The Betrayal of Gender Roles in The Secret Woman

Throughout the story, gender roles are reversed. In this case, Irene is leading the way (literally and figuratively) while her husband cautiously follows behind. She is asserting herself into conversations, dancing with random men, kissing men besides her husband, and overall being independent. Normally, or at least in this assumed time period, men lead the way and women follow suit. Men are very independent while women are brought up to depend on men.

Furthermore, Irene is making fun of her husband, belittling him nonchalantly. Almost as if she is putting him in his place, just as he would to her. Silently, he observed her every behavior making silent comments and having opinions. However, he remained silent and hid his personality, just like a woman is expected.

In general, one would assume her husband would step in, intervene, and stop her from essentially cheating on him. However, instead, he stays quiet and walks away. In this case, they were at a masquerade ball, hidden by masks. Maybe this gave her the confidence to be independent and break away from her stereotypical role, or maybe it was an excuse to fill the role she has longed.

4 thoughts on “The Betrayal of Gender Roles in The Secret Woman

  1. Isabelle J.

    I agree. The story is all about gender roles, I also think there is a big theme of anonymity in the story. When a women is openly sexual, she is harassed and judged whereas when a man is, he is applauded. Irene had to wear a mask to preserve her anonymity and embrace her sexuality free from judgment and although the husband recognized her, she maintained her behavior as if he did not, taking her power back.


  2. Lucy B

    I think this story is more representative of relationships today than when it was written. Although gender roles are still prominent in society, it’s more believable to consider that women can be unfaithful, not just men. It would be interesting to hear and see her perspective and how their relationship has become this way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Olivia L

    I agree, but I also think that it’s about the husband realizing that women can be sexual, as compared to how he viewed her at first (very pure, innocent). I do also see, though, how it can be a reversal of gender roles as well.


  4. Jhaden J.

    I agree with this, I also think that the husband realizing who Irene really was also led to him loosing who he thought he was or knew himself to be. The shift of power in his mind, realizing his wife was independent and without him, goes hand in hand with what you were saying about the reversal of gender roles in this story.


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