Feminism In A Sorrowful Woman And I Stand Here Ironing

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“Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes” (Oxford Dictionaries). Women are equal to men. Women deserve to be treated fairly. Women deserve all that men deserve. Women are not people who are only capable of taking care of the children and the house. Women and men can do the same and should be treated the same. Gail Godwin and Tillie Olsen are two authors who express this in their works. “A Sorrowful Woman” by Godwin and “I Stand Here Ironing” by Olsen illustrate the complex oppression of social roles within each story by showing the mothers of both stories being completely opposite to the typical “average housewife” image. Women are often viewed as the family caretakers. They cook, clean, care for…show more content…
Tillie Olsen writes in a way that empowers women. In “I Stand Here Ironing” she writes of a young woman doing her best to raise a child on her own all while providing for her family. The narrator of the story “recalls the obstacles she faced as a single mother during the Great Depression and their inevitable consequences for her firstborn” (Werlock 1). “[She] was a young mother, [she] was a distracted mother” (Olsen 29) which lead to her raising of Emily to be incredibly difficult; “Her father left [the narrator] before she was a year old. [She] worked her first six years when there was work, or [she] sent her home and to his relatives” (Olsen 28). The narrator did the best she could to raise her daughter. All she wants for Emily is to “only help her to believe-- help make it so there is cause for her to believe that she is more than this dress on the ironing board, helpless before the iron” (Olsen 29). Emily didn’t have the same advantages as the other children, which is why “she compares Emily 's good behavior to the stubborn demands of the younger children in the family” (Werlock 1). The less advantaged past of Emily while she was growing up held her to not be greedy and constantly beg for everything like the other children who have a more privileged childhood. Olsen also goes against social standards of women constantly being expected to know everything about their children. She expresses this in her story when the narrator exclaims…show more content…
In fact, “Godwin is known for her feminism.” “Godwin 's novels tell a single story, that of a woman 's difficult but ultimately successful quest for self-definition and a satisfying career with or without the support of other people, especially men” (Winsmatt 1). Women don’t have to be the caretakers of the family. A man can take over that role, and women can provide for their family without the help of a man. Olsen’s story demonstrates how hard it is to be a mother and how it is possible for young, single women to take care of their children and provide for their family. The average housewife is a woman who stays at home to cook, clean, and tend to her family. She is viewed as incapable of doing the “real” work men do. Both Tillie Olsen and Gail Godwin go against this sexist social standard in their stories. “A Sorrowful Woman” tells of a woman who is sick of having to care for the children and tend to the house. “I Stand Here Ironing” describes a woman who raises her child on her own all while working and tending to other matters. Both stories show women being capable of doing all. Though women may be physically different from men, beneath it all, they’re all the

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