The Problem of a Woman’s Body in Contemporary Society
“Who shall measure the heat and violence of the poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body?” (Woolf 56)
The discussion in class the other day about a woman’s body intrigued me. Particularly, the fact that in a patriarchal society, what is seen first in a woman is often her body or her sexuality. A woman’s character or what she can achieve is often overshadowed by what society sees first.
Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, addresses Woolf’s idea of a woman’s body in the context of a workplace. Sandberg talks about how many perceptions of females often hold back women because they are first perceived by stereotypes associated with their gender. One notable part in the book was when Sandberg mentioned the fact that San Francisco magazine ran an article on female entrepreneurs. When they put images of the women in the magazine, they put their heads onto male bodies (Sandberg 48). Our society still has trouble associating the female body with any type of success in the work place, instead we still prefer to connect the female body with more commonplace images of motherhood and sexuality.
It is extremely worrisome that a book written in 1929 and a book written in 2013 both touch upon the same problem. How is it that in 84 years our society still has not addressed the fact that we view women primarily by their body first? Our society is so progressive and we have come so far with many issues. But it seems to me that our society has put the task of bridging the gender gap on the backburner. I really hope that our society works on this problem so that when I have a daughter of my own, she cannot identify with Woolf’s sentence. However, will Sandberg’s plan of changing our own behavior in society be enough or do we need to work on changing the structures that hold women back in society entirely?