Posted by: beansai | August 8, 2008

Journal Entry #1: The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

    Being a part of the female culture, it is easy to get into the grind of exposing the difficulties women face in a male dominant society. Especially in feminist texts, the struggles women endure are front and foremost. A lot of Margaret Atwood’s novels deal with blossoming feminism, the pros and the cons of it, and The Robber Bride isn’t much different. Since the primary characters are all female, and the men merely play second fiddle, it is easy to see things strictly from one gender’s point of view.

    But there is this one point in the novel, short, but it stood out in my mind, that men are struggling for an identity in society as well; that their role has transfigured over time as well as women’s. Just like women struggle to find that balance between being mother, lover, breadwinner, and whatever other roles they take on, men are also struggling to fit into and out of those old categorical tags we place on them. In particular to this novel, Atwood points out that women no longer know what a “good man” is, and neither do the men. It seems as though we are all still trying to fit into these archaic filing systems, despite the changes that have taken place in modern society. Women are still trying to figure out what is really beautiful without being overt, men are trying to walk a fine line of maintaining their masculinity without being chauvinistic; we are all trying to color in the lines, but who knows where the lines really are.

    This just reminded that it is easy to be hard on men in general, and beat down their complaints of fitting into their gender role, because throughout history they have had more opportunities than women to express the difficulties of their circumstances. Naturally, this is an unfair perspective. Why hold the past against the men of today? They didn’t dictate our history and are as susceptible to the flaws and follies of modern society as women are. And it is generally an unfair assumption that they would have had opportunities to express their feelings more than women. We are finally coming to a point in some cultures where men and women are both allowed to express an unhappiness with the constraints of their gender roles. But it hasn’t always been that way for either gender. This was simply one of those instances where I was reminded that the structure of a society isn’t as simple as which gender is the dominant one. I don’t generally consider myself an intense feminist, but I certainly have my moments. I like being reminded of my moments of narrow-mindedness and ultimately remedying the situation.

    Life is just so much easier at times with labels, compartments, categories. If we all fit snugly into our designated boxes, then it is easier to see where we belong in the general construction of society. Of course, life isn’t so simple. So here we are, men and women alike, trying to find a place, whether it is gender-neutral or not. It was nice to get a sharp moment of perspective in this novel, reminding me that there are always two sides to a story, that every person has unique circumstances and that it isn’t as easy as I’d like to lump people together under a label. And that it isn’t so easy to toss myself in one category or another.

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