Presentation on theme: "Sex, Power & Money Poli 110J 09 Is this all?. Themes Equality False consciousness – The definition of happiness Contempt & self-contempt – Defining women."— Presentation transcript:
Sex, Power & Money Poli 110J 09 Is this all?
Themes Equality False consciousness – The definition of happiness Contempt & self-contempt – Defining women in such a way that even women cannot help but to think of themselves as inferior – Similar to argument found in Du Bois, Malcolm X
3 Waves of Feminism First wave: 1848 ~ 1915 – Equality before the law: Vote, contract, property, legal recognition Second wave: ~1960 ~ 1990 – Equality in economy, society, & politics: Jobs, pay, reproductive rights, representation, rape, image, misogyny, affirmation of womanhood Third wave: ~1990 – present – Postmodern critiques of gender as such. Emphasis on cultural, sexual diversity, queer rights.
Seneca Falls Convention July 19-20, 1848 at Seneca Falls, NY – Begun by women excluded from anti-slavery convention – Organizers & speakers included Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass – Strong Quaker, evangelical Methodist presence – Foundational moment in movement for womens suffrage – Proving the humanity of women
Declaration of Sentiments – When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.
Declaration of Independence – When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Natures God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
Declaration of Sentiments – We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Declaration of Independence – We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness-That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed…
Grievances He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise. He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice Having deprived her of this first right as a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides. He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead. He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.
Grievances He has made her morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master - the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement. After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.
Grievances He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and her God. He has endeavored, in every way that he could to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.
The view of the 1 st wave Women have a higher and holier mission in the home. (145) – And outside of politics & economy man-hating, embittered, sex-starved spinsters… castrating, unsexed non-women who burned with such envy for the male organ that they wanted to take it away from all men, or destroy them, demanding rights only because they lacked the power to love as women. (139) – A permanent stereotype – Compare: immigrants
Betty Friedan Labor union journalist, fired for second pregnancy 1963: Feminine Mystique, kickstarts second wave of feminism 1966: Co-founds, is first president of National Organization for Women 1970s: Founds National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws/NARAL, supports Equal Rights Amendment
Capturing the past In the society which Friedan describes, the career woman is seen as that fatal error that feminism propagated, inherently unhappy, perhaps even neurotic – The ideal of an outmoded past – But still something that must be defeated – Creating a new traditional
Capturing the past Real women, by contrast, cherish their differentness, their unique femininity, the receptivity and passivity implicit in their sexual nature. Devoted to beauty and family, they are feminine women, with truly feminine attitudes, admired by men for their miraculous, God-given, sensationally unique ability to wear skirts, with all the implications of that fact. (111)
The Feminine Mystique The highest value and the only commitment for women is the fulfillment of their own femininity. – Historically, this femininity has been undervalued. – Women are special and different, not inferior to men, & in some ways superior – Innocent, helpless, childlike – These special qualities are expressed in terms of beauty, sex, and caretaking. Cook, clean, children, clothes, attraction
The Feminine Mystique This is an essentialist definition of femininity – To be a woman is to act like so – To be otherwise is to be unfeminine, not-woman – To look to compete with men on equal terms thus means that one wants to be a man – Careers and goals for higher education in this way serve to masculinize women, making them less feminine (less women) and rendering them unhappy in their lives. – The claim made by the mystique is that a real woman would be happy in (and only in) a purely domestic role Ill cancel your lunch orders. Youre a mother. Thats your job. You dont have to earn money too. It was all so beautifully simple! Yes, boss. I murmured obediently, frankly relieved. (95)
Remember when we were all children, how we all planned to be something? Boasting that she has worn out six copies of Dr. Spocks baby-care book in seven years, she cries, Im lucky! Lucky! IM SO GLAD TO BE A WOMAN! (114) Shirley Jackson: After making the bed of a twelve-year-old boy week after week, climbing Mt. Everest would seem a laughable anticlimax – Woman seen and defined in a purely biological/sexual light
There is no problem in the logic of the feminine mystique, for the woman who has no wishes of her own, who defines herself only as wife and mother. (116) – But forbidden to join man in the world, can women be people? (100)
Later generations of women abandoned the first wave of feminism, But what choice were they offered? In that corner, the fiery, man- eating feminist, the career womanloveless, alone. In this corner, the gentle wife and motherloved and protected by her husband, surrounded by her adoring children. (164) – But this is a false choice.
In the 1 st wave era, when women began to be seen as equals, anything that hindered equality was seen as an obstacle to be overcome, but now that woman is seen only as a sexual & domestic being, those prejudices are no longer problems. – The only problems are those that disturb her role in the home – Second Shift - Arlie Hochschild and Anne Machung
The lives of women revolve entirely around men: They though they did not have to choose, to look into the future and plan what they wanted to do with their lives. They had only to wait to be chosen… (133) – Sex and the City
The goal of feminism is, for Friedan, the freedom to make the decision as to what one is going to be, which has traditionally been reserved for men. (134) The struggle is simply to become fully human. (136) – Positive freedom
Roots of the mystique A mystique does not compel its own acceptance. (268) – Brainwashing Recall Malcolm X – Must fill real needs Cultural/Social: Insecurity caused by the War Scientific: Freudian & functionalist Economic: Replacing wartime consumption
Cultural Needs I live through my husband and children. Its easier this way. In this world now, its easier to be a woman, if you take advantage of it. (273) – Uniformity – Uncritical worldview – Marriage as ready-made identity – Privatism No value in larger social engagement
The role of woman (i.e. wife, mother) is defined by the presence of a man – Young women seek my security in him instead of finding themselves, and each act of self- betrayal tips the scale further away from identity to passive self-contempt. (257) – The dynamic of systematic sexism here in many ways resembles that of institutionalized racism.
Research: Marriage today is not only the culmination of a romantic attachment; more consciously and clear-headedly than in the past, it is also a decision to create a partnership in establishing a comfortable home, equipped with a great number of desirable products. (315) – A market-oriented concept of love
Functionalism Describes a thing in terms of its function within society – Ex: Sexual segregation preserves society in its current structure On functionalist sociologists: There can be no doubt that they were describing things as they were, but in so doing, they were relieved of the responsibility of building theory from facts, of probing for deeper truths. (206) – Marcuse – Blurs line between is and ought to be – Assumes endless present, denies that future can be different from past – Identifies the woman with her role Woman is what society says she is (207) Gender essentialism
Functionalism If the eternal present is assumed, the task for sociologists, educators, and parents is to adjust the individual to social realities – Uncritical – At the present historical moment, the best adjusted girl is probably the one who is intelligent enough to do well in school, but not so brilliant as to get all As (205) Skilled in her role, but less likely to feel unfulfilled by it Defining happiness
The social role of women is as a type, not as individual humans – the mysterious miracle of femininity is realized simply by being female – Identifies the individual solely with her biology Men go to school to be educated and find careers, women go to find husbands.
I guess they cant get over the old notion that women should be educated to develop their minds. They deny it, but one cant help suspecting that they still believe in careers for women. (250) – Advances lost – Men are mental and physical, women only physical
It is functional knowledge that only the exceptional woman can make a go of a commitment to a career. (253) – Either housewife & marriage or career & celibacy – Defining normal What 51% of the population does today, 100% should do tomorrow. – To be exceptional is to be not-normal – Somehow, the student gets the point that she does not want to be the exceptional woman. Exceptional women cant land a man
We have to stop being so teacher-centered and become student-centered. Its not what you think they need, but what they think they need. Thats the functional approach. (251) – Social realities – Career training – Lack of critical dimension
Freedom of Choice Then-current goal of totalized motherhood counterproductive – Produced weak, dependent adults Women are not forced to choose the life of a housewife, but how free is their choice to do so? – Freudian theory & functionalist approach to gender make homemaker mother central figure in childs life Examples: Autism, neuroses – Thwarted in efforts at education & career – Manipulated by marketing, mass media
Demographic Research Appliance sales researchers find 3 types of female customer: True Housewife Type – Feels indispensible in the home – No desire to work outside home – Pride in work – Suspicious of being replaced by new appliances
Career Woman – Does not believe womans place primarily in home – Does not identify with housework – Have, had, or would like own work, income – Buy appliances, but not ideal customers. Too critical.
Balanced Homemaker – Some outside interests – Enjoys housework – Identities with, is fulfilled by domestic tasks – Readily accepts new appliances – Wants to use own executive ability in managing household, does not expect the impossible from appliances
Research Conclusions: – Since the Balanced Homemaker represents the market with the greatest future potential, it would be to the advantage of the appliance manufacturer to make more and more women aware of the desirability of belonging to this group. – Educate them through advertising that it is possible to have outside interests … (without becoming a Career Woman). The art of good homemaking should be the goal of every normal woman.
Shell want them. Shes a real girl. Marketing should target very young teenage girls – The young ones will want what the others want, even if their mothers dont. Older, more independent women should be made to feel guilt – The product will enable you to give your husband and children the things you should, but arent. Suggest that it becomes truly a part of you, reflecting you. (317) – Housework should be not a chore, but a joy. A chance for self-expression (by women. Men have better things to do.)
You can be the woman you yearn to be with a Plymouth all your own With increasing skill, the ads glorify [a womans] role as an American housewife knowing that her very lack of identity in that role will make her fall for whatever they are selling. (327) – Abstracted, restrictive image of femininity and pressure to achieve it – Impossibility of this results in unhappiness, desperation
These qualities create a demand in the market for products that will help to achieve the feminine ideal – Ad for Ultima: Dedicated to the woman who spends a lifetime living up to her potential! – The only totally integrated program of nutrient make-up and skin caredesigned to lift a womans good looks to their absolute peak. The woman who uses Ultima feels a deep sense of fulfillment. A new kind of pride. For this luxurious Cosmetic Collection is the ultimate... Beyond it there is nothing. (quoted on 328)
A womans sincere desires may be tools of her oppression