Not Just Another Woman
In Doris Lessing’s “A Woman on a Roof,” three men are overpowered by a woman sunbathing on a nearby rooftop. The woman on the roof used nonverbal communication to become the superior figure in the story. Being ignored in a time when men believed they had control over women, was absolutely maddening. As the men yell and whistle with no attention from the woman on the roof, they became angry at her. By not acknowledging the action of the men, the woman empowered herself and frustrated the men.
Men expect to be treated as superior beings while being taken care of by women. Men assume women are here for them and should meet their every demand. This is clear in the beginning when they are joking “about getting an egg from some woman in the flats under them, to poach it for their dinner” (1). Men obviously think they are above women and should have total control of them. This is shown when Harry said, “If she’s married, her old man wouldn’t like that.” Stanley adds, “If my wife lay about like that, for everyone to see, I’d soon stop her” (2). This woman doesn’t appear to be controlled by anyone.
In a time when control was in the hands of men, the loss of control to a woman was infuriating. The men think every woman should react to them in a positive way. They expect women to act as the woman in the window watering the flowers. Stanley tells her, “We need a drink more than them.” She smiles and says, “Better drop down to the pub quick, it’ll be closing in a minute.” The lady smiles and gives them a wave. “Not like Lady Godiva,“ said Stanley. “She can give us a bit of a chat and a smile” (4). Another example of the way they think woman should act is Mrs. Pritchett, the blonde wife of an airline pilot, who lent them a blanket and invited them in for a cup of tea (4). Mrs. Pritchett is friendly and serves the men tea. Men expect women to treat them friendly not rudely as the woman on the roof does.
The woman on the roof...