Throughout the years, women have been thought to have a small role in society. In ancient societies they weren’t the hunters. Instead they stayed near the homes and gathered plants. When the government of the United States was being formed, women were not considered to have the right to vote. Only in the 1920’s, over 100 years after the United States became a nation, did women get a right to have their voice heard in the government. Even so, women had to suffer a lot of abuse to get that right. Even to this day, in a modern society where women are powerful individuals, we have not yet had a female president or even vice president in the United States. How is a person charged with the responsibility of creating human life and nurturing it not equal to a man? In the plays Antigone by Sophocles and A Streetcar Named Desireby Tennessee Williams, it is illustrated how women are underrated in the societies in which they live.
In Antigone by Sophocles, the main character, Antigone, is sentenced to death for mourning the loss of her brother. Her uncle and king of Thebes, Creon, is stubborn and refuses to acknowledge the fact that the entire society of Thebes is against him in his decision and thinks that Antigone was right to bury her brother. Even his son Haemon, who is engaged to Antigone, tries to convince him to allow her to live. Creon immediately takes offense to this and starts to point out that Antigone is a woman and that he shouldn’t listen to her. He makes it sound offensive that his son is standing by Antigone when he says, “It seems this boy is on the woman’s side” (Sophocles 1149). He doesn’t want to let his son win the argument because of his own hard head and the fact that his son is defending a woman. When Haemon finally starts to tell his father that he thinks he has gone “insane” (Sophocles 1149), Creon strikes back by saying, “You woman’s slave, do not try to wheedle me” (Sophocles 1149). In the end, Creon realizes his mistake and tries to save Antigone before it’s too late. Antigone, Haemon and Creon’s wife all end up killing themselves and Creon is forced to live a lonely life. This play was a more implicit example of women being discriminated against in society. It was only actually brought up that she was a woman in one part but through the rest of the play there were hidden examples of how Antigone was put down by Creon. There are other plays where women are discriminated against in a more forward way.
In the play, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, the maltreatment of women is more explicit. The main character, Blanche, is forced to go and live with her sister, Stella, after she loses everything in her life. This also means she has to put up with her sister’s brute of a husband, Stanley. Stanley is a very animalistic man with very little respect for women. This is shown when the women walk into the room during poker night. In that time it was considered respectful for men to stand when a woman entered a room. Blanche is used to this and tells the men that they don’t have to. Stanley quickly responds by saying, “Nobody’s going to get up, so don’t be worried” (Williams 1185). Stanley obviously wasn’t raised to be a gentleman. He feels that he has to be superior to everyone else. This escalates even more that same night when he throws the radio out the window after Blanche turns it on a second time after he told her to turn it off then physically beats Stella for telling his friends to leave. Even Stella knows Stanley is like an animal when she says, “Drunk-drunk-animal thing, you!” (Williams 1190). She doesn’t learn though because even after he does this she goes back to him. Stanley acts suspicious around Blanche throughout the entire play. He hates the fact that she continuously puts him down. Stanley over hears Blanche trying to convince Stella to leave him when she says, “He acts like an animal, has animal’s habits! Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one!” (Williams 1198). At the end of the story, Stanley epitomizes just how much of an animal he really is. Stella has just gone to the hospital to have her baby and he is sent back home. He finds Blanche all dressed up and at first he continues to insult her. In the end he tries to prove that he is the powerful one by raping her. Rape is one of the most unforgivable crimes a person can commit. It is Stanley, a man, trying to prove that he is stronger and more powerful than Blanche, a woman. All of the acts of violence and disrespect towards women are very obvious to the audience in this play.
Women are often thought of as small and fragile creatures. In stories like Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, the women have to be rescued by the men. There are movies like "A League of Their Own", where women are hired to wear short skirts and impress guys while they play baseball, and "She Cried No", where a girl is raped at a fraternity party, that are also examples of how women are mistreated by society. In a world where powerful women like Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters, Ellen DeGeneres, and Michelle Obama live, this should not be so. Today, there are woman in the Supreme Court, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. Across the world, countries have elected women as prime ministers that ultimately control the country. Women are managing families and having successful careers after having gotten college educations. The world is continuing to change every day. People have to get the preconceived notion that women are inferior to men out of their brains. The reality is women are 50 percent of the population and therefore should get 50 percent of an opinon in things.