In Sylvia Plath ‘s merely novel The Bell Jar, Esther the chief character had dated several work forces before she eventually decided to hold sex with Irwin, a cat that she had merely met on the stairss of the Widener Library during her twenty-four hours interruption at the refuge. The refuge is a topographic point where she stays at that place to be treated for her mental damage. In my sentiment, her pick of holding Irwin as the first individual to hold sex with ; hence, giving in her virginity, is caused by the society ‘s thought of virginity in the clip context of the narrative. A adult female ‘s virginity at the minute was considered a ownership of her hubby. This patriarchal restraint is formed by the society building on adult females during the 1950 ‘s where a adult female is put in the place of 2nd category citizen. They act as a back uping function for their adult male who goes out to the universe and gain a life. As an act of obeisance and wages for their hubby ‘s difficult work, virginity is considered a must to be kept merely for their hubby. While holding this value in her head, and happening out her ex-boyfriend ‘s criminal conversation, she realizes that maintaining her virginity to her future hubby will non be an action worthy of making since the work forces themselves do non see that their virginity is something to be kept for their future married womans. Here she inquiries the necessity of a adult female maintaining her virginity while the adult male do non necessitate to. She so eventually decides to acquire a diaphragm contraceptive method adjustment and travel out to happen a adult male to hold sex with. She needs to acquire rid of her virginity because virginity is a symbol of work forces ‘s subjugation to adult females. On this action, Esther turns around the power relation where work forces used to be the one keeping the power over which miss he would hold sex with while the misss wait passively as a virgin. Esther sexually objectifies Irwin in the agencies to arise against this patriarchal building and battle for the balance of virginity importance among work forces and adult females.
American Women in the 50 ‘s: Virginity as a Symbol of Obedience
“ It occurred to me that the blood was my reply. I could n’t perchance be a virgin any more. I smiled into the dark. “ A – Esther ‘s remark after holding sex with Irwin.
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Before acquiring into my statements on Esther ‘s gender freedom in finding her virginity, allow us put a definition of virginity to be used for the context of this paper. Virginity has been defined otherwise harmonizing to where the talker were raised, who her parents and friends were, every bit good as on her age, gender, sexual orientation, racial background, societal category, spiritual beliefs, and so forth.[ 1 ]Bing cognizant of the possible fluctuations in the significance of the word, we will utilize Esther ‘s ain definition where losing her virginity means that she has had a phallus inserted into her vagina that caused a interruption of the Hymens. The blood that came afterwards symbolizes her loss of virginity.
Esther came from Boston where she lived in a instead in-between category household that falls into the standard form of patriarchal household in the context of clip and topographic point of the novel. The novel is set during the summer where the Rosenbergs twosome was electrocuted which is 1951.[ 2 ]In the 1950 ‘s, adult females are expected to acquire married and run the place absolutely as a housewife. Womans are considered merely as a back uping function for the chief histrion which is work forces who goes out to work and gain a life. Their felicity is measured through how good they work at place: how clean their house is, how tended the kids are and how the society, which are the people in their vicinity, sees her good occupation at maintaining the household in its most representative status.[ 3 ]
Since at the minute, the common construct is that a adult female ‘s life is a life-long devotedness to her hubby and kids, virginity besides takes portion in this attempt of dedication. Faithfulness is the bosom of a adult female ‘s trueness to her hubby. This is depicted in the lines of an article that Esther ‘s female parent gave her titling “ In Defense of Chastity. ” but every bit shortly as she gave in, they would lose all regard for her and get down stating that if she did that with them she would make that with other work forces and they would stop up by doing her life suffering. This article enforces how if a adult female sleeps with more than one adult male who is non her hubby, her life would be made suffering. This article reinforces the propaganda that adult females ‘s sexual fidelity to her hubby is a must while work forces ‘s fidelity, although considered of import excessively, were non something of a compulsory as to be dictated by an article. What is interesting is that this article was written by a female attorney. Therefore, the 1s that agree to this set of building are non merely work forces, who clearly additions net income by this kind of abetment, but besides the adult females that were populating as the object of this building. Womans were made to believe that this kind of life is something that they want and were born for. They had non had the realisation that they are falling in to the power control of work forces.
This manner of thought is represented in the many characters in the novel which comes from Esther ‘s hometown Boston. These characters contribute to Esther ‘s apprehension of virginity and how she so began to go sick of the impression. Esther ‘s female parent for case, ever adverting how of import virginity is. Another representation is Dodo Conway, their neighbour who has six kids. She is a stay at place ma and lives merrily. The Willard household dwelling of Buddy Willard, Esther ‘s ex-boyfriend, Mrs. Willard who ever tries to calculate whether a individual is a virgin or non every clip she meets person new and Mr. Willard who insists on how happy he would be if Esther become their girl in jurisprudence. These Bostoners is a trigger to Esther ‘s pick of giving her virginity to Irwin because of how they try to transfuse the impression of virginity ‘s importance to a adult female. She wanted to arise against this because of the contradiction that happens in the pattern of this construct and the contradiction is first realized through her ex-boyfriend Buddy Willard.
Buddy Willard is a cat that Esther adored during her college old ages. A future physician that comes from a Catholic household, Esther meets him at church, and he claims that he surveies a batch to the point that he can non run into many misss and hence made him non a good osculator. From these characteristics of him Buddy seemed to be a cat that will maintain his virginity but Esther shortly found out that Buddy lost it to a waitress at a eating house where he worked as a waiter’s assistant. The fact that he pretended to be pure before acknowledging his criminal conversation is a manifestation of how work forces could easy go against the building they made about virginity and fidelity. After cognizing what Buddy had told, Esther kept her virginity. This act is a witting attempt to protect her ego from work forces that are unfaithful like Buddy. But so her thoughts changed when she was introduced to the life of New York City where the impression of gender and virginity is variedly diverse.
Esther recalls her stay in New York City where she works as one of the 12 interns at a high-toned manner magazine. During a dark out with the misss, she witnessed how Doreen, Esther ‘s witty, amusing, beautiful, and always-know-what-to-do graven image miss, holding sex with DJ Lenny that they merely met right in forepart of her eyes. This intercourse had left Esther feeling insulted since at the first topographic point she had wished that DJ Lenny was with her. Esther was really paired with a friend of DJ Lenny but she refused. Added with how unsmooth the intercourse have been with Doreen and DJ Lenny biting and howling each other, sex is so perceived in a contradictive sense ; sex was supposed to be holy and faithful like how the Boston ladies in her vicinity frequently preach about, but the world Esther sees in New York City is merely the antonym.
Puting Criterias on Men: A Women ‘s Way to Derive Power
The importance of one ‘s virginity now comes into inquiry for Esther. With its importance being advocated by the people in Boston and the world was contradictory in New York City and besides in Boston, she needs a rethinking and restructuring of the impression of virginity in her ego.
“ It might be nice to be pure and so to get married a pure adult male, but what if he all of a sudden confessed he was n’t pure after we were married, the manner Buddy Willard had? I could n’t stand the thought of a adult female holding to hold a individual pure life and a adult male being able to hold a dual life, one pure and one non. Finally I decided that if it was so hard to happen a hearty intelligent adult male who was still pure by the clip he was 21 I might every bit good bury about remaining pure myself and get married person who was n’t pure either. Then when he started to do my life suffering I could do his miserable every bit good. ”
This paragraph here serves as a self explanatory watercourse of consciousness narrative where Esther ‘s ideas on virginity changed. She wanted a bend about and from this point on, Esther ‘s sexual life is directed to the attempt of taking away her virginity to interrupt the societal building. However, she does non merely seek to happen any adult male to take it off for her. She planned it carefully in order to demo to her ego that a adult female has freedom of pick sing her gender.
“ I felt the first adult male I slept with must be intelligent, so I would esteem him. ”
“ I besides needed person rather experienced to do up for my deficiency of it. ”
“ Then, to be on the safe side, I wanted person I did n’t cognize and would n’t travel on cognizing – a sort of impersonal, priestly functionary, as in the narratives of tribal rites. ”
These three standards she puts in the adult male that she will give her virginity to demo how Esther puts herself in the topographic point of a adult females who has the autonomy in utilizing her gender. By taking what sort of adult male she will lose her virginity to, she breaks the thought that merely work forces gets to take and adult females had to wait to be chosen. How specific she wanted the adult male to be, which is intelligent, is an attempt to reenforce the breakage of the thought she is making.
The pick of holding the adult male to be a sexually experient individual represents the coming of sexual release inclinations in Esther. She does non merely want to hold sex to interrupt patriarchal building, she wants to acquire pleasance out of the intercourse. This turns around the fact that adult females ‘s sexual pleasance at the context of clip in the 1950 ‘s, were non something of importance yet. It is non until Simone De Beauvoir “ brought up the importance of the button in female stimulation and the impression of sex for purely pleasance ”[ 4 ]through her authorship in the fiftiess that adult females ‘s sexual pleasance is put in to consideration. Therefore, Esther was really a representation of the coming sexual release motion that battles for adult females ‘s equality in gender.
Womans at her times, represented by the three Boston adult females in the character, were conditioned to belief that sexual release was non a adult females ‘s right. This belief is portrayed in Buddy Willard ‘s respects on his female parent ‘s gender as still got pleasure out of his male parent and was n’t that fantastic. Here shows that sex has non yet been defined as a enjoyable activity for adult females.
Afterwards, she wanted the intercourse to be done with person she does non cognize and will non be interacting with any farther in her life. This prerequisite strengthens her desire to keep power over her gender. What this desiring translates to is that she merely wants the sex and that is it. She does non desire the other facets that may follow after a sexual intercourse is done between work forces and adult females such as the turning of love that were extremely appreciated through matrimonial sex ; how sexual pleasance is a adhering factor in a matrimony, she does non care about this facet. She merely wants the sex done to take her virginity off in order for her attempts in arising against her background ‘s patriarchal building. She was huffy about the paradox in the application of the construct. Her act of losing her virginity serves as a retaliation towards her society.
Her seting standards on work forces serve as Esther ‘s manner in commanding the external fortunes of her sexual intercourse. She is able to command which work forces she wants, and that is Irwin which had fulfilled the whole standard. However, she does non merely command the external side, the internal side which is her ego or her organic structure is besides being put as one of the facets prepared prior to her behavior of losing virginity. Before traveling out to town happening a adult male to hold sex with, she checks her ego into an ob/gyn physician to acquire a diaphragm preventive adjustment.
Esther ‘s Contraceptive Measures: An Effort to Perfecting the Control over Women ‘s Sex
Before heading out to the streets to happen a adult male to hold sex with, Esther went to a physician to acquire a diaphragm contraceptive method tool fitted into her vagina. The contraceptive method is shortly called a adjustment. The adjustment is a prophylactic tool that is put on the adult females prior to the sexual intercourse and I believe that her pick of utilizing this method of contraceptive method is to acquire the optimal benefit of sex that will afterwards contribute to her rebellion against the patriarchal building.
First, she had chosen the prophylactic method before holding sex. This shows that she made a full readying for this behavior. She wants to demo how intelligent and how good maintain she is after herself. The suiting itself is a gum elastic shaped contraceptive method that is inserted in the vagina to barricade seeds from acquiring into the neck and it “ allows female-controlled contraceptive method. It besides provides moderate protection against sexually transmitted diseases and is less expensive than some prophylactic methods. ”[ 5 ]The female-control facet of this type of contraceptive method is what entreaties most. It is said that “ Diaphragm usage allows greater sexual spontaneousness and more sexual esthesis than male rubber usage. ”[ 6 ]Spontaneity and esthesis in the sexual intercourse is merely what Esther needed to escalate the whole experience of losing her virginity.
The fact that this is a female-controlled contraceptive method besides makes manner to the decrease of male part in the contraceptive method procedure. Unlike rubbers that are put on the male, a suiting merely needs the female to work the tool out. If the intercourse that Esther was traveling to carry on had used a rubber, it will demo her dependence towards work forces to command her gestation. This dependence will so go against her end for holding sex in the first topographic point. She did non utilize other contraceptive method such as pills because in utilizing pills, she would hold to remain regular in taking it while regularity shows obeisance towards the pills, whereas she is seeking to remain off from any act of obeisance towards anyone or anything what so of all time.
What does Esther ‘s pick of contraceptive method Tell about her ego? That she can be in control of her organic structure and avoid gestation by her ego without necessitating the aid of the adult male she is holding sex with. Her pick besides shows practicality and how independent a adult female could be sing her gender. The inquiry so moves frontward to the significance that this pick brings to her rebellion on the patriarchal building of where she stands in. This effort completes the whole set of battle that Esther makes. She has succeeded to command her gender by her ain ego as externally and internally.
Esther has successfully got rid of her virginity because she was sick of it. She was sick of how her virginity serves as a reminder to how obedient a adult female to a adult male supposed to be while the adult male do non necessitate to be every bit obedient as the adult female. This inequality causes bitterness in Esther and she had sex with Irwin to acquire her virginity off. What is interesting here is that Esther uses Irwin merely to do her lose her virginity and derive sexual satisfaction because afterwards she does non desire to hold anything to make with him any longer except when she asked him to pay for her medical disbursal. She had a medical process due to the uninterrupted hemorrhage after holding her first sex with Irwin. This is a duologue after Esther asked Irwin to pay:
“ When am I traveling to see you? ”
“ Do you truly want to cognize? ”
“ Very much. ”
“ Never, ” I said, and hung up with a resolute chink.
Through all her actions: happening a adult male and taking her contraceptive method, she shows the entire control a adult female could hold in her gender. Her virginity is taken off because she finds it as a load of the patriarchal building that oppresses adult females. Furthermore, what she did to Irwin, dumping him after inquiring him to pay, strengthens her action of taking benefits from work forces. All these actions show how Esther can turn around the power relation between a adult male and adult female ‘s sexual interaction. Work force used to be the one above adult females. Now, she is the adult female above adult male. Irwin serves as a sexual object for Esther and this winning of female gender represents the adult females ‘s sexual release motion that was traveling on in the 1950s.