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Lecture 3: Sociological Theories of Gender, and Types of Feminism

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Vanina Sztainbok

Gender in Sociological Theory  Functionalist Theoy o See people in terms of roles that meet the needs of society. o For Hunter-Gatherers, women stayed near the camp and take care of the children while men went out hunting. Seemingly natural nature of society. Patriarchal o Modern:  Men/fathers have an instrumental role. Connect family to the outside world.  Women: Expressive role. Keeps the family together. o Looks at gender roles as functional and necessary. Doesn’t look at inequalities or when the roles are not working (violence, etc.). Sees it as only within the family.  Symbolic Interactionist Theory o How gender is created in face-to-face interactions, and how they can change from these interactions. o Doesn’t put enough emphasis on macro interactions, so it’s only looking at little things rather than the big picture. Doesn’t account for how there can be external factors  Conflict/Marxist Theory o Class struggles define our capitalist society, and drives what is happening today. o See families divided in two (men and women), which is a product of capitalism creating competition within the family. o Less privileged do lowest paying jobs, so this is why women are found more in this type of work because they don’t have as much power as men. o Didn’t really look at gender, but it provides tools for thinking about gender hierarchy. Doesn’t account for external inequalities (like race).  Socialization Theory o We learn gender roles in our families and other institutions.  Example: Schools, sports, etc. Key Questions for Gender Studies and Feminist Theory:  What causes and maintains gender hierarchy? First Wave  Suffragette Movement. Late 19 -Early 20 thcentury, fight for the right for women to vote. Mainly in USA and Britain. Not considered human, so didn’t have access to full citizenship. Second Wave Feminists  Educated women who were relegated into their home after marriage. Didn’t find this fulfilling. Bored housewives, who usually had maids.  Abortion was a big fight in this wave.  Created several types of feminism: o Liberal Feminism  Their role at home prevented them from being in the public sphere.  Equal opportunities to women, so they can achieve the same things as men. Equality based. Wanted equal rights (like voting). Women = Men.  Didn’t look at external forces such as race, or class.  Critiqued: Tries to treat women the same as men, but women don’t start out the same as men (like job experiences, need to take time off for child bearing, etc.) o Cultural Feminism  Aka Radical Feminists  Thought that cultural ideas held women back, not the fact that they can get pregnant.  Example: Bearing children is not seen as special, and valuable.  Want women to be free from maternal/feminine roles such as having children (having the foetus grow in a test tube)  Critiques: Not all women are nurturing a
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