slavery and segregation had contributed to the establishment of a wealthy
ownership class in the United States, so had the nature of its 20th century
consumer culture helped to enforce separate racial societies. Thus, even
as white women struggled for recognition and equal rights, the climb from
domestic servitude would be a great deal more arduous for a female African
American culture which had been conditions through centuries of slavery
toward assumed domestic servitude. To this extent, the parallels which
Odems text draws between slavery and female inequality bear a shared
relationship in defining Americas gendered culture.
Today, women have in many ways been relieved of the domestic roles
once foisted upon them with no outlet of relief. Indeed, it is
increasingly common and standardized to find women in all walks of
professionalism and at positions of authority. Moreover, the premise that
the woman should be expected to remain in the home as a subject to all
buying decisions and all use of domestic goods has diminished considerably
in many aspects of American culture.
Nonetheless, there remains a close
connection between the idealization of female beauty and formulation of
expectations relating to gender roles. Particularly, a man might find an
attractive female in a position of power to be especially threatening to
his assumptions of sexual power dynamics. This may perhaps explain the
persistence of unequal pay as it impacts men and women in the workplace.
Indeed, this is only one aspect of the relationship between men and women
which remains unequal and tied to older expectations. The implication with
which to resolve this discussion, therefore, is that though progress has
been made, we are yet a long distance from being entitled to claim that
real equality has emerged from stereotyped assumptions of female sexual
subjugation and domesticity.
Breines, W. (2001). Young, White and Miserable: Growing Up Female in the
Fifties. University of Chicago Press.
Odem, M.E. (1995). Delinquent Daughter: Protecting and Policing
Adolescent Female. The University of North Carolina Press.
Schrum, K. (2004). Some Wore.