In The Second Sex, de Beauvoir discusses the existential history of a woman’s life. De Beauvoir blames society for changing women’s attitude towards their body. Beauvoir sees how society presents male and female body in an unequal way. The female body represents in a negative way while the male body represents in a positive way. Women are oppressed while men are free. A woman’s body is like a rapier. It can gain her a freedom and also can gain her oppression. A female’s body is considered as an ambiguity. The most important thing for women is how they see themselves, either as a free subject or as the object of society’s gaze. It does not matter how society sees women, but it does matter how women see themselves.
De Beauvoir sees men as the seer. Male represents the subject. Men are the ones who produce meaning. The gaze puts women as a target. Women cannot overcome this power. Women symbolize the object. They will always remain “the other”. Whatever women produce, it will render as an object. De Beauvoir blames men’s perception of women for this belief. Society makes females to believe in its belief about women. There are some females who start to believe that having a female body is a bad luck.Some women try to forget about their gender, but society does not allow them to do so. Society will always remind them. De Beauvoir has mentioned several examples of this: a daughter who gets reproached about her body and posture which makes her feel self-conscious, a sexual comment that she gets on street makes her feel ashamed, and also those silly jokes that men make about her menstruation.
• Aspects of resisting patriarchy in Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy”:
Society puts emphasis on gender which causes a lot of pain to women. Women suffer from different forms of oppression and victimization. Female writers focus on this particular issue. Their aim has turned to reveal the negative influence of patriarchy. Patriarchy presents women in a bad image. Sylvia Plath has tackled the feminine subjects in most of her poems. Her only focus is on women’s issue. Plath wants to liberate women from the resistance of patriarchy.
Susan Bassnett notices that “Plath’s work is an outpouring of the grief and despair of a woman who believed too much in the domestic myth of twentieth-century America” (Sylvia Plath 17). Plath’s poems are “filled with images of hatefulness of marriage and powerlessness of women caught in the marriage trap” (48). In her poetry, Plath always reveals the conflict between women and patriarchal ideology. She also shows how patriarchal ideology has more power than women. Women’s oppression in her poetry is restricted by patriarchal ideology. Betty Friedan has made a research about housewives in 1957. Most of her colleagues were married. She starts with them and finds out that they are not happy with their lives. Many women cannot find their satisfaction as housewives. Friedan mentions this issue in her book, The Feminine Mystique. Many females find out that their desire of life is not in marriage. Betty Friedan sees that women are the same as Jews. They are both fight against a patriarchal figure. Friedan compares the oppression of women as the condition of Jewish prisoners. Friedan takes the same step as Sylvia Plath does in her poem “Daddy”, which is comparing women to Jewish prisoners. Friedan tackles this issue in her book entitled “Progressive Dehumanization: The Comfortable Concentration Camp”. She illustrates her argument by narrating the story of a Nazi soldier who forced a woman to dance for him naked. While dancing, the woman took the soldier’s gun and killed him. From this story, Friedan states that for housewives to get rid of their exploitation “they must like a dancer, finally exercises their human freedom, and recapture their sense of self.” (Friedan 309).