5 approaches to gender inequality 1) gender inequality as derivative of capitalist relations (gender is ultimately class) 2) gender inequality as a result of an autonomous system of patriarchy, which is the primary form of social inequality 3) gender inequality as a consequence of the interaction of autonomous systems of patriarchy and capitalism 4) gender inequality as resulting from patriarchal relations so intertwined with capitalist relations that they form one system of capitalist patriarchy
patriarchy or capitalist patriarchy? Problem with #2 and #3 is that they assume capitalism does not depend on patriarchy. #4 permits exploration of the thesis that: Capitalism cannot function without patriarchy and the goal of capitalism, the ongoing process of capital accumulation, cannot be achieved unless patriarchal man-woman relations are maintained and reproduced, often in new ways that support the development of a capitalist economy.
totality of patriarchal relations under capitalism In addition, some see the totality of patriarchal relations under capitalism as including the oppressive relations of: • --Men to women • --Humans to nature • --Colonizing nations to colonized (including internal colonies within the colonizing world)
super-exploitation In this view, exploitation of wage-labor under capitalism depends on the super-exploitation of women, colonies, and the natural world. Recall that Marxian exploitation is the appropriation of surplus value, the value produced by workers over and above that which is necessary to reproduce themselves (subsistence wage)
Super-exploitation may occur in a number of ways. One is if work is unpaid. Then appropriation of necessary labor time is occurring, not just surplus labor time. Another is when the worker or their families are producing some part of the means of subsistence, then the wage paid may be lower than the means of subsistence and so is super-exploitation.
household labor • Some feminists have criticized attempts to show that housework is productive labor and produces surplus value as viewing gender inequality as derivative of capitalist class relations, while others have criticized the dualist view as seeing capitalism as non-patriarchal in and of itself. • Whatever the approach, according to the United Nations, women do 2/3 of the world’s work, receive 10% of income, and own 1% of the wealth.
social reproduction Until recently, analyses of social reproduction focused only on the sphere of markets and commodity production and exchange. Models such as Quesnay’s tableaux and Marx’s schemes of reproduction, while extremely useful for analyzing both macroeconomic conditions of reproduction and inter-industry requirements for system reproduction, focused exclusively on market exchanges.
feminist political economy concept of labor and labor-power The exclusive focus on market relations arguably neglects some of the most crucial labor-power involved in the process of social reproduction. The very concepts of labor and labor-power in most models only recognize wage-labor, and not any of the labor that is done in the home and in the community, much of it by women.
work of social reproduction As many have now argued, market reproduction would be virtually impossible absent this important “work of social reproduction,” which AntonellaPicchio describes as including: the labour involved in maintaining living spaces, buying and transforming the commodities used in the family, supplementing the services provided to family members by the public and private sectors (e.g. health, education, transport, administration), and managing social and personal relationships. To this, which represents the great bulk of unpaid work, the care of people has to be added.
patriarchy: from ‘time immemorial’? • Patriarchal systems are not timeless universal systems or relations. • If patriarchy had a beginning, it may also have an end. So, just as in the case of racism, it is important to address the question of whether there have ever existed non-patriarchal societies.
non-patriarchal societies • Ammott and Matthaei in Race, Gender, and Work provide evidence from Native American societies that had gender divisions of labor, but that were not unequal. Women had rights, including voting rights, and power. They did not have men overseeing their work. • Leacock provides additional evidence in her book Myths of Male-Dominance. • The Maasai also provide a good example. Maasai women controlled their own household, the distribution of milk, and the inheritance of cattle.
pre-capitalist Europe In Europe, gender relations were quite different prior to the rise of capitalism. People like Carolyn Merchant argue that things were different prior to capitalism, which she also associates with an organic—whereas under capitalism there is a mechanistic—view of nature; for example women had important roles as mid-wives and healers prior to capitalism. With the rise of capitalism and western science, male surgeons took charge of reproductive activities, and women were persecuted as witches.
patriarchy • A society is patriarchal to the extent that it is male-dominated, male-identified, and male-centered. • One of its key characteristics is the oppression of women.
male domination • Male-dominated means that positions of authority and power—political, economic, legal, religious, educational, military, domestic—are generally reserved for men. • When a woman is able to obtain such a position in a patriarchal society, it is exceptional, and her competence is measured with respect to men. • This means that male dominance creates power differences allowing men to obtain and control larger shares of wealth and income. • Male-dominance allows men to shape culture in ways that reflect and serve male interests.
male domination Men are generally viewed as superior in patriarchal cultures. Even in areas where they are not viewed as superior, such as care-giving, cooking, and cleaning, the lack of competence is often viewed as a sign of superiority, a trained incapacity that protects their privileged status (“You change the diaper, I’m no good at that.”) or where the incompetence is associated with competence in more important activities (“I don’t have time for washing dishes.”)
male identification • In a patriarchal society men as a group are identified with superiority even though most men do not hold positions of power in their individual lives. • Patriarchal societies are male-identified in that in that the core ideas about what is good, desirable, normal, etc., are associated with how we think about men and masculinity. • A simple example that has changed some but still is relevant is the use of male pronouns to represent people in general. “Mankind” or simply “he” and “his” as general referents.
male-identification • Male-identification means that men and men’s lives are the standard for what is normal. • The core values of society are primarily those associated with men in a patriarchal society. Toughness, logic, forcefulness, competitiveness, control, emotional cool, etc. • These qualities are those associated with the work most valued in patriarchal societies—business, politics, war, athletics. • Qualities such as cooperativeness, sharing, compassion, caring, are all devalued and associated with femininity and femaleness.
male-identification It doesn’t matter that some qualities associated with women are prized, such as physical beauty, because these are also part of the process of male control and possession of women. Often there are sentimental feelings associated with these qualities especially with respect to mothers (Mother’s Day, Secretary’s Day, etc.), because this doesn’t effect the day to day treatment of women and is part of the larger culture of male-domination. It doesn’t result in support for adequate and affordable child care for working mothers or family leave policies for women to attend the activities supposedly prized.
male-identification • Leadership in general is gendered, male-identified. For a woman to be a leader she must exhibit qualities associated with male-ness. The more powerful a woman becomes in a patriarchal society the more “unsexed” she becomes in the eyes of others. • Of course, patriarchy can accommodate a limited number of women in positions of power, just as white supremacy can accommodate a limited number of Blacks in positions of power. But almost without exception, women who obtain positions of substantial power in patriarchal societies must embrace the core values of patriarchy.
male-centeredness • Male-centeredness means that the focus of attention is always on men and what they do. Newspaper stories, tv shows, movies, etc., are about men and portray women in sexist ways. • Male experience is the human experience. Men tend to be the center of attention, control the conversation.
housewifization • For some authors, the key to understanding this feminization of poverty is the domestication or housewifization of women. • Proletarianization is the process of turning serfs, peasants, and subsistence producers into wage-laborers under capitalism • Domestication or housewifization is a comparable and related process. • The housewife is not a timeless role resulting from women’s natural predisposition but is the product of specific historical forces and circumstances.
housewifization • VerronikaBennholdt-Thomsen argues that: 1) the concrete activities carried out by housewives is very diverse, varying across regions and continents—but that there are structural commonalities to this work; and 2) the work and status of housewives comprises more than childcare and maintenance of household—includes some paid work, market activity, e.g., and some men participate in child care and housework.
housewifization • it is not what she does but the relations under which she does it that characterizes the housewife • mostly it means unpaid, lower paid work vs. men’s paid and highly paid work
housewifization With the monetization and commoditization associated with capitalism, women can no longer live autonomously with their children in a world in which money is necessary and women have such restricted access to money-making opportunities. Growing propertylessness forces women to suit to dependence on men. This is coercive, and cooperative relations between men and women decline, and their relation becomes hierarchical.
housewifization Housewives existed before capitalism but there was a qualitative difference. Women did not perform work that was subordinate but which was equally valuable and necessary. Men and women cooperated in the whole household. The distinction between private and public did not exist in the same sense.