"Too many women are dying and suffering in silence. We need to get this disease on the radar screen." - Elizabeth Ross

For too long, the role of women has been characterized as the obedient wife who is in charge of cooking, cleaning, and raising children. The woman's story is often never told but merely passed over. It is usually the men that recieve the glory and overshadow the story of the woman. Men are seen as strong and powerful whereas women are generally portrayed as weak and obedient. This is seen in many works of literature and modern media.

This song is originally sung by James Brown. It is significant because it recognizes that even though it is the man who has a hand in the major improvements in the world, it is the woman who essentially makes the world go round. Brown is saying that the man's story gets told and he is praised for all the things he does in the world. However, women are responsible for reproducing and without a women the man would have nothing. This song is even more powerful when sung by a woman because it is the woman telling her own story and giving herself a voice rather than having a man tell her story for her. This is an example of how the times have changed. When this song was written, it seemed to be describing all of the man's achievements, but today when being sung by a woman, and having her tell her own story, it seems to be mirroring the progress within our society and how women have gained more of a voice, but not to the point where it is equal.

Another great example of women not being able to tell their story is in the novel Things Fall Apart By: Chinua Achebe. In this story there are multiple examples where men control, and dominate women. The main character Okonkwo is characterized as someone who asserts his supieriority over his wives and children. He believes that the wives are there to work and take care of his kids, and short of those tasks they have no other substantial role in Ibo society. When his wives disobey him or his household, Okonkwo finds it necessary to display his dominance through violence. A good example of this is when Okonkwo's third wife Ojiubo "went to plait her hair at her friend's house and did not return early enough to cook the afternoon meal..." (19). This all occured during the week of peace, which stated that no violence was to occur in Umuofia. It was a great dishonor to the Ibo's gods if somebody were to break the week of peace. "When (Ojiubo) returned (Okonkwo) beat her very heavily. In his anger he had forgotten that it was the week of peace" (19) Okonkwo had broken the week of peace, and had beat his wife very badly. After this he was taken before the village's elders and a punishment was placed on him, but nobody ever heard from Ojiubo about how she felt about Okonkwo's violent outburst againest her. The only story that was both told and heard was Okonkwo's. Ojiubo never had a voice in the affair.
Although Okonkwo displayed his anger and violence to his wives, and often children, he showed great affection toward his daughter Enzima, who was the only surviving daughter of his wife Ekwefi. She was the only child of his that understood him, and who maintained his ideals during colonization keeping Ibo culture strong. Even though he showed this affection toward her Okonkwo repeatedly said "I wish she were a boy... She understood things so perfectly. Who else among his children could have read his thoughts so well?" (106) This shows Okonkwo's acknowledgement that as a woman Enzinma would not be able to accomplish much, especially in Ibo society, but as a man she would be able to succeed Okonkwo and his reputation after his death.

"Respect" by Aretha Franklin is an example of women speaking out and making thier voices be heard. Her message in this song is demanding the respect from men that she and other women feel they deserve. Although Aretha recognizes that the role of women in this time is in the home, she still shows the need for appreciation from her husband for the work she does. The song "Respect" was originally written by Otis Redding in 1965, he wWe_can_do_it.jpgrote this song from a man's perspective demanding respect from a woman. In 1967 Aretha reversed the roles and made the song a battle cry for the feminist movement.

Another literary example of the woman's story not being told is seen in the epic poem The Odyssey by Homer. Penelope, Odysseus' wife is left at home to fend off suitors while her husband is away for twenty years fighting the Trojan War and trying to get home. In The Odyssey,the majority of the poem is depicting Odysseus as heroic and telling of his great adventures. Penelope on the other hand is seen as merely sitting at home with the suitors, crying and weaving, awaiting her husband's return. They do not tell of her cleverness or her struggles as she waits for Odysseus. Her story is not told until the Penelopiad,by Margaret Atwood, when she finally gets a voice.penelopiad_cover.jpg In the Penelopiad, Penelope tells her side of the story as she waits for Odysseus to retern. Unwilling to marry one of the suitors, wishin for her husband's return, she devizes a plan that shows just how clever she is. Penelope "set up a large piece of weaving on [her] loom, and said it was a shroud for [her] father in law," knowing it would take a long time, she told the suitors that until the shroud was finished she could marry no one. In her cleverness, each night, " [she] would undue what [she] had accomplised so the shroud never got any bigger." In doing so, she assured that she could remain faithful to her husband and keep the suitors at bay. The Penelopiad is a book completely devoted to telling the woman's story as the wife of a hero, whose story who had been told time and time again. Her side of the story was not told until long after The Odyssey had been written. However, Atwood felt it was high time her voice be heard.
Women today are becoming more powerful and have a larger role in society. The majority of women have left the household and have careers. More women have a college education. Even with all the advances in the women's role, women are still often regarded as weaker than men. This can be seen in the salary differences between men and women. According to the Washington Post, on average, women earn 20% less than men. The inequality between men and woman may never be resolved, because of the ongoing struggles and prejudices that have been built up over the years. Hopefully in the future woman will be looked at as equal to men rather than inferior.

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Columbus, OH: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 1959. Print.

Agron, Diana. Youtube.com. 07 June 2010. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPZjN62-VWo&feature=related>.

Atwood, Margaret. The Penelopiad. Edinburgh, Scotland: Canongate Books Ltd, 2005. Print.

Homer. The Oddyssey. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc, 1961. Print.

McCarty, Maureen. Washingtonpost.com. 07 Nov. 2008. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp- yn/content/article/2008/11/06/AR2008110602982.html.

Micodetutue. Youtube.com. 18 June 2008. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0XAI-PFQcA.

Pollinews.blogspot.com. Photograph. 26 March 2009. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. < http://pollinews.blogspot.com/>.

Qbd.com.au. Photograph. 12 March 2007. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. http://www.qbd.com.au/product/9781921351198-The_Penelopiad_Myth_Series_by_Margaret_Atwood.htm.