Gender Roles In Fannie Flagg's Fried On

1902 Words 8 Pages
Often in modern society, people are told whether or not they should participate in an activity because of their gender or because that particular activity is either too “feminine” or too “masculine.” Certain activities are said to be “for girls,” like cooking and shopping, and others that are “for boys,” like sports and playing video games. The assignment of gender to an action, behavior, or characteristic is referred to as a gender role. Traditional gender roles establish passiveness, gentleness, and submissiveness as feminine traits and aggressiveness, dominance, and aloofness as masculine traits. As a result, women are expected to be caring and nurturing, while men are expected to be tough, blunt, and level-headed. In Fannie Flagg’s Fried …show more content…
Idgie, the central character of Mrs. Threadgoode’s stories, does not conform to the stereotype of women, but she is satisfied with her life nonetheless. She frequents the River Club, “a place where Idgie can relax and be herself, a place where she does not have to worry about society’s conventions” (Church). There, she is free to gamble, drink, and act as “manly” as she wants without judgement, which is why she goes there when she needs to relax. Idgie is happiest when she can act naturally, even though she does not submit to conventional gender norms. In fact, “Idgie is female, yet wears men’s clothing, drinks liquor ‘like a man,’ tells tall stories, and loves Ruth and her baby with all her soul. As a result Idgie is loved, protected, and defended by all who know her” (Parsons). Despite her discordance with society, Idgie lives a pleasurable life surrounded by people she loves and who love her back. The people of the town adore her for her fun, vivacious personality and refrain from judging her for her dress and manners. With the help of these stories of Idgie, Evelyn finally realizes, after struggling with her identity throughout the novel, that she does not have to assimilate into society’s gender roles in order to be happy, and “when she realizes how silly these gender roles are, and in this she believes she had Idgie’s backing, she finds herself a little more confident about herself” (“Themes: Gender Roles”). As a result of her epiphany, she begins to reform her life and follow her dreams which had previously been mere fantasies. She gets treatment for menopause, starts selling Mary Kay cosmetics, and is able to confront the fears and anxieties that have held her back. Overall, Evelyn’s rejection of gender roles allows her to leave the confines of her domestic sphere, manage her physical health, and thus improve her mental health.

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