2016 10:22PM) (new)

Noah | 3 comments Great example of how stereotypes are still present!
Even though some parts of this work can be hard for women (lifting heavy things for example), I think it is wrong to be excluded/excluding yourself.

That is true, people working in these jobs definitely need to receive more support/higher salaries. And these beliefs that certain jobs should be done by women/men is quite sad.

message 4: by revcodes (new)

revcodes | 4 comments I agree that "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker, provides a powerful American signpost on the road to equality. Set in the early 1900s, in the rural South, the story exposes how isolated African Americans were from any but the most tenuous society.

The "misters" created the rules and the women and children were tools that could be used or thrown away without outside interference. What shocked me most was the black-on-black cruelty that Walker portrayed in the book. It seemed that she was trying to show how this cruelty perpetuates itself over generations until a person or group breaks the cycle. Celie, Shug, Sophia, and Nettie break the barriers of isolation, ignorance, tradition and fear, making a better life for themselves and for Mr.

Ruth (missyrs) | 24 comments I'm surprised at how early in life children have already registered or adopted stereotypes.

I teach at a high school and so the children come to me at 11 years of age and leave at 18. After a dozen or so years I've pretty much stopped being shocked when the children look at me aghast at some random comment made by either myself or another pupil that suggests they 'cross the gender divide' ... I love challenging them - but that they have built, or have had these walls built (unconsciously) for them by age 11 is a not very cheerful look on this modern world!

I am at least very pleased that here in the UK few children are now withdrawn before they are 16 - I recall my Nana who had an outstanding intelligence (way beyond mine!) had to leave school at 14 to help raise and provide for, her brothers and sisters. I know this is still the case for far far too many children living on this planet today! But that attitude that said only the brightest should be educated is now behind us I know more children are being helped to reach higher than they would think themselves capable of! Each to their own goals and hopefully not based on how they measure up to others...

Think I may have wandered around topic here ... I'm greatly about education!!!!!

Cheerio just now. Rx

message 6: by Noah (last edited Feb 27, 2016 05:56AM) (new)

Noah | 3 comments "Celie, Shug, Sophia, and Nettie break the barriers of isolation, ignorance, tradition and fear, making a better life for themselves and for Mr. " Nicely said and so true! :)

And Ruth, I don't think you have wandered around the topic!
These built walls (unconsciously) are exactly what I was talking about. Hopefully there will be less in future generations!
But of course we have to appreciate the positive changes in education. It will take time, I guess!

Christy Evans | 2 comments revcodes wrote: "I agree that "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker, provides a powerful American signpost on the road to equality. Set in the early 1900s, in the rural South, the story exposes how isolated African Am..."

I'm a bit late to the party but I thought maybe this behaviour in the African American men had been learned and passed down from ancestral slavery. They mimic the way they would use up and discard of their slaves once they were done with them, always saving the best for themselves (Mr can have Celie because she's old and ugly but Pa keeps Nettie for himself).

It's definitely a power thing and I feel that maybe the male characters of this book felt that was the only way they could feel in charge of themselves and their race - after all it's the only life they've ever known. I don't know, what do you guys think?

Kylie Reardon | 49 comments I have my own personal experience in regards to a male-dominated career path. I went to college and majored in criminal justice, and in the beginning of each semester it seemed as if there had to be at least one professor who would point out the number of girls enrolled in the class (One actually referred to us as "brave" girls). The other male students would usually all turn around and stare, giggle with their acquaintance next to them, or count the number of female classmates for themselves. It made me quite uncomfortable at the time. Purely as if happening to be both female and interested in working in criminal justice was some rare condition/daring social experiment. I have to admit that hearing this over and over again made me second guess my choice in career several times.
Maybe for me it was not only the comments I would receive at that time, but also the thought of how worse and more abundant they would become when/if I pursued a career as a police officer.

Suzi (sbommers) | 33 comments Ruth wrote: "I'm surprised at how early in life children have already registered or adopted stereotypes.

I teach at a high school and so the children come to me at 11 years of age and leave at 18. After a doz..."

I am saddened by how early children develop gendered stereotypes, but I am less surprised than I used to be.

I have a coworker in her fifties whose daughter was told in high school (after taking some sort of sociological test) that she would have a hard time finding a spouse because she grew up in a gender-neutral household. I never really realized how rare that still is until my coworker told me that story. Her daughter is only slightly younger than I am.

I was raised (by my grandparents) in what would apparently be considered a "gender-neutral house" as well. All the chores were divided equally, with my grandfather doing his share of the cleaning, always folding and putting away his own laundry, and doing most of the cooking. I did not realize this was out of the ordinary until I started dating and expected my partners to do the same. It came a quite a shock to me to discover that expecting a man to fold his own laundry, do the dishes, or clean the bathroom could potentially result in lengthy and horrific argument.

My grandfather raised six girls, and he taught all of us how to use his power tools, how to build and repair things when necessary, and he insisted that his daughters take either wood shop or auto mechanics in high school. (I built stage sets, so I got a pass on those classes.) Again, I never realized this was unusual until I was older and people, usually men, started to tell me I wasn't capable of __________ because I was a girl.

I think the unacknowledged danger is in perpetuating habits at home we that learned as children, even though we don't necessarily agree with them on a larger scale. It is harder to bring balance and equality outside the home, if we don't have balance and equality inside the home.

Alana (alanasbooks) | 66 comments I hope to instill "gender neutral" values in my children one day, but I'm afraid I'm not the best example. I just have no interest in doing much with our vehicles or working on woodworking projects, the "masculine" activities that my husband enjoys. I don't mind him taking care of plumbing problems (or killing spiders) at all. HOWEVER, we both take out trash, cook (he actually does more of this than I), clean, and while I AM the one who does the laundry, it's because I prefer to, and he ends up cleaning bathrooms, which I hate, so it balances. Hopefully that will make up for my lack of interest in "masculine" activities when my children are old enough to pick up on such things!

message 11: by Alexandra (new)

Alexandra Roscigno | 10 comments I don't have child yet, but one day I will and will teach her/him one of the most wonderful value in this world: equality ! Not only between women and men but between everyone on Earth!

I think education takes a big and important part of the children point of vue on gender equality ! But nowadays medias and internet stereotype too much both men and women ! And it's gonna be more and more difficult to teach them the meaning of this powerful word that Equality is!

But we never give up !!! I will never give up !

Alex xxx

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