Gender Equality

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1 Feb 2011

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Jan 25, 2011
Lecture 3 - Gender Inequality
Multiple choice
Gender relations often unequal
-fundamentally linked to both differentiation and domination
Sex vs Gender
- not interested in biological characteristics that make male/female
- interested in social expectations that people describe as masculine and feminine
- social construction is the process that makes sex differences seem large or small,
important or unimportant
What is Domination
- Max Weber
- the probability that certain specific commands (or all commands) will be
obeyed by a given group of persons
- examples: parent-child relationships, employer-employee relationships, teacher-
- not about coercion or force
- about listening to orders, deference, obedience
Domination and Legitimacy
- domination is a power relationship that implies voluntary compliance or obedience
- people obey because they have an interest in doing so, or at least think that they
have such an interest
- interesting because it is by own will
- usually, a belief in the legitimacy of the actions of the dominant individual or group
- Weber - to understand domination we have to understand the difference
between authority and force is people are obeying because they imagine
a right to obedience. what creates this legitimacy?
- obedience is not haphazard or brief but sustained and institutionalized
- what is the legitimacy that men have for women to listen to them?
- what in our culture allows men to dominate over women
- institutionilized
Weber on Authority
- useful to examine all unequal relationships that become regularized or
- relations between men and women show attempts (by men) to routine patterns of
dominance and attempts (by women) to subvert dominance
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- over time, gendered marital inequality creates a permanent pattern of dominance
and subordination within the home and larger community
- "two world" routinized world
- underground world - undermining, subverting world of people in power
Webers 3 types of legitimate domination
- calls attention to relative rarity of violence and naked force in most relationships
including relationships between men and women
- weber identified three pure types of legitimate domination based on the grounds on
which their claims to legitimacy were based
- traditional authority - "we always did that"
- most of men/women relationship based on this, "unwomanly"
- rational-legal authority - voting, elections, rules, "makes sense"
- charismatic authority - somebody with charisma, leader, people want to
follow, (men and women?)
- limerance - "insanity of love" lasts about 2 years max
Patriarchy as Authority
- grand legitimacy or authority to a power arrangement when we consider it valid
- powerful people eliminate need for naked force if they can convince subordinates
that they really ought to obey and that a failure to obey them is immoral, sick, or
- many societies, patriarchy has served as legitimating ideology
The "Head of Household" Myth
- today patriarchy has come to mean male domination of any kind
- the traditional patriarchal "head of household" ideology refers to the principal
earner in any household
- in theory it could refer to the oldest or highest earning female
- rarely in practice
Using "Normality" as a stick
- today women have legal tools to challenge and excape domineering males, though
they often lack the economic tools
- Michel Foucault has argued that people are taught that compliance with authority
is "normal" and people who repeatedly oppose authority are abnormal and sick
- whenever the subordinate group no longer accepts traditional privileges
unquestioningly, the status order starts to break down
Citizenship as a way forward
- perhaps, as citizenship becomes a new source of equal rights in a society, men are
less able to maintain their dominance over women
- it is because citizenship is so important for equality that the early feminist
movement was mainly concerned with suffrage
- can speak what you want, equals under law
Discovery that Housework (Women's Work) is work
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