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Gender Roles In Society
The world today has changed in many aspects of gender related life style. Yet there is an area of improvement in the focus of gender: based on labour and the patriarchial working woman. The class society have a great impact on the behaviour women carry out. The different theories and definitions help to explain the relationship of the construction of the gender. Feminism has a great impact on the gender role in our society. Feminists have been fighting for a long time for power and control in this man’s world. Our family structure creates a great impact on women’s behaviour in society, family life and the labour force. All these titles focus on the relatonship of gender.
Gender is best described the construction of what is culturally assumed as “femininity”as well as “masculiniity”. Lesbian and gay male theory of a feminist is beyond the logic of masculine/femine. It is also referred to the social and cultural categories of the biological fact of human sex differentiation.
Teresa de Lauretis uses this table:
(1) Gender is (a) representation-which is not to say that it does not have concrete or real implications, both social and subjective, for the material life of individuals. On the contrary,
(2) The representation of gender is its construction - and in the simplest sense it can be said that all of Western Art and high culture is the engraving of the history of that construction.
(3) The construction of gender goes on as busily today as it did in earlier times, say the Victorian era. And it goes on not only where one might expect it to - in the media, the private and public schools, the courts, the family, nuclear or extended or single - parented. The construction of gender also goes on, if less obviously, in the academy, in the intellectual community, in avantgarde artistic practices and radical theories, even, and indeed especially, in feminism.
(4) Paradoxically, therefore, the construction of gender is also effected by its deconstruction; that is to say, by any discourse, feminist or otherwise, that would discard it as ideological misrepresentation, for gender like the real, is not only the effect of representation but also its excess, what remains outside discourse as a potential trauma which can rupture or destabilize, if not contained, any representation (Winders 15).
The Aristotelian view of the natural role of “civilized” woman as a wife and mother. A rational man’s view for a woman is the daily chores and responsibilities of nurturing children and running a houshold; leisure time is not necessary for a wife and mother. The “uncivilized” woman is a slave or a serf or a labourer, or from a “savage” race, is even more handicapped by her social role and her natural abilities. On the same note, a laboured woman of these groups would completely shoutout the life of leisure.
The Descartes method can be acquired knowledge by breaking down complex beliefs and experiences. The simple natures are uncovered and examined closely to understand how they combine and to build up other objects. According to Princess Elizabeth of Behemia who corresponds to the method does not lead her enough time for her to acquire a habit of meditation or other inerests in her household. On the other hand, a poor woman would find it impossible. In class and race it becomes clear that Descartes’s rational man is not only male but an upper-class, European male. A woman who wishes to follow Descartes’s method must ignore her cultural roles and see the skills and thought that are combined and free from reason.
In a family setting equality is not practised for women. Rational and formal equality is taken for granted in a domestic admisphere based on tradition and “natural” inequalities.
Joan Acker’s of gender: the abstract worker is actually a man, and it is the man’s body, its sexuality, minimal responsibility in procreation, and conventional control of emotions that pervades work and organizational processes. Women’s bodies-female sexuality, their ability to procreate and their pregnancy, breast-feeding, and child care, menstruation, and mythic “emotionality”-are suspect, stigmatized, and used as grounds for control and exclusion (Williams 228).
The structural deflection is changing formal equality for a true equality or changing the goal of the organization or both. In the adoption of the fifty-fifty rule privileges males: first, to separate public and private life as a male model (the leader) which means to prove themselves as men in a male-defined space. To succeed the new leadership role is to adopt the same ability as men. Second, sex-paired leadership structure of the same sex is direct competition with an inferior group or sex.
Simone de Beauvoir argues the self - development as women are to relate to the subject and they should join the battle. Women should defind themselves as subjects against an object or other. Jessica Benjamin argues opposite a traditional feminist theory that must relate to the subject and needs to understand not only the self that relates to the object, but the relationship to the subject. Benjamin describes the normal development of the male subject as repression, domination, and denial of others.
Benjamin explains the repudiation of the mother which underlies male domination is adequately accounted for by the fact that boys must separate or disidentify from their mothers. This resolves to failure because of the separation from the mother is a replacement of mutual recognition with a subject - object relation (Weir 77).
The method of feminism concerning both objectivity and subjectivity are to have been objectified as sexual beings while characterizing a subjective desire. Women reject the distinction beween subjective and objective postures - as the means to comprehend social life. Not acting upon the objectivity towards the victim is excluded from its world through the desire to subjective being within. Women’s interest lies in overthrowing the distinction itself.
Beauvoir accepts subjectivity and objectivity categories but only otinclude women as subjects. This anticipates the argument of liberal feminism: women should be included in all aspects of public life, regardless of the injustices, inequalities, and economic and racial hierarchies upon which liberal capitalism rests. The “superwoman syndome” is the privileged class of women expecting to do everything. They are to succeed at a professional career, marriage, childbearing and child rearing, on a model of a male life pattern without public support in the form of federal of provincial maternity leaves, childcare, etc. The liberal feminist stands for equality. The difference between a radical and conservative spokeswomen is often not clear or probably to the amount of anger displayed in writing.
Carol Gilligan specifically uses the vocabulary subjectivity and objectivity as the difference between men and women to the effect of self or othr and inside or outside. She suggest women perceive the world closer to themselves then men. This has to do with two modes of describing the relationship between other and self. Women are more reluctant to make decisions based upon abstract moral standards. Gilligan argues the concept of adulthood is based on gender and mainly male.
The number of mothers entering the labour force is increasing every year and much more mothers with
preschool children. This is effecting the maternal employment of which parents can make responsible and informed decisions about the timing and nature of their employment. In this research on chidren’s responses to maternal employment it includes: general mental health, social adjustment, cognitive ability, and achievement motivaton.
Lois Hoffman summarizes the research on school - age children using five hypotheses:
(1) that working mothers provide different role models than nonworking mothers;
(2) that employment affects the mother’s emotional state;
(3) that different situational demands and emotional states of the working mother affect child rearing;
(4) that working mothers give less supervision than nonworking mothers;
(5) that the working mother’s absence leads to emotional and cognitive deprivation in the child.
Self - perception and self - esteem among women who work has been a focus of research. The high rate of depression among full - time homemakers perceive themselves powerless and isolated (O’Barr 27).
Heidi Hartmann refers to patriarchy and class society, this theory is called the dual systems. They two are relatively independent power systems that are integrated and mutually influence each other. Hartman summarizes her definition of patriarchy as: a set of social relations between men, which have a material base, and which, though hierarchical, establish or create interdependence and solidarity among men that enable them to dominate women. The material base upon which patriarchy rests lies most fundamentally in men’s control over women’s labour power (Jonasdottir 48).
Marxism’s identifies “empty places” to the feminist theory. Marxist theoretical concepts are and can only be sexblind - class, the reserve army of labour, and wage labourers. Capitalism is a necessity of capital structure to increase profits and the necessity of wage labour to earn its living: for instance sex, age, or ethicity. Also difference of capitalist societies and between periods of time and even within different regions in one country. The labour force refers only to value/cost and productivity.
Many women and children were mine workers in England in thenineteenth century. Today nearly all miners are men. The leaders of Swedish, industry recruited Swedish housewives and not immigrants in the 60’s. Today women all over the world systematically occupy the worst paid, subordinate work positions, and have inconvenient working hours, more so then men.
Hartmann stresses labour unions are critical social institutions because men control the labour market and women’s work. Both historically and at present there is no doubt that one of the most central arenas of gender struggles outside the home. Women’s repeat failures and inferior position within unions must finally be seen as a consequence rather than a high rank positon to society.
Backlash is primarily a reactive position which means to have been lost, or to be under threat. The old fashioned thinking feel threatened with change of sex roles especially in power reations. Some backlash is regressive. It returns to golden age of traditional sex roles and sexual values. It is said that feminists are the blame to life getting worse. Another kind of backlash is reactive. It is agreed that there was a problem before women’s movement for women but their policies have made things worse.
As Kenneth Minogue said:
The first wave of feminism was rightly about equal opportunity. Women rightly demands to be admitted on their individual merits ot the activities men had previously monopolised - politics, higher education, the professions and so on. There’s no doubt this created considerable problems about how to combine female aspirations, conventions, even dress, with what was necessary to be one of the boys. One unfortunate result of this development, however, was that it slanted aspirations away from those areas where women had previously excelled - style, grace, domesticity, the cultivation of intimacey - towards activities where male strength and competitiveness gave men an advantage (Haste 268). Unfortunately such reactive critics failed to ppreciate the difficulties of fighting those very past battles.
The Book of Eve of Constance Beresford - Howe was very descriptive. It was basted on women in the past-approximately the 1950’s. Eva played the role of a slave,a care giver and a robot that just kept going in an monotonous way of life. She lived the life of what others expected of her. Like many other women, Eva was raised to come second to men. This lifestyle was normal to her and to her family. She finally came to realization; so she decided to put a stop to the kind of life that made her unhappy. She decide to leave this life behind; without knowing where she was going. She wanted to begin a new life of her own but didn’t know how. Slowly, it all came together for her. She began to realized she was her own person and she could think and do what she pleases. This was a shock for her son and husband because they could no longer control or manipulate her and her thoughts. The symbol of the clock through out the house proved everything was timed and controlled. Eva’s life with her family was always perdictable. After she was on her own, she finally came to terms with herself and decided not to go back. Although life was difficult financially without the lean of her husband, she still felt her sanity and her life was much more important then the stability of her husband had to offer. Eva felt the price was to high to pay.
In Search of April Raintree by Beatrice Culleton was also a very moving and well described novel of how difficult it is to be a native woman in today’s society. The stereotype of the cultural back ground of an Indian family lifestyle is almost impossible to make progress. April paid a heavy price to be like one of the white girls as a young girl herself. She was put in different foster homes without her younger sister Cheryl. They were taken from their alcoholic parents at a young age. April’s first experience as a controlled slave was in a particular foster home that scared her for life. She would not be permitted to have any say when living in the foster homes. As a young woman she had finally a chance at the brass ring. She earned to live on her own and then with time her sister Cheryl came to live with her. April felt it wasn’t enough for her to make it in a white man’s world. She then married a wealth white young man The cycle unfortunately did not break, she then become a slave to her husband’s world. April had to live to her husband and her mother-in-law’s expectations and lifestyles: she still was not free. She finally had proof of her insticts that her husband did not marry her for love. Instead he was unfaithful with April; she then divorced the family. Although she was financially set, she learned that her freedom was much more precious. Fortunately, April did’t have the same Metis problem as her sister; which was alcoholism. Her sister seaked for comfort through the bottle just like her parents. She wasn’t as strong as April and couldn’t over come the negativity of the world. The constant rejection and abuse of the whiteman’s world was forcing them to slip into the pattern life of what is expected of them. Some cycles are very difficult to break because they tend to always follow you.
The novels relate to the information of the aspects of gender and how it relates to a women world. It doesn’t matter the class of the woman, the employment strategies, or the home caring strategies: it still a very male domineering world. The theories focused on many different informative definitions of the different ways of thinking as women or man. It is still not considered a tangiable solution to the feminists because of the strong power and control men have in our society. For many decades feminists have made a difference. But yet, like April and Eva women are still haven’t grabbed the brass ring.
Haste, Helen. The Sexual Metaphor. Massachusets: Harvard, 1994.
Jonasdottir, Anna G. Why Women Are Oppressed. Philadelphia: Temple, 1994.
Ring, Jennifer. Modern Political Theory And Contemporary Feminism. Albany: New York, 1991.
Tuana, Nancy. The Less Noble Sex. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana, 1993.
Weir, Allison. Sacrificial Logics: Feminist Theory And The Critique Of Identity. New York and London: Routledge. 1996.
Winders, James A. Gender, Theory, And The Canon. Madison and London: Wisconsin, 1991.
O’Barr, Jean F., Deborah Pope, and Mary Wyer. Eds. Ties That Bind: Essays On Mother And Patriarchy. Chicago and London: Chicago, 1990.
Williams, Brackette F., eds. Women Out of Place: The Gender of Agency and the Race of Nationality. New York and London: Routledge, 1996.
Word Count: 2523
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