Equal Rights

        For years women have struggled to have the same rights as men. Thankfully things have improved in the United States in the past century; yet in many other countries women are still not allowed to vote, have no property rights, their husbands have legal power over them to the extent that they could imprison or even beat them, and women have no means to gain an education.

        In the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan, the three main characters, Stanley (Marlon Brando), Stella (Kim Hunter), and Blanche (Vivien Leigh) show the unfair way in which women were treated in the 1950's. From the beginning, Stanley is a controlling and domineering man; he demands obedience from Stella at all times. Stanley's roughness with Stella bothers Blanche; however, he makes no effort to be gentle with anyone, often yelling and physically abusing his wife. He is somewhat obsessed with being the head of his home; so, when Blanche comes to stay with him and Stella, he obviously feels threatened by the way in which she attempts to change things. After overhearing Blanche say terrible things about him, Stanley makes it his mission to break Blanche down mentally. It becomes his obsession as the film progresses; it is almost as if he has to prove himself as the head of the house.

        Male domination is one of the major themes of the film. In the time that the play was written, obviously different values were upheld relating to women's rights and male domination. However, Stanley's actions cannot be justified, and he proves how merciless he is when he rapes Blanche and sends her to a mental institution in the end.

        While I think the way in which women were treated in this film is wrong, it is a part of our history; and I am thankful for the changes that have been made. One can only hope that in the near future other countries will change as well and all persons, both male and female, can have equal rights.

Jessica Wade

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