Glengarry Glen Ross

Women are not men. This statement is bluntly obvious, but it is also the answer as to why women only appear referentially in Glengarry Glen Ross. Women are not men, and it is the world of men that matters.

We know that women exist. They are mentioned several times in Glengarry Glen Ross as objects of pleasure, or as obstacles that must be managed, taken care of and worked around. They don’t stand apart as equal individuals worthy of respect.

This is most clearly illustrated when Roma discusses his sexual past. He correlates his intimate associations with women in the same category as eating and eliminating. To him, the encounter is not much more than a physical event. When he talks about the “best” of these experiences, he refers to the women he was with as “broads.” They not defined by who they are or any characteristic unique to their personality or being. Their meaning to him lies only with how they pleased him.

Women are defined as obstacles, not once, but twice in the play. In act one, scene one Levene refers to a sale he lost due to the ex-wife of his client. This seems to foreshadow a similar event later in the play when the wife of Roma’s most recent sale insists that the sale be cancelled. Roma does everything he can to overrule the intent of the wife as if what she wants is unimportant. When Lingk says that his wife instructed him to go to the State Attorney, Roma’s response is “No no. That’s just something she said. We don’t have to do that.” In much the way women are often spoken over and dismissed in business, Roma glosses over the concerns of the wife and talks over the husband to overrule her wishes.

This fits the narrative that all that matters is what men want. More than that, In the world of Glengarry Glen Ross, the most energetically “male” character is the one that wins. Maleness is defined by confidence, assertiveness, bombastic personality traits, but also an aggressive stoicism.

Although he has a daughter, Levene does not mention her except to attempt to elicit sympathy from Williamson. The office manager’s response to Lavene’s emotional manipulation is indifference or disgust. He doesn’t care about the welfare of the daughter of a man he has worked with for years. Since Levene never mentions her by name, we can assume Williamson doesn’t even know her name.

In Glengarry Glen Ross women are disposable. They exist to serve as a source of pleasure for men but are otherwise in the way. Thus, it makes sense that women don’t appear in the play. It is an unspoken confirmation of their overall unimportance.

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