Edible Woman

From the novel “Edible Woman”, Marion MacAlpin seems to be happy with her relationship as it commences. There seems to be compatibility between her and her boyfriend Peter who is a lawyer. However, things tend to change once they get engaged. Marion feels oppressed based on the new life that she has to get used to. Her fiancé now treats her as if she is his property. There is a dictation of what Marion ought to do and what not to do. This results to a variety of changes in her life. She can no longer eat, and feels like she is being “eaten” instead. Wilkinson (1996) asserts that this has been the case since time in memorial. Women are never given a chance to do what they think is best for their lives. The society has coined rules and regulations that are meant to bind them in their daily endeavors. These rules tend to put men at the helm of everything. As a result, men have emerged as dominant figures and taken every opportunity to exploit the role played by women in the society. To them, women are just their property, and have the audacity to treat them as they please.

Manza & Sauder (2009) assert that Cultural beliefs and societal norms have played a significant role in this realization. Whatever was being done in as early as 12th and 14th century is surfacing inform of male chauvinism. The idea that men are the heads of every society and their views should not be objected by women has been there even from the Old Testament. From the ancient Greece, women did not have the right to acquire education. Once they reached puberty, they were married off to grown men. They remained to be their fathers’ properties; who could divorce them and marry them to other men as they saw fit (Wilkinson, 1996). It was a life of segregation and could not leave the homestead without a chaperone. Right to buy or sell land was just an imagination that could not come true. It even got worse when a woman was raped. The husband had the right to divorce her or she would lose her citizenship. Was this really a woman’s fault? What about the man that raped her? Such beliefs have provided the male stereotype the necessary power for them to dominate women and dictate what is right or wrong for them (Manza & Sauder, 2009).

From Atwood’s novel, it is clear that it is not only men that are liable for the blame when it comes to women oppression. The society also plays a significant role in this realization. Marion, being a woman of the society had done all the things that the society expects of her. It is clear from this book that there are certain things that a woman is expected to accomplish. Most of the things are devised to make men happy at the expense of women. The society just treats women as objects of pleasuring men. With such norms in the society, when will women get the opportunity of being happy? When will their needs gain priority ahead of men in the society? Such questions lingered in Marion’s head. She could not find any answers to these queries and just regarded herself as an “edible woman”. The pressure exerted by societal expectations decoys her even the appetite to eat. She just has to assume to feminine character because that is what the society wants of her.

However, it reaches a point when she cannot take it anymore. She is done playing along the societal rules and wants to make life on her own. Marion is full of confidence that she can do a lot of things on herself without counting on Peter’s help. To the society, this comes as a form of rebellion. She is not the only woman to have gone against the odds during this period. Ainsley; who was her roommate wanted to conceive without being married. In the society, it was a taboo for a woman to get pregnant outside the wedlock. Nonetheless, she did not care and went ahead to find a sperm donor in the name of Len.

Atwood (1969) uses these two women as a reflection of what women should be in the society. She believes that women should have the ability to know what they want in life. After understanding what they want, they should fight for it. This would not come along as easy as it may sound. There might be a lot of obstacles along the way due to the standards set earlier. The society will be against it in many ways, hence there is need to be persistent and strong willed. Knowing what one wants in life is a great step towards attaining it. Marion tries to reject the roles subjected to her by the society and tends to find her own solace. Atwood (1969) had a belief that fellow female counterparts should follow in this footsteps and fight for what is rightfully theirs in the society. Facing oppression based on the gender divide should be a thing of the past.

Atwood, M. (1969). The Edible Woman. New York: Warner Books.

Manza, J., & Sauder, M. (2009). Inequality and society: social science perspectives on social stratification. New York, NY: Norton.

Wilkinson, R. G. (1996). Unhealthy societies: the afflictions of inequality. London: Routledge.

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