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Mona Lisa Smile: An Example of Gendered Society

Mona Lisa Smile: An Example of Gendered Society

Mike Newell’s movie Mona Lisa Smile (2003) is a narration about the 1950s gendered society, in which men’s and women’s roles were socially and culturally constructed. The film depicts the brightest examples of gender stereotyping and social roles intrusion. On the one hand, it may seem that the movie represents some problems which may occur in a single-sex college because of the absence of diversity. The girls’ only desire is to meet a boy and then marry him to build a strong family together. Partially, the film is about these aspects in a conservative community. At the same time, the movie reveals such important social themes as gender stereotypes and identity, the roles of men and women in the society, unequal opportunities, and other issues related to gender. Mona Lisa Smile is a film of high relevance even today because there are still prejudices and discrimination of women in many societies. For instance, women often receive lower salaries than men; they are more often supposed to stay at home and raise children than men; moreover, it is quite normal for a woman to sacrifice her career and personal desires to support her husband and children. Thus, the theme of gendered society is also extremely significant today because, even though the times of dinosaurs and cavemen have passed, men still often think that they are breadwinners and their wives are housekeepers.

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Plot Overview

The protagonist of the movie is a young unmarried woman, Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts), who comes to Wellesley College to teach its female students the “History of Art.” Katherine is a feminist who does not accept the rules of the gendered society and wants to change the usual flow of events at Wellesley College. As she says, “I came to Wellesley because I wanted to make a difference” (Newell 2003). However, during her first lecture, Katherine discovers that the students had absorbed the list of the course readings before the course began, so there is nothing to surprise them. Thus, the teacher decides to arouse their interest by considering the works of modern art. In such a way, Katherine notices that the girls are quick-witted and bright, which gives her a chance to change this gendered society. Therefore, she tries to show them a better life, the life where women can choose higher education and professional development along with being wives and mothers, the life where women will be heard and not ignored.

First, most of the girls are sure that the only thing they need is to marry a man and raise children. This is what their mothers have always done, and they cannot change this tradition. However, till the end of the film, Katherine manages to break up the wall between the girls and her and convinces them that they can combine family life with personal development. Finally, the year comes to its end, and the viewers observe significant changes at Wellesley College. The new era of feminism begins.

Gendered Society In The Movie

The movie Mona Lisa Smile is one of the greatest examples of the description of gendered society. In the film, the viewers examine typical male and female societal roles, which take their origin from the times of cavemen. Since ancient times, men were supposed to earn their living and feed the family. Thus, it is generally known that men went hunting and brought their bag to the cave or hut where their wives with children were waiting for them. Women, in turn, were considered to keep their family hearth, bring up children, and provide emotional support for their husbands. The times changed; however, the traditional roles of females and males were still preserved in some societies. Wellesley is the place where women are raised and taught to be good wives for their men and disregard their own intelligence and personal desires.

Therefore, since early childhood, girls are taught that being a wife and a mother is the greatest happiness for every woman. Even if a husband is not perfect and has some affairs with other women, it is important “not to tell anyone” (Newell 2003). Otherwise, the whole society would blame a woman for disobeying her husband and showing her resistance and dissatisfaction. When comparing this society to the ancient one, it becomes evident that women had fear to stay alone with children if they disobeyed their men. In those times, it was similar to meeting their doom because women physically could not hunt and bring meat to their children. However, in the 1950s, it was unclear why females did not want to take a risk and develop their professional skills to have a good career and manage family life simultaneously. Thus, one can observe cultural influence on gender and society in the movie.

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Cultural Construction of Gender

The action in the film takes place in 1953, when mass media and television was already popular in the USA. Thus, popular culture was one of the methods to influence people and construct their views of reality. The movie provides numerous examples of such impact. The brightest moment is the scene in which Katherine displays a number of magazine and newspaper’s advertisements that show traditional images of women as housewives:

Today you just listen. What will future scholars see when they study us, a portrait of women today? There you are ladies: the perfect likeness of a Wellesley graduate, Magna Cum Laude, doing exactly what she was trained to do. Slide – a Rhodes Scholar, I wonder if she recites Chaucer while she presses her husband’s shirts. Slide – hehe, now you physics majors can calculate the mass and volume of every meatloaf you make. Slide – A girdle to set you free. What does that mean? What does that mean? What does it mean? I give up, you win. The smartest women in the country, I didn’t realize that by demanding excellence I would be challenging…the roles you were born to fill… (Newell 2003)

These words demonstrate that the notion of gender was culturally constructed. Everything, beginning with fashion and clothes and ending with music, media, and art, was aimed to emphasize the difference between males and females. Moreover, women were supposed to wear girdles, sculptured bras, corsets, and stockings to stress their femininity and sexual attractiveness. Newspapers and television advertisements depicted women as appendices to their husbands, as some trophies the latter used to boast of. The more tasks a woman could perfectly perform, the better trophy she became for men. Consequently, every woman strived to become an ideal housewife to find the best husband she could, and a single-sex school was the best place to educate women to be such perfect housewives.

Single-sex schools were also culturally constructed as they allowed both boys and girls to develop their identities in a “right” way. In their book Still Failing at Fairness, Sadker, Sadker and Zittleman (2009) write, “all-female education provided ‘an atmosphere these girls may well never find again in their lives: an island in our culture that is about women … one where their major responsibility is to learn and to be themselves’” (pp. 253-254). Wellesley College was not an exception, and the main task of its teachers and professors was to educate female students to become good wives. For instance, the college president, Mrs. Carr, was proud of the fact that “half of them are already married, and the other half, oh just give it a month or so” (Newell 2003). Moreover, stereotypical portrayal of males significantly supplemented this cultural construction of gender.

Although the movie is focused on female-based stereotypes, the viewers can notice a hidden stereotyping of male roles. For instance, most of male characters are either successful fathers of the families or their sons who have huge plans for the future, such as studying in the best universities and building career. Moreover, males are “displayed with stereotypical masculine characteristics such as aggressiveness, competency, and independence, whereas girls were depicted as passive, nurturing, and dependent” (Evans and Davies 2000:257). Even the adverts Katherine showed to her students contained the depiction of elite men, who always wore neckties and suits and were expected to be out working while their wives were at home tidying, washing, cooking, and rearing children. On these adverts, men were depicted as independent and self-sufficient individuals while women were shown as dependent and nurturing ones. The influence of culture on gender construction, thus, was quite essential. However, not only cultural but also social construction of relationships can be observed in the film.

Social Construction of Relationships

Newell’s movie demonstrates that the relationships between the representatives of opposite genders are socially constructed. First, the characters of the film live in the conservative society, where adherence to traditions is more than important. For example, one of the students, Betty Warren (Kirsten Dunst), writes in her article in the local editorial: “While our mothers were called to the workforce for Lady Liberty, it is our duty – nay, obligation – to reclaim our place in the home, bearing the children that will carry our traditions into the future” (Newell 2003). In such a way, the society imposed the roles of housewives on women, and they were satisfied with such conditions. Moreover, this view was supported by Betty’s mother, who claimed that her daughter had to be an obedient wife and “not to wash her dirty laundry in public” (Newell 2003). The whole society was based on submissive relationships between men and women, and such women as Katherine Watson, who lived by their personal rules, were generally rejected and even judged.

For the society, it was important to preserve its functionalistic approach to gender roles and family relationships. In such a way, men could perform their jobs and earn money while women would not compete with them trying to earn their place on the labor market. It was possible to only if men and women behaved appropriately. Thus, the teachers’ aim was to teach the students such behavior: “A few years from now your sole responsibility will be taking care of your husband and children,” as a Wellesley teacher, Nancy Abbey, says (Newell 2003). Men and women have their functions in society, and their relationships are built basing on these functions. If a woman, for example, refuses to adjust to the image of an obedient and virgin person, such as Giselle (Maggie Gyllenhaal), she will be perceived as a means of entertainment only but not as a potential wife. At the same time, such women break gender stereotypes and demonstrate that they may think and act independently. Nevertheless, the existing social structures try to expel or rebuke individuals who do not want to adjust to the rules. For example, the president Carr threatened to discharge Katherine if she preserved her modern way of communication with the students. However, the teacher does not give up, and her efforts result in successful transformations of the students.

Transformations In Gendered Society

Wellesley College is a college for elite students; that is why the protagonist decides to go there and change their society. However, not every woman understands her and accepts her way of teaching. As it was already mentioned, older generation of women, such as students’ mothers and teachers, disapproved Katherine’s methods. There was also another character, Joan (Julia Stiles), who managed to enter the Yale University but refused to go there, preferring her husband and family to personal growth. Nevertheless, the teacher noticed that it was her decision, and she made it because she really wanted it, not because she was afraid of staying alone or being socially unaccepted. That is why Joan joined the other students following Katherine’s car while she was leaving.

In addition, the protagonist of the movie, Katherine Watson, manages to change the views of her students on their lives and society. When at the beginning of the film, most of them judged her and could not understand how she could resist “the holy sacrament of marriage,” later on, they changed their minds (Newell 2003). Katherine was a feminist woman who lived “by her own definition, and would not compromise that” (Newell 2003). She showed the girls that they could live differently, depart from the social and cultural definition of gender and achieve more than established by their gender role. Even Betty, the most adherent to traditions student, realized that her teacher wanted the best for them. In her last article, she wrote, “I dedicate this, my last editorial, to an extraordinary woman who lived by example and compelled us to see the world through new eyes” (Newell 2003). The young woman realized that she was not born just to oblige her husband and forget about her personal joys. On the contrary, she was endowed with beauty and brains, and intelligence was her prerogative over the other girls, which would help her succeed in the male-dominated world. Thus, Betty decided to file for a divorce and begin new life in New York City, build her career and facilitate social progress.

Katherine Watson’s mission was fulfilled, and the gendered society underwent changes and transformations. The movie teaches that every person regardless of gender may have a choice either of being passive and submissive and accepting social rules or becoming independent and self-sufficient, moving the society towards progress. Ms. Watson showed that men and women could have equal opportunities, and one could not judge women differently because of their gender.

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Mona Lisa Smile is not just a fiction film but also a film about deep social themes, such as gendered society, equal opportunities for men and women, gender stereotypes, discrimination, and construction of gender and relationships. The movie begins with representation of socially constructed gendered society, in which men earn money and women stay at home and bring up children. The protagonist of the movie, Katherine Watson, demonstrates that these gender stereotypes are culturally constructed, and the media along with the society imposes the role of submissive wives on women. Eventually, the teacher convinces the girls that they may have equal opportunities and make their independent choices in life.

The film reveals an outdated concept of gendered society, which takes its origin in the cavemen time. Even at present days, many societies discriminate women and expect them to be appendices to their husbands. Therefore, the movie is relevant today since it provides the viewers with a new perception in life and gender roles and demonstrates that women can change the world if they want to. Mona Lisa Smile teaches that even in gendered society, the representatives of each gender should have equal opportunities and abilities to implement their wishes and desires and live happy and full lives.

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Mona Lisa Smile essay

The 2003 romance movie, “Mona Lisa Smile,” directed by Mike Newell, portrays a recent UCLA graduate female art history professor named Katherine Watson. She is hired at the prestigious all-female Wellesley College, in 1953 to teach an art history class to a classroom full of hardworking and demanding young girls, determined to make her feel unwelcome. The girls who attend Wellesley are from some of the most wealthy, influential, and upper-class families in Massachusetts. Despite all the hardships and judgmental comments she receives from the students and some of the faculty she is determined to confront the outdated ideals of society and the institution she workes in, Katherine inspires her traditional students to think for themselves and choose a different path than the one society expects them to take. She inspires them to be more than a man’s wife, to be independent women who are not afraid to challenge the norms. This movie effectively portrays liberal feminism, the fight for self-determination, and gender roles in the year 1953-1954.

In the movie “Mona Lisa Smile,” Katherine Watson is a liberal feminist, very open minded and in her own words she explains that ” [She] came to Wellesley because [she] wanted to make a difference”. She is a UCLA graduate from California and it seems like in that time period Massachusetts was less open to new ideas, and very much set into very old traditional ways. She is an educated woman who thinks for herself and refuses to conform to the same ideas the society holds for women at her time. She is a 30-year-old, unmarried, progressive, art history teacher from Oakland California and according to the school board, she lacks the “appropriate” family background, breeding, and education. She is a liberal feminist and her ideas and ways are challenged by her students and the staff. Her teaching techniques are very modern and she cares what her students think, she encourages them to think and choose for themselves instead of recycling someone else’s words. Her students learn to look at art from another perspective and to voice their opinions on each piece. Also, she provides her students with opportunities, reminding them to aim higher than just marriage, she encourages one of her students to apply to Yale law school and to continue her education. She is not taken seriously as a professor and the school board doesn’t like her ways, they believe that women don’t need education because they’ll ultimately be housewives and the only reason the girls are in that college is to learn good manners as females to be able to please their husbands and be more desirable for marriage. The school doesn’t expect the women to graduate and transfer to a university. Katherine Watson teaches her students to be bold and try to have both a husband and the right education. She teaches them to challenge the social norms in their society to think outside the box and not to depend on a man to help them build a future.

Another feminist theory is the fight for self-determination, which means people need to know who they are, what they stand for and what they want. Women are individuals and should be able to decide whom they want to be. In 1953 women were viewed as objects without selves. Their relationships and statues and most of all their husbands decided who they are and how they should act. They were not individuals they were defined by others. To be able to define who you are as a person is empowering and women back then had to fight to be able to choose who they are as individuals. The most empowering relationships are mutual, recognizing and building on the diverse contributions and needs of participants in ways that seek to minimize inequalities over time (Sara Lamberti). The reason some of us are self-determining is that we are in interpersonal and social structural relationships that empower us. Independence and productivity also express the standpoint of the privileged. The standpoint of women allows all of us to talk more about how we connect with one another’s developing selves within communities.

In the movie “Mona Lisa Smile,” Katherine Watson fights for her rights as a female professor. She knows who they are as an individual and doesn’t let the men in her life define her. For example, when is She makes it boyfriend Paul from California comes to visit her and place a ring on Katherine’s finger. Technically he didn’t even purpose he just assumed that Katherine would like to marry him since they’ve been dating. Katherine doesn’t give him a clear answer at first but it is obvious from her facial expression and lack of enthusiasm that she is not happy with this big change. Later on that night she does however expressed her shock and asks Paul for some time. In a society where marriage is the most important thing for women, she decides to stay single rather than marry a man she is not in love with. She knows who she is and is determined to choose her own path. Another example is when she reminds her student that they are individuals and they should be able to stay individuals even in marriage. One of her students has a great chance of getting into a law school but she has never considered applying because she is raised in a society where she is told marriage is what defines a woman. Katherine asks her student about her ideas about life after college and she responded, “After I graduate, I’m getting married,” Katherine again asks her to clarify, “And then?,” to which the student replies, “And then I’ll be married.” The student is incapable of seeing herself as an individual with a purpose. She thinks marriage will be the thing that defines her as a woman. The last example would be when one of Katherine’s married students named Betty, who is very unhappy in her marriage, finally decides to file for divorce and leave her cheating husband, she was told by her mother to stay for another year and try to repair her marriage and at first she allowed her mother and husband to push her around and tell her how she should act and what she needs to say or do, but after spending a year in Katherine’s classroom she learns to fight for herself and to choose her own path. She decides to file for divorce and continues to fight for who she is as a woman.

Additionally, gender roles is another feminist theory, it is “a social role encompassing a range of behaviors and attitudes that are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for people based on their actual or perceived sex”(Tarsha E. Bluiett ). According to the lecture note “sexuality,” women were viewed as solely for the pleasure of men and their purpose in the marriage was a reproduction.”Women were not given autonomy for protection or agency over sexuality creating many negative consequences: unwanted pregnancy, STD’s and unwanted sexual relations”(notes). One example from the movie is the character Giselle Levy, a loose and liberal Jewish student who has an active affair with multiple people and one of her professors. People call her “Whore” but there is also a male professor in the school who is known for sleeping with his students but he is seen as handsome and desirable instead of being called loose. Society judges women and men differently and holds them to different standards. These Sexual Double standards are a tool to control women’s sexuality. These standards are binary and they define a good and bad woman. It is seen as okay and acceptable for men to date multiple women before they settle down and get married but it is dimmed unacceptable behavior for a woman to date too many men or sleep with them before marriage.

Another example from the movie is one of the school teachers named Nancy Abbey is a teacher of etiquette, she teaches her students manor to help prepare them for marriage. She teaches girls how to act appropriately, how to sit and talk in a feminine way and in one of the scenes Giselle Levy makes fun of Nancy’s lecture and she scolds the girls, she says, “In a few years from now your sole responsibility will be taking care of your husband and children you may all be here for an easy A but the grade that matters the most is the one he gives you, not me.” It is made obvious to the girls from very early ages that they should be the ones to take care of their husbands and they are supposed to stay at home, cook, clean and take care of the kids while men are out in the world working and making money. Nancy is teaching them how to be “good wives” but there is no such class for men. Another example from the movie is when Betty’s husband cheats on her but she still lives with him and tries to be a good wife, her mom asks her to be accommodating and take better care of her husband in the future. Her mom asks Betty to stay married because if she gets a divorce and lives an alone people will look at her differently because good women will get married and stay with their husbands no matter what but the ones who get divorced and move in an apartment alone are seen as loose women.

In conclusion, the movie “Mona Lisa Smile,” portrays the life of women in 1953 and how they were expected to act. In the past women were seen as objects, their sole purpose was to get married and be good wives to their husbands no matter what. Women weren’t even allowed to go to college until 1853, because society expects women to be submissive and subordinate. Men think they are allowed to think and make decisions for women. It was a common belief that women are less than men in every way. This movie is set in a patriarchial time period where marriage was the best thing a girl could ever ask for. Girls were being trained their whole life not to think for themselves by their teachers and the TV ads. After spending a semester learning about women’s studies I think I definitely viewed this movie differently because I was able to spot most of the cultural issues we discussed over the course of this semester. It was very frustrating watching other women tell those girls to act appropriately so they could find good husbands, it was sad to see the struggles women had to go through to get the same human rights that men already had. I think I understood and appreciated this movie more because I was knowledgeable on the issues that were being portrayed, I got the message as a woman and it makes me want to be more assertive in my own life.

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Mona Lisa Smile Essay

Popular culture often opens the window into the cultural norms of our society, its perceptions, and discourses. It portrays how the social mores of the society shape family, social life, and gender roles. It also acts as a medium of dissemination to teach about one’s self-identity. Popular culture therefore, shapes the way an individual or group thinks, often observed in popular cultural movements like the Beat, the Hip Hop, the Dadaists, and many more. Films, in line with other popular cultural media, have helped in presenting various socio-cultural aspects of life. There are many movies dealing with girl power and 1960s post-feminist “second wave feminism” (Tally, 2008, p. 107). Many films have tried to explore the realms of gender roles and the breaking of the prevalent societal discourse regarding the role of women. One such movie, reviewed and discussed in this paper, is Mona Lisa Smile (2003). This movie is a more explicit confrontation with portrayal of young women struggling against their traditional roles that opens up a cultural space between the second wave feminists and the post feminist daughters who only wanted to be homemakers (Frieden, 1997; Tally, 2008). This paper explores the themes, symbols, and cultural space portrayed by the film Mona Lisa Smile . Mona Lisa Smile is a film about Katherine Watson (played by Julia Roberts) a graduate from UCLA accepts a job offer as an art teacher from Wellesley College in the 1950s. Watson brings in liberal feminist ideas into the college and among girls in class, especially Betty Warren (Khristen Dunst), Joan Brandwyn (Julia Stiles), and Giselle Levy (Maggie Gyllenhaal). The plot of the movie spins around these characters and the way Watson eventually helps them see the meaning of her liberalist ideals and find their own identity. In her very first class, Watson encounters a class-full of bright young women who are intelligent but their intelligence is marred by their conventional and traditional discourse and knowledge. A free-spirited Watson who “wanted to make a difference,” tried to change the way women looked at traditional gender roles and their career options in a conservative school like Wellesley. The movie shows that the idea of schooling at the time was to make the women adept with domestic ideologies. Therefore, young women were taught to be educated in the right way, think in the right was in order to achieve their role in the marriage market. Watson is described as a woman “lived by her own definition and would not compromise that” (Newell, 2003) initially faces a lot of challenge from a group of conservative management body as well as student named Betty who was brought up to believe that all women would want is to get married and be a homemaker. However, inside was a boiling spirit that wanted to reject the prevalent norms and teachings about gender role. The movie wanted to show the way women believed in their lives in the 1950s through a series of video footage available in the movie’s DVD showing women in the fifties, statistics comparing women taking full time employment after graduation of then and the present time and how many claimed they were virgins. The gender roles have changed since then, but for what, that was due to the first of wave of feminists in the fifties in the US who believed that these social barriers of women being only homemakers had to be broken down. The movie depicts an era that was before the sexual revolution and what women faced in the era. Watson plays against the conventional norms of womanhood in the 1950s, as she was still unmarried in her 30s. This is not acceptable and almost a taboo for many of the students in her class but she remains herself and tries to shatter the glass ceiling. Through her lectures on art history, Watson tries to help the students break the barrier of methodical and text oriented understanding. She believes that the young women in Wellesley were smart, confident, and were capable of doing much more than just be homemakers. She defines the new more out of the box thinking for the girls in her class through the new way of teaching the art course that she outlines the course as “What is art? What makes it is good or bad? And who decides?” the ethos of the day was teaching through textbooks and a good student was expected to know the textbook thoroughly. In a way this was intended to help young women become exemplary mothers who could spell out the course while educating their children or appear educated and cultured as their designated role of being wives to the elite male club. Watson comes from the Bohemian west culture and wants to “make a difference”. However, the conservative alumni body of the college holds down her aspirations to bring change. They try to restrict Watson’s potential as a teacher and a feminist liberal by defining the course outline when she is invited to join back the following year. The conservative society tried to subdue the force of change embodied in Watson, but Watson decides to leave in search of new walls to break. Nevertheless, she leaves the imprint of her ideas and believes in the lives of the three other main characters, her students, as they learn to see beyond their discoursed and traditional roles, they see themselves. Mona Lisa Smile is a tale of the way women’s lives were shaped in 1950s in America, their limited existence within the barricaded walls of “home” and “marriage”. The movie examines how male hegemonic discourse shaped young women’s attitudes and their choices and expectations after graduation from college. This is shown through Joan and Betty and how they tackle their personal problem in eventually finding themselves. The movie above all demonstrates how popular culture helps to depict reality and brings out the social, structural changes that changed the women’s world in the 1950s. It raises the question of women’s place and even though the setting is sixty years back, it holds relevance for present time as the question of women’s space is still relevant.

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Frieden, B. (1997). Feminine Mystique. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Ltd. Newell, M. (Director). (2003). Mona Lisa Smile [Motion Picture]. Tally, M. (2008). Representation of Girls and Young Women in Films as Entry Point to Studying Girl Culture. In C. Mitchell, & J. Reid-Walsh, Girl Culture: Studying girl culture : a readers’ guide (pp. 107-115). New York: ABC-CLIO.

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Mona Lisa Smiles 7 Pages 1790 Words

             The movie "Mona Lisa Smile" explores life through themes of feminism, marriage, and education lead by a modernist teacher at the end of a traditional era. This film explains the idea or women's liberation, which was about women being able to do what they want, when they wanted to. The thought is that women should be allowed to do anything. Choosing to be a housewife is perfectly acceptable but if a woman's dreams go beyond the household than she should be able to act upon them. Issues of questions dealing with uniformity and choosing the path that is right for each individual are also addressed. The film "Mona Lisa Smile" ultimately illustrates how certain expectations within gender roles, contraception, divorce, and marriage have changed over time, and some have remained the same.              The movie begins by introducing the lead character, Katherine Watson, who is a free spirited art history teacher determined to make a difference at the prestigious Wellesley women's college. Very quickly it becomes apparent that Katherine is a non-conformist intellectual with a passion for art and education. Katherine's ambition and persistence prove to demonstrate that she is a professor ahead of her time. On the first day to teach class her students attempt to intimidate her by sarcasm and their own intelligence. Katherine leaves the school baffled by the girl's unkindness and realizes that she has her work cut out for her. Upon returning home the woman she is living with interrogates her about marriage. Despite her older age, Katherine has never been married which is hard for the women of Wellesley to understand. Katherine upholds marriage and understands the importance of family within society but she is also concerned with her career, helping others, and most of all, happiness. The women of Wellesley seem to believe marriage is the single most important aspect of a woman's life and K...

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Mona Lisa Smile Analysis

mona lisa smile gender roles essay

Show More For many years, women’s issues and rights have been a topic of discussion and debate throughout the world. As time progresses, new issues emerge and are addressed at different levels within society. Although groups such as women’s rights activists, policy makers, and the general community have a large impact on spreading messages about women’s issues, portrayal of controversial topics have been depicted in popular films and other media sources. For the purposes of this analysis, I will reflect upon the film, Mona Lisa Smile (2003) in which women’s issues are finely portrayed regarding education, family roles, and the relation to social work practice. Background During the 1950’s, the United States had just emerged from World War II and society …show more content… One way that can be made possible is by providing guidance and mentorship for future generations of women who enter higher education (Denker, 2009). Scholars and professionals, such as Roberts in the film, provide as the best resources for younger and more shapeable women who have yet to be forced into pursuing their gender roles by society. Creating programs that may be able to educate young women by their successors who have experienced similar situations can be a great way to continue progressing through women’s issues in current day …show more content… Feminism became a movement because women came together and decided they wanted to be treated differently and that they wanted to fill the void of the problem that had no name. Across the nation, college campuses are beginning to welcome thoughts of women’s rights and understand the true nature and worth of women in higher education. As social workers, becoming involved in campus wide education is essential to diminishing ideas of traditional gender roles and even the idea of gender related careers paths. In recent years, women’s centers, majors in women’s studies and feminism, and clubs and groups have formed in order to educate individuals about women’s rights and issues. By furthering the efforts of these organizations within institutes of higher education, social workers can stand from a larger platform to educate and empower young women about their true potential, regardless of what traditional society and gender roles expects from them. The amount of women who go on to pursue careers after they graduate from an institute have definitely increased and over the last 65 years, women’s place in society in the United States has changed by great measures. In the grand scheme of all that has happened, gender norms and roles are still heavy factors that are reinforced by the greater society. There will always be great room for progress, which will continue be a fight

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Patriarchy and Gender Roles in the Film Mona Lisa Smile

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mona lisa smile gender roles essay

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Social Structure In Mona Lisa Smile

Gender roles in the princess bride.

Gender roles have been a hotly debated topic in the most recent years, especially the role of women in society. Women have had set expectations that they are believed to conform to, which is shown in many pieces of film and literature. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald describes the life of a man in the upper class in the 1920’s, as well as women in the 1920’s. The movie The Princess Bride, written by William Goldman, visually explains the treatment and expectations of women, and especially focuses on the “damsel in distress” stereotype.. Roxane Gay’s “Bad Feminist” explains the stereotypes against women and ways women can come together and fight these constraints. Based on these sources, societal expectations take away from each individual’s identity, forcing women to conform to society's standards. In order to fight against these expectations, women have banded together and formed movements against these standards.

Devor Gender Roles

In “Becoming Members of Society: Learning the Social Meanings of Gender” by Aaron H Devor,

Analysis of the other wife

Gender roles have played a major part in society. According to the book “The Psyche of Feminism” “A gender role is a theoretical construct in the social sciences that refers to a set of social and behavioral norms that are considered to be socially appropriate

Durkheim and the Relevance of His Theories in Modern Society

Organic solidarity arose as a result of the industrial revolution when society became more multifaceted and new ways of working emerged. This saw a decline in the collective conscience regarding shared morals and beliefs as society began to progress and expand. The division of labour that arises as a result of organic solidarity is complex and varied, resulting in people becoming more individualistic and yet also interdependent. Society’s social bonds now centred around the fact that people were dependant on each other for the good and services required in their day-to-day lives. (McDonald, 2009)

Gender Inequality According to Functionalist and Marxist Feminist Perspective

Contrary to popular believe, gender is referred to the attitudes, behaviours and emotions linked with a specific sexual group. There are two dominant perspectives that illustrate two different viewpoints of gender inequality. The functionalist perspective, by Talcott Parsons, believed that both men and women possess specific qualities that make them excellent at specific events, and these qualities are not interchangeable (Brym, 2014). The Marxist-Feminist perspective; however, viewed qualities for men and women as to being dependent on social conditions rather than being inherited (2014). In order to further illustrate the presence of gender inequality in the present society; the film Missrepresentation, by Jennifer Newsom reveals the

Essay on Gender Roles and Their Effect on Women

The “gender role” refers to a theoretical construct in society that refers to the set of social and behavioral norms

Bewitched Is A Sitcom About A Man Who Married A Witch

In sociology, a social role is a set of connected behaviors as conceptualized by actors in a social situation. Gender is often, but decreasingly, used as a synonym for sex: referring to the physical separation of anatomy which is commonly used to differentiate male from female. Usually, Samantha casts spells early in the episodes, and the spell would inevitably backfire in a way that allowed for a more realistic problem to arise. Formerly, she and husband Darrin went through the paces of a domestic conflict. This is typical to millions of young couples filling the suburbs at that time. The domestic conflict changes perceived masculinity or femininity of a person or their

The Role Of Women During The American Society

“The social construction of gender comes out of the general school of thought entitled social constructionism. Social constructionism proposes that everything people "know" or see as "reality" is partially, if not entirely, socially situated. To say that something is socially constructed does not mitigate the power of the concept. These basic theories of social constructionism can be applied to any issue of study pertaining to human life, including gender. This is

Gender Roles Are Harmful And How Important It Is

Throughout the story we see the protagonist struggle with the gender roles placed upon her by her society; specifically the role she is supposed to play as

Betty Friedan's Mona Lisa Smile

Although Mona Lisa Smile explored many progressive themes such as lesbianism and feminism, it came across very lackluster and I did not enjoy it at all. The cliche movie tropes and mediocre acting was a small portion of where my dislike was. One main complaint I had about this movie is its terrible portrayal of the Feminine Mystique. In Betty Friedan's book, some may argue that her book was targeted towards a small demographic of women, but many could relate to a part of the book some way or another. She may have not outright mentioned women of color or impoverished women but her book served its purpose for the time. Most of these critics are judging it under a present lense which is unfair. However, this movie came out in 2003, so it would

Mona Lisa Smile Analysis

The film, Mona Lisa Smiles, is actually in the 1950’s era it’s displays story associated with art teacher who teaches preservation college students to question their traditional and social roles. Her aim is to change the old fashioned and traditional ideas influencing the mind of young females. The film displays cultural and social ideologies influencing young female intelligence. It indicated exactly how societal pressures along with acceptability are able to have an effect on young female actions and thinking process as well.

The Harsh Inequality Of Women

The definition of gender roles is a set of societal norms dictating what types of behavior is generally considered acceptable based on the gender of a person. Additionally, if you don’t seem to accept this standard, there can be huge consequences. For example, in India, women are viewed as a burden and a “extra mouth to feed.” Her status promotes the idea that men can treat them in a subdued manner. If they don’t comply to these requirements, then a woman is murdered by her husband or his family by being set alight by a flammable liquid, which is usually known as bride burning. Herland, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, also uncovers the harsh inequality of women. Gender roles shouldn’t be real and they were forced on us by society.

Expected Behavior in The Coquette and The Female Marine Essay

Her essay deals with the conceptual presence of gender within society that functions as the primary element in expected behavioral roles. Drawing upon previous philosophic and psychoanalytic thought, Butler espouses a theory rooted in the concept of social agents that "constitute social reality through language, gesture, and all matter of symbolic social sign." (Butler 270) Butler asserts that gender is not based on an internal identity or self-definition, but rather on perceptory, reflective notions of performances. Gender itself, in its unstable temporality, is defined by Butler to be "an identity instituted through a stylized repetition of acts"--an ephemeral performance from which social constructs are formed. (Butler 270) In this analysis, Butler establishes the notion of gender as an abstracted, mass perception which is rendered concrete by the fact of its common acceptance. It is a shared reality of the public, it's existence is a consequence of society's mutual acknowledgment. In this light, Butler describes the concept as being purely temporal--the appearance and perception of gender constitutes its reality. As a result, the examination of gender construction is the examination of its performative, perception-based manifestation. Upon breaching the collective assumption of the actuality of gender, its mutual acceptability is undermined, rendered unstable, and therefore, non-existent.

Social Role of Women in Society

The social role which I feel that I occupy and that I am going to focus on in this essay is the one of a women in this society. I believe I have been socialized into this role for numerous reasons. Throughout this paper I will explain how I think I have been socialized into this role.

The film, Mona Lisa Smiles, is actually in the 1950s era its displays story associated with art form mentor that teach preservation college students to question their traditional and social roles. Her aim is to change the old fashioned and traditional ideas influencing the mind of young females. The film displays cultural and social ideologies influencing young female's intelligence. It indicated exactly how societal pressures along with acceptability is able to have an effect on young female's actions and thinking process as well. Their mind has been embedded their cultures and values. Katherine Watson (Julia Robert) has an extremely eccentric identity She excitedly acknowledge the offer to teach art history at one of the most renowned college for women.

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mona lisa smile gender roles essay

Mona Lisa Smile Gender Roles

Joan, is another example of the smart students in Wellesley College are. She is a busy student who is the leader in many clubs including the poetry society, the debate team, co-captain of the tennis club, and she is also a founder of the horticulture league. She also has a boyfriend named Tommy Donegal a student from Harvard who loved her and allowed her to make her life choices. Although she is busy, she also excelled in academic as her grade is straight A until she joined the art history class and was getting a C for the first time. She also claimed that she also made her boyfriend’s homework. She is enrolled in Wellesley college as a pre-law student and she also mentioned that she is interested to study in Yale law school. However, …show more content…

In this essay, the author

They were expected to be a housewife and to take care of her family, and to support her husband career. The flexibility of these roles were also differ according to their social background and how they were raised as seen in the difference between Giselle’s family and Betty’s family. The section below will explain each of the gender equality issues in …show more content…

Although it is over in 1945, it still gave various impacts to America and they are ranged from the financial and production sector to the effects to the households as most of the men were drafted to the war. According to History.com staffs (2009), the attack on Pearl Harbor angered American and mosu t of them was working hard as a nation to win the world war 2. The effort given by the U.S was remarkable as since 1942 the people was given a ration stamp for food, gas, clothing, and fuel oil. This effort is done in order to ensure that the military force in the front line will have more to consume. Moreover, individuals were also contributing by recycling scrap metals, rubber, and aluminum cans to produce war-related armaments. They were also buying U.S war bonds and the profit was used to fund the cost of the

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mona lisa smile gender roles essay

Women In Mona Lisa Smile

Beauty myth tobias wolf analysis.

Paragraph 18 – 21: Wolf asserts that as women gained freedoms, society colonized women’s consciousness by utilizing notion of “beauty” and reconstructing female world. She explains that “the modern arsenal of the myth is a dissemination of millions of images of the current ideal” (Wolf, 193).

Katherine Johnson Legacy

You might not know the day of August 26,1918 (Biography.com) it was a day that changed history forever. Despite racism and segregation, Katherine Johnson was the first African American woman to assist the apollo team at NASA. Johnson overcame obstacles through her life for her to get to such a place. She was a monumental piece of history. To fully understand what she accomplished one must know about her early life, rise to fame, and her greatest legacy. always stands with pride in everything she does in her life even when she doesn't get the right respect in life.

The Sun Also Rises Brett Ashley Quotes

Ernest Hemingway once stated that, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.” This quote can be applied to the new woman and how she may feel in the transitioning world she lived through. The new woman sees herself as free and just as able to engage in fun activities as any man. She sees herself as strong and independent and successful in realizing that she has conquered a world where men rule over women and where women have strict jobs to stay quiet and do what they’re told. The female protagonist in the novel, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, Lady Brett Ashley follows this idea to a T. She is rebelling against the traditional role of a woman and being her own independent woman with the intention of working for and pleasing only herself. The new woman is a huge theme within the novel, being explained through Lady Brett Ashley’s image, promiscuity, and independence.

Ethos Pathos Logos In Miss Representation

Women has greatly suffered in society from the beginning until now and no one seems to notice this prolonged issue that women have to endure in their daily lives. The media played a major role to how women are perceived in todays society. Nevertheless, in todays world more and more individuals are attempting to address the problem to solve this issue once and for all. Jennifer Newsom effectively convince her audience in an American documentary film: “Miss representation” to embellish the denigration of women in society and persuade the audience through the use of logos, pathos, and explicit visual images.

A Left Hand Address Rhetorical Analysis Essay

A women can only succeed if she acts like a man: many women develop with this statement or feel it to be correct. One such woman, novelist Ursula K. Le Guin, wrote “A Left-Handed Commencement Address,” spoken at Mills College in 1983, and she argues that women shouldn’t be “bounded” by man. In “A Left-Handed Commencement Address,” Ursula K. Guin empowers women to live like a woman through the use of credibility, logos, and emotional appeal.

Gender Roles In Grease Live !

since the release of the original. While the 1978 cast was predominately white, the 2016 remake included multiple people of colour in supporting roles. Other than the taming of certain misogynistic language, the overall story and message remained the same. The directors chose to include the outdated sexist banter between the T-Birds, the sexualization of the female characters and the unacceptable slut shaming of women, as well as the binary views of gender roles. Grease Live! uses the male gaze and displays women with “their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness” (Mulvey 11). The female characters were still written to appease the male viewer both in looks and attitude.

Stereotypes And Gender Roles In Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills

In society, there are several stereotypes and gender roles culturally influenced by women today. Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills series made between (1977-1980) shows different stereotypes of women in different everyday situations. This series consists of the artist posing as those female roles in seventy black and white photographs. In my opinion, by doing this series she challenges the way we view women regularly in pictures, by giving a different perspective. In this paper, I examine Cindy Sherman’s work and how my work is inspired by or relates to her work. My work relates to Sherman’s in many ways, but the most important is that she inspired me to show one of the most common stereotypes of women. To begin with, my process of creating my photo and then drawing it was very difficult and easy at the same time. I started by trying to find where I wanted to take my photo. All I knew was that I wanted it to be somewhere with one light source, as shown in Sherman’s photos. I wanted to use a window, but I didn’t want just a regular window only because I felt that it would cause distractions. I didn’t want distractions because in Sherman’s photos the setting is very mundane, which draws your attention to wherever she is in the photo. So, I came across this window made of brick glass. This is a glass window but with bricks of glass that causes different patterns from what you see outside. Once, I found my location all I had to do was take the photo. This was a struggle for

Monopolies During The Gilded Age

In a time where social strictures denied most women a future in the field of visual arts, Harriet Hosmer defied all social convention with her large scale success in neoclassical sculpting. At a young age, Hosmer had already developed a striking reputation, one that qualified her to study abroad in Rome under the tutelage of renowned sculptor John Gibson. As if this opportunity wasn’t rare enough for women artists in her day, Hosmer’s outstanding potential earned her the luxury of studying from live models.6 The respect she gained from taking this unconventional route to her success is one that entirely transformed society’s perception of women. Not only did her unique story serve as a catalyst in the progression of gender equality, but she also hid symbolic messages within each of her sculptures to find a way to penetrate her beliefs of equality through to any soul.3 As the National Museum of Women in the Arts perfectly captures, “[s]he preferred Neoclassical idealism to more naturalistic trends and rendered mythological and historical figures, such as Oenone, Beatrice Cenci, and Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, with nobility and grandeur.”6 In contrast to the typical artists of her day, Hosmer’s sculptures depicted female characters whose stories were an emblem of her compelling feminist beliefs.

Unmarked Woman Analysis

It also expresses that compared with men, women need to concern more about their image like the scene of small meeting in Tannen’s article. In Tannen’s article which named “there is no unmarked woman,” she joined in a small meeting. In this small conference, she found that women who have decent clothes, makeup and hairstyles to avoid the bias, unlike men chose to be unmarked. “All eight men wore brown or blue slacks and nondescript shirts of light colors”(Tannen, 1993). Therefore, women need to spend a lot of time decide their stylizes before they go outside on comparison with

Equality In The Odyssey

Throughout history, the equality of women to men has been regarded as a social taboo. It was a universal understanding that women were always subordinate to their dominant males. Pre Modern Greece expressed these views through their social expectations, hierarchical structures and general lack of acceptance. This ubiquitous truth for this society was challenged in Homer’s The Odyssey, with his strongly developed and diverse female cast. Each female character possesses a unique personality and faced internal as well as external struggles that rivals the complexity of the male characters. Despite the inequity that these females face, they overcome it by showing themselves to be strong in the face of adversity and work to be unmoved by even the

Nt1310 Unit 9 Final Project

The last but not the least, Hopper incorporates formal elements like value, space and lines to display the double act of looking in Morning Sun. “ The model for the painting was Hopper’s wife Josephine. She was to be become Hopper’s only female model after their marriage in the mid-20s. At the time those drawings were made, she was 69 years old” (Theophanidis, 2014). As capturing the main character in the painting, a young girl with hair in a bun sits at the middle of the bed in a bare room. Both of her hands hold her knees, and the back leans forward. She is dressed up like a ballet dancer, looking outside of the window dully and staring at one point in the distance. Since the curtain is not pulled on the top, so a slice of sunlight is casted

Gender Roles In Susan Glaspell's Trifles

Over the years, the thought of prejudice and gender role has changed somewhat drastically. Women and men view themselves in a different way, and have made themselves known on the topic. During the 1900s, men saw women as their own personal property, property used to clean, cook, and attend to men’s everyday needs. Even though that was the case women have moved up in the world since then. The story “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell demonstrates how women were treated in the 1900s; women have accomplished so much and are accomplishing women’s rights today; the women’s right movement demonstrates a change in woman’s roles, life, and future.

Social Issues In Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse

This chapter provides a review of available literature on social issues in To the Lighthouse. The basic focus is on the social issues related to every character in the novel. Issues like feminism, marriages, death, vision, religious doubts, optimism, pessimism, materialism etc. The relative work is connected to the objectives of the study. Mrs. Ramsay uniting family, and Charles Tansley religious doubts and degrading women, and Lily’s painting, similarly the marriages of Victorian and Modern Age through the characters of To the Lighthouse, and at the end how they all deal and respond to all these different social issues.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou Analysis

Life is a journey that is challenging for many people. As a result, many do not live up to their full potential. Nevertheless, there are always few distinguished people in every generation who master the art of living better than everyone else. Such individuals emerge as icons of the society and leave phenomenal legacies. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Maya Angelou are outstanding souls who made their communities and the world a better place. Undoubtedly, having paramount courage and undying love for the human race are the two virtues that anyone aspiring to live a life of purpose must have.

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  1. Mona Lisa Smile: An Example of Gendered Society Essay Sample

    Mona Lisa Smile teaches that even in gendered society, the representatives of each gender should have equal opportunities and abilities to implement their

  2. Mona Lisa Smile

    This movie effectively portrays liberal feminism, the fight for self-determination, and gender roles in the year 1953-1954. Need a custom essay

  3. Mona Lisa Smile

    Many films have tried to explore the realms of gender roles and the breaking of the prevalent societal discourse regarding the role of women.

  4. Mona Lisa Smiles

    The film "Mona Lisa Smile" ultimately illustrates how certain expectations within gender roles, contraception, divorce, and marriage have changed over time

  5. Feminism In Mona Lisa Smile

    Free Essay: Set in the circa of the 1950's, the movie, "Mona Lisa Smile" is an ... the gender roles that the society of the time assigned to men and women.

  6. Mona Lisa Smile Analysis

    Free Essay: For many years, women's issues and rights have been a topic of discussion and debate throughout the world. As time progresses, new issues emerge

  7. Patriarchy and Gender Roles in the Film Mona Lisa Smile

    Wow. Most helpful essay resource ever! - Chris Stochs, student @ UC Berkeley. View other essays like this one:.

  8. Social Structure In Mona Lisa Smile

    Her essay deals with the conceptual presence of gender within society that functions as the primary element in expected behavioral roles. Drawing upon previous

  9. Mona Lisa Smile Gender Roles

    Mona Lisa Smile Gender Roles. Good Essays ... The flexibility of these roles were also differ according to their social background and how they were raised

  10. Women In Mona Lisa Smile

    Before the 1920's gender roles were plain and simple; the man worked and the woman stayed home to cook, clean, and raise the family. Throughout the novel The