Posted by: thomashaymescnu | November 25, 2012

Fictional Women: Affecting Leadership?

In addition to this course, I have been taking a Russian literature class and reading/analyzing Anna Karenina in depth. We have actually discussed the feminist qualities of the character and noted something: it was because the character attempted to be more than a woman that caused her destruction. How does this affect the female leaders of today? The society of the book’s day and age was not unlike the time period described in the Femme Mystique, when women were supposed to be content with their place in the world. Could Anna’s example have somehow affected the number of proactive women in the world somehow?

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Responses

  1. I’ve never read Anna Karenina, so I’m not sure about the context, but I think fictional characters in general definitely add to the discussion of women in leadership. I found this picture online:

    The growth of fictional female characters in novels, movies, and television impact people of all ages in terms of leadership. I think these characters follow with the times, but also create new ideas and innovations for leadership and allow people to see the possibilities. The coolest part, I think, is that these situations are fictional, and provide so many outlets and potential outcomes for where the leadership would go. In short, I completely believe that these characters have a huge influence in the ways people (men, women, little boys and little girls, ANYONE) view leadership as a theory, as well as a position.

  2. I also have not read Anna Karenina, but I have been looking at children’s literature this semester and in almost all the scholarly analysis it recognizes the lack of strong female character and leaders. In one article we looked at it talked about how the most powerful and affective women (in literature) were those who took on the stereotypical feminine roles. The women who tried to leave these typical gender roles were portrayed as evil or ended up dead by the end of the story.
    I definitely believe that there is a direct correlation between the portrayal of women in literature and the actual amount of women in prestigious leadership positions. When women are portrayed as weak and evil in works of literature it sends a bad message to the readers about how women are perceived in today’s society. I think to make a positive and progressive change we need to be introducing literature that recognizes the strengths of both men and women.

  3. I find it interesting that scholars have said “because the character attempted to be more than a woman that caused her destruction”. Its like they are saying there is a limit to how masculine a woman can be, especially in her leadership style. I agree that a lot of literature does not portray women as strong leaders, and if it does they are very feminine. I agree with all three of you that this does have an impact on women and leadership. Anna Karenina was written in the 1870s and the same problems with women and leadership and literature still apply today. I think it is something that will take time to change, but will hopefully have a positive impact on women as leaders in the future.


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