Is "Where are you going, where have you been" Feminist Literature?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The idea of social objectification of women and its implications lie at the heart of Oates' work. The fact that Connie is essentially stalked and seen as a sex object indicates how women can be perceived by a male dominated society.  Connie carries herself as the type of teen who envisions herself full of autonomy, yet is actually fulfilling a socially dictated role.  This reflects how thinkers like Oates suggest that women's conception of self has to be carved out understanding how a social element of identity control is present.  Oates' creation of Connie as a "modern" teen reflects this.  In addition to this, the idea of Connie's heroism is a highly Feminist idea.  There are certain conditions that women have to endure that men simply do not.  These conditions are present in the social order.  At time time of writing, one was not able to imagine the story having more validity and veracity if Connie were a young boy (Although a more modern reading of it could certainly see this as more understandable given what we now know of predatory behavior and child abuse and exploitation.)  The idea of a woman being singled out and terrorized by a man is something that resonates quite clearly today.  Such a notion causes a reexamination of social values, structures, and valences of power, a key component in Feminism.  In addition to this, Connie's heroism at the end, where she goes with Arnold in the hopes of saving her family, confirms the idea that women endure greater injustice in a social order.  Connie has achieved a level of maturation, at great cost to herself and benefit to others.  Acknowledging such an idea where victimization can yield to affirmation of voice is another Feminist idea.

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