The Color Purple

what does the way the community reacts to shug's illness say about the status of women ?

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The women at the church like to gossip that Shug's has some sort of sexually transmitted disease. The call it “woman disease" even though it is often transmitted to women by men and that men are just as susceptible to it. This is a form of shaming of women that other women use as a weapon against each other. Sexual freedom seems to be afforded to the world of men while women are simply passive recipients of a man's "natural" needs.