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Gender. Everyday Popular Discourse Gender Sex Sexuality While these terms are not synonymous, they are melded into a relatively unified set of oppositions.

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Presentation on theme: "Gender. Everyday Popular Discourse Gender Sex Sexuality While these terms are not synonymous, they are melded into a relatively unified set of oppositions."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gender

2 Everyday Popular Discourse Gender Sex Sexuality While these terms are not synonymous, they are melded into a relatively unified set of oppositions [male/female, man/woman, boy/girl, heterosexual/homosexual, masculine/feminine, butch/femme etc.] that are assumed to be grounded in an unchanging biological foundation.

3 Recognition that these concepts are more variable and less unified than everyday discourse assumes. Sex cannot be limited to only two categories: female and male. Between 1.7% and 4% of the world population is born with intersex conditions, having primary and secondary sexual characteristics that are neither clearly male nor female. Recommended medical treatment for such an infant is genital reconstruction surgery to render the child as clearly sexed either male or female.

4 Recent Scholarship Gender is socially constructed Our views about sex, gender, and difference are framed and mediated by the social institutions of gender. Gender is multidimensional Gender exists at multiple levels of meaning: subjective, interactional, organizational and cultural.

5 Recent Scholarship Gender is an action and an outcome Gender is conceived as a process. We “do” gender and thus produce an effect, also gender. Gender is fluid and non-dichotomous Sex and gender are not necessarily congruent. There are many more combinations than only feminine/female and masculine/male.

6 Implications for Urban Sociology Space is often defined in terms of gender. In a strongly patriarchal society women tend to be restricted to private space, while men are active in public space. “A woman’s place is in the home.” Language reflects this division: “public” women were prostitutes. A woman who walked alone on the streets might be thought a “street-walker.” Propounded in terms of safety and propriety, such “gendered” space circumscribes women’s mobility.

7 Ideal Types of Space Private – Domesticity – Family Privacy – Intimacy – Passion Public – Civil society – The Market Place – The polis

8 Primary Arenas of Gendered Space Home vs. Work, exemplified in the post WWII suburbanization where women and children spent the day in the suburban home and school while men commuted to work in the city. Segregated Work Space – Traditional male occupations: construction workers, miners, detectives, fire fighters, pilots, engineers – Traditional female occupations: nurses, elementary school teachers, librarians, child care, secretaries, paralegals

9 Women in Public Space

10 Privatized Public Space Department Stores were developed as places where women could shop in safety. Marshall Field, founder of the famous Chicago department store, did not allow immigrant employees or shoppers in his store. It was a haven for the new middle class consumer. Women acquired a new economic role in the industrial city.

11 Use of Public Space Women’s use is more constrained because of the fear of male violence – Avoiding certain places at certain times – Going only when accompanied – Not participating in the entire repertoire of activity, especially at night The connection between space and fear is not simply statistical (older women who have the most fear are the least likely to be attacked and women are more likely to be attacked by people they know than by strangers) but also performative.

12 Christine Stansell City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, NY: Knopf HD6096.N6 S Modernization increased the number of jobs for working-class women. Women spilled out from the domestic sphere to the public sphere and shaped new ways of life in the – Streets – Tenements – Gin halls – Sweatshops

13 Christine Stansell City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, NY: Knopf HD6096.N6 S Women – Became heads of household – Utilized their children for labor – Created communities of working women – Entered into formal politics This working-class development threatened middle- class women unable to work because of cultural norms. It subverted previously held ideas of the “proper” place of women and of women’s “essential” nature. In Stansell’s words, these women created small freedoms from large oppressions.

14 Ewen, Elizabeth “City Lights: Immigrant Women and the Rise of the Movies.” Signs 5(3):S45–S66.. However, one American institution became a realm of shared cultural experience for mothers and daughters: the movies. While immigrant parents battled their daughters' assertion of the right to participate in most of the recreational institutions of the city, everyone went to the movies. They became the one American institution that had the possibility of uniting generations and was cross-generational in its appeal. Most film historians agree that the first audiences for motion pictures came primarily from the immigrant working-class neighborhoods of America's largest cities. The movies were a welcome diversion from the hardships of daily life in these communities. By 1909, New York City alone had over 340 movie houses and nickelodeons with a quarter of a million people in daily attendance and a half million on Sundays. Survey magazine, the journal of social work, observed that "in the tenement districts the motion picture has well nigh driven other forms of entertainment from the field" and that "it was the first cheap amusement to occupy the economic plane that the saloon [had] so exclusively controlled.” Like the saloon, it was cheap: a nickel per person, twenty-five cents for the whole family. Unlike the saloon, it was not sex defined; anyone who had a nickel could enter. There, for a low price, families could be enveloped in a new world of perception, a magical universe of madness and motion. pp. S50-S51.

15 “Good Girls & Bad Girls” A social contradiction developed. On the one hand, adolescent daughters were reared in the morality of family obligation; "good girls" returned their unopened pay envelopes to their mothers and were obedient to the needs of their families. "Bad girls" snuck or took money out of their envelopes to spend on themselves and defied the wishes of their mothers. Having money to spend on the self was intimately connected to breaking out of the family circle; personal ideas of independence were against the ideology of feminine sacrifice. Independence from family obligation implied not only the right to wages, a new physical appearance, and a social life, but, most important, the right to a mate of one's own choice. At issue were not ultimate goals, for both the bad and the good girls had severely limited options, but the means to the future, the means to marriage. In a sense, the initial stages of the sexual revolution of the twentieth century can be identified with this desire for independence on the part of those daughters who broke with family tradition and control to marry men of their own choosing.

16 Gender Boundaries for Women in Public Space Women in athletics who are perceived as “pretty” and heterosexual tend to receive positive attention and asked to be in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Maria Sharapova Women who are not perceived as feminine tend to be ignored or to receive negative attention. Brittney Griner Race and gender interact entertained/ ays_like_a_man_that_doesn_t_make_it_ok_to_call_her_a_man_.html worlds-most-glamorous-revolutionary.html?_r=1&hp

17 Women in Private Space

18 Gendered Rooms Ladies’ Rooms 1.Drawing Room 2.Morning Room 3.Boudoir Men’s Rooms 1.Dining Room 2.Study 3.Smoking Room 4.Library 5.Billiard Room Consider the 19 th century upper-class English house. In everyday practice, most middle-class families were unlikely to have the resources to carry out elaborate gendered segregation in their homes. The 3 rd reception room (after the dining room and drawing room) was called many things and often had multiple uses and people in it: breakfast room, sitting rooms or parlors replace drawing rooms in middle-class houses.

19 19 th Century Ladies Preferred Cities and Gentlemen Preferred Suburbs Women wanted a cross-class female alliance that would sharpen the boundary between the private and public spheres in the city, allowing domesticity to flourish in an urban environment. Males tended to follow an ideal of the American republic that citizens of a free nation should be property owning householders whom ‘settled down’ for life in a family home. By the beginning of the 20 th century the woman- centered ideology of domesticity and the masculine suburban ideal began to merge.

20 What Middle-Class Women Liked about Cities Respite from some domestic demands (apartment hotels and various services could be bought without having servants) Social and political activity The Temperance and Social Purity Movement Women’s Clubs Women’s Suffrage Movement (1 st Wave Feminism) Department Stores (quasi clubs with lounges and dinning rooms) Social Life Material Goods Educational opportunities for children

21 Cover art from a British book on product design from Publicity photograph, American electric-cooker, No mess, no sweat – the cooker, it seems, produces meals on its own. Whatever the publicist’s intention, it is difficult not to see the woman as just another object of desire in this suburban still life. What would Catherine Beecher think?

22 Gordon, Beverly “Woman’s Domestic Body: The Conceptual Conflation of Women and Interiors in the Industrial Age.” Winterthur Portfolio 31(4):281–301. There is a link between women's bodies and home interior in the US industrial age. The emergence of capitalism and expansion of wealth in the 19th century produced an obsessive preoccupation with proper appearance. Because of the longstanding ideology of separate spheres and identification of women with the home, presentation of interior domestic spaces became a vital female responsibility and a reflection of their identity. In turn, women came to metaphorically embody or impersonate the homes in which they lived.

23 Jennings, Jan “Controlling Passion: The Turn-of-the-Century Wallpaper Dilemma.” Winterthur Portfolio 31(4):243–264 In 1900 Martha Van Rensselaer established extension work among farmers' wives through Cornell University's college of agriculture. She began with Reading-Courses for Farmers' Wives, which combined new techniques with well- established means of agricultural education. Wallpaper reformers identified two general categories of problems. Accessibility meant women could make “poor” choices. Wallpaper manufacturers perpetuated the ornamental aesthetic that home economists and other progressives attempted to eradicate In 1902 Van Rensselaer summarized the problem: "The amount of wall decoration and the great number of designs in wall paper are very nearly our undoing in trying to preserve artistic simplicity.” Home economists, linking artistic taste to the notion of rational consumption, attacked the popular taste as unsuitably passionate and set themselves up as intermediaries between maker and consumer.

24 Moira Monroe & Ruth Madigan “Negotiating space within the family home” in I. Cieraad (ed) At Home: An Anthropology of Domestic Space. Syracuse University Press In recent years the Western family has been presented as more democratic with an emphasis on shared activities. Yet there is still a marked division within the home. – Shared meals are difficult to negotiate. – Television provides more collective focus. – Tension in the use of the main room; family members often are allocated to activities in their bedrooms. – Women often find little time or space for privacy. – Family members negotiate the restriction of domestic space that reflected and embodied gender differences.

25 Reaction to the Industrial City When middle-class white Protestant Americans looked at urban society they saw Crowded immigrant slums Reports of anarchist terrorism Socialist electoral encroachment Black migration from the rural South Urban feminists demanding equality with men Ordinary middle-class wives spending mornings at the department store and afternoons at the women’s club

26 Feminist Urban Theory Feminist research illuminates our view of the city, opening up the discourse and uncovering ignored lives and muted voices. 1.Early feminist writing focused on women as passive victims in a male urban order, but recent work recognizes women’s active agency in an urban arena in which women escape traditional expectations. 2.Women experience the city differently than men, but working-class women experience it differently than middle-class women, white, black, Asian, Hispanic women all experience the city differently. There is an intersection of gender, race, and class. 3.One of the most striking features of advanced capitalist cities is the changing and unstable nature of gender divisions.


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