A War Must Be Won Through an Aggregate of Small Victories

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A War Must Be Won through an Aggregate of Small Victories In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Hurston describes the struggle that Janie Crawford undergoes to find a voice of her own in a largely patriarchal society. She must resist the tendency that men have in her society to treat her as a status symbol to be achieved or "goods" to be traded. Because she possesses extremely desirable female characteristics, she is well sought after by men who wish to "own" her. This is similar to the dilemma that Gayle Rubin addresses in her essay "The Traffic in Women: Notes on the 'Political Economy’ of Sex." Rubin maintains that in order to change the mentality of such a society, its character must be modified. Thus, the sex of women is not the issue; it is the social construction of gender that is responsible for a woman becoming "a domestic, a wife, a chattel, a Playboy bunny, a prostitute, or human dictaphone in certain relations” (533). The traffic of Janie begins when Nanny hurries to marry her off to an acceptable suitor when it becomes apparent that Janie is feeling the urges of womanhood. Nanny fears that Janie will be taken advantage of by an undesirable man, so she marries her off to Logan Brooks. By doing this, Nanny hopes to prevent men from exercising their advantage that she thinks they possess in society. This exchange of women is a system that Rubin describes in which "women do not have full rights to themselves." Nanny sees this exchange as a cultural necessity to ensure Janie's safety and well-being. However, what she doesn't realize is that by doing this, she is perpetuating the patriarchal system that Janie must later tackle in all three of her marital relationships. The battles and decisions that Janie must face are representative of the battles that women encounter in their pursuit of a society free from gender hierarchy. Moreover, Janie must realize
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