Gender Roles In Kindred

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In the novel, Kindred, Butler shows that gender plays a role in power dynamics in 19th and 20th centuries. This is shown differently with white and black women of both periods., We, the readers, see how white women like Margaret Weylin are seen as inferior to their husbands, who have a public presence in society and can do as they please. In addition, society expects them to be nothing more than wives and mothers. On the other hand, black women are constantly victimized and treated inhumanly: 20th century women like Dana are still undermined by white men like Kevin, who is shown to reinforce patriarchal values through his treatment of her. Moreover, it is repeatedly shown in the novel that 19th century black women were even more oppressed than …show more content…
In the novel, Rufus constantly asserts his racial superiority and abuse over African Americans. For example, he repeatedly sexually abuses Alice without anyone saying anything or stopping him (with the exception of Dana and Isaac) as part of his power and privilege as a white man. Though, his cruel and demeaning behavior could be a result of his family and society reminding him that his gender and race gives him authority. In the novel, as Dana is forced to work for the Weylins, she begins to notice an unhealthy pattern between Rufus and his mother, Margaret. She states, "I remembered suddenly the way he used to talk to his mother. If he couldn't get what he wanted from her gently, he stopped being gentle. Why not? She always forgave him" (218). Dana begins to piece together that Margaret Weylin's spoiling behavior toward Rufus is what influences him to grow up a misogynist towards black women. Margaret instilled in Rufus a toxic mindset that makes him believe that women will forgive him immediately after being cruel to them. Furthermore, his mother Margaret, isn't the only one who contributed to this view of the world that Rufus has. His father Tom Weylin reinforces Rufus' views through his treatment of his own slaves. In the novel, Dana points the detrimental effects Rufus' family treatment of black slaves had on him growing up. She states, "He had spent his life watching his father ignore, even sell the children he had had with black women"

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