You are on page 1of 13


Contents 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Aims and Purpose Introduction Why Women’s Issues Women’s Issues and Gender Equality Gendered/Gendering/Gender Typing in Society Patriarchy
1.5.1 1.5.2 Patriarchy as an Ideology - Its Institutionalization and Legitimization Indian Women and Patriarchy

Global Debates and their Impacts

1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 1.10 1.11

Women’s Issues Challenge Patriarchy and Male-Domination Deconstructing Gender Differences and Inequalities The Abolition of Gender Roles Concluding Remarks Clarification of the Terms Used Some Useful Readings

This is the first unit of the course on women and society global concerns and local issues. This also is the first unit of Block I on Women and Social Construction of Gender. Why and how women as a collectivity has become a subject of study? This is the concern of the present unit. Various issues concerning women became the focal point for the social reformists and women activists around the globe from mid 19th century onwards. With the development of the society and the corresponding social and political changes as well as in response to the regional and local requirements the issues concerning women became heterogenous. Nonetheless the central issue concerning women is the existence of gender inequality in various of spheres of life. The major objective of this unit is to explain to you:

• • • • •

The diverse facts of womens' issues and the emergence of women's issues as a subject of study; Patriarchy as an ideology and its institutionalization and legitimization; Women’s access and control over various resources; Deconstructing gender difference and inequalities for a just society; and Problems and prospects for women’s liberation.

Women were for many years hidden from history and women’s experience was invisible. They were confined to the “unchanging” domestic milieu. Gender difference was either simply taken for granted or considered to be irrelevant to whatever women’s issues were being discussed. It was one of the most fundamental contributions of feminists to interpret posing many new questions related to women. Various concepts have been used to theorize the feminine condition. In the past decades a great deal of academic and research work has been devoted to documenting and seeking to identify the sources of gender inequalities and the way to combat them. Gender studies, especially of women, developed on a wave of recognition that females were marginal or completely absent from the sociological and other discourses, or were treated in ways


They questioned how “universal” values are defined. Gender inequality is a much discussed topic. through its impact on social relations. Gender is a pervasive feature of social life that we seek to understand. The consistency of sex differences refer to their relative stability across age. please refer unit 4). In the equality perspective gender is regarded as an attribute that should not be significant in the distribution of social values or social rights. Under these debates are broader issues of gender equality and sex differences. 16 A group of scholars disagree that all women are equally oppressed and disadvantaged in modern societies. ethnicity. What is the significance of these sex differences? To answer this question sociologists have to examine two related issues: a) b) The magnitude of sex differences. 1. It is important to recognize the different . These are important issues because virtually there are no traits or behaviours that reliably distinguish all men from all women. anthropologists and psychologists are given critical attention by the sociologists of gender. irrespective of their differences and. Now the question is whether the achievement of equality require the provision of equality of opportunity or does it mean securing equality of outcome? What is the nature of the difference between men and women and how does this relate to the attainment of equality between them? What is the standard by which the achievement of gender equality is to be judged? Does equality mean that women have to take on masculine norms. Sociologist and other social scientists have had a lot to say about gender over the last three decades. The basic things in the women’s issues lies somewhere to uncover and find out the disadvantages based upon gender (for more details on this concept.2 WHY WOMEN’S ISSUES? The women’s issues involve identifying and challenging those elements in society which are gendered in nature and highly detrimental to women for developmental perspectives and which exclude or disadvantage women. on identities and institutions. how “truth” is distorted in directions that serve male interests. gender is intricately connected to many social processes. time periods and situations. The “women’s question” often asks about the gender implications of social practice. Historians. Much research in sociology inseuting uncritically women into paradigms developed on the basis of understandings about the lives of men. b) whether equality requires that differences between women and men be recognized and provided for. time period or any social contexts. religion. values and lifestyles? How does gender equality relate to ethnicity and sexuality? Does equality mean “equal rights”? The issues that are central to the gender studies mainly are two: a) whether equality requires all women to be treated the same way as all men. The gendered condition in society is to be explored which facilitate certain institutions and to find out the ways in which women’s experiences and interests have been overlooked. Further. The “Women Question” requires a thorough search for gender bias and demands gender justice. class.International Convention and Constitutional Mandates for Gender Equality that reflected common stereotypes of mother-housewife. economists. This Unit will explore the contours of the gender system which is one of the organizing principles of social world. Behind the scenes of the historical struggle for gender equality lies long standing and ongoing debate about the meaning of equality. and The consistency of these differences across the global societies.

institutions. Women’s issues aim to overcome the “gender regimes” and “gendered work culture”. but this is not affecting all women to the same extent and manner. rules and practices that are “gendered” in nature and do not take cognizance of women’s experiences. which are different form that of men.3 WOMEN’S ISSUES AND GENDER EQUALITY Equality can be defined as a state or condition of being the same. the empowerment of women and the elimination of all kinds of discrimination and violence against women and ensuring women’s control over their fertility are cornerstones of population and development related programmes. The advancing gender equality. as the difference between men’s and women’s roles diminish. institutions and life styles of dominant group (men). Equality is achieved through gender-neutrality or androgyny. Women’s issues also challenge those ideologies. Many now consider enhancing gender equality to be a vital component of population policies. The growing support for and attention to gender equality is bolstered by the assumption that it would improve the lives of women and children as well. Women’s issues aim to stop differences. 1. the goal has been gender-neutrality. The Acts like Equal Pay for Equal Work Act and Sex Discrimination Act that aimed to facilitate equality between women and men. The concern of gender equality is to extend to women the same rights and privileges that men have. By the end of twentieth century a range of legislation was in place to ensure equality for women with men. They emphasize on different experiences faced by groups of women of different age groups. They believe that oppression of women exists. Gender equality has gained wide acceptance as an important goal for development in many countries around the world. caste. When it comes to human equality. women gain status and power within a society and begin to control their sexuality and reproductive lives. In general. In the equality perspective gender is regarded as an attribute that should not be significant in the distribution of social values or social rights.experiences and problems faced by different groups of women. through the prohibition of discriminatory practices. This can mean that goal of equality is achieved through the assimilation of subordinated group (women) to the values. through identifying areas of unequal treatment and eliminating them. This idea of equality as sameness became a subject of debate in gender studies. Women’s issues aim to empower women from traditional economic and political disempowerment. For equality theorists. Do You Know? 1 Why do the Women’s Issues need separate attention? Global Debates and their Impacts • • • • • • To involve women in development programmes in order to tap their “productive usefulness”. class and ethnic background. discriminations and inequality existing in society and finally to place her as an “equal citizen” in society. where women are enabled to participate with men as equal citizens in the public sphere. Gender issues are today regarded as very significant and of priority in development policy and planning. Women’s issues aim to reduce these gender gaps. Men and women have different access and control over resources and in decision-making with a persistent inequality. it means equality especially in terms of social status or legal and political rights. occupations. 17 .

Society is gendered when its character is either “masculine” or “feminine” or when it exhibits patterns of difference by gender. and politics. raising women’s consciousness of gender and give women possession of equal rights and responsibilities and dignity that comes form realizing their full human potentials.International Convention and Constitutional Mandates for Gender Equality In most of the patriarchal society the roles that women and men assume accord women fewer opportunities and privileges. etc. Women generally have less “power than men in all facets of society. Gendering has its focus on the processes through which power relations between men and women in employment are constituted. Reducing the importance of gender will contribute to a lessening of gender inequality. and religion. institutions and organisations of contemporary societies i. customs. The Women’s Issues will expose all the derogatory practices against women.. institutions and organization place women subordinate. From the perspective of 18 . There are many examples that describe the gendered character of the culture. food. Society will no loner ignore women’s experience. enjoyment. actively engaged in social processes that produce and reproduce distinction between women and men. exploitation and control. and there is always a tendency of political and economic disempowerment of women in society lacking independence and decision-making powers in all spheres of life. The major objectives for emphasizing women’s issue is to give the women their due rights in society. The society treat women subordinate to men. in and of itself. unjust institutional practices. The key to creating gender equality is to make gender a less influential factor in shaping social life than it is today.e. The approaches of women’s issues will recognize the centrality of gender to individual life. and how “advantage and disadvantage. Gender inequality may also be structured and perpetuated by the economy. education. While gender is expressed differently in different societies. tradition. Thus it can be said that “gender practices” are culturally or socially constructed that means they are defined within and through social structure and institutions of a society. paid work.4 GENDERED/GENDERING/GENDER TYPING IN SOCIETY Something is gendered when it is. household work and child caring. “Gendering” and “gendered” are concepts which “signify outcomes that are socially constructed and give males advantages over females”. Think It Over 1 Do you think the interests and concerns of women needs to be discussed in aspects related to women only or in all aspects irrespective of sex? Why? 1. Gender refers to the different roles men and women play in society and the relative power they wield. action and emotion. the political system and other social institutions”. This reflects on how social institutions are built up on patriarchal foundations with gender discriminations and gender bias. unlawful. There are processes . Reducing gender inequality will help to reduce gender distinction and gender discriminations. The impact of this inequality on women’s lives varies tremendously. Women are discriminated and deprived simply because of their sex (second sex) in the guise of culture. often ignore men’s experience and thereby poses challenges to overcome the highly irrational. in no society do men and women perform equal roles or hold equal positions of power.or practices which make an institution recognizably “gendered” in its character. Gendered characteristics of culture. popular media culture. social organizations and policies. gendered character of education and training. social institutions. These deprives women’s basic rights to life. Women are always in a disadvantageous position within society and there are particular circumstances which have produced male domination in its current form. meaning and identity are patterned through in terms of a distinction between male and female.

patrilineal descent and patrilineal inheritance. Global Debates and their Impacts 1. 1. roles. A patriarchal system is the ture reflection of gendered division in the society. that they tend to be employed in better-paid and higher status jobs than women and they also tend to monopolize political power. and women are the subject class. which are typical male jobs and ask her experience on the responses from her fellow workers as well as society at large. They also use several strategies to maintain their masculinity.1 Patriarchy as an Ideology — Its Institutionalization and Legitimization “Patriarchy” is indispensable for an analysis of gender inequality.gendered institutions.5 PATRIARCHY Society is patriarchal when it is dominated and ruled by men. These are: patriarchal culture. which restrict women in society and help to maintain male domination. It imposes itself by establishing certain works. Patriarchy is an ideology or a belief system according to which men are superior than women. For radical feminists. male-violence towards women and the state. patriarchal relations within the household. Gender-typing results form the social processes through which meaning is collectively generated and reinforced. Talk to two or three women who are doing jobs. Each of these structures is independent from others but they also affect one another. From this point of view men are the ruling class. Religion has played an important role in creating and perpetuating patriarchal ideology. Societies that always place a higher value on males than females thus carry over this assessment into other institutions. Each structure is reproduced or changed by the action of men and women in society. Walby (1990) refers patriarchy is central to a feminist understanding of society. Activities performed by women often tend to be viewed as worthless than those performed by men. This is an encompassing term for men’s control over women that can take many motivations. This ideology plays an important role in perpetuating social systems and controlling people’s mindset.5. taken for granted and operate very subtly. gender segregation stems from institutionalized barrier between “male” and “female” jobs. patriarchy is the most important concept for explaining gender inequalities. Gendered aspect of work are often unintended. Social institutions are built upon patriarchal foundations with a gender bias. sexuality. It establishes a set of conventional understanding of who should engage in what type of work. Walby (1990) identifies six patriarchal structures. paid work. Patriarchal ideology is the dominant ideology all over the world that govern patrilineal institutions of patriarchal residence. Jobs held by women are seen as worthless than jobs held by men. Learn Form Your Experience 1 Have you noticed gendering of jobs? Make a list of jobs that are socially marked as female and male jobs. Let us learn more on this in the following section. Women constitute the oppressed class in patriarchal society and men constitute the class of oppressors. Men of “all ideological persuasions” define women and 19 . Gendertyping thus represents one aspect of work as a gendered institution. Based on that write a note on the topic “experience of females on male jobs”. jobs and occupations as appropriate for one sex and off-limits to another. Feminists have argued that men have most of the power in families. Men can differentiate themselves from women by specializing in certain maleidentified areas by emphasizing masculine components and ideologies.

etc. Social and cultural values have legally reflected men’s experiences. insult. because the inferior sex roles of women established and enforced through customs. Sex inequality cannot be. physical.2 Indian Women and Patriarchy India has a long and continuing tradition of oppression of women. and all women are subject to this definition. at the place of work and society at large. Social system and related practices support male domination and various forms of discrimination. religion. This relation of sexual oppression is maintained by means of unceasing physical violence and psychological aggression against women. Learn Form Your Experience 2 Can you point out some instances in every day life around you. But the systematic nature of patriarchy is observed.International Convention and Constitutional Mandates for Gender Equality feminity in the same patriarchal terms. are “gendered” and patriarchal in nature. and the one from which all other oppressive relations derive. but have the whole society in which to roam and exploited”. All the major institutions in human society i. Women are no longer exploited so much by individual patriarch but instead are exploited collectively by men in general through their subordination in public arenas. As Walby points out “women are no longer restricted to the domestic hearth. which you think are manifestations of male dominating patriarchal system? 1. religious and motivational factors which explain the existence of patriarchy. The ascription of women as a sex category seems to have been the result of grading of social functions deeply embedded in traditional social structure. law. except when subjected to feminist questioning and analysis.. The apparent and overpowering patriarchy and religion dominate Indian society. Thus the operations of gender and sexual coercion work within the context of patriarchy as a system that operates through “persons. cultural and economic inequalities in Indian Society. Women also support such values and the customary practices based on those values because they are not being given free choices.5. educational. violence within the family. Gender oppression is systematic under patriarchy and not a matter of isolated violent and discriminatory incidents. in reality. This provides men with a higher social status and women with inferior social status. judiciary. 20 Further. differentiated from variety of social. oppression. family. politics. knowledge. ideological. sociological. Do You Know? 2 Normally patriarchy controls in the following areas of women’s lives and societies: — — — — — — Women’s sexuality Women’s reproduction Women’s productive or labour power Control of economic resources and property Women’s mobility Social. and excluded women from participating in the definition of those values. economy.e. disregard. mores and laws by men being the custodians of these . cultural and political institutions There are certain biological. economic. exploitation. education. institutions and values”. control. media. This sexual oppression through the gender relation is the most basic relation of social and cultural oppression. psychological.

education. The role of women in the cultural development and social process is underestimated and underscored in India. The usage of values and societal attitudes. superstitions. The state acts to support patriarchal relations in a variety of ways which include limiting of women’s access to paid work and by regulating marriage and divorce. lack of inheritance and property rights Most social institutions are shaped around male definitions. art. Indian social structure allowed men greater freedom and liberty and dominance over women. presentation and communication of these values are highly irrational and anti-women in nature. architecture. The traditional social structure.e. religion and rituals developed in due course of history support the perpetual exploitation of women which have direct bearing on her position in society. beliefs.. in the form of female-foeticide Sexual violence in the form of eve-teasing. There is congruence between the structure of patriarchal authority and the traditional family and socialization process. Economic exploitation led to a more direct form of social oppression and women were to pay a heavy premium at the cost of their self-dignity and independence. learning-process all are male-dominated and malecentric in India. customs. family. symbols. Women’s oppression prevails in all spheres of life much visibly and pervasively till today even after passing of several Acts in favour of them and guaranteeing of equality by the Indian Constitution. literature. requirements. wife-beating and rape Burden of household work for women Lack of freedom and mobility of women Exclusion of women form all important economic activities Lack of promotion opportunities on par with men and existence of barriers to promotion beyond certain level at paid working No control of women over fertility and reproduction Religion is used as a way of legitimating masculine dominance Women’s marginal role in politics and the ineffective leverage of women in the political institutions Patriarchal thread also run through the state and government..e. where subordination of women appeared in direct form in every sphere of life. marriage. women’s struggle for freedom and emancipation could not do much headway. Global Debates and their Impacts 21 . Do You Know? 3 Patriarchy functions in society in the following ways: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Culturally created conceptions of the relative places of male and female in society Lack of various opportunities to women Women’s culturally sanctioned disinheritance i. The language. Since centuries women were the target of various forms of social exploitation and men’s subordination. This indicate gendered and negative value system towards women and support their inferior position in society.agencies. etc. priorities. preferences Male control over women’s bodies and sexuality Gender stereotyping and gender bias in socialization process Non-preference and discrimination against girl child Female infanticide in new form i. Male oriented and male dominated value system swayed the society everywhere.

moral and social meanings to sexual differences. they do not betray any sign of dissatisfaction or resistance to male control all in order to avoid violence against their persons. Women’s experience is completely different form men. categories that are based on a fundamental distinction between men and women. And this threat of male violence is present all around each individual women in patriarchal culture. it refers to male sexuality of which feminine sexuality is seen as a variant (or deviant). Women as a category shared oppression among all women. Men are the “carriers of patriarchy” and they only intimidate and repress women. Radical feminists consider gender as a system. medical butchering. “the economic relation is combined with the sex relations”. men are socially more esteemed than women. Think It Over 2 What do you understand by patriarchy? How will you explain the existence of patriarchy in our society? Sexuality is not a neutral term. Patriarchy is rooted in a need to deny power and autonomy of women. cultural and social subordination of women. Under capitalist patriarchy. She sees as medical and technological advances are only more sophisticated patriarchal strategies for controlling women’s sexuality and keeping women imprisoned in their biology. In patriarchy men and women are not valued equally.International Convention and Constitutional Mandates for Gender Equality 1. arranged hierarchically and exist in antagonistic relations to each other. Human society is based on binary categories. The control of feminine sexuality is achieved through strategies such as the ideology of compulsory heterosexuality. To them. In Dworkin’s view women are kept passive and subordinate by the ever-present threat of male violence. and the sexual oppression of women is seen to underlie the economic. rape. Women internalize patriarchal values to perfect their obedience. Under patriarchy gender is an exclusionary category. 22 . women to some extent internalize asymmetries of power and esteem. Women are considered inferior in all these dimensions. all of which ensure masculine control of feminine sexuality. These binary oppositions are. Being engendered. Some sociologists view that capitalism and patriarchy work together in the economic and sexual exploitation of women. forced child bearing.6 WOMEN’S ISSUES CHALLENGE PATRIARCHY AND MALE DOMINATION Patriarchy is a cultural (ideological) system that privileges men and all things masculine. then. that women are oppressed through their sexuality. they conform to the stereotypes. and male sexual violence. sex-motivated murder. the domination of women by men seems to provide the foundation of social inequality. gender oppression is the most fundamental form of oppression and precedes the economic structure of patriarchal societies. and a political system that places power in the hands of men and thus serves male interests at the expense of women. sadistic psychological abuse. control of reproductive technologies including sterilization. According to Shulasmith Firestone (1970) sexual oppression is the fundamental and foundational form of oppression in patriarchal society. restrictions upon the right to contraception and abortion. positive and negative. wife-beating. Patriarchy by definition imputes. The systemic nature of gender ensures continued male domination through the masculine control of feminine sexuality. political. Andrea Dworkin (1978) also agrees with firestone’s perception that the oppression of women arises from causes that are fundamentally biological. Both male development and patriarchy are partially rooted in a need to deny the power and autonomy of women. where women always occupy the inferior subordinate position. they display uncovering loyalty. Radical feminism analyses the relationship between social inequality and sexual difference. that in fact.

Change is uneven i. These sorts of challenges have already produced futile effort in the direction of greater gender equality. the strategies of terrorism and sexual abuse appear natural and inevitable. Women’s issues challenge the patriarchal values by which women are controlled most effectively. Under patriarchy the values of male supremacy and female selflessness or invisibility that pervade everyday life. These also challenge the authority of men in society and their vested or motivated interests as they are the oppressor. ostracism. As a multilevel system. Therefore certain difficulties are associated with deconstruction of gender and reduction of gender equality.these are some of the punishments Dworkin categorizes in addition to destitution. Learn From Your Experience 3 Have you experienced gender inequality in your personal life? Write down three instances when you felt males and females are treated unjustifiably discriminated. The Marxist tradition of feminists of the mid-twentieth century was concerned to emphasize improvement in women’s position at work and reform the legal relations. gender order and gender regime are particularly resistant to radical change or disruption. Gender is a multilevel system of social practices that produces distinctions. These issues are important because much of social life — not just in the realm of gender — is stable.e. In fact social change is inevitable and ongoing and this is specially true in increasingly diverse global society. which cause oppression to be experienced differently according to class and ethnic background. embodied in individual women and engaged by women’s activities. even highly institutionalized social relationships are not immune to social change. From the perspective of male domination and female subservience. 23 . Global Debates and their Impacts 1. purdah. ordered and changes relatively slow. Other strategies of male power that ensure male sexual access to women include: prostitution. Social relations are reflected in social ideology. The question is how social change occurs within deeply institutionalized social processes of gendering. marital rape.7 DECONSTRUCTING GENDER DIFFERENCES AND INEQUALITIES Gender inequality is reproduced through the process of institutionalization and legitimation. The institutions. insist upon constraining and paralyzing the most honest expressions of her will and being. if they are not rendered invisible. It is women into social structure and the everyday routines that sustain them. degrade her. glorify her powerlessness. First. the selling of daughters. incest. bride price. Women’s issues also challenge the social conditioning of patriarchal gender roles and demands of women’s own identity. there could be changes in women’s position in capitalism without either transforming the outer world of production or the inner world of family and sexuality. death (burning) that await the rebellious women. The socialist feminists are in the opinion that these oppressive relations are motivated by the power structures existing in patriarchal society. etc. all parts of the social world do not change at the same time or in the same way. wife beating. and values of patriarchal society demean her. It will take a long term at least for dismantling this system however small but certain significant challenges are there to the gender order. Now in the twenty-first century women has the voice adequate enough to counter the patriarchal terms of men. Sheila Rowbotham (1973) points out that feminism in the early suffrage era was liberal and focused upon the achievement of equal rights.

Eroding gender distinctions is a necessary pre-condition for reducing gender inequality. Reductions in gender inequality. political. they require unified. It means that gender would be significantly less influential as a factor shaping social life than it is today. Thus to some extent gender inequality at the individual. The forces reproducing gender inequality are deeply entrenched but this has not prevented some reduction in gender inequality and a lessening of gender distinctions that support them. as well as right to work virtually in all jobs. elimination of full gender inequality in a long way from global society. Gender inequality is much more discussed topic than gender equality because inequality is institutionalized and legitimated. contribute to a lessening gender distinctions. Degendering individuals means that gender would no longer be the primary organizer of peoples’ traits. Significant changes have been occurring in the gender order during the latter part of the twentieth century. and men participated in child caring and were expected to shoulder household responsibilities. Change in one part of gender regime and gender order creates openings for changes at the other levels. Degendering institutions means that their practices policies and structures would be indifferent to gender. Over the last five-decade particularly in western countries changes in gender order have generally moved to this direction. personalities and identities. Women will have more bargaining power in relationships with men and men are expected to be more involved in family.. gender regime and gender order. This will begin dramatic changes that have occurred in women’s lives and work than the lives of men in society. Uneven social change creates greater rather than less gender equality through deconstructing gender roles. Kimmel (2000) notes that 20th century has witnessed an unprecedented upheaval in the status of women. sustained. However. social. Changes occur at the institutional level of work and family which is reflected in women’ and men’s gender identities. employment and education. Women worked for pay. For example socialization processes and practices of our next generation will accepted and adjusted the new realities of gender identities of young women and men and become less anchored in the traditional dichotomy of male breadwinner and female mother-housewife.International Convention and Constitutional Mandates for Gender Equality Gender is produced at the individual interactional and institutional level and therefore each level may be impacted differently by social changes in greater society. 24 . Women and men today seem as more similar than different reflects not merely a change in people’s understanding and perceptions. Changes in the institutions are not easily achieved. The path to gender equality is to make gender matter less. Gradually the concept of division of labour in family and society will be deconstructed. Therefore gender equality seems a long way in future. Kimmel suggests “It has paved the way for the second half other revolution: changes in men’s lives”. legal aspects of social life. Sometimes the individuals change first and create new kinds of relationships that ultimately pressure institutions to respond. is turn. He called it as the “half finished revolution”. to be admitted to all academic institutions on the same terms with men and even to join in military service. possibly the most significant transformation in gender relations in global society. A truly degendered society would extend changes to all areas i. interactional and institutional levels has been reduced. children and housework. economic. collective and conscious action. For example the social changes can be considered as evidence for greater gender equality represent successful attempts to make gender matter less in the areas of voting.e. The changes he cited as evidence for this include right to vote. but rather is a direct consequence of greater gender equality than in the past.

9 CONCLUDING REMARKS A major objective of the International Decade for Women (1976-1985) was to integrate women in development. Women should no longer been left out of consideration. in which women have always been integrated in development on unequal terms. and vice-versa. the woman equals housewife equation. A proper space should be given to women with equal terms with men for a healthy human development. This would involve complete tolerance of homosexual and lesbian relationships. It is being realized that an all out effort should be directed towards building up a society where men and women live on equal terms. each individual will be free to “develop an entire-rather than a partial. This is an important concept in economically developing countries. will simply reinforce. as it now stands. Thus men and women must be seen as people. a revolution of concepts of gender identity”. those who are biologically male and female may develop their personality and behaviour along lines best suited to themselves rather than being cramped and confined by the culturally defined labels. must be abolished. Thus. India. which. the son learning his role form the father. Women’s experience should be valued and society should not ignore women’s 25 . she argues. Abolishing family will also serve to break the circle of the daughter learning the role form the mother. not as a males and females. Ann Oakley (1974) argues that the following steps must be taken to liberate women: a) The housewife role must be abolished. like many other countries is a signatory of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). it is essential that both men and women play equal and important role in the development process. a revolution in the ideology of gender roles current in our culture. limited and conformist-personality”. with the mother-housewife role being selected as the prime target. yet it has a long way to go before it actually eliminates the various discriminations that women are subjected to. “we need an ideological revolution. “so that the sex act ceases to be arbitrarily polarized into male and female”. In a developing society like India. Oakley rejects less radical solutions such as payment for housework. b) c) Oakly argues. 1. The sexual division of labour must be eradicated in all areas of social life. Thus female may develop so-called male traits. where women have the same facilities and the same opportunities to develop themselves as mankind and also have the same social and economic status as that of men.8 THE ABOLITION OF GENDER ROLES Many feminist writers have advocated for the abolition of gender roles. male and female. This proposal follows from the first since the housewife and mother roles are part and parcel of the same thing. The family. Kate Millet (1970) a radical feminist writer argues that a society without culturally defined gender roles.Think It Over 3 What are the essential requirements for a gender-neutral society? Global Debates and their Impacts 1.

power and in decision making is essential for gender equality. energy. The issues such as evolution of patriarchal system and the institutionalization and legitimization of it. Such process requires a realignment of power in decision-making at the household. Gendered : Gender Order : 26 . The continued presence of gender inequality in all spheres of human life lead the women’s activists and feminists to question the injustice meted out to women as a whole. applying and enforcing various policies and laws. Time and again it was suggested that any moves to increase female participation in education and employment must involve a change in male attitudes and behavior to women. Empowerment of women-equitable access to resources. Efforts need to be intensified and multiplied by all quarters .International Convention and Constitutional Mandates for Gender Equality experience and sufferings while fixing. and relation between them are organized. through which power relations between women and men are made and remade. 1. The concerns of the first part of the unit are the basis for the emergence of women’s issues to the forefront. Something is gendered when its character is either masculine or feminine. Women’s own perceptions of themselves as inferior. and contributes many of the world’s most pressing problems.Government. as meaningful. Patriarchal social system accorded women a secondary position to women in family and society. creativity and skills and equal terms. institutional and all levels of society. This brings positive benefits to society as a whole. weak and passive also need to be changed and an active temperament and attitude is further reinforced. The unit points and that the ultimate goal of raising women’s issues should be an equitable partnership between women and men built on the strengths of shared knowledge. NOG’s academics and business world have an important role to play in making Indian and the Global society more just. The gender order is a patterned system of ideological and material practices. It is through the gender order of a society that forms or codes masculinities and feminities which are created and recreated. Male enlightenment is the other important dimension.10 CLARIFICATION OF THE TERMS USED Gender : Gender is the social. If the inequality and discrimination prevails in various spheres not only will the women marginalized together but the country and the global society will lose out since a large part of its economic female potential will remain untapped. formulating. cultural and psychological aspect of maleness and femaleness — socially defined through interaction. It is a valuable turn for analysis of gender. how the patriarchal system were questioned are dealt with in this unit. All these in essence are the indicators of gender development as well as human development. social-justice and human rights. performed by individuals in a society. Gender equality becomes a reality when women and men to reject negative gendered norms and accept gender equality. The last section deals with the need for deconstruction of gender difference and inequalities for a more equitable distribution of resources among the genders. The present unit views gender inequality as the basis for the emergence of highlighting women’s issues in the society. A societal reorientation for gender-just society would require a radical transformation through gender sensitization and awareness on gender issues. or when it exhibits pattern of difference by gender.

which.W. Wharton.S.K.11 SOME USEFUL READINGS Rowbotham. Man’s world. 22-28. Polity Press and Blackwell Publishers Ltd: U. Malden: U. S. 2005. ideological and material. Penguin. Women’s Consciousness. pp. The Sociology of Gender. Global Debates and their Impacts Patriarchy : 1. U. Patriarchy is indispensable for an analysis of gender inequality. An encompassing term for men’s control over women that can take many motivations. 1973. The concept of Gender Regime was proposed by R.S. Connell. A. 27 . in a given social context acts to construct various images of muscularity and femininity and thereby to consolidate forms of gender equality. 1994.Gender Regime : A gender regime is a cluster of practices. Blackwell Publishing.A. Walby.K. Harmondworth. S. “Towards a Theory of Patriarchy” in The Polity Reader in Gender Studies.