When reading The Bell Jar, i couldn’t help but search for certain texts that would reaffirm my suspicion that Esther was a self-internalizing misogynist. The beginning of the story alluded to the typical set up of an archetypical appearance of Betsy as a reserved good girl who contrasts the appeal of Doreen, a free spirited rebel. Against my assumptions, Esther finds herself identifying more strongly with Doreen.
The deeper i delved into the book learning about Esther, the more surprised I was by the lack of slut-shaming texts i had expected to find in her thoughts. In fact, i was pleasantly surprised by her approach on female sexuality and the unfair gender power dynamic that she directly addresses. Esther’s response to the article “In Defense of Chastity” was very satisfying to read as she complains about how men are still considered husband material even after being slept around, as opposed to a woman who would be labeled as used (a consensus people still generate to this day). She even proposed that women should be freely allowed to sleep around in order to even the playing field. However, while men are out there having fun, women are the ones catching all the repercussions of having a baby. Thus, when Esther decided to get herself fitted on birth control, it was a defining moment of sexual empowerment i had not anticipated from her. In doing so, her progressive thoughts were no longer suppressed, liberating Esther little by little from the societal oppression she felt constrained to.