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Chapter 2

SOC102 Habits of Inequality Chapter 2

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Lorne Tepperman

Habits of Inequality Chapter 2 – Domination GATHERING UP A STORM - An allegedly genderless baby named Storm that will choose his/her gender independently o Only seven people know about the sex of the baby o The freedom to choose who they want to be, unconstrained by social norms about males and females o One of the public’s biggest complaints is that genderless children will become confused about their identities as they grow up, and that their failure to conform will make them easy targets for bullies o Any criticisms and hardships Storm may face in the future will be outweighed by the freedom to choose - The parents grew up in liberal families, and are strong believers in community o Co-sleeping  They sleep together with their children o Un-schooling  They believe that learning should be driven by a child’s curiosity - The decision to keep baby Storm genderless was inspired by a book called X: A Fabulous Child’s Story by Lois Gould o The book is about a child who leads a happy and well-adjusted life without a specified gender identity, urging other children to lead gender-free lives THE OTHER - Gender is socially constructed, not given by nature - Sex is determined by biology, but that does not mean gender is determined by sex - Sex  Biological characteristics that make a person biologically male or female - Gender  Expectations of behaviour and appearance that people describe as masculine or feminine, which are conventionally associated with a person’s biology o A social performance that dramatizes biological differences o Life is different for men and women, and much of that difference is socially constructed o The significance of the biological differences between men and women varies from one society to another, and it is becoming less significant with declining birthrates o Until now, in most societies throughout history, women and men have been treated unequally, based on assumed natural differences - Social construction  The process that makes differences seem large or small (e.g., assigning different social roles to different sexes) o In some societies, the differences between men and women are dramatized by gender norms o In Canada, the differences between men and women are less marked today than a generation ago - Stereotypical beliefs about men and women, masculinity and femininity, continue to shape our relations o Men and women view themselves and view one another as dramatically different o Men and women recognize that relations between men and women are often coloured by sexual desire o The relations between men and women are often about the struggle for power, in which sexual access and information control are important elements - Despite women’s subtlety in wielding power, men use socially constructed gender differences to justify the domination of women by men o Social construction leads to the domination of women by men o Both the economic system and the biological facts of reproduction help to produce gender inequalities, but would not lead to the domination of women by men - Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex) o “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” o Men are considered the neutral, the default, or the basis to which women are compared o One cannot explain being a woman without explaining it in relation to what it means to be a man o Society has defined men as the Subject and women as the Other  Women historically did not play a publicly influential role and stood outside the public sphere  Men have historically played a public political and economic role  Over the course of history, this relationship has been institutionalized and developed in patriarchal societies o The default position in most traditional societies is that men are considered the norm (e.g., normal)  The use of masculine words (e.g., mankind to refer to all of humanity, his when gender is unspecified)  Women are subordinated to men by virtue of their gender  Men are constructed to be in power, while women are defined and differentiated with reference to man TO LOVE, CHERISH, AND TO OBEY - Meg Luxton (More than a Labour of Love: Three Generations of Women’s work in the Home) o “A man works from sun to sun. A woman’s work is never done.”  While the husband’s work ends with the whistle, the wife’s work never stops o Studied the homemakers in a small mining town located in Flin Flon, Manitoba  A single industry, primary resource city with a population of 10,000  The economic core is the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company Ltd. o Observed the lives of working-class women and men over 14 months in the 1970s o Interviewed 100 women about their activities within the household  Found that feminism had not yet reached Flin Flon  Most families still followed the traditional model, with a breadwinner husband and a homemaker wife, which emerged during early industrial capitalism o Interviewed three generations of women  Found that the work that they do requires hard labour, meets the demands of others, and makes it possible for the family to function, but it is unpaid and it requires an intense emotional investment o Social reproduction  The work that ensures the development and continuity of the family (e.g., bearing and rearing children, preparing meals, doing housework, dealing with the family’s emotional issues)  The work is domestic and goes on without discussion, so it seems natural and non-negotiable  Most women follow the same life course as their mothers and grandmother, despite feeling as though they are completely free to make their own life choices  Women keep their families alive  Women preserve the larger capitalist system o Gendered division of labour  The differences between work  Men are central to the family economy and therefore, to family life  Organized around the needs of the wage work  Women are economically dependent on their husbands, so they have little decision-making power in the household  Organized around the needs of the husband o Shoulder the responsibility of emotional work o Suffer from domestic violence, both physical and psychological  The girls and women have little choice because of their limited skills and limited opportunities  The wives feel distant from their husbands  Their partnership is more about economic dependence and social expectations  These women have little chance of self-fulfillment or self-assertion o Men face tremendous class-based pressures of the workplace  The community is a patriarchal system that dominates women’s lives socially and psychologically  The community is a paternalistic capitalist system that dominates men’s lives socially and psychologically  Men are the direct pawns, and women are the indirect pawns o Men are responsible for financially supporting the family, and women are responsible for the care of the family  Flin Flon is not a happy place, but the men and women do not share their happiness  Men stay in unfulfilling and dangerous jobs  Men and women stay in difficult and stressful marriages  Neither men nor women have much power in society  Men have most of the familial power  Women have household labour on their minds - Arlie Hochschild (The Second Shift) o Emotional work  To preserve an atmosphere of warmth and comfort, while providing satisfaction and completing tasks quietly and efficiently  Recognize and care for the needs of others, even if it means denying their own needs  Satisfy the husband’s sexual demands  Sex is more than a labour of love  Sex is a duty for married women, but even single women are expected to provide sexual services to their dates o This is the unspoken gender bargain in Flin Flon o If women break this rule, they risk missing marriage offers THE OPPOSITE OF SELF-ACTUALIZATION - Ann Oakley (The Sociology of Housework) o It was the first academic work to think about housework as real, unpaid work o Interviewed a small sample of working- and middle-class homemakers  Both defined themselves mainly as homemakers  Both expressed similar negative attitudes toward housework o Housework  Work that is legitimate, difficult, and worthwhile, not just a labour of love o Permanent conflict  In spite of their dislike for housework, their lives were centrally organized around homemaking  Feel they had authority and status only within their own household  Come to terms with the monotomy, isolation, and low social status of their domestic lives  View their lives as normal, inevitable, and the natural order of things o Housework cannot be satisfying  It is cyclical (e.g., cooking, washing, and cleaning endlessly)  Its products are intangible (e.g., a healthy, clean, and well-fed family)  It goes unnoticed except when it is not done  “Housework is work directly opposed to the possibility of human self-actualization.” o By settling into the hated housewife role, women had legitimated their own subjugation  Complicit in the drudgery of their lives, which is similar to Stockholm Syndrome  Felt unhappy with housework and mother-work, but also felt morally and socially obliged to continue playing this alienating, frustrating, and self-destroying role  Socialized by a patriarchal gender ideology  Accepted voluntary servitude as wives and mothers  “Society has a tremendous stake in insisting on a woman’s natural fitness for the career of mother: the alternatives are all too expensive.”  “Families are nothing other than the idolatry of duty.”  “There are always women who will take men on their own terms. If I were a man, I wouldn’t bother to change while there are women like that around.” - Not everyone agreed with Oakley’s views o Judith Hammond  The picture of housewifery is narrowed and distorted into a thankless joyless tank  Small, unrepresentative sample  Oakley’s own prejudices and personal experiences o Other studies  Many women are less negative about their domestic experience - In recent years, the household division of labour has continued to change o In the last two decades, more and more Canadian families have shifted to a two-earner model in which both men and women work in the labour market (and yet women often still do a larger share of household labour)  Reflects more gender equality  Reflects the growth of income inequality in Canada  Family incomes for those at the top have increased significantly  Family incomes for those in the middle have stagnated  The inequality of well-being among families with children has increased more quickly than income inequality, which has caused an increase in stress and anxiety (e.g., more hours of work, less time to spend with their children) o Peter Burton and Shelly Phipps (Families, Times, and Well-Being in Canada)  The average family hours of weekly paid work increased from 61.6 to 67.9 hours for the middle  The average family hours of weekly paid work decreased from 76.7 to 74.4 hours for the top - Gender inequalities at home remain between husbands and wives in the division of labour o Women have less time to do housework because of their paid work and NOT because men are doing their fair share o Women still do more hours of household work than men do, even if they are working full-time o When children arrive, most couples put away their gender-neural ideas temporarily and fall into patriarchal patterns WHAT CLASSICAL SOCIOLOGY HAS TO SAY - Both Luxton and Oakley showed that women are subordinated, and thus dominated, under the capitalist economic system - Domination  The rule by either coercion or legitimate authority o Compulsion and persuasion is part of the process of domination o Relationship to the means of production is NOT always part of the process of domination - Max Weber o “The process of inequality that underlies gender relations” o “The probability that certain commands (or all commands) will be obeyed by a given group of persons” o “Every genuine form of domination implies a minimum of voluntary (or willing) compliance, that is, an interest (based on ulterior motives or genuine acceptance) in obedience” o Dominance is a power relationship that involves four key elements 1) Voluntary compliance or obedience  Unequal relationships become regularized or institutionalized o E.g., Employer-employee relationships  Involve financial compulsion  Obey because subordination is implicit and resignedly accepted 2) People have an interest in doing so, or at least think that they have an interest  Traditional relationships between husbands and wives follow routinized patterns of dominance (by men) and rebellion against dominance (by women) o E.g., Husband-wife relationships  Wives comply with their husbands’ demands because they believe they have a traditional obligation to do so, or because they think they will benefit from doing so  Wives may appear to believe in the legitimacy of their husbands’ actions  Traditional gendered marital inequality creates a permanent pattern of dominance and subordination in the home and the larger community o E.g., Husband-wife relationships among traditionalist Muslins, Jews, and Christians  Husbands use compulsion to secure obedience  Husbands use violence to maintain their power where traditional sources of legitimacy are lacking o However, our legal system treats the use of violence as a crime o Therefore, there is a relative rarity of violence and force in most relationships 3) Those who comply believe in the legitimacy of the of the actions of the dominant individual or group  Legitimate domination  Accounts for most of gendered subordination in our society  People grant legitimacy when they consider it valid or inevitable  People evaluate the relationship in terms of fairness or necessity  Powerful people eliminate the need for force if they can make subordinates feel they ought to obey and that a failure to obey is immoral, sick, or abnormal  Husbands rely on these religious-based ideologies in order to dominate their wives 4) Obedience is part of a sustained relationship of dominance and subordination, with established patterns of inequality  In traditional societies, patriarchy (“rule of the father”)  Societies based on the authority of male household heads over all subordinates o Many of the major world religions (e.g., Judaism, Christianity, Islam) are patriarchal  Men have greater social, domestic, and sacramental authority than women  Violence against women is common  Tradition religion serves to justify, or at least ignore, such violence  Today, patriarchy  The male domination of any kind o Feminist research has described a variety of gender inequalities (e.g., gendered differences in the distribution of household work and in paid employment opportunities) as patriarchal inequalities o Classifying a whole household according to the characteristics of its male head  Implicitly assumes male dominance in the society  Ignores the rights and contributions of the other family members  Assumes the interest of the household head are the same as those of the other family members  Paints the wife and children as servant and dependents of the household head o There are more two-earner families and less childbearing because few women are willing to view men as the breadwinner and the head of household - Michael Foucault o The ways in which we instill habits of compliance in women are subtler o People are taught that compliance with authority is normal o People who repeatedly oppose authority are made to appear abnormal and sick o People are taught to look for and accept the fact of normal, essential differences between men and women - Mary Wollstonecraft o The first feminist theorist who drew attention to gender inequality and the disabilities women faced in the late 18 century o This was fifty years before Marx first set pen to paper about class inequality - Over the past century, Western women have struggled to overturn male domination and gain equal treatment in society - In modern societies, the ideology of citizenship is an ethical principle that can apply to a variety of inequalities o Gives widely varying people the same legal, political, and social rights (e.g., equality before the law, right to property, freedom of speech, financial resources through social welfare, right to vote) - Women’s problems of subordination and abuse are still being resolved GUNS, GAMES, AND GOD - Unlike income inequality, gender inequality has no universally agreed-on measure - There are indicators of gender inequality o Women’s sole responsibility for the work of social production o Women’s participation in the labour force, and how much women earn relative to men for similar work - Warren Farrell (Why Men Earn More) o A woman and a man who hold the same job, have the same credentials and experience, and work the same hours will normally receive the same pay  Gendered discrimination is illegal and uncommon today o Women earn $0.70 for every $1.00 earned by a man  This statistic is misleading because it is calculated by comparing the average salaries of all men to the average salaries of all women in the labour market  This fails to take into account the important differences in occupation, education, hours worked, and other differences that are relevant to jobs and careers  The differences in earnings between men and women are due to the different choices men and women have made educationally and occupationally, which reflect differences in the priorities placed on life goals (e.g., women typically give higher priority to family life than men do) o When choosing a career, men prioritize earnings and women prioritize the opportunity for work-life balance  E.g., Physicians  Male physicians choose fields like surgery and emergency care  Female physicians choose fields like pediatrics, psychiatry, and family practice o Most women take time off to have children and raise a family in the midst of paid work  Men invest time in building their careers  Women undermine their career trajectory  Often have
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