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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 - Gender Relations Chapter 4 of Social Problems

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Lorne Tepperman

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Chapter 4Gender RelationsIntroductionSexthe biological distinction between male and femaleis a universal and ancient battle of social differentiationThis social demarcation has some basis in biology and the fact that women alone can bear and nurse offspringWomen on average are physically smaller and weaker than menless suited for hunting and combat and certain types of workThese biological realities led to the widespread social practices of mens roles as protectorsbreadwinners and womens roles as procreatorscaregiversHowever this varies from one society to another History and anthropology tells us that women can be breadwinners and protectors men can be caregiversIn societies with low fertility this distinction fades in importance because women spent more time as breadwinnersSocieties differ in the extent and ways they dramatize this sexbased difference o Some enlarge these differences while others diminish themThere is also much variation in how the rationalize their enactment of these differences o Some invoke religious edicts bibles others draw on secular principles moral commitment to equality scientific or pseudoscientific theories evolutionary selectionBefore 1900 gender and gender roles were assumedMiddle Ages and Renaissance a few women were as welleducated as the besteducated men nun and abbess QEI Hildegard of Bingen Sir Thomas Mores 4 daughtersGouges and Wollstonecraftoutstanding women who supported equality for women including educationWomen were generally not admitted to university until the late nineteenth centuryUntil recently women have enjoyed little social standing and almost no institutional support for their intellectual ambition thth In the late 19 and early 20 centuries women became more visible as thinkers about social matters especially poverty o Especially obvious among the Fabians in England where Beatrice worked along with her husband Sydney Webb o In the US where churchpromoted and social service research delved into problems in the growing cities led by women like Jane Addams o The growing feminist movement continued to press for gender equality and related social concerns o Early feminist movement was mainly concerned with womens suffrage tho Right to vote was achieved in Canada and US in the early decades of the 20 centuryUntil the early 70s housework was not considered as work of economical value but an outpouring of family affection o Was only in 1974 Oakley published her seminal book which drew needed attention to domestic inequality and its relation to other forms of gender inequality o This coincided with and promoted by the largescale entry of women into higher educationThe third feminist wave embraced racial and class diversity and accommodated differences in nationality and cultural backgroundThe failure by major male sociologists and theorists to contribute to gender issues tells us something about the connection between social structure and the propagation of knowledge only the powerful get noticed studied and discussedThe subject matter of sociology itself is a measure of a societys equality openness selfawareness and social concernChanges in sociology reflect changes in the distribution of power and are achieved largely through changes in the intellectual class and the institutionalization of knowledge of peer review research funding and journal publication The Battle over Gender TodayHistorically women have suffered more disadvantages than men at school in the workplace and in the public realmTo a large degree Canadian women have overcome these disadvantages in the past two decades o Canadians support rules that make it illegal for employers to limit or separate their employers by sex o However many Canadians still discriminate against womenSociologists deny claims of essentialism and enforce the assertion that only social constructionism and socialization can account for the observed differences associated with men and women in a given societyYet social critic Naomi Wolf recently reviewed the evidence of biologists evolutionary psychologists and anthropologists to reach the conclusion that this war may be about to end
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