Evelyn and Mother: Victims of the Social Construction of Gender College

In the late 1960’s and 1970’s, the social construction of gender became a heated topic of debate amongst feminist theorists. The argument that the patriarchal values embedded in American culture (rather than purely biological factors), were responsible for constructing masculine and feminine roles in society, met intense criticism. Prior to the introduction of gender construction theory, many of the theories regarding gender were based on the idea that biological factors alone determined the roles of men and women in society. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, however, a rift formed between those whose thoughts about gender roles evolved and those who stuck to the belief that the traditional roles of men and women should remain intact.In Ragtime, a novel written in the mid-nineteen seventies amidst this controversial debate, E.L. Doctorow uses the revolutionary theory of Gender Construction to explore masculinity and femininity in the early nineteen hundreds and it’s affect on both the fictional and non-fictional characters of his work. Perhaps not the main subject of the novel, his characterization of the females (specifically Evelyn Nesbit and Mother) as victims of their femininity, is integral to the plot.

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