Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Trifles

Trifles left me thoroughly impressed; Glaspell’s observations, published in 1916, were incredibly astute and are surprisingly applicable to modern gender divides. For instance, the County Attorney was focused solely on solving the case and boosting his own pride, but the two women, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, were more sympathetic towards the accused Mrs. Wright. This preference of men to play the singular hero is reaffirmed when we consider Mr. Robertson’s presentation about language. The article he referenced noted that boys, more often than not, wrote about themselves and their honor, while girls, more often than not, wrote about their siblings and friends. It was also concluded that instead of basing their plot on a victory, most stories written by girls concerned simple tasks or activities like jumping rope, which only serves to highlight another difference in male and female thinking patterns: as per society’s influence, women don’t gravitate towards competition like men. This key point is clearly illustrated in Trifles as Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters collaborate towards a realization and never fight over who is going to claim the supposed satisfaction from helping to uphold the law. In fact, they decide to withhold their findings and support Mrs. Wright’s innocence. It’s never determined whether Mrs. Wright was guilty of murdering her husband, but regardless of this, Glaspell, before the Suffrage Movement, publicly introduced this notion that women should stand up for other women. A farmer’s wife does not have an easy job, although at the time society labeled it as such. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter acted from gendered characteristics that continue even in today’s classrooms. 

It’s interesting to connect these themes to my life at seventeen, surrounded by other seventeen and eighteen year olds. We aren’t elementary students writing about toy soldiers or braiding hair, yet we still conform to these gendered expectations. Isn’t “locker room talk” just boys trying to outcompete each other in a very macho-spirited way? Just the other day, a friend of mine texted me about how unbelievable it is that a boy’s pride can blind him from how rude he’s behaving. This is not to say that women are always empathetic, because we’re not, but I think there is some fairness in saying that we are “trained” by the common societal system to be the responsible ones who are loving mothers, devoted nurses, and the ultimate caregivers. And I believe that these are good traits that can lead the world away from assumptions and towards awareness, but women must also be taught to value themselves equally, as the documentary Missinterpreted expressed.

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