You are on page 1of 5

Feminist criticism is a type of literary criticism which may study and advocate the rights of women in a society and

can be said that it is gender discrimination. It is a criticism advocating equal rights for women in political, economy, social, psychological, personal and aesthetic sense. Written by Shirley Geok Lin-Lim, the short story Shame brings about the strong cultural beliefs of the Baba Nyonyas families. Set in a patriarchal society, women are marginalized whereas men have the freedom to do what they want. But, what is patriarchal society means? According to Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, it is society where it is ruled or controlled by men, or giving power and importance to men. So, women have no power against men in the society. The title Shame signifies the strong cultural beliefs of Baba Nyonya society where women are potrayed as weak, submissive, stupid and also have to be a full time housewife. The feminist critism in the story shame is depicted through three major senses, economy, psychological, and social. In terms of economy, it is easier to say that women are financially dependent on men, even though they are unfaithful. This is because in the story, women are not educated as they are set in a patriarchal society. Men are educated during that time, so they are working and women stayed at home. So, women have to rely on their husband as they are supporting the women and the family. As men have power, they can do what they want, including having an affair. For example, in the story, Tua Ee said to Mei Sims mother, What do you want, a faithful man or a man who will support you and your children?. From this, it shows that man who is financ ially capable to take care his family is more important than a faithful one. The men know that the women can do nothing about it because the women are relying on them. If the women stand against the husband and fight them for having an affair, they might get divorce and consequently, they will have no one to rely on. The minor reason why women are financially dependent on men is because of the stereotype the society has during that time. The mindset that says men have to work and women stay at home were lingering at that time and has to be followed. Conclusively, women need their husband to support them financially. In psychological terms, the women are being abuse and capable of manipulating men by treating them nicely. The women here refers to Siew Eng, Tua Ees daughter. She is being abused both physically and mentally by her mother. As we read the story, there was one part where Siew Eng is called Sundal and was slapped by her mother on her arm. By this, she is abused mentally by her mother by calling her sundal and physically by slapping. There are also other part where she is abused by her mother. The women are also capable of manipulating men by treating them nicely. This is because, they, the men is important as they are the one that support the womens life. For example, No, you must be as sweet to him when you were first courting. Talk to him sweet sweet everytime he come home late. This line was said to Mei Sims mother by Tua Ee. It shows that women must know how to control their mens money by being nice to them and letting them have their own good time.

In terms of social, it is divided into five parts; culture, traditions, superstitious, gender stereotyping and also women rights. In culture, the story highlighted that women have to stick with the values determined by the society of what is seen as appropriate for women to behave. It means that you have to act like what you are told and if you are not doing what you are told to do, it will be seen as impolite or improper as the society has been living with the values for a long time. For example, in the story, Mei Sim was called You no shame! Close your legs. From this, we can analyse that the proper way of being a woman has to be nurtured since small. Next point is about one of the traditions in Baba Nyonyas culture, kebaya. It is a traditional costume that has its own significant to the society. The women wear it to show their body shapes so that they can look more appealing and attractive to the men. Besides, if married women still have the desirable body shapes, their husband will be proud of them and thus, the women will have no worries about their husband having affairs. There is a strong superstitious belief in the society. For instant, Siew Eng. In the story, it is said that she was cursed. Even she is marginalized by her own mother. Her mother is treating her badly as bad as a bought slave. This is because the fortune teller told her mother that Siew Eng would eat her blood. So, she wouldnt nurse or hold the baby and had send her off to the kitchen where she slept on a camp bed. Just by what the fortune teller told Tua Ee, she did not even hold her own daughter when she was small. Next point is gender stereotyping. There is a difference between men and women at that time. Traditionally, women are supposed to be polite and proper. This is because it is important that the girl grow up to be a fine woman. If not, it will affect both the girl and the mother. For example, And dont sit with your legs open there. She think I bring you up with no shame. It shows that girls are not allowed to sit with open legs as it is not polite, regardless their age. Last point is about how the women rights depicted through the story. The women in this story actually do not have power to restrict their husbands activity outside. This is because, as mentioned before, the men have power to do what they want as it is a patriarchal society. For example, We women must accept our fate. If we want to have some fun also, stomach will explode. Where can we hide our shame? But men think they are datoks because they can do things without being punished. So, we can conclude that men have more freedom regardless their marital status. As conclusion, there should not be any difference between men and women nowadays. Regarding the feminist criticism, women should know how to manipulate their position in the society and using it to be on the same level with the men, no matter what the aspect is.

(1 133 words)


, Aminah Syuhada; Nurain Izzati. Shame by Shirley Geok Lin-Lim slide show. Retrieved from Charles E. (1998). Literary Criticism, An Introduction To Theory And PracticeFeminism. New Jersey : Prentice-Hall, Inc. Gender Stereotypes.,articleId-26896.html