Women 's Impact On Gender And Gender Roles : Elizabeth I And The Persistence Of Patriarchy

825 Words Dec 8th, 2015 4 Pages
Throughout history, masculinity has been viewed as superior to and more powerful than femininity. This power structure is seen in the gender hierarchies present in many different cultures and societies, and various historians and social theorists have described this and attempted to explain the impact on gender roles. Jean E. Howard, a professor at Columbia University, described one example of the gender system’s impacts in early modern England through her discussion of crossdressing. In her article “Crossdressing, The Theatre, and Gender Struggle in Early Modern England,” Howards explains how women were seen as naturally inferior to men, and for this reason, men who dressed as women were shameful for forfeiting their superior societal status. This gender division extended beyond everyday life into the ruling class as well. In her article “Queen Elizabeth I and the Persistence of Patriarchy,” Allison Heisch, a feminist historian mentions the fact the early female rulers were viewed as important almost solely for their ability to produce heirs. Heisch goes on to cite this as a reason for Queen Elizabeth I’s difficulty in acquiring the respect of male Parliament. However, this imbalance of power between the genders extends into modern society as well. Simone de Beauvoir, a well-known feminist and social theorist states, “[Humanity] is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being” (33). Here, de Beauvoir describes…

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