Gender Inequality In Literature Essay

1613 words - 6 pages

Gender equality, men and women having the same rights and obligations, and everyone having the same opportunities in society, has been a topic of discussion for man and women for centuries (Dorious and Firebaugh). For many centuries, women have used literature as a voice used to defend their rights as women. Female authors achieved extraordinary success in literature functioning in a culture that frowned upon female literary desire but men still dominated the profession (Dorious and Firebaugh). Until well into the nineteenth century, it was common for both male and female writers to publish under a pseudonym. Fiction was a genre that was frequently published anonymously. Fiction was considered a low genre of literature leading many authors to detach his or her name from the piece of fiction. For women especially, the cloak of anonymity was particularly essential (Dorious and Firebaugh). Female proclamation and self-revelation were viewed as unwomanly. Therefore, writing under the identity of a man’s name would protect a woman from criticism for unladylike thoughts. The male alias could potentially increase a female’s chances of receiving an unprejudiced review. Throughout history, women have had a weak voice in the literary world due to fear of the power women had and the lack of respect for female authors.
The first women’s rights convention was organized by 68 women and 32 men in 1848. As a result, a document titled “The Declaration of Sentiments” was created, fighting for the quality of women (Zink-Sawyer). Based on the format of the “Declaration of Independence”, Elizabeth Cady Stanton created a document with the primary goal of securing equal rights for women and how these women would gain these rights. The 1848 Declaration of Sentiments opened with reference to certain "laws of nature and of nature's God" and declared that "all men and women are created equal" and "are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” The Declaration ended by vowing to fight woman's "social and religious degradation" and, to that end, attempted "to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf.". The final resolution of the document unanimously passed at Seneca Falls vowed to overthrow "the monopoly of the pulpit" and to secure to woman "an equal participation with men in the various trades, professions, and commerce" (Stanton). Even though the drive force of this document was women, male abolitionist Frederick Douglass was one of the individuals that brought attention to this document (Zink-Sawyer). The women fought and won the right to be heard but it was clear, men still had a stronger voice that powered above women.
In order to gain a stronger voice in the literary world, Victorian author and Journalist Marian Evans assumed the pen name George Eliot. In order to distance herself from the female romance novelists of the time and to ensure that her works were taken seriously, Marian Evans published many of her piece under the male pen name...

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