Women and Gender Studies
Response to Thomas More’s 16th century “Utopia”
Thomas More wrote the first formal utopia. He imagined a complex, self-contained world set on an island, in which communities shared a common culture and way of life. This excerpt encapsulates many of the systems and practices that he imagined for his Utopians. He defined systems of punishment, social hierarchy, agriculture and education, as well as customs for marriage, dress, and death. In doing so he emphasizes on roles of men and women in society. Although his literary piece was powerful indeed and a revolutionary literary work that was in some cases a head of its time, there were some things that concerned me with regards to women. I, personally felt as though his view on men and women alike had a very stereotypical feel to it because he described men to be these tough individuals that did most of the hard work and were allowed to seek their passions in life. As oppose to women on the other hand who were left to do the more gentler things. That’s something I found extremely unfair because why does there have to be a notion that suggests that women have to be categorized as weak and frail in terms of their capabilities. I also didn’t like the part where he said that when women grow up they’re married out, while the males can still live in the same house. The reason why this statement bothered me so much is because it hits so close to home and that there’s this horrifying realization that this is something that still exists up till today. Its sad that the females are the ones who never have a real home so to speak or who never have their own surname, as in its most likely either their fathers or husbands. And the most disappointing of all is that even though we’d like to think so much has changed, when you really take a moment to think about it, nothings really changed. There’s still so much that still awaits a revolution in women’s rights and feminist activism. Although it may have been unintentional, More’s piece, I felt called “utopia” had a very dystopian view on women. Yes, he tried to establish equal rights for women, which is probably why he started off in the excerpt by acknowledging both men and women, however in some instances to me he came off a little discriminatory towards women and implying their inferiority to men and I think that was in part of the time period he came from. Nevertheless considering that this a literary piece that’s centuries old, he seems more tolerant to women than others from his time.