Presentation on theme: "Gender, Money, & Power Poli 110J 10.1 the emptiness of her days."— Presentation transcript:
Gender, Money, & Power Poli 110J 10.1 the emptiness of her days
To be shut out from the possibilities of human achievement is to be shut out from being fully human – Women are shut out from these spheres of life in a systematic and mutilating fashion – The feminine mystique is a primary tool of this exclusion – As in Marcuse, Du Bois, and Malcolm X, a vision of the importance of positive liberty
The glorification of womans role, then, seems to be in proportion to societys reluctance to treat women as complete human beings; for the less real that function is, the more it is decorated with meaningless details to conceal its emptiness. (340)
Housewifery had to become the very end of life [for women] to conceal the obvious fact that it is barely the beginning. – Work expands to fill time: labor saving devices mean only that more unnecessary tasks have to be performed – Self-identification only as wife and mother leads to need for children in order to give life meaning Constant worry, micromanaging childs life due to mothers identification with it In order to be a woman, I have to have children. (375) – Constantly staying busy so as not to face crisis of meaning
Architecture of Power Open layout of suburban ranch-style homes reinforces feminine mystique (348) – No doors, no privacy – Open space means that messes are continually visible, need cleaning – Never separated from children – Husband leaves, wife never does – Example: Price Center, 1993
Manipulation of the Narrative In late 1950s, depression & exhaustion among housewives widespread enough to be recognized by womens magazines as domestic boredom – Always has been, always will be womans lot Capturing history – Solution: Honest enjoyment of some part of the job such as cooking or an incentive such as a party in the offing and, above all, male praise are good antidotes for domestic boredom Maintains dependence on household & husband for sense of meaning
Surely there are many women in America who are happy at the moment as housewives, and some whose abilities are fully used in the housewife role. But happiness is not the same thing as the aliveness of being fully used. Nor is human intelligence, human ability as static thing. – Grow or die
Dehumanization Among prisoners at Dachau, those who adjusted to the conditions of the camps surrendered their human identity and went almost indifferently to their deaths. Their capacity for self-determination, their ability to predict the future and to prepare for it, was systematically destroyed. (423)
The world for women functions similarly (though much more safely and comfortably) Among housewives, the adjusted, or cured ones without conflict or anxiety in the confined world of the home have forfeited their own being; the others, the miserable, frustrated ones, still have some hope.
Progressive Dehumanization Generational process of mutilating, dehumanizing women 1. By permitting women to evade difficult tests of reality, the feminine mystique prevents them from becoming real adults, making them weak and dependent.
2. The greater a womans level of immaturity & weakness of self, the earlier she will seek marriage & children, living vicariously through her husband & children. This further weakens her sense of self. – I feel so envious of my own children. I almost hate them, because they have their lives ahead, and mine is over.
3. Because humans intrinsically want to grow, a woman who evades her own growth in this way will likely suffer psychological and/or emotional problems. This infantilization means that she will raise immature, weak children who also lack a strong sense of self. – Note definition of human
4. Because boys are expected to be active, this weakness and immaturity will first show itself in them, though social expectations may help them overcome it. Girls, however, have this dehumanized quality encouraged, and continue it into the next generation. – Society a friend to men, enemy of women? – Noncommitment and vicarious living are… at the very heart of our conventional definition of femininity. (405)
What is it to be human? For an individual to take his existence seriously enough to make his own commitment to life, and to the future; he forfeits his existence by failing to fulfill his entire being. (430) The unique mark of the human being is the capacity to transcend the present and to act in the light of the possible, the mysterious capacity to shape the future. – This is a shared quality of nearly every author in this course.
It is precisely this unique human capacity to transcend the present, to lives ones life by purposes stretching into the futureto live not at the mercy of the world, but as a builder and designer of that worldthat is the distinction between human and animal behavior, or between the human being and the machine. (432)
There is something less than fully human in those who have never known commitment to an idea, who have never risked an exploration of the unknown, who have never attempted the kind of creativity of which men and women are potentially capable. (437) But women are neither expected nor encouraged to live to their full capacities. They are reduced from human beings to creatures of pure biology.
The only thing that made her feel alive Sex brings a feeling of being wanted and needed, providing this feeling when the household no longer does – Sex is the only frontier open to women who have always lived within the confines of the feminine mystique. – Identification of the individual with the body
She boasted of the intellectual prowess, the professional distinction, of the man who, she hinted, wanted to sleep with her. It makes you feel proud, like an achievement. You dont want to hide it. You want everyone to know, when its a man of his stature. (364) – In search of meaning & rebellion, still only a body – Still defining identity through a man – Sex without self, sex for lack of self. (387)
Even if a father tried to get his son to be masculine, to be independent, active, strong, both mother and father encouraged their daughter in that passive, weak, grasping dependence known as femininity, expecting her, of course, to find security in a boy, never expecting her to live her own life. (391) – The problem is in the definition of genders – Men = strong, active – Women = weak, passive
Gender Issues Q: Does having a liberated mother make you gay? A: No, having a needy housewife for a mom makes you gay. – The love of men masks his forbidden excessive love for his mother; his hatred and revulsion for all women is a reaction to the one woman who kept him from becoming a man. (384) Freud here used uncritically. Why? Homosexuals for Friedan not-men
Friedan demonstrates same essentialism re: homosexuals that she attacks when it is applied to women – Male homosexuals… are Peter Pans, forever childlike, afraid of age, grasping at youth in their continual search for some reassurance in sexual magic. (384) – The shallow unreality, immaturity, promiscuity, lack of lasting human satisfaction that characterize the homosexuals sex life usually characterize all his life and interests. (385) If this was true of homosexuality in the 1960s, why might that be?
Homosexuality: the Creeping Menace! The homosexuality that is spreading like a murky smog over the American scene is…ominous… (385) – Though she attacks the imbalance of power between genders, Friedan does not look to challenge basic concepts of gender – This is the space in which the Third Wave of feminism launches its critique. Why can you not be gay and a man? Does attributing essential nature to men & women necessarily reflect an exercise of power?
For Friedan, women from the more restrictive ethnic groups (Italian or Jewish) and from small towns in the South where women were protected and kept dependent are at particular risk of dehumanization & mental illness (409) – What is the relationship between feminism and culture?