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Beauty and Her Beast

Essay by review  •  February 11, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,507 Words (7 Pages)  •  936 Views

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Beauty and her Beast

In today's America, gender roles are always a hot topic for debate and under constant pressure for reformation. People's disagreement and confusion stem from different views of what a gender role should be, and just as important but often overlooked, what a gender role currently is. Who are the people that are pushing for reform, and have we already reached the point where things have gone too far? You may be surprised.

Webster's dictionary defines inertia as "a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force". It is evident upon even a shallow inspection that there are a few people who create the current, and a tidal wave of people that go with the flow. The power of the wave is dependent upon the force behind it, and in turn, the force behind it is dependent upon the wave to supply the re-circulating water. So who dares to tread upstream? Of course, the body of water we're speaking of is gender roles in today's world, which have been reinforced by many different outlets throughout history. Since the beginning of time as science knows it, males of basically every species have been the dominant sex. The pattern of our history tells us that men were the hunters - strong, rugged, and brave; women were the child bearers, the homemakers, and the gatherers. However, women of the present day may have a different opinion.

A shift in the historical tide began in the early 1800's, when changing social conditions and the idea of equality began to emerge in Europe and America. Many women who were involved with the reform movement were receiving formal education as well and began to ask why they were not allowed to vote. Perhaps they had never heard the story from half a century earlier in England entitled "Beauty and the Beast". This type of children's story, which was fondly called a fairytale, was a mechanism set in motion by the aristocracy of the time. The original incarnation of this now famous tale was written in simple but effective language and contained a powerful innuendo aimed at young women: be selfless and the perfect male suitor will find you. The story told of a beautiful selfless girl aptly named Beauty who was the daughter of a wealthy and respected man. Beauty found herself in a dilemma where she had to choose between staying with her father whom she loved dearly or keeping her promise to a beast who she also loved, and returning to his castle. Upon returning to the castle and finding the Beast half dead, Beauty proposed to him, and when they kissed he magically turned into a charming prince who was coincidentally her perfect suitor. As Zipes points out, it's a lesson in submission because Beauty goes from sacrificing herself to save her father from the beast, to sacrificing herself again to save the Beast himself.

The message of the story clearly indicated that women should abide by men's authority. This was reflected in the societal values of the time period. This reflection is a trend that we see throughout every incarnation of the story, including the most recent version released by Disney on the big screen in 1991. Although mainly structurally unchanged, the character of Belle (Beauty) now has a name, an attitude, and an opinion she's not afraid to share. She is a feminist, and if we fast forward to 2005 and keep our mind on the history of this story, we'll see many of the same women who watched this movie as children all grown up. In 1756 the women became loyal, respectful, and caring wives. What have they become today?

In today's world our media, legal system, and culture are aimed to benefit or be controlled by women. To the untrained eye this may seem like a preposterous accusation, but let's take a closer look. As of this week November 2005, Dr. Phil, a popular daytime talk show host renewed his contract through the 2013-2014 season. This show is incredibly popular with women, and if you watch it you will see that a main theme of its' is to bash men, not directly mind you, but the men on the show represent the stereotypical essence of men. Men commonly come on the show with their significant others and take a verbal beating from Dr. Phil much to the pleasure of the largely female audience. This is not uncommon ground in television, as many shows are quick to portray men as weak and incompetent, or try and make them believe they are. Will and Grace, on prime time NBC, features two stupid and mentally weak feminine gay men, and a powerful, assertive female who pushes her husband around and makes guy jokes. On CBS' sitcom The King of Queens, the husband is a pudgy, simplistic delivery man, while his wife is a fiery, dominant legal secretary who is quick to tell her feelings. On the sites webpage, there is a picture of three of the main characters side by side. On the left is a man in a feminine looking pose with his hand on the cheek of the middle character, the husband who's looking typically dumb. On the right is a chic woman with her shoulders slightly raised and a look

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