Somewhere Over The Rainbow

The mindset of men being superior to women has existed for centuries. In Keywords for Children’s Literature, Erica Hateley says, “The ideology of patriarchy has come under critical scrutiny primarily because it has been used to locate characters and readers within the specific binary logic of gender relations, which historically subordinated the feminine to the masculine” (87) in her essay on “gender.” She points out that gender has “dictated a specific vision of social relations and organization” (86). Hateley means that the standard gender roles that have been present involve men holding more power than women. The satirical news site called “The Onion” posted a video entitled “The Onion Looks Back At The ‘Wizard of Oz’” which analyzed a deeper meaning behind the classic movie. Peter K. Rosenthal, The Onion’s movie critic, starts off by saying that The Wizard of Oz is about “the terrifying situations a young female may find herself in without the proper supervision of a male companion.” Right off the bat, it is clear to the viewer that this discussion is going to be extremely sexist. Rosenthal continues with numerous examples from the movie that support the view that women need to be led by men. “Throughout her perilous journey in the Land of Oz, Dorothy is accompanied only by a batch of what can ultimately be called fully emasculated male figures.” He decides Dorothy felt so lost in Oz because the lion, the scarecrow, the tin man, and also the Wizard, were not masculine enough to help her.

The Wizard of Oz Judy Garland copy

This video takes a beloved movie and twists it to seem extremely misogynistic. Although it is a satire, this theme of women being inferior to men exists in Little House on the Prairie. Pa is evidently the leader of the family and makes all of the important decisions, like moving from their home. The girls cannot do certain things when Pa is not around as shown with the quote, “Outdoors was too large and empty to play in when Pa was away” (208). Laura’s father gave her and her sister a sense of security and protection. “Laura and Mary went back to sleep, very comfortable all over. Everything was all right when Pa was there” (224). They required a male figure nearby at all times in order to feel safe. The radical and offensive views found in The Onion’s satirical film review about gender occur in Little House on the Prairie and are accepted as the norm. They have existed throughout history, and I wonder when these views of superiority will be extinct.

5 thoughts on “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post because I had never thought about The Wizard of Oz in that way. Thinking back on it, I did not think of the lion, tin man and scarecrow as un-masculine, I more so thought of them as clueless. I think this was a good topic to point out and I wonder if we would find situations similar to this in any other children’s movies.

  2. I found this video to be very interesting, as it’s satire reflects how many people view the concept of feminism to be an overreaction to gender differences that are seemingly “unimportant”. As this movie critic is taking the plot of The Wizard of Oz to the extreme and creating an exaggerated misogynistic theme, this may resonate with those who do not believe in feminist views. However, through your example of Laura (as well as the majority of the characters we have read about), it is clear that gender inequalities today, as well as historically, are very real and the fight for equal rights between males and females is not based on exaggerated movie plots, but instead based on the belief by some that females are inferior.

  3. I quite honestly didn’t think about the stereotypical gender roles in “Wizard of Oz” until reading this post, and this is an all-time favorite movie of mine. However, it’s also interesting to think about the significant roles the females DO play in the film. For example, Dorothy calls out for Auntie Em throughout the film, much more than she does her uncle or other male family members. She is also ultimately helped by a kindly woman witch at the end, and becomes a bit more independent and makes her own decision to go home. I think the movie shows that females do actually have many strengths and a lot of power, but it is suppressed by males frequently. Ma certainly has many strengths and often shows power and authority when Pa isn’t around. Yes, this isn’t the way it should be, but I do believe it is getting better. Women are breaking out now more than ever.

  4. This reminds me of a series of YouTube videos I watched about Disney princesses. These videos, like the Onion post, satirize classic movies made by Disney. An example is that Ariel teaches young girls to “always change yourself for a guy”. On the other end of this, I have also read some politically correct fairy tales that try hard to remove any discrimination and be perfectly “correct” in all viewers eyes. I think both of these examples show that is is important to understand exactly what the media we engage with teaches.

  5. The mindset of “Men being superior to women” is changing. The idea of equality is becoming much more acceptable. The world has become a better place with a pool of qualified men and women for jobs, sports and improving our quality of life. Today, when I visit the doctor I feel I have an equal chance of seeing either a male doctor or a female doctor. I also find that both male doctors and female doctors are equally qualified. I would hate to think how few doctors the world would have if this occupation were limited to the male population. This is a theme in the majority of professions. I feel that I am just as likely to see a male accountant as a female accountant. Likewise, if I need a lawyer, I find that I find a qualified male or female lawyer.

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