The Expectations of Women in Girl and Fun Home by Jamaica Kincaid

Expectations of Women

There has always been an enormous amount of pressure for both sexes to fit into their gender roles in society. These rules and expectations prevent people from being individualistic and expressing themselves truthfully. The short story, Girl by Jamaica Kincaid and the graphic memoir, Fun Home tell two different stories describing the norm that girls are expected to tolerate. These works of literature express the pressure that women experience to fit into their specific gender roles by hiding their sexuality and embracing their gender identity through stereotypes.

Female sexuality is taboo in modern society. There is a societal expectation for women to hide their sexuality. In “Girl”, the mother tells her daughter the advice, “This is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming” (319). The mother tries to give her daughter advice on how to act to be respected in their community by repeating this phrase throughout the short story.

If her daughter were to display her sexuality, she would have a bad reputation and would not be respected. In Fun Home, when Alison revealed that she was a lesbian to her parents, her mother hid it by telling her that her father was having affairs with men. “I’d been upstaged, demoted from protagonist in my drama to comic relief in my parents’ tragedy” (58). Alison was disrespected by her mother by acting adversely.

Another societal expectation is gender identity.

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In “Girl”, the mother doesn’t give her daughter a lot of freedom on how she should act. She expects her to fit into the female stereotype of their culture. She tells her, “This is how to sew on a button, […] this is how you sweep a yard, […] this is how you set a table” (319-320). Her mother presents her with the expectations that her daughter is anticipated to embrace. In Fun Home, Alison Bechdel refused to wear pearls with her outfit. In return, her father shouts, “What’re you afraid of? Being Beautiful? Put it on, goddamn it!” (99). Alison’s father doesn’t approve of her non-feminine appearance and accepts her individuality. Since Alison does not fit into the female stereotype, her father rejects her.

In modern-day society, women have an undeniable pressure to fit into their norms. The demand to fit into the “female stereotype” prevents women from being autonomous. The short story “Girl” and Fun Home displays the pressure that women have to go through in society. There are expectations within the gender identity of a woman through hidden sexuality and acceptance of the stereotypes of their gender identity.

Works Cited

  1. Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Boston, MA: Houston Mifflin, 2006. Print.
  2. Kincaid, Jamaica. “Girl.” Williford, Lex, and Michael Martone. The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2007. 319-320. Print.

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The Expectations of Women in Girl and Fun Home by Jamaica Kincaid. (2022, Aug 06). Retrieved from

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