Before her first encounter with higgins and his

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Before her first encounter with Higgins, and his succeeding lessons in “womanry”, Eliza is depicted on the streets in an early scene and she begins to sing of all of the material items she hopes to one day acquire, fantasizing about chocolates and arm chairs exclaiming “Wouldn’t it be loverly”(3). Even in her poor economic state, the movie demonstrates the role that women in society were expected to fill as consumers, characterized by their materialistic needs. Without a professional career, the normalized “association of femininity and consumption remained nearly seamless” (Peiss 1998). Building upon this “positive” aspect of Eliza’s personality, Higgins attempts to change all of the “undesirable” aspects of her personality such as her accent and attire, and he chastises her behavior when she doesn't do as she is told. When Eliza does deviate from Higgin’s wishes he becomes agitated and cannot seem to understand women, whose “heads are full of cotton, hay and rags”. During one scene in the musical film, Higgins sings about his
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Ashton 6 female frustration and questions “why can’t a woman be more like a man?”. For the entirety of the scene, the primary dialogue is given to the male characters, and when Mrs. Pearce, the maid, is asked about the matter, she is not given a chance to answer or express her opinion on the matter, and seems conditioned to that form of demeaning language. Higgins presents men as seemingly flawless beings and is offended by the fact that Eliza does not want his help failing to empathize with of even recognize her emotions. Once again Eliza falls victim to the societal system of male oppression, yet she does not acknowledge Higgins maltreatment of her. Even her name, Eliza “Doolittle”, implies her inability as a woman to stop or attempt to stop patriarchal figures from controlling and altering her life. She is a product of her society, and representative of the public thinking of the time, My Fair Lady won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1965. Despite the initiation and following rise of the Feminist Movement in the mid 1960s, the popularity of these misogynistic themes of the film demonstrates that society was still far from a gender equal society, and women were still being “sculpted’ into the ideal product of their male counterparts. The enforcement of gender roles was normalized in America for hundreds of years, and it wasn’t until the long 1960’s that these societal expectations began to be questioned. The rising Feminist Movement strove to abolish stereotyping of women, enforced by men and society, although by the end of the decade the progress of this movement proved to be less significant than its members had hoped. By 1972, the gender gap in collegiate education had expanded, with a larger percent of males receiving a higher education, which as Betty Friedan pointed out, could have been a result of women dropping out of college to pursue their domestic lives. Popular music and entertainment also echoed the effects of the misogynistic society, portraying
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Christopher Reinemann
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