Gender expectations play an unjust societal role in this novella. When comparing the chastising and judgment Lizzie received as a woman compared to the lack of punishment Henry, a male, received, we see the imbalance of gender expectations.
In society, boys and girls are put under the stigmas of gender expectations. Newborn girls are placed in a pink room with princesses and are told they are beautiful, while newborn boys are placed in blue rooms and told they are strong, smart and handsome. Both boys and girls are told “innocent” fairytales and rocked to sleep in their gender-based colored rooms. This minor act is a small piece in a much larger inequality puzzle.
In 1750, the term ‘fairy tale’ was created and has taken a significant role in the lives of young minds to grown adults (Nanda). As fairytales evolved, gender inequalities grew with it. A traditional fairytale contains a strong prince, a weak damsel in distress, and a happily ever after. This equation appears to be harmless until the effects are too late to be reversed.
In Julie Humans article “A woman Rebels? Gender Roles in 1930s Motion Pictures” she includes lines from a 1930 film depicting the weakness of women and a strong male savior,
“You know…these modern women are so weak. She demurely responds, “Aren’t they?” and then melts into his embrace. The light fade and they live happily ever after” (Human). This image of weak women needing saving is an idea that carried on throughout history and in present day 2018. Fairy Tales such as The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and The Sleeping Beauty, to name a few, are told to young children day in and day out. These tales and movies teach young girls to depend on a man in order to achieve their happiness and riches.
Fairytales and movies enforce the societal expectations of what jobs a woman cannot do. In Green’s article, she includes an experiment a psychologist has performed, examining the effects of media induced job expectations. In the experiment, they mixed boys and girls together and had them identify which gender is capable of having such occupation. “Most of the secretary, assistant, or housework was categorized under “female” while lawyers, CEOs, and higher-up positions were designated to “males” (Green).
The results are shocking, but this is what is to be expected when young minds are easily molded with negative stereotypes at an early age. With this in mind, it’s no wonder Lizzie didn’t admit she was seeing Henry in order to maintain her family. Sleeping with a man outside of one’s marriage is not a typical job, especially not for a woman. A woman would rather be labeled an adultery, who is cheating for pleasure, then to be labeled an adultery who is sleeping to provide and maintain a lifestyle for her and her sick husband who she loved dearly.