Gender Inequality

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16 Feb 2011
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January 25, 2011
Gender inequality
Gender relations are often unequal
-Gender inequalities are linked fundamentally to both differentiation and domination
-Historically: relationship between men and women has been troubled because it was based on
inequality
Sex versus gender
-Gender: we mean the social expectations that people describe as masculine or feminine
-Social construction is the is the process that makes sex differences seem large or small, important or
unimportant
-As fertility rates decline, inequality declines as women have more time to pursue the same
activities as men
What is domination?
-Why have men historically dominated women?
-Weber:as the probability that certain specific commands (or all commands) will be obeyed by a
given group of persons
-What is the basis of this patterned inequality?
-Domination is not about coercion, its about persuasion and obedience based on belief that men have
the right to give orders and woman have the obligation to follow orders
-Examples of such relationships: child-parent, employer-employee, teacher-student
Domination and legitimacy
-Domination voluntary compliance or obedience
-People obey because they have an interest
-Weber: if we want to understand domination, we need to understand that there is some legitimate right
to obedience the person who is being obeyed has some legitimacy to being obeyed
-What is the legitimacy behind the male domination?
-Culture of domination, not personal choice
oWhat is there in our culture that legitimizes male power over women?
oIt is institutionalized
Weber on authority
-How patterns of inequality become reutilized?
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-People overtly obey authority, but they also undermine the authority behind the authority’s back
-There is un underling subversion of authority
-Weber’s theory calls attention to the relative rarity of violence and naked force in most relationships,
including relations between men and women
-Three kinds of Webers legitimacy
oTraditional
oLegal/rational
oCharismatic
-Most of the authority in the man and women relationships is based on traditional authority
oMaintaining of traditional inequality
Patriarchy as authority
-We grant legitimacy to a power arrangement when we consider it valid
-Men create society where their position of dominance is protected
-If men can convince subordinates that they really ought to obey and that a failure to obey the authority
is immoral, sick or abnormal
-In many societies, patriarchy has served as a legitimizing ideology
The “head of household” myth
-Today, patriarchy has come to mean male dominance of any kind
-Traditional “head of household” is the principle earner
-In traditional society, head of the household is the eldest male of the house
-In theory, it could refer to oldest or highest earning female but rarely in practice
Using “normality” as stick
-Legal tools to challenge and escape domineering males, though they often lack the economic tools
-Compliance with authority isnormal Foucault
Citizenship as a way forward
-Status of adults in a society which certain guarantees rights, regardless of anything else
-Citizenship creates equality
The discovery that housework is work
-There is still domestic inequality
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