Feminist Ideas in New York Day Woman by Edwidge Danticat and I Stand Here Ironing by Tillie Olsen
Feminism is the fight for women’s rights and equality in the battle of sexes. In both the short stories “New York Day Woman” by Edwidge Danticat and “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen feminism is present. In their short story they introduce to the everyday struggles, and stereotypes of being a woman. The women share their everyday lives and what is it like to live with under their circumstances.
In “New York Day Woman” Suzette’s mother is considered a “day woman” which is a very stereotypical name for a woman. A day women typically stays at home and does house work and also usually caters to a man. A day women does not work a job because keeping the house in order is her daily duties. That is showing the first, second, and third wave of feminism because her mother believes that this type of lifestyle is right. “She is afraid to take the subway, where you may meet those young black militant street preachers who curse black women for straightening their hair.” (Danticat 273)
Suzettes mother is a feminist because she stereotypes every man and does not think any man is of worth. Her mother does not go out with anyone, “if they want to eat with me, let them come to my house, even if I boil water and give it to them.” (Danticat 275) The mother will not see anyone outside of her house because of her Haitian culture she believes that is proper etiquette. Suzette’s mom also often criticizes her because she would like for her to be the type of woman she is. Suzette is a working woman although she has not adapted to the American culture completely she quickly realized she had to work to survive.
In “I Stand Here Ironing” Emily’s father leaves when she was an 8 month old baby. Her fathers absence caused her mom to have to work a job to make ends meet. “ I was a young mother, I was a distracted mother.” (Olsen 224) This is the first wave of feminism because a mother has to sacrifice so much because the father left her to care for a child alone. She was young with a child and did not have a clue of how she would survive for the both of them. So she got a job and worked ridiculously long hours to make ends meet for her and the baby.
The story portrays the relationship of a daughter who has to suffer because her mom has to work long hours to provide. Emily and her mother’s relationship was far from perfect, in fact her mother “did not know her” at all. “You think because I am her mother I have a key, or that in some way you could use me as a key? She has lived for nineteen years. There is all that life that has happened outside of me, beyond me.” (Olsen 217) Due to her moms poor decisions with men and having to working long hours she missed out on the “traditional” mother-daughter bond with Emily. Throughout the story the mother is remorseful because she could not provide the stereotypical life for Emily that she deserved. She was not the blonde curly headed girl, with a big smile, that was glorified in the 1960’s. But she was “dark and think and foreign-looking in a world where the prestige went to blondness and curly hair and dimples, she was slow where glibness was prized.” (Olsen 224)
Although Emily and her mother faced many trials and tribulations Emily’s love for her mother never faded. Through the Great Depression and the hard life she had at home she still loved her mother as if she was a perfect mother.
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Feminism is the fight for women’s rights and equality in the battle of sexes. In both the short stories “New York Day Woman” by Edwidge Danticat and “I Stand Here […]