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Ch. 7 – Gender and Intimate Relationships

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1 Ch. 7 – Gender and Intimate Relationships
Robert Wonser

2 Gender and Family The word family is very telling.
Family derives from the Latin word famulus, which means “household servant or slave.” Historically, a man’s family—his wife, children and slaves—along with his material possessions, were defined by law as his property. Wife and children’s legal duty to serve him in exchange for his economic support of them. As we’ll see, the defining characteristics of a family are not marriage licenses but rather emotional and financial ties.

3 Sociology Constructs the Family
Parsons was a structural-functionalist Isolated nuclear family composed of a husband, wife, and their dependent children Isolated because: Family members live apart from other relatives Each family unit is financially independent of other relatives The family no longer performs many of its traditional functions—education, care of the sick, production of food and clothing—since these have been taken over by public institutions.

4 Parsonsion Family Contemporary family has two vital functions:
“first, the primary socialization of children so that they can truly become members of the society in which they have been born; second, the stabilization of the adult personalities of the population of the society.” Accomplished by two roles: Instrumental family role includes leadership and decision-making responsibilities. Filled by the family’s economic provider (usually father) Expressive family role usually the mother, she does the housework, cares for the children, and sees to it that the emotional needs of family members are met. How did this come to be? Rooted in biology, remember?  role differentiation was functional, it was institutionalized over time. Why study this (rooted in the 1950s after all…)? Sociological writings on the family that followed bears its imprint and because we still hear these sentiments echoed in “family values” rhetoric today.

5 Evaluating the Functionalist Perspective of the Family
Easy to do… Is the nuclear family truly isolated from other kin? What about role differentiation? It erroneously separates public life—what functionalists see as the masculine world of work, government etc—from the private, feminine world of the family. This idea, the public/private split—is simply false. In everyday lives, families do not experience these spheres as separate; they are experienced interdependently. According to functionalists: rigid role differentiation portrays instrumental and expressive activities as being mutually exclusive, and assumes their assignment on the basis of sex is natural.  Gender and family arrangements are not biologically given, but rather culturally prescribed and socially learned.

6 Contemporary Families: Diversity and Change
2000 census: # of married couple households with children has reached an all-time low: 23.5% ? 45% Two-earner families – in which both partners are in the paid labor force now make up the majority of married couple households with children; 31% in 1976 to 51% by 1998. Single-parent families – families with children but only one adult who has financial responsibility for the household. Has grown significantly faster than the # of married households. Female headed: grown 5x faster than married couples with children since 1960 Also growing: # of non married heterosexual couples living together (nearly doubled between ). 1/3 have children. Domestic partnerships – unmarried couples who live together. May also include “nonfamily households”  chosen families which are composed of people unrelated by ancestry, marriage or adoption, but who are nonetheless considered members of the family. Blended families form when a couple with children divorces and one or both partners remarry someone who also has children, or the new couples have children of their own, or both. Census bureau expects the # of blended families to surpass the # of traditional nuclear families before 2010.

7 Sexuality, Sexual Orientation, and Reproductive Freedom
Middle and high school students: decreasing rates of vaginal intercourse, but growing numbers of oral sex. By 1998: age at first intercourse for boys and girls: 15 Girls compared to boys: more guilt and less pleasure after first intercourse. Young women – less likely to find sexual intercourse satisfying and to express disappointment. 51% of men: primary motivations for first intercourse were status-seeking, curiosity, and feeling ready (24% of young women agreed). 48% of young women: primary motivations were affection for their partner and attaining approval (25% of young men agreed). The sexual double standard refers to the tradition in our society, and many others, of permitting young men to engage in sexual activity—or at least ignoring, overlooking, or forgiving their sexual escapades—while simultaneously condemning or punishing the same behavior in girls. Is it a thing of the past? Pimps vs sluts.

8 Sexualities Bias in research. Explain homosexuality because it is the deviant (against the norm) sexuality. How odd to have said, ‘how does one become heterosexual?’ Dichotomous sexuality? Nope. Bisexuality – being sexually and affectionately attracted to both women and men. Often overlooked by researchers. Recent research shows that bisexuality is a sexual orientation distinct from either heterosexuality or homosexuality (i.e. monosexuality). Studies indicate that bisexuality may be more common than exclusively same-sex behavior (Rothblum, 2000; Rust, 2000).

9 Sexualities and Marriage
Impossible to know how many homosexuals and bisexuals live in the U.S. Some have engaged in various behaviors, change their behavior over the course of their lives, and the social stigma. Most likely to be prejudiced against homosexuals: Older Americans, less-educated and those who live in rural areas. Same-sex marriage is legal in six states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine (?), and beginning on 1/1/2010 New Hampshire. Here is California, they were legal from June 16 – Nov. 4, 2008 At the time the book was printed (2005ish): Vermont had civil unions! 1996 Defense of Marriage Act allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from elsewhere.


11 Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing
Rate of teenage pregnancy has declined since 1961 from 89.1/1000 girls aged to 51.1/1000. U.S. is among the highest among Western democracies though. African American: 85.4/1000, 93.6/1000 for Hispanic girls, and 45.5/1000 for Whites. Decline in teen pregnancies: teens are having less sexual intercourse than in the past. And when they do they are more likely to use contraception. Comprehensive sex education in schools also contributes. Abstinence only programs do little to delay sex for teens. Higher rates for African Americans and Hispanics – linked with the higher rates of poverty and lower levels of academic success among these populations. Least likely to get pregnant? 1) live in financially stable or affluent families; 2) academically successful, 3) have high aspirations with opportunities available to fulfill those aspirations.

12 Reproductive Freedom Reproductive freedom refers to an individual’s ability to freely choose whether or not to have a child. Contraception and abortion have been practiced for thousands of years. illegal in the U.S. in Why? Takeover of professionally trained physicians from midwives. Or, Racist legislators to get White women to reproduce so they wouldn’t be outnumbered by foreigner immigrants and African Americans. Contraceptive use the in the U.S. was illegal until about thirty years ago! 1973 Roe v. Wade – right to an abortion

13 Abortion Restrictions on abortion, increased use of contraception, slight decrease in women of childbearing age have contributed to a decline in the number of abortions performed in the U.S. another reason for the decline in abortion providers: growing unwillingness of physicians to subject themselves to the threats and harassment of anti-abortion activists. Public opinion polls: most Americans personally dislike abortion and feel it should be discouraged. Majority also feels, regardless of one’s personal views, the decision to have an abortion should be left up to the pregnant woman and her doctor.

14 Varieties of Intimate Relationships
Heterosexual marriages: We tend to hold romantic visions of marriage. In reality, it is contractual agreement. Historically a marriage contract specified the exchange relationship. Men were to economically provide for the woman and the women were to provide housework and sex. The law granted men all the decision making power. Even today, marriage relations are fundamentally power relations—usually the power of husbands over wives. 1960 study showed husbands to be more powerful than wives because they made the most family decisions even though they usually talked matters over with their wives. The greater the wife’s resources, the greater her power in the relationship. Studies have been replicated show similar thing: who makes more money tends to have more power. Prevailing logic: if it is the man’s role to be the family provider, then he should have the final say in most matters.

15 Heterosexual Marriages
Significant intervening variable in determining couple’s relative power in a marriage is the meaning couples give to women’s paid work and unpaid household labor. More to marital power than simply decision making: Not all decisions carry equal weight. Power to delegate responsibility some social practices are ingrained and taken-for-granted that they are automatic (e.g. wives are more likely to worry bout offending or upsetting their spouse, accommodate their spouse’s needs, and to adjust their schedule to their spouse’s.)

16 Gender and Housework Wives spend more time on housework chores than men do. Although women have reduced and men have increased time spent on housework, women still do at least twice what men do. “second shift” Why is the sentence, “I don’t work; I’m a housewife.” so telling? Our society tends to value people based on how much they make… Homemakers spend as much time today as did homemakers in the 1790s on household chores. Why? Didn’t modern conveniences make it easier to do housework?  as our standards of living have risen, so have the amount of stuff we have and what we have to keep clean. Averages houses are significantly larger. Wives chores: tend to be daily and repetitive. Men’s: less often and non-repetitive. Men have more leisure time to do chores. Women work the “second shift.”

17 Caregiving Even egalitarian couples’ equal division of labor breaks down when they have kids. The addition of a child to a household increases stress and lowers marital satisfaction. Men: less involved with primary child care (e.g. bathing, clothing, feeding) when children are infants. More involved when children are around 18 months; walking and talking. Greatest involvement: middle childhood (5-15 yrs) Fathers spend more time with sons, both in the household and on outings than they do with daughters. Women also do more mental work: worrying, seeking advice and information involved in child-rearing. Men expected to invest time and energy in jobs, women in their families. ↑ - women develop close bonds their children and are kinkeepers ↓ - women lack autonomy

18 Single-Parent Families
On the rise: 13% in 1970 to 28% in 1999. Most common way men and women become single parents: divorce. 50% of couples divorce within 7.2 years. Used to be: men got custody because they were the breadwinners and the kids were his property. Turn of 20th century: tender years presumption – that young children need to be with their mother  produced dramatic shift in custody decisions. Joint legal custody – parents have equal decision making authority in rearing their children. Joint physical custody – children reside on specified days and both parents have equal responsibility for the children’s care and financial support. Research indicates these only work when parents maintain high level of cooperation with one another and avoid involving children in further conflicts. Men: receive more support from friends, relatives and neighbors than do single mothers. Economically suffer: women more than men after a divorce Emotionally and psychologically? Men suffer more than women.

19 Single Mothers and Poverty
Reasons why women experience greater economic disadvantage after a divorce: Generally receive lower wages than men. Changes in welfare from income support program to self-sufficiency program. Limited child support payments (52% of divorced fathers pay child support) Result: feminization of poverty – increasing percentage of the total poverty population composed of women and their children. New poor – people, many of whom are women, who were not born into poverty but who have been forced into it by recent events in their life. Event driven poverty – poverty experienced by divorced women What about women of color and divorce? reshuffled poverty? Poor families dissolve and the women and children form new, but still poor families.

20 Delay and postponing Marriage
Singles delay and postpone marriage for several reasons including: More positive social attitudes towards being single Greater reluctance to marry given high divorce rates and growing awareness of domestic violence More widespread use of contraceptives (which means fewer marriages because of unwanted pregnancies). Today: both women and men who are employed and financially secure are seen as more attractive marriage partners because f the resources they can bring to the household.

21 Singles and Domestic Partnerships
Heterosexual singles and domestic partners Most single heterosexuals: temporary status. Vast majority marry but are delaying it longer than in the past. 1970: median age at first marriage for men: 22, women: : men: 27, women: 25.

22 Domestic Partnerships
1999: 4.5 million unmarried heterosexual couples living together in the U.S. Up more than 3 million since 1980 More than 4 million in 1970. Actual number: just over 9% of all couples 18.4 % of domestic partners are under 25. Most (56.9%) are between

23 Domestic Partnership Trends
1) most domestic partnerships are relatively short, with half ending in year or less. Most either break up or marry; very few cohabitate permanently. 2) most heterosexual domestic partners (66.5%) are childless or do not have children under the age of 15. When they want to have kids they usually marry first A pregnancy does increase the likelihood of a marriage.

24 Increase in Domestic Partnerships due to:
Economic constraints. Growing social acceptance of cohabitation and modified goals of young adults. Choose domestic partnership over marriage? Those whose parents were divorced.

25 Gay and Lesbian Singles and Domestic Partnerships
Little research has been done due to homophobia and heteronormativity. Therefore no accurate counts either. There is no uniform “homosexual lifestyle.” Myth: gays and lesbians are sexually promiscuous. In reality, studies show that like most heterosexual women and men, most lesbians and gays establish enduring intimate relationships. Gays and lesbians report levels of relationship satisfaction that are as high as heterosexuals. Research also shows that sexual orientation has no effect on relationship quality. Also no distinct homosexual value orientation toward love relationships, rather what is important is the person’s sex and background. In gay, but more so lesbian relationships, equality between partners is highly valued.

26 Research does indicate that gay men are less supportive of monogamy in their intimate relationships than are either lesbian or heterosexual couples and gay men do have on average more partners than straight men. More myths: gay men try to seduce young boys. Data shows child molesters are 90% heterosexual men. Research consistently shows that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are emotionally healthy and well-adjusted. No different in terms of cognitive development and psychological well-being. They are however: less gender-typed in their behavior. Although the vast majority identify as heterosexual, children of gay and lesbian parents appear to be more accepting of diversity and open to homosexuality. More relaxed and experimental than children who grow up in other households, but are not at greater risk of experiencing confusion about their own sexual orientation. Bottom line: it is love that makes a family.

27 Violence in Families and Intimate Relationships
According to the U.S. Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics about 450,000 incidents of family violence each year. About 57% of those involve married couples or ex-spouses. One national study: about half of women assaulted by an intimate partner reported it to the police. Mutual abuse an exchange of physical blows and psychological or verbal sparring between partners. Motivations for violence differ: Men: when they perceive themselves losing control of the relationship or when they interpret their partners words or behaviors as challenges to their authority. Women: self-defense, when they believe they are in imminent danger of being attacked, or to fight back when being attacked. Male perpetrators are significantly more likely than female perpetrators to inflict physical injury on their partners. Men are also more likely to kill ⅓ of female homicide victims are killed by husbands, ex-husbands, or boyfriends whereas as for men it is 3%.

28 Partner Abuse in Heterosexual Relationships
Why? Run the gamut: evolutionary, hormonal, neurological and mental disorders. Drug and alcohol abuse Working-class and poor couples or among non-white couples are particularly more susceptible (see below) even though it cuts across class and racial lines. Low income and poverty seem to place women at a higher risk of violent victimization as well as keep women trapped in these relationships. Partner abuse takes place in the content of a violent society. What about the legal system for not treating domestic violence as a serious problem?

29 Partner Abuse in Gay and Lesbian Relationships
Less is known. Probably about the same as in heterosexual couples It does occur, and like heterosexual couples, it is not a one-time situational event. Once it occurs it is likely to reoccur and to grow more severe over time.

30 Child Abuse Rather than strangers, children are more likely to be harmed by someone they know, especially a family member. Like other crimes we’ve talked about: underreported. Nearly 1 million children each year are abused and neglected. 53%: victims of neglect, 23% physically abused, 12% sexually abused. Girls are slightly more likely to be abused (52% of all abuses). But varies by type: Boys: physically abused and neglected. Girls: emotionally abused and 3x more likely to be sexually abused. Again, usually by someone the victim knows. Painful aftereffects into adulthood.

31 Elder Abuse Also difficult to get accurate numbers.
Elder abuse refers to the physical, sexual, psychological, or financial maltreatment, neglect, or exploitation of a senior citizen by an adult caretaker. Research shows the typical abuser is a family member.

32 The Ideal and the Real Revisited
The Family – the isolated nuclear family of husband/breadwinner, wife/homemaker, and the dependent children—is not an accurate description of the majority of families in the U.S. today. Creates another false idea: any other family type is inherently deviant or abnormal. Also called into question: the family as a retreat from the harsh public world.

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