The Stepford Wives

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Practice Essay 3 The 1975 film The Stepford Wives discusses the feminist concerns experienced in the second wave feminist movement. The movie powerfully portrays the struggle women experienced to overcome patriarchal laws and stereotypical constraints and highlights the progress women have made in creating equal and liberated rights. Through the characterisation of Joanna, Carol Van Sant and the representation of males, this plight manifests itself into three major concerns. The transformation of Joanna, juxtaposed with the character of Carol Van Sant highlights the want to become the perfect housewife. The male dominance within the Stepford community highlights the enforcement of patriarchal laws, creating a divide between genders. The lack of individuality represented through Carol Van Sant and the transformed ladies of Stepford reflect the want for female beauty and the characterisation of the Stepford families reflects the want for a nuclear family. Through the characterisation, The Stepford Wives intertwines the concerns of the 1970’s to create a fierce reminder of the freedom women have gained and is a critique of the world, which the author knew so well. Despite having gained the right to vote, during this time, women felt trapped within a domestic sphere. The women became wives and mothers without a voice. Frustrated by the patriarchal society, where men controlled every institution in the land, including families, there was an ingrained belief that the purpose of a woman was to domestically and sexually please the male. There were very clear expectations for women to marry and have children allowing men to advance in their careers. Such a social paradigm restricted femininity to marriage and mother hood and these feminist concerns are clearly depicted in The Stepford Wives in the females plight to the perfect housewife. In the quiet town of
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