Women and Gender Roles in Future Society in Bellamy’s Looking Backward, 2000-1887

7 Feb

For Bellamy, things aren’t the same in the year 2000 and everything has changed for “better”. Here I’m concerned about women in this new society and their gender roles compared to men. I believe that gender roles in future (Utopia) became fuzzy. The fact that women have the opportunity to be outside home and work as men do is liberal and advanced. However, I doubt that women are completely free and that they are still hidden under the shadows of men.

Women are given different jobs and industrial framework than men, and men determine their work plan and vacations depending on their social and parental status. The reason is that “Women being inferior in strength to men, and further disqualified industrially in special ways, the kinds of occupation reserved for them, and the conditions under which they pursue them…”(359) Where is the equality here? Still men have the power of women in that while Utopia should be perfect for both genders. Finding out that men “permit them to work” because it’s good for their minds and bodies is just unfair because women have the right to work and they deserve to be equal to men in that part. And what made me believe more that women aren’t freed from their traditional and social constraints and obligations is that married women and who have children are most respected and wanted in the Utopian society. “[w]omen who have been both wives and mothers, as they alone fully represent their sex.”(365)

I think what Bellamy is trying to create in the society of future, as Utopia is impossible regarding the gender roles. It is pretty obvious how these two sexes, although giving some freedom, are not the same in the way that women are obliged to take what the other sex offers whether it’s work opportunities or home responsibilities. I’m totally not convinced that women are better and happier because they are still inferior to men in many ways and perhaps future is only made for men. Also, I would really define “happiness” and “misery” in a feminine perspective not from the unreliable viewpoint of a man.

This issue can be related to Gilman’s Herland who argues about the fate of women and their gender roles in Utopian societies. And that women should be given equal opportunities as men to show their potentials.

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