Boy meets girl. They fall in love. They live happily ever after. This has been the simple outline of peoples love lives since the beginning of mankind. They say that it takes two to be in a relationship, that the man and the women both dedicate an equal amount of time, and energy to make something work. In the early days, sexism and women rights was a big issue, they weren’t able to make decisions and choices for themselves and the male always seemed to have an upper hand on them and their lives. Today, in a completely time and era, we still see the old ways of men trying to dominate the female and their life choices.
In the Taming of the Shrew, a play written by William Shakespeare in the early 1590’s viewers come across the same story of the boy meets girl, they fall in love and live happily ever after, however, like many love stories, the boy is in complete control. Shakespeare starts the main story off with introducing two sisters, Katherine and Bianca. Bianca, who is described as sweet and kind with the potential to make a great wife has 2 suitors lined up for her, Hortensio and Gremio. Lucentio who comes into town to attend school, see’s Bianca and is immediately at a loss for words. Lucentio and his servant Tranio develop a grand plan to win Bianca. Lucentio dresses up and plays the role of a school master in order to get closer to Bianca, while his servant Tranio dresses up like him, and takes his place sweet talking Baptista, the father of the two girls, and going to school. This here marks the beginning of a relationship based on deception. Lucentio went as far as impersonation, in order to win the heart of Bianca. Bianca met and fell in love with Lucentio, the school tutor. Not Lucentio all mighty and powerful, wealthy man from a privileged lifestyle. In the 1590’s when this play was being written, men had an upper hand over women. Females relied on their father to choose who they were to be wed too, and the husband after that point to provide for them. This type of behavior isn’t unusual for that time and era. However, even though time has evolved, people still seem to follow the outline of the old era. Today, though times are very different, in romantic comedies viewers still see hidden traces of that male dominance. In a more recent movie called The Switch, starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman we see a different way the male uses and manipulates the females life. Both texts show how men feel like they have the upper hand in relationships and will doing anything to keep it that way.
In the movie, The Switch, Kassie our, female lead, is a middle aged women who is single and ready for a family. She decides she’s not going to find love so she sets out to find a sperm donor. Her best friend, Wally is against the entire thing, he doesn’t want to see her with another man let alone raising his kid. In an attempt to be supportive, Wally attends a party Kassie’s best friend throws the night she is inseminated. Throughout the course of the night, Wally somehow crosses paths with the sperm of Kassie’s donor. A drunk and heartbroken Wally then finds he an opportunity to sabotage Kassie’s pregnancy. Without thinking twice about it Wally destroys Rowland, Kassie’s donors, sperm and replace it with his own. At the point, Kassie’s future is written out for her. Her whole life and this moment is decided for her at the hands of a strong male character. Much like Taming of the Shrew, the female of the text doesn’t have a say in how her life turns out. The next day Wally doesn’t remember anything about the night, or replacing the sperm. The fact that the writers of The Switch made it so the male had no remembrance of doing the deed saves him from being the jealous asshole bad guy. Looking past that, we still see the same theme of the male in control of the women life, whether they are aware of it or not. In both texts the women of the book is still playing with the cards the male lead has delt out.
Old habits do in fact die hard, the modern day text and the older text seem to compare greatly. In the Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespear does not make any effort to cover up the fact that the women our powerless compared to the men. In Act 2 Scene 1, Baptista shows not shame nor remorse for auctioning off his youngest daughter, Bianca. Gremio suitor number one and Tranio a servant who is pretending to be suitor number two tells Baptista all they can and will offer his daughter if they are chosen to wed her. Bianca has absolutely no control over who her father picks. At the end of their speeches Baptista says, “Well, gentlemen, I am thus resolved: On Sunday next, you know my daughter Katherine is to be married. Now, on the sunday following, shall Bianca. Be bride to you, if you shall make this assurance. if not, to signior Gremio.”103. Baptista is promising his daughter off to Lucentio if his father will agree to give the wealth and riches offered on Lucentio’s behalf. In that moment, with one short conversation Bianca’s whole life is written out and decided for her without her consent. The time and era this text was written in suggests that this is normal and appropriate behavior. However, nowadays, where women have rights and the ability to speak out and for themselves, this would have caused an uproar in the female society. The writers of the movie The Switch seem to give the male lead a lot of authority and power over the females life, however the way the go about it is subtle and hard to detect. In the movie, Wally is able to writes Kassie’s future for her, similar to the way Baptista does with Bianca.
Watching The Switch and reading Taming of the Shrew you see subtle similarities on how men have always and still do have the upper hand on females in relationships. Whether its a friendship relationship as the two main characters in The Switch or a romantic relationship like Bianca and her many suitors, evidence of the male dominance society grew up of it still present. Society is trying to move away from a time where women were completely powerless, however from the looks of things it seems like things finding a more hidden way to stay the same.