An Analysis of The Feminist Theory on "I Stand Here Ironing"

There are a few primary differences between Feminism and PostFeminism. Feminism, is believed to be a response to society’s views of women and their roles. Focusing on the inequality between men and women, Feminist groups try to keep the binary in place to level inequality, specific to white-middle class women. This is different from Post-Feminist groups. PostFeminists question the binary of men and women, they believe gender and sexuality to be much more complicated than just male versus female. Instead it is about Biology versus Culture; Post-Feminists believe that we construct our own identity throughout life, instead of being labeled purely by biological identifiers. Instead of leveling inequality, Post-Feminists focus on eliminating inequality by removing these binaries of male or female.

In “I Stand Here Ironing”, the feminist theory emphases on gendered roles in the household and work force. Men display more dominant, leadership roles, whereas women generally demonstrate more emotional roles. An example of this in the story is how the husband and father of her child leaves her simply because he doesn’t want the responsibility of having a small child. Leaving her to care for her children all by herself without providing any physical or emotional support. This makes life extremely difficult for her, as she is forced to find work as a single mother in the depression era. A feminist critic would notice that she is a white-lower class single mother, who cannot provide for her children because of the inequality women of this time had to deal with. The feminist critique is noted in “I Stand Here Ironing” because she focuses on the identifiers of class and the binaries of upper and lower class. This is seen in the story as the mother was forced to change jobs and hours frequently to spend time with her children.

A post-feminist critic would look at Tillie Olson’s “I Stand Here Ironing” differently than that of a feminist critic. A post-feminist would interpret this story as a woman who has struggled to overcome inequality, so much so that she struggles to know who she even is. They might believe that she had taken over the roles of her husband, by becoming the dominant caregiver and provider, she effectively becomes both the father and the mother. She became the economic and emotional care giver, ultimately creating her own identity of not just a single parent but the only parent. Effectively eliminating the binary of mother or father and creating just one solo binary.

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An Analysis of The Feminist Theory on "I Stand Here Ironing". (2022, Sep 27). Retrieved June 13, 2024 , from

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