Marking Period 3 Project – Song of Solomon; An Analysis of Cruelty

Introduction-Define gender inequality and identify its effects on society? How does this lead to cruelty/cruel treatment?
Include your thesis sentence about this topic here. [Claim + 3 Ground Reasons]

Body 1- Choose one male character [Macon II or Milkman] for your focus:
• How does this character’s perspective of gender/gender roles affect his life
• How does this character’s perspective affect his treatment of Ruth, Corinthians, Lena, Pilate, and/or Hagar? [Choose ONE female character]
• How does [your chosen female character] incorporate this treatment into their day to day lives?
Body 2- Keeping the same male character for this paragraph:
• How does this character’s perspective affect his treatment of Ruth, Corinthians, Lena, Pilate, and/or Hagar? [Choose ANOTHER female character]
• How does [your chosen female character] incorporate this treatment into her day to day life?
Body 3- Describe how modern society sees cruelty towards women or cruelty treatment.
• How does society view the ill treatment of women?
• In what ways are gender roles to blame for this treatment?
• What connections can you make to Morrison’s Song of Solomon?

Conclusion- How are we affected by the cruelty of gender inequality today? Explain.

Marking Period 3 Project – Song of Solomon; An Analysis of Cruelty 


Throughout our reading of Song of Solomon, we have seen many instances of how cruelty affects the female characters and how cruelty is dictated by gender and gender roles. Specifically, we will focus on the way the men in the novel treat the women in their lives.

You will include information from the novel and the two informational texts attached to develop your ideas and draw evidence from all three to support your claims.


Essay Breakdown: 



Define gender inequality and identify its effects on society?  How does this lead to cruelty/cruel treatment?

Include your thesis sentence about this topic here. [Claim + 3 Ground Reasons]

Body 1 Choose one male character [Macon II or Milkman] for your focus:

  • How does this character’s perspective of gender/gender roles affect his life
  • How  does this character’s perspective affect his treatment of Ruth, Corinthians, Lena, Pilate, and/or Hagar? [Choose ONE female character]
  • How does [your chosen female character] incorporate this treatment into their day to day lives?
Body 2 Keeping the same male character for this paragraph:

  • How  does this character’s perspective affect his treatment of Ruth, Corinthians, Lena, Pilate, and/or Hagar?  [Choose ANOTHER female character]
  • How does [your chosen female character] incorporate this treatment into her day to day life?
Body 3 Describe how modern society sees cruelty towards women or cruelty treatment.

  • How does society view the ill treatment of women?
  • In what ways are gender roles to blame for this treatment?
  • What connections can you make to Morrison’s Song of Solomon?
Conclusion  How are we affected by the cruelty of gender inequality today?  Explain.


Marking Period 3 Project – Song of SolomonAn Analysis of Cruelty Essay Rubric








 [Needs Work]



There is a well-focused Thesis Statement that introduces the essay ad clearly addresses all elements of the outline. Introduction clearly states the main topic, adequately addressing the elements of the outline. Introduction is somewhat clear, but only partially addresses the elements of the outline. Introduction does not address the elements of the outline.



The paper has no MLA formatting errors. The paper is properly set-up, and the sources are correctly cited. The paper has minor MLA formatting errors in either the set-up or the citations. The paper has MLA errors in the set-up and in the citations. The paper does not follow MLA format at all. There is no Works Cited page.


Essay contains a thorough explanation and analysis that demonstrates mastery and depth of understanding of how cruelty is developed through gender roles/perspective. Essay contains a well-developed explanation and analysis that logically supports the concrete details that show how cruelty is developed through gender roles/perspective. Essay contains a partial explanation and analysis that is weak, incomplete, or partially doesn’t make sense. Essay contains a weak analysis that is off topic or completely doesn’t make sense.


Writer’s Voice, Audience Awareness

Logical progression of ideas with a clear structure that enhances the thesis.  Transitions are mature and graceful. Logical progression of ideas.  Transitions are present equally throughout the essay. Organization is clear. Transitions are present. No discernable organization.  Transitions are not present. Connections between ideas seem confusing or incomplete.


Teacher Comments




Article #1


Men who conform to sexist masculine stereotypes are more likely to be violent against women.


Forceful and dominant: men with sexist ideas of masculinity are more likely to abuse women

November 6, 2019 2.04pm EST

Michael Flood
Associate Professor, Queensland University of Technology


Men who adhere to rigid, sexist stereotypes of how to be a man are more likely to use and tolerate violence against women. On the other hand, men with more flexible, gender-equitable ideas about manhood are more likely to treat women with respect. And promoting healthy, more flexible models of masculinity is an important way to end domestic and sexual violence. While they may be familiar, these ideas have been backed up by a new report from domestic violence not-for-profit Our Watch, which reviewed Australian and international research on masculinity, citing 374 sources.

Most men don’t ever use violence against a woman. But some men are far more likely to use violence than others. Consider this hypothetical scenario. You’re a young heterosexual woman and you want a boyfriend. By happy coincidence, there are 100 men in the building next door, all single and heterosexual. Which of those guys are most likely to treat you with respect and care and gender equity? And which, on the other hand, are more likely to abuse, control, and assault you? Among those 100 men, a minority have used violence. Depending on the study, anywhere from 15 to 20 to 25 of those 100 men have raped or pressured a woman into sex.


What it means to be a man

Many factors can reliably predict the risk of perpetrating violence. One key set of factors is to do with masculinity, that is, the attitudes and behaviours stereotypically associated with being a man.

Longstanding ideals about manhood include ideas that men should be strong, forceful, and dominant in relationships and households. Men should be tough and in control, while women are lesser, or even malicious and dishonest. Men who conform to these ideals are more likely to hit, abuse, coerce, and sexually harass women than men who see women as their equals. And men who believe in sexual entitlement to women’s bodies or in rape myths are more likely than other men to rape women. What’s more, men whose male peers tolerate or use violence are themselves more likely to do so.


A risk at the community level

But sexist models of manhood are also a risk at the community and societal levels. Societies characterised by male dominance and systemic gender inequality have higher levels of violence against women.

Domestic and sexual violence reflect surrounding social systems and structures, including gender inequalities at the levels of neighbourhoods and entire countries. For example, studies find gender-inequitable norms in communities in Tanzania and India go along with higher rates of partner violence against women.

And sexist masculinity not only causes the direct perpetration of violence against women, but also its perpetuation.


Most of those 100 men in the building next door have not used violence. But traditional ideals of masculinity make it more likely that some will blame a woman who has been raped, refrain from intervening in violence-supportive behaviours, turn a blind eye to other men’s sexual coercion, or laugh along with jokes which sustain social tolerance for rape.

Among those 100 men, many other factors, alongside gender, shape their likelihood of perpetrating violence. This includes their social circumstances, childhood experiences of violence, mental health, and so on.

Violence prevention advocates increasingly adopt an “intersectional” approach, recognising gender intersects with other forms of social disadvantage and privilege to shape involvements in violence perpetration and victimisation.


Masculinity is fundamentally social

There is widespread recognition that to prevent and reduce violence against women, we must engage men and boys in this work. We must redefine masculinity, promoting healthier, positive social expectations among men and boys. And men and boys themselves will benefit from such change.Masculinity, the attitudes and behaviours associated with being male, is fundamentally social, that is, produced in society. The meanings attached to manhood and the social shape of men’s lives vary radically across history and cultures. This means masculinity’s role in violence against women is social too, and it can be changed through prevention efforts addressing the sexist norms, practices, and structures of masculinity. The good news from a rapidly increasing body of research is that well-designed interventions can make positive change. Face-to-face education programs can improve men’s and boys’ attitudes and behaviours. Community campaigns can shift social norms. And policy and law reform on discrimination, work, and parenting can contribute to societal-level change in gender roles. Prevention work must be gender-transformative, actively challenging sexist and unhealthy aspects of masculinity and gender roles. It must be done in partnership with women’s rights efforts. And it must reach far beyond work with a few “bad” men, to make change in masculine social norms, systemic gender inequalities, and other social injustices.


Article #2

The Impacts of Gender Role Socialization on Health and Culture


Christopher Liang and Nicole L. Johnson explore how socialized gender roles can impact men’s and women’s health, contribute to rape culture and amplify cultural problems.


Mary Ellen Alu

April 05, 2019


What does it mean to be a man today? And what does it mean to be a woman?


Even as societal views shift in the era of the #MeToo movement, men and women face pressures on how to behave, and how not to. Expectations are often reinforced in popular culture, in the way men and women are portrayed in movies, TV shows and advertisements. More critically, researchers say, gender roles are learned at an early age through socialization with caregivers at home, school and elsewhere—and that can amplify health and cultural problems as boys and girls grow into adulthood.


“People learn how to perform,” says Christopher Liang, associate professor of counseling psychology. “They learn what the expectations are for their sex. So if you are born a biological male, you might be taught a certain way of dealing with your emotions. Don’t show your sadness, don’t show that you’re hurt, don’t show that you’re weak. Be strong. Be tough.” Conversely, those born as a biological female might be taught to be nice, nurturing and giving. “Women have this invisible burden of caretaking that’s often ignored or devalued,” says Nicole L. Johnson, assistant professor of counseling psychology. “Women are taught to sort of stifle their experience, to be appeasing or attractive to men.” While socialized behaviors might not be unhealthy unto themselves, the researchers say, problems can develop or persist when men and women are rigid in their conformity to those expectations, resulting in health issues for individuals or fueling violence against women.

“We know that women are overwhelmingly victims [of sexual violence], and we know that men are overwhelmingly perpetrators,” says Johnson. “What about being a man increases that? We teach our boys to be strong and aggressive and not to take ’no’ for an answer, and then we teach our girls to be passive and pretty and nice and not to be assertive.


“In my mind this kind of creates this perfect scenario for sexual assault to happen, because if we’re teaching our boys not to take ’no’ for an answer, and we’re teaching our girls to be seen and not heard, that creates a really hard situation on both sides. … There’s this socialization that occurs that makes sexual assault normative.”


Liang has conducted extensive research into men and masculinity, including the impact on health outcomes and gender role conflict among minority men, as he seeks to help men engage in healthier behaviors and improve their overall mental and physical health. He is among a team of scholars who helped draft the American Psychological Association’s first-ever set of “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men.” The newly released document, based on a synthesis of empirical and scholarly works, is meant to guide psychologists and researchers in their work with boys and men on masculinity issues.


Separately, Johnson has conducted extensive research and programming on rape culture. She co-authored the fifth edition of Women and Gender, a textbook released in November 2018 that explores women’s relationships, physical and mental health, and violence against women, among other areas. The book addresses the social construction of gender and explores ways to effect change, including through political advocacy.

In their work, both Liang and Johnson emphasize the need to understand gender differences.

“We need to interrogate gender, really unpack it, figure out what it means and how it contributes to people’s well-being—both men and women, and people who don’t identify as men or women,” Liang says. “[We need to] put it at the forefront, understand that gender-role ideology influences a lot of our behavior, influences a lot of our thinking and influences our perceptions.”

How Men Experience Masculinity

In helping to draft the American Psychological Association [APA]’s new “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men,” Liang drew on his extensive research into men’s experiences with masculinity and racism, especially those of men of color. He also has served as president of the APA’s Division 51, the Society for the Study of Men and Masculinities. He has done additional research into sexual violence prevention.

Liang worked on the APA guidelines in collaboration with other scholars over the past seven years, though efforts began earlier. In drawing on more than 40 years of research, the scholars also sought rounds of feedback from other experts and the public as they refined the document, which aims to help practitioners work more effectively with boys and men.


“Unfortunately psychology for a long, long time was looking at its constructs and engaging in its studies in a very androcentric way—so focusing on men but not really understanding men, centering psychological experiences based on men’s experiences, but not really understanding what men’s experiences are as it concerns gender,” Liang says.


The document recognizes the need to help boys and men—as well as their parents, teachers and coaches—gain awareness in how masculinity is defined in the context of life circumstances and how those social forces can be a detriment to mental health. “Psychologists strive to recognize that masculinities are constructed based on social, cultural and contextual norms,” the first guideline states. The other nine guidelines address the impact of power and privilege, family relationships, education and public-health issues.  “One of the key things to come from the document is the importance of looking at something like masculinity,” Liang says. “Oftentimes, we think of gender as this immutable thing, that you’re born with it.” But, he adds, “You’re born with a sex, then you learn how to do gender.”


The new APA guidelines encourage researchers and practitioners to focus more attention on some of the ways that men engage in unhealthy forms of masculinity. They also encourage an understanding of how to capitalize on the more positive aspects of masculinity and how to engage in more positive health-related behaviors, such as a willingness to ask for help.

Men who have been socialized to appear tough but who are hurting might feel greater stigma if they were to seek help from a professional, Liang says. Instead, they might opt to deal with their pain by abusing substances or by hurting themselves or their partners.


“A man who is feeling some loss of power at work may cope with their loss of power by reasserting power at home,” he says. “It could be through physical violence or sexual violence.” Though boys and men, as a group, tend to hold power and privilege, they also disproportionately face mental health issues, academic challenges and other health-related problems, the APA says in the document. Men account for three-quarters of all suicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control. “Men on average die six years earlier than women,” says Liang. “Some of this can be attributed to higher completed suicides, but it’s also telling that men are more at risk for heart disease and stress-related illnesses. Instead of saying, ‘well, that’s how men are,’ we need to figure out why. Maybe if they engaged in help-seeking earlier, they’d be better off.” If they didn’t feel pressure to meet gender-role expectations or fear losing an opportunity at work, he says, they might take the time to go to a mental health practitioner or doctor.


Individuals need to be cognizant of gender, much like being aware of their racial biases, Liang says. With concerns over men’s suicide rates and drug addictions rising, “we need to understand how men are coping with job loss, with underemployment,” he says. “If we were to center gender, then we might be able to help these men in different ways.”


Although examining gender can be useful in identifying possible disparities between men and women in such areas as health, education and the justice system, Liang says, the guidelines underscore the importance of moving away from gender as an independent variable in studies. “We know that gender-based violence—sexual violence in particular, intimate partner violence—disproportionately impacts women more than men,” he says as an example. “And we know that because our data tells us that. But that’s all it tells us—that there are differences. The next layer is, why are there these differences?”

Putting Gender Symmetry in Context

As part of her research, Johnson explores the controversial issue of gender symmetry, which holds that women carry out violence against their partners at roughly the same rate as men.

In a theoretical study titled “It is and It is Not: The Importance of Context when Exploring Gender Differences in Perpetration of Physical Partner Violence,” published in 2016 in the Journal of Family Violence, Johnson and co-authors Samantha C. Holmes and Dawn M. Johnson accept gender symmetry while acknowledging the complexity of the issue. Johnson says opposing camps waste time by arguing over whether gender symmetry exists and should focus instead on what to do about intimate partner violence. “It can be that if we look at the population at large, and we count shoving a partner or calling a partner names as violence, then sure, women are just as likely to swear at their partner, call them names, shove them,” she says. “It’s like this cultural norm. That happens, and I think that’s an issue. We need to start thinking about, why are we okay with degrading our partners and putting our hands on our partners? Why has that become acceptable?”  She says programming could focus on respect, consent and how to handle a disagreement.  Still, she adds, women are significantly more likely to be killed or hospitalized at the hands of abusive partners, and that issue, too, needs to be addressed.


As comparison, the study raises the disparity in jail rates among young minority men arrested for drug crimes. Knowing only that black men are jailed at much higher rates than their white counterparts can lead to the assumption that black men commit drug crimes at higher rates. However, the study says, literature has shown that discriminatory policies, not race, account for the disparate jail rates. “My argument,” says Johnson, “is, we should stop arguing about [gender symmetry] and acknowledge, ‘okay, yeah, these are both true. But what can we do? What next?’”


In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Johnson and several co-authors investigated the prevalence and predictors of intimate partner violence, sampling 227 women residing in shelters for battered women. The study found that while most of the women reported engaging in some form of violence against their partner, few of the women [5.3 percent] endorsed violence that was not mutual. The study, “Prevalence and Predictors of Bidirectional Violence in Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence Residing at Shelters,” also showed the women experienced more severe abuse at the hands of their partners than they committed. “We found that almost all instances of women’s use of violence was bi-directional, which means that they were not acting independently of violence,” and in many cases, they acted in self-defense, Johnson says. “You might have shoved them to get them off from beating you.” The study, she says, underscores the importance of context in talking about gender symmetry.

Raising Awareness

As they conduct separate but related research, Liang and Johnson recognize the importance of raising awareness about gender socialization, rape culture, and the impact of gender-role ideology on men’s and women’s health and well-being.

Specifically, Liang hopes that the release of the APA’s “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men” leads to more people having more compassion for the challenges that boys and men experience in daily life.

“I hope policy makers consider devoting more funding to further support research to study how masculinity ideologies may be helpful and harmful to the health and well-being of men and boys, as well as the people with whom they interact,” he says.

He also hopes that schools consider the behaviors of boys, particularly boys of color, with more compassion. “School disciplinary policy, for instance, could be more sensitive to how boys’ behavior may be symptomatic of other problems,” he says. “Their greater likelihood of engaging in externalizing behaviors results in more of them receiving more harsh discipline when they may actually need more mental health support.”


Concerning rape culture, Johnson emphasizes the need to make women and men more aware of how they are socialized to be and how that can impact their relationships. She says schools, even on the elementary level, could introduce programming that fosters discussion of healthy relationships and issues of consent. The earlier that prevention work starts, Johnson says, the more effective it can be.


“There are sex education programs that are appropriate for elementary school kids,” she says. “Start that track so hopefully we won’t eventually need rape prevention programs in college.”



Focus on the following chapters from Song Of Solomon to help you develop a stronger understanding of the theme of cruelty and help you develop the essay. 


Read the summaries of the following chapters:

Part 1, Chapter 1

Part 1, Chapter 3

Part 1, Chapter 5

Part 1, Chapter 6

Part 1, Chapter 9

Part 2, Chapter 10

Part 2, Chapter 15

Looking for this or a Similar Assignment? Click below to Place your Order Instantly!