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Denying the self in order to fit into roles that are defined by male dominance does not provide for freedom, but is a continuing diminishment of those roles that can only be taken on by the female gender. The female gender has been fighting a battle that cannot be won, defeating their own essential instincts in order to create a world in which male dominance is continued through female adaptation to male roles.
In Kate Chopin’s (1884) The Story of an Hour, freedom is described by the absence of a husband. Having done as society required and married, when her husband died Mrs. Mallard was given freedom from both social constraint and the oppression of marriage. The oppression of marriage was not defined by love or a lack of love, but by a society that pushed women’s desires to the back in deference to their husband. It could be said that in the hour she spent within that freedom, she had established true equality. She could be female and express herself through those traditions that were decidedly feminine, but she would no longer be subject to the scrutiny or opinion of her husband. Although she would still be constrained by the conventions of the 19th century, the essential message was that she was no longer oppressed within the space of her home, her ideas, beliefs, desires and ambitions freed within the boundaries of her position in life. The point of this story is that for an hour she experienced this freedom, and this can be used as a structure from which to discuss the problems with feminism as it has attempted to free woman from the oppression of male dominance.
Reading Mary Wollstonecraft (1792) allows the feminist with an open mind to begin to re-envision her place within a modern world. It is not the modern message that women must be both male and female to be considered successful, but that women should be given equal standing for the value of their gender. She discusses the idea that women should be companions, not merely subjugated wives,
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