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Gender Inequality Lecture

Course Code

of 5
January 25th 2010
Gender Inequality: Lecture 3
Gender relations are often unequal
Any relationship with inequality is troubled
Sex vs. Gender: Difference between sex and gender, sex is the biological
characteristics that make a person biologically female or male. By gender, we mean
the social expectations that people describe masculine and feminine. Social
construction is the process that makes sex differences seem large or small, important
and unimportant
Northern European countries have low fertility; notion of romantic of men and
women is much played down compared to societies with women who are having 5 or
more children.
Decline in birth rate, improvement of contraceptives is an important factor, and with
these contraceptives you have choices and men and women both have choices rather
than just the men.
What is domination? Why have women been dominated? Max Weber defines
domination as the probability that certain specific commands or all command will
be obeyed by a given group of persons
Examples of such dominances can be seen on parent-child relationships, employer-
employee relationship, student-teacher relationships
You see women deferring to men, with no gun held to their head
Where are these patterns of dominance coming from?
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 they have
such an interest
Weber: says if we want to understand dominance we have to understand different
between authority and power is precisely that people are obeying because there is
some legit right to obedience. He says what creates this legitimacy?
Usually there is a belief in the legitimacy of the actions of the dominant individual
or group
Obedience is not haphazard or brief by sustained institutionalized
Webers definition is a useful way to examine all unequal relationships that become
regularized or institutionalized
The relations between men and women show attempts (by men) to routinize patterns
of dominance and tempts by women to subvert dominance
Over time, gendered marital inequality creates a permanent pattern of dominance
and subordination within the home and the larger community
Three type of legitimate domination according to Weber
Traditional authority: authority that is legitimate by tradition, no one has
questioned it
Rational-legal authority: we will do it a certain way, because there are rule and we
have to follow them
Charismatic authority: obedience based on emotional attachment, we want to be a
Ilimerance: lasts two years
Patriarchy as Authority
We grant legitimacy (or authority) to a power arrangement when we consider it valid
Powerful people eliminate the need for naked force if they can convince subordinates
that they really ought to obey and that is failure to obey then is immoral, sick, or
In many societies patriarchy has served as a 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 nay household
In theory it could refer to the oldest or highest earning femalebut rarely in practice
Using normality as a stick
Today, women have the legal tools to challenge and escape domineering males,
though they often lack the economic tools
Michel Foucault has argued the 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 becomes a new source of equal rights in a society, men are less able to
maintain thei dominance over women
It is because citizenship is so important for equality that the early………
The discovery that housework (womens work) is work
However, legal and political rights do not always translate into social opportunities
1974 British sociologist Ann Oakley published The Sociology of houseworkthe
first to consider housework as real, unpaid work
Her point is to examine what housework is, and how women feel about the
housework they are doing
Anne Oakley’s Research for The sociology of housework was based on a small
sample of working and middle class homemakers
These housewives were caught in a social and psychological conflict
These women has a strong sense of housework was what they were supposed to do,
and they hated housework
The alienation of housework: these women felt deeply unhappy yet they feel morally
and socially obliged to play a fundamentally alienating, frustrating and self-
destroying role
Judith Hammond (1977) wrote that Oakley narrowed and distorted the picture of
housewifery into that of a thankless joyless task. She says the sample is not wide
enough some people like housework
However, Oakley has rightly called our attention to the neglected topic of housework
Oakley: Women have to be brainwashed into embracing motherhood, because if they
are not brainwashed youd have to pay other people to doing it which is costly, women
are doing what is necessary to make heaven on earth for men