Creative Title For Gender Roles Essay

Gender issues in the Pillow Book and the Essays in Idleness

The Pillow Book (PB) by Sei Shonagon and the Essays in Idleness (EI) by Yoshida Kenko are both considered classic Japanese literature. Written in the Kamakura Period in the13th century, and therefore three centuries after the Pillow Book the Essays in Idleness even have a reference to Sei Shonagon’s literacy work (EI, 3). Both books deal with the court life during their time period, describe events taken place at the Imperial Court, express opinions of nobles, and illustrate the authors own personal judgements. While Sei Shonagon expresses a feminine view and Kenko a masculine opinion, a comparison between the Pillow Book and the Essays in Idleness can be made by bringing their thoughts towards the other sex in contrast to each other. Furthermore, a change in gender roles can be observed. Even though, Sei Shonagon has the standing in today’s review to be a “man hater”, she expresses her dislike toward certain behaviour across gender and age borders and just addresses male behaviour sharply when her own status is affected. On the contrary, Kenko roughly attacks women in general. The following essay will lay open the reciprocal critics, but also show how deeply both authors fall for the other sex.

Written in the 10th century, the Pillow Book provides an insight to the female attitude toward male mainly in their roles as lovers. Therefore, Sei Shonagon finds it unpleasant if the lover’s attendants don’t know how to behave properly and spoil the romantic moment by chatting loudly, which is heard through the screens (PB, 82); she gives the advice that “[…] a man should take along only those attendants whose character is known to him” (PB, 82). She lays open that she dislikes snoring men when the couple already spent the night in “an unsuitable place” (PB, 45), aware that they could get caught. Also, as “Most hateful!” (PB, 45) she describes the vain behaviour of a secret lover, who doesn’t want to be seen by anyone but doesn’t leave without his big hat on, and than makes noise by banging the large hat into something (PB, 45). Also, she critics the effort of a man by dressing properly in every detail when leaving her in the middle of the night since she believes nobody will see or recognize him during this late hour anyway, which makes his action dainty to her (PB, 49). A similar situation she dislikes, as revealing an unnecessary attitude of a man, is when a lover can’t find his accessories, like a fan or paper in the dark before leaving, and makes loud noise (PB, 49). She describes those behaviours has hateful, since she can be affected negatively by them as well and could lose her reputation. She emphasizes the importance of “the elegance of his leave-taking” (PB, 49) and describes romantically how a good lover behaves. A good manner to her in leaving would be charming to the woman, achieved by showing his unwillingness to go but disappearing smoothly by leaving her with soft words (PB, 49). She praises men who immediately, after heading home, send a well-written letter back to the lady to adulate her (PB, 257). The author makes clear that she is more interested in a relationship that can be described as an affair. As soon as a man comes to a lady-in-waiting and demands to receive food she sees it as a permanent relationship, which to Sei Shonagon is inappropriate (PB, 254). On the other hand, she is upset about a man who makes a “helpless Court lady” pregnant without doing any future arrangements to support her (PB, 145). She is even speaking of the man as the one who is seducing the lady and therefore, clearly victimizes women. Sei Shonagon as well can’t bear men, who pretend to like a woman while it is clear that he doesn’t, since she relays on his words (PB, 144). She gives different behaviour codes for men and women though; if a couple splits up, it suits the man to show to the woman that he is sorry, while the woman can show him the cold shoulder without being called heartless in her opinion (PB, 144). Overall, Sei Shonagon describes secret romances with men as very pleasant. She describes her excitement when expecting a visitor (PB, 51/ 82),[1] notes the sentimental importance of letters of former lovers (PB, 51), and even mentions the summer time as her favourite season for having an affair (PB, 81). This demonstrates how important relationships between men and women in the daily court life are to her. But in their interaction, even in the most intimate relationship, she demands a form of etiquette to provide security and support the idea of romance (PB, 255/256).


[1]“A lover’s visit is the most delightful thing in the world.“ PB, 82.

Although most developed countries put considerable effort into battling gender inequality, and humanity managed to achieve remarkable progress in this area over the last century or so, it still remains one of the most problematic issues modern society has to deal with. Unfortunately, most of the aforementioned progress has been only conspicuous in western societies, while in many developing countries there were no noticeable advances for a long time, sometimes for centuries.

Even today, in the 21st century, barbarous practices like forced marriages and female genital mutilation are still rampant in Africa and Middle East, so it is safe to assume that we have a very long way to go towards worldwide gender equality. Therefore, it is no wonder that students are so often assigned to write opinion essays that deal with this topic.

Gender equality and inequality is an incredibly broadly defined area of research. If you put a little bit of thought into it you can come up with any number of fascinating, creative and original topics for your opinion essay. Here you can see a few examples:

  1. Does Gender Inequality Still Exist in the American Workplace?
  2. Gender Equality in Western Society: Achievements and Prospects
  3. Does Gender Help or Hinder Women in the Workplace?
  4. Main Obstacles for Achieving Workplace Gender Equality in Modern Society
  5. Roots of Gender Inequality and Their Expression in Today’s Society
  6. The United States and Gender Equality: Where Do We Stand?
  7. Gender Equality in Science
  8. State Enforcement of Gender Equality Laws: Is It Really Effective?
  9. Gender Equality and Gender-Blindness: Differences and Common Features
  10. Gender Equality: Are Women Still Being Held Back by Stereotypes?
  11. Gender Disparity in Education and Workplace: Results and Future Goals
  12. The Role of Gender Equality in Upbringing of Children
  13. Is True Gender Equality Achievable?
  14. Gender Equality and Peace: Are They Connected?
  15. Gender Equality and its Role in Economic Development
  16. Gender Equality and Family Division of Labor
  17. Gender Equality in Politics: What Does It Mean?
  18. What Does Gender Inequality Cost Us Economically?
  19. Gender Disparity in the World of Science: Why It Exists
  20. Gender Inequality in the Modern Family

Nice topics, aren’t they? And the best part of it is that you don’t have to do any prolonged and tiresome research to come up with a similar idea on your own. Gender equality or inequality is a kind of topic that, to some extent, encompasses the entirety of human experience. You may take a look at virtually any part of your life and be sure to find some food for thought that, after proper consideration, can be turned into a top-notch topic pertaining to this broad issue.

Your essay may take an economic, sociological, psychological, ethnographical, historical or, in fact, any other turn – you just have to use a little bit of imagination and creativity in defining your approach. After all, with this area of study being that popular, you are sure to find data for your research no matter what you choose.

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