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Lecture 14 . Pre-class Slides on Farm Women; FYI : background on 1929 Stock Market Handouts Bye article summary Tom Brown reading for next week Assignment #2 and marked paper/test Announcements Volunteer for a note-taker in the class? Send animal photos to my Hotmail

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lecture 14

Lecture 14

Pre-class Slides on Farm Women; FYI: background on 1929 Stock Market HandoutsBye article summary

Tom Brown reading for next week

Assignment #2 and marked paper/test


Volunteer for a note-taker in the class? Send animal photos to my Hotmail

Assignment #2 One week extension: Now due Tuesday, Nov. 23 Overview and marking Topics from past classesLecture

General reflections on farming and gender

Reading Bye, C.G. (2005). I like to hoe my own row: A Saskatchewan farm woman’s notions about work and womanhood during the Great Depression. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 26 (3), 135-67.18

assignment 2 due tuesday nov 16 due nov 23
Assignment #2 Due Tuesday Nov. 16Due Nov. 23

One week extension because of high number of students starting with a different topic than #1


GOAL: To better understand how and why social and environmental forces are implicated in one aspect of your topic since the time you were born.

GRADING (worth 20% of total mark)20 WRITING & FORMATTING: clarity, grammar, spelling, punctuation, official formatting (APA...) 15 INTRODUCTION: introduce the topic, main focus, and a “map” to the paper 40 BODY OF PAPER: be concise and use your sociological imagination; let a LOT of information go!5 GENEALOGY 10 CONCLUSION10 REFERENCES 100 = X/20


OBJECTIVES and Paper Layout: No cover page. Start writing after your name and paper title.

1. Introduction (two paragraphs): Your Introduction includes a brief overview of the topic, a sociological question on the tension/problem you will explore, a statement about why the question needs to be asked, and how you’ll respond to the question in the paper.

To articulate the tension/problem, find 2 pop culture sources relating to your topic that present different views. To state how you will respond to the question, you could write: “By examining central messages in online videos, magazine articles and journals, I explore ...).

2. Discussion (two to three pages, single spaced): This is your solid response to your sociological question – even if you do not agree with what you find. Write in the manner you feel most comfortable using.

This is not a report containing reams of social facts on your topic. Rather, while you must include some of that descriptive data, you include and organize what you discover in your sources about: What were some prevalent social events going on when I was born that may have been related to my topic?

Who benefits? Who does not benefit? What are the related tensions? Who forms the resistance (counterculture) to the tension/problem, then and now? What has that counterculture been doing and saying over the past two decades? How has society been impacted by this topic on both micro- and macro-levels? How are gender and sexuality implicated?

How has the environment been impacted?


3. Genealogy (one-half to one page): Drawing from what you discovered in the Discussion, you can now trace the threads of general social forces that have kept your topic “alive” in popular culture since you were born. Either hand-draw or computer generate.

4. Conclusion (less than one page):

Conclude your paper with a brief reiteration of the problem, the question you asked, and a summary of the discussion. Offer the best explanation for why the issue under study persists in society. Finally, include a suggestion for future research in the area.

5. References: 2 pop culture sources (magazines, videos, lyrics, newspapers...; at least 2 scholarly sources. At least one of your four sources must be from the year of your birth.


Topic Ideas from past classes

  • The Sims game environment
  • My Life as A Garbage Man
  • History of Denim Jeans
  • Cosmetics and perfumes
  • Photography
  • Males in the Day Care Industry
  • Meat Factory Farms
  • Tattoos in Hollywood
  • Traditional Weddings
  • Undergarments
  • Dating Environments
  • Origin of the Greek Olympics
  • Gender-Mythology-Nature
  • Women and property rights over the past 150 years.
  • Environmentally friendly funerals
  • Perfume
  • Sports, such as golfing and football
  • Weightlifting
  • Bridal industry (diamonds, gowns, flowers…)
  • Birth control effects on waterways
  • Greenpeace
  • The goddess
  • Origin/Use of the term Mother Nature
  • Playboy “Bunnies” – natural-ization of women?

Sex/gender differences in erogenous zones

  • Is breastfeeding natural anymore?
  • Sexuality and the INH3
  • Reproductive technologies for achieving pregnancy
  • Ways sex/gender and nature is depicted in art and other media
  • Gender experiences in going to Alberta Oil Field areas to find work
  • “Gender Testing of Female and Male Athletes” and Olympic regulations outlining what constitutes female and male
  • Tarzan and Jane: A Traditional Wilderness Couple?
  • Gender in the Garden of Eden, The Corn Maiden, and other creation stories
  • The Six Million Dollar Man series of the 1970s and 80s; Robocop; Grizzly Adams
  • Steroid use in hockey and baseball…other sports: messing with nature?
  • Breast implants for women and men; breast reduction: messing with the natural-given body?
  • Becoming and Outdoors Woman movement in North America
  • The Raging Grannies: gender and environmental activism
what are you having for dinner tonight
What are you having for dinner tonight?

READING “I LIKE TO HOE MY OWN ROW:A Saskatchewan Farm Woman’s Notions about Work and Womanhood during the Great Depression”

Author: Christine Bye – historian, University of Alberta

FYI: example of MA Program note the $$$$$$$ they give you to come!

Part of Christine Bye (author)’s inspiration for research: When attempting to purchase part of her family’s farmstead, she was refused on the basis of her gender; her parents wanted to “keep it in the family” so they only sold/gave the land to males in the family.


By the 1920s, farming had been prosperous BUT three phenomena set off The Great Depression era of the 1920-30s:

  • Environmental Changes: Drought; grasshoppers (even ate clothes on clotheslines); dust storms;
  • Property Ownership Pressures: Land value decreased; heavy taxes for farmers
  • Bank failures: Increasing costs for seeds and farming implements; increasing mortgage debt/interest; increased taxes on imported goods; Devastating social outcomes in 1929 (video 2 minutes) – stockholders lose 40 billion dollar (US funds)

Who ran the stock market? Where were the women?

  • Article Setting

Today, world’s economy is most often measured according to the American Stock Market – has much changed?

WHEAT: Wheat prices plummeted on the stock market + unprecedented drought  challenges.

  • Canadian Wheat Board established during the Great Depression --- continues today.
  • FYI: Wheat is NOT indigenous to Canada; it was introduced through immigration by the 1600s, mainly via Spanish explorers. Europe became extremely dependent on Canadian wheat, like fur, and still is today. (Wheat contains a gluten which aggravates celiac disease.)

Maritimers sent salt codfish to those in the Prairies.

Half of the male population left the farm to find work, which meant women became the “heads” of household.

overview of bye s article
Overview of Bye’s article:
  • Reflections of her own great-grandmother’s experience – Kate - age 63 during the Depression – handwritten letter-based study (those are called primary sources).
  • What have today’s ideals around communication done to handwritten letters which could be potential data? Do you save your emails?...How/Will someone re-examine your life in the future?
  • Letters (more than 150) sent to other family members from the farm show how the author’s great-grandmother valued men’s work more than women’s/her own on the farms of the day --- despite her own tireless efforts to keep the farm going (Bye states that this “double-standard value system” is still prevalent in farm families in Canadian prairies).
  • This also reflected how more resources were allocated in the name of men than women (ideal + material + practical=ecological dialogue).
bye historicism is problematic taking history for granted excludes others experiences
Bye: Historicism is problematic – taking history for granted excludes others’ experiences

…especially since women are largely absent from the pages of history, something Bye considers a loss for Canadian Prairie women during the Depression because letters and other documentation often misrepresent women as complainers.

Bye uses her great-grandmother’s letters as data in an attempt to understand the gender ideals during the Depression. Also, she discovers differences in how government assistded women in the USA and Canada; American government offered more compassion and material relief than Canadian officials.

  • WHO WAS PRIME MINISTER DURING THE DEPRESSION? Would these ideals about women and farming have been different if Canada had a female prime minister?

Traditional gender roles were strongly internalized. Only two roles were represented as norm: female and male. Male = dominant

  • Bye (p. 139):

“Rural society touted men as farmers and breadwinners in the 1930s, but often it was women who kept their families on the land.” Women were proud of their contribution to the family farm in the Bread Basket of Canada.


Bye’s great grandmother married at 19 and moved to McCord, Sask., near the USA border.Research reflexivity: If those ideals about marrying young were still intact, what would you be doing this year?

  • (http://ca.epodunk.com/profiles/saskatchewan/mccord/2001445.html)
  • Today, farmers in the Prairies depend on money from wheat exports and domestic use.
  • During the Depression, 1/5 of the population of Saskatchewan left the province. Those who stayed worked extremely hard. Little money was around; basically a barter system was set up. Farm women received NO money despite the value of their efforts.
    • Is “women’s work” in the home of more or less or equal value today? LINK Marilyn Waring and other gender researchers claim that ignoring women’s work in Canadian economy mimics how officialdom ignores the environment.

Even though women assumed the breadwinner roles and responsibilities during the Depression. BUT:

  • Mainly, they continued to act as if men were still the breadwinners. This reflected the European farm family value system of: it was “natural” that men should work the land, and “natural” that women tend to other issues, though many women did assist with the hands-on activities of farming.
  • Reproductive Challenges:
    • Poor nutrition due to famine
    • Defying doctors’ orders of bed rest
    • Pregnant women lost their support systems when their family and communities moved away
    • Pregnant women were often in isolation, far from midwives or medical expertise
summary of ideals presented in bye s article on handout
Summary of Ideals presented in Bye’s article (on handout):


  • Women married into farming; it was ideal for women to marry in their teens and take their husbands’ names
  • Property/Farms/Crops were owned by men and not women
  • Large families were desired (to work…just as in Roman times, for soldiers)
  • Men were heads of farm families and women were to be subordinate to men; they could legally override their wives’ wishes at any time
  • Men’s work was more valuable than women’s work (Kate worked 17 hours/day into her 70s); women’s pension money was spent altruistically CONTRAST THIS WITH THE RED HAT SOCIETY TODAY
  • Women put their husbands’ needs ahead of their own
  • Men made most major and minor decisions on the farm and in government
  • Sask. Farm families held major positions in Protestant Church of Canada
  • Women were resourceful and valued their own work according to personal satisfaction and social ideals; however, they denied themselves “luxuries” such as trips to visit family or radios
  • Women reinforced their feminine identity according to dominant gender ideals
  • Land was divided among males in the family; things like dishes went to daughters
  • “Work was the sum of a good woman’s life” (Bye, 2004, p. 142). Does this apply to men?
  • Women were often isolated on farms, even when pregnant and raising children
  • Women were responsible for teaching the moral, religious, and social values to their families
  • Gender boundaries were work boundaries: Women and men did each other’s gender-ascribed tasks ONLY if someone was away or ill
  • Farm families were strongly connected to religion

Canadian Government: women’s work was just what they did as part of their gender role and was worth little to no monetary value

  • Women were denied land and farm equipment if they were married, keeping men as the head of families
Polish tobacco farmers in the USA during the Depression; what are some distinct clues of gender roles?


Kate’s great-grandmother had “little patience with women who failed to pull their weight or to display the proper attitude” (Bye, p. 143).

This ideal was prevalent among rural farm women during the Depression, despite the fact that women and land were still considered legal properties of men.

Women generally worked in the house, raised the children, and did a limited amount of farming, though a more inclusive history would likely show that they did more work out than what we realize today.

However, role overlap occurred. It was considered “helping out” the other gender, and was not considered serious farming or serious housework. …ever hear this today: Dad is babysitting his own children?

bye p 147
Bye (p. 147)

This is a good example of a “tension” or “problem” for sociologists to explore:

  • “Kate’s notions blinded her to the integrated nature of the family farm. She could not appreciate the full extent of women’s contribution to the enterprise. Nor could she value women’s and men’s efforts equally. No matter how hard women worked, in the house or the barn, Kate would always see their husbands as the farm’s “real” operators. Men, being farmers, would always be entitled to more rights and privileges than women.”

Today, we continue construct males as heads of households in phone books and in news stories. How does this exert a social force on men to be a certain way, act a certain way?

women put their husbands needs ahead of their own
Women put their husbands’ needs ahead of their own.
  • Women were not allowed to own land and equipment if they were married. This challenged the agency of rural farm women.
  • Even so:
    • Women were “allowed” to control the household domain.
    • Women were “free” to hire female servants and buy specific dry goods.
    • But, the husband could step in at any time and veto his wife’s decision within that domain. For example, Kate was denied a radio and trips to visit her children because her husband said she could not be spared on the farm – even though she was getting a small pension in her old age.
  • Farmer’s Wife could “divvy up the dishes” (p. 155), while the sons inherited farms, land, equipment, and other assets
men and farming
Men and Farming

Canada: B y this year, “only two studies have explored the differences in suicide rates between urban and farm samples in Canada. Pickett and Brison (1993) examined suicide rates on Ontario farms from 1980 to 1989 and Pickett, King, et al. (1999) explored the suicide rates for Canadian farm operators via an epidemiologic study” (Sturgeon $ Morrissette, 2010). This means there are no reliable stats and too many confounds in too few studies to generate a report that unpacks all the variables (http://www4.agr.gc.ca/resources/prod/doc/pol/consult/miss/pdf/c15.pdf)

The Pickett study mentioned above

One report out of Truro, NS: Canadian farmers (males) commit suicide “more than twice the national average.”

and the Canadian Farm Health and Safety Project finds that: “… suicide rate for [some groups of Canadian] farmers of 40/100,000 is considerably higher than that of the general population at 18/100,000” http://www.newcomm.net/agricult/efpi/check.htm

In general, there is an average of 10 suicides per day in Canada, according to StatCan in 2008.

World Health Organization: farming one of the most dangerous occupations (WHO, 2006); more depression and stress.

Nova Scotia mental health resources LINK

Alberta mental health resources for male farmers in Grand Prairie LINK

(no similar links found specifically for female farmers)

Australia: pressures on male farmers (video 3.5 minutes long) (2007 report http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s1869891.htmlevery four days, an Australian male farmer commits suicide

India stats - every 32 minutes, a male farmer commits suicide – based on 2005 data; note the gender implication in the link 2007 report LINK

Also in India, “[s]uicide among female farmers is on the rise.”LINK to study: “Studies of women in farming have found high levels of stress, fatigue and depression.[11] Explanations most commonly given are role conflicts and high work load. Farm women, unlike men, experience stress not only due to the farm operations but also due to the impact of farming stressors on the physical, social and financial wellbeing of all family members.”

next class
Next Class
  • Reading 1 Handout Brown, T. and Morgan, B. (1984). Tom Brown's field guide to living with the earth (pp. 19-27, 193-197, 204-205). New York, NY: Berkley Books.
  • Reading 2 NET Becoming an Outdoors Woman® Nova Scotia. <http://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/outdoor/default.htm>