Week 4 assignment
Western female thought through the centuries has identified the relationship between patriarchy and gender as crucial to the women¡¦s subordinate position. For two hundred years, patriarchy precluded women from having a legal or political identity and the legislation and attitudes supporting this provided the model for slavery. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries suffrage campaigners succeeded in securing some legal and political rights for women in the UK. By the middle of the 20th century, the emphasis had shifted from suffrage to social and economic equality in the public and private sphere and the women¡¦s movement that sprung ...view middle of the document...
The feminist engagement with theories of patriarchy criticised pre-existing theoretical positions and their ideological use, tracing theoretical progenitors of popular views about gender, gender roles etc (Cooper, 1995; Raymond, 1980). Developing theories to explain how gender inequalities have their roots in ideologies of gender difference and a hierarchical gender order, feminist theoretical concepts of patriarchy are able to explain and challenge gender inequality and the gendered division of labour in the private and social spheres (Seidman, 1994). They have done this by challenging concepts of gender, the family and the unequal division of labour underpinned by a theory of patriarchy that has come to reveal how it operates to subordinate women and privilege men, often at women¡¦s expense.
Patriarchy, Structure and Gender Inequality
Walby (1990) reveals how patriarchy operates to achieve and maintain the gender inequalities essential for the subordination of women. Crucially for this essay, she shows how it can operate differently in the private and public domain but toward the same end. She identifies patriarchy as having diverse forms of and relationships between its structures in the public and private spheres, and yet still operates in a related fashion.
Walby¡¦s explanation sees the household and household production as being a key site of women¡¦s subordination but acknowledges that the domestic area is not the only one that women participate in. She shows how the concept of patriarchy is useful in explaining the relationship between women¡¦s subordination in the private and public arenas by showing that they work equally to achieve this subordination as well as supporting, reflecting and maintaining patriarchy itself.
Firstly, Walby points out that the structures of patriarchy differ in their form. The household has a different structure to other institutional forms, e.g., the workplace. This is an important point because if feminist theories of patriarchy are to stand they must show that patriarchy operates to the same end in both the private and public sphere, even if it uses different strategies, otherwise it could not be the main reason for the continuing inequality of women in both the private and public sphere.
Walby shows that within the private structure and the public structures, patriarchy does use different strategies to maintain gender inequality and these strategies both achieve the subordination of women. The household strategy is considered to be exclusionary and the public structures strategy as segregationist.
The exclusionary strategy in the private arena is based on household production. Application of this strategy in the domestic sphere depends on individual patriarchs controlling women in the private world of the home. The male patriarch in the household is both the oppressor and recipient of women¡¦s subordination. This strategy is direct ¡V women are oppressed on a personal and individual basis...