Perspectives on Gender Inequality

Spread the love


Perspectives on Gender Inequality


biological, cultural, Marxian

  • The word ‘sex’ is ambiguous. As commonly used, it refers to the physical and cultural differences between men and women (as in the male sex, ‘female sex’) as well as sexual function. It is useful to distinguish between sex and gender in the physiological or biological sense, which is a cultural construct (a set of learned behavior patterns).
  • Some argue that differences in behavior between the sexes are genetically determined, but there is no conclusive evidence. Gender socialization begins with the birth of a child. Even parents who believe they treat children equally react differently to boys and girls. These differences are reinforced by many other cultural influences.
  • Gender identity and ways of expressing sexuality develop together. It has been argued that masculinity depends on the denial of intimate emotional attachment to the mother, thus creating ‘male ‘formlessness’. Sylvia Walby acknowledges the importance of these points but rejects the original position underlying them. She explains through the concept of patriarchy.


o The sociology of gender considers the ways in which physical differences between men and women are mediated by culture and social structure. These differences are culturally and socially wide so that

o Women are defined through socialization as distinctly feminine personalities and a ‘gender identity’; (2) women are often isolated from public activities in industrial societies by their relegation to the private domain of the home; (3) women are allocated to inferior and usually degrading productive activities;

  • (4) Women are subjected to stereotypical ideologies that define women as weak and emotionally dependent on men.


  • There have been two major debates within the sociology of gender. The first has addressed the issue of whether gender is a separate and independent dimension of social stratification and social division of labor. The second debate concerns the appropriateness of general theoretical approaches to the analysis of gender differences and divisions in society. Therefore, four themes characterize theories of gender inequality. Firstly, men and women are not only placed in different positions in the society but they are unequally situated.


o In particular, women have less access to material resources, social status, power and opportunities for self-actualization than men who share their social space – whether by class, caste, occupation, ethnicity, religion, education, nationality, or any other socially significant factor. Second, this inequality stems from the organization of society, not from any significant biological or personality difference between women and men. The third theme of all disequilibrium theory is that although individual humans may differ from one another to some degree in their capacities and profile of traits, no significant pattern of natural variation separates the sexes.


Instead, all human beings are characterized by a deep need for freedom to seek self-actualization and a fundamental flexibility that leads them to adapt to the constraints or opportunities of the situations in which they find themselves. To say there is gender inequality is to claim that women are less empowered in terms of status

  • For men to realize the need they share with men for self-actualization. Fourth, all theories of inequality assume that women and men will respond fairly easily and naturally to more social structures and conditions.


  • Explanation of gender inequality :
  • Feminist and postmodernist


  • Feminist Theory :
  • Contemporary feminist scholars have produced a rapidly growing, extraordinarily rich and highly diverse body of theoretical writing. The framework of feminist theory is based on two fundamental questions that unite all these theories: The descriptive question is: what about women? And the explanatory question is: why is the situation the way it is? The pattern of response to the descriptive question yields four classifications of main categories. Essentially you are answering the question, “What about the women?” The first answer is that in most situations women’s place and their experience is different from that of men. The investigation then focuses on the details of that difference. The second answer is that in most situations the status of women differs from that of men not only by lesser or unequal privileges

Is. future focus




  • The details are then on the nature of that disparity. The third answer is that the position of women also has to be understood in terms of the direct power relationship between men and women. Women are oppressed, that is, restrained, subjugated, molded and used and abused by men. The details then focus on the quality of the harassment. Each of the different types of feminist theories can be classified as a theory of difference, or inequality, or oppression. In the previous chapter, we have discussed the theories of gender inequality in terms of biological explanation, cultural explanation and Marxist explanation of inequality. In this chapter, we will explain the feminist and postmodernist perspective on gender inequality.


  • Gender Inequality and Feminist Perspectives:
  • Feminist ideas can be traced back to the eighteenth century. The first significant feminist movements developed in the mid-nineteenth century, particularly their focus on gaining the vote for women. Although in decline after the 1920s, feminism rose to prominence again in the 1960s, and has had an impact on many areas of social life and intellectual activity. Sexual practices vary widely between and within cultures. In the West, repressive attitudes towards sexuality gave way to more liberal attitudes in the 1960s, the effects of which are still evident today.
  • Feminist thought has had a major impact on social theory, and the social sciences more generally, over the past quarter of a century. Feminist theory is in a significant sense a subject matter in its own right, concerned with gender theory and addressing the ‘invisibility’ of women in social theoretical thinking. Yet it also has implications for some of the most fundamental problems of social theory.



  • Liberal feminism :
  • Liberal feminism’s interpretation of gender inequality begins where theories of gender difference end; the existence of separate public and private spheres of social activity, with the recognition of the sexual division of labor, the primary place of men in the former and women in the latter, and the systematic socialization of children so that they move into adult roles and spheres of their gender Suitable for. Unlike theories of difference, however, liberal feminists see nothing of particular value about the private sphere, including the demanding, mindless, unpaid and low-value tasks associated with housework, child care, and emotional, practical, and sexual service. Contains an endless round of tasks.





  • Of adult males. The true rewards of social life are to be found in the public sphere. A system that restricts women’s access to that sector, burdens them with private sector responsibilities, isolates them in individual households, and forces their men to share in the hard labor of the private sector. It is the system that creates gender inequality.
  • When asked to identify the dominant forces in this system, liberal feminists point to sexism, an ideology similar to racism, hesitatingly consisting partly of prejudices and discriminatory practices against women, partly of women. The supposed belief about the “natural” differences between women and men that are adapted to their various social destinies. Because of sexism, women are confined and crippled from childhood, so that they can go into their adult roles and “reduce” from full humanity in those roles to mindless, dependent, subconsciously depressed beings due to the constraints and needs of their own. their gender-assigned roles.
  • Bernard (1982) in The Future of Marriage presents marriage as a cultural system of beliefs and ideals, an institutionalized system of roles and norms, and a complex of interpersonal experiences for individual women and men. Institutionally, marriage empowers the role of the husband with rights and freedoms, in fact, obligations, beyond the domestic setting; It associates the idea of male authority with sexual power and male power; And it mandates that wives be complacent, dependent, self-void, and essentially isolated focused on domestic household activities and chores. Empirically, any institutionalized marriage consists of two marriages: the marriage of the man, in which he believes to be constrained and burdened, while experiencing what the norms determine—rights, freedom, and the domestic, emotional one by the wife. and the right to sexual service; and the wife’s marriage, in which she normatively confirms the cultural value of fulfillment while experiencing inevitable powerlessness and dependence, an obligation to provide domestic, emotional, and sexual services, and a gradual “decreasing” of the independent young person she is. It was before marriage.


  • All of this results in data measuring human stress: married women, whatever they claim to fulfillment, and unmarried men, whatever they claim to freedom, heart palpitations, dizziness, headache, fainting ranks high on all stress indicators, including fear of nightmares, insomnia, and nervous breakdowns; Unmarried women, whatever their feelings of social stigma and married women, are all lower on stress indicators. marriage is then good for men and good for women

is bad and unequal in its effects will end only when couples feel sufficiently free from existing institutional constraints




  • Best suited to their individual needs and personalities.
  • Liberal feminists propose the following strategies to end gender inequality using existing political and legal channels for change, equal economic opportunity; changes in family, school, and mass media messages so that people are no longer socialized into rigidly compartmentalized sex roles; and an attempt by all individuals to challenge sexism where they encounter it in daily life. For liberal feminists, the ideal gender order is one in which each person chooses the lifestyle most appropriate for themselves and that choice is accepted and respected, whether as a housewife or husband, unmarried careerist or part of a couple. . Income family, childless or with children, heterosexual or homosexual. Liberal feminists see this ideal as an ideal that enhances the practice of freedom and equality.



  • Gender and postmodernism :
  • In the past forty years feminist theorists have advanced critical social theory out of the box. Challenges to liberal feminist theory have stimulated notable developments, particularly during this period. These challenges have taken shape most clearly in the form of an anti-enlightenment perspective around postmodernism, yet the most consequential resistance comes from multicultural and postcolonial theorists who focus on racial/ethnic and other hierarchies. (postmodernist or not) demand.
  • Two other types of feminist theorizing have also challenged liberal feminist theory, namely the queer and psychoanalytical approaches. Adrienne Rich (1980) The Lesbian Continuum, raising issues that liberal feminist theory largely ignores or opposes, from sexual relationships between women to the emotional bonds that take priority in women’s lives. Similarly, feminist psychoanalytic approaches such as those of Nancy Chodorow (1978) or Jessica Benjamin (1988, 1995) introduce ideological and political baggage that liberal feminists often find problematic, even if not counterproductive.


  • Gender inequality and postmodernist approach:
  • If women have sometimes turned to modernism for critical purposes, feminist writers today have sought to use the concepts of ‘postmodernism’ in their interpretations of women’s experience more broadly.
  • gender. Theories of ‘postmodernism’ or ‘postmodernity’ (sometimes these terms are considered equivalent, sometimes the author




  • the difference between them) has tended to follow the ideas set out by Lyotard already mentioned. Feminists influenced by the concepts of postmodernism have argued that there can be no universal theory of male supremacy, patriarchy, or sexual difference. They have distanced themselves from what they see as a mistaken ‘essentialism’: the idea that there are some characteristics, or experiences, that separate virtually all women from almost all men. Gender categories, like other social categories, are fragmented and contextual.
  • Thus, it is claimed, for example, that the life of a poor Black woman living in an inner-city ghetto may be more different from that of an affluent suburban White woman than the experience of a poor Black man. There is no intrinsic unity to being a ‘woman’ apart from the physical equality of the sexes. Such approach has a concrete as well as theoretical thrust. In postmodern conditions it is seen that social life itself has become fragmented and civilized. In this context, we will discuss the postmodernist perspective of feminism.
  • Postmodernism opposes liberalism as a modernist myopia, a failed experiment, an array of false hopes and a colonialist logic. As with liberalism itself, postmodernism presents itself in many forms. Whatever the version, postmodernism holds that modernist values and dreams began to lose their hold on people’s consciousness during the twentieth century. In their wake arose an appetite for ambiguity, irony and contradiction and a realization of how local and situated our knowledge, in the end and for all practical purposes, is. As postmodernism gained ground, many feminist theorists developed a love-hate or ambivalent relationship with it. Often fearing that postmodern skepticism towards modern values such as equality may promote resistance to feminism, for example, some theorists (Hartsock: 1990; Minich: 1990) advocated. Others embrace postmodernism, while still other feminist theorists evoke more subtle responses such as their ‘political project of … discursive instability’ (Gibson-Graham: 1996: 241).
  • Prominent among postmodernist feminist theorists are: Judith Butler, Donna Harvey and Laurel Richardson. Some of Butler’s (1990) most important work focuses on showing how cultures tend to ‘intelligent’ only certain identities so that other enactments of identity are unusual,

stand out from the mainstream heap as perverted, unsuccessful, or strange. identity in Butler’s hands is a demonstrative phenomenon which is




  • Highly regulated. Institutional regimes render some enactments of identity ‘genuine’—that is, recognizable versions of X, Y or Z, and some enactments other than versions of X, Y or Z. For example, only culturally approved ways of enacting femininity are seen as expressions of femininity; Other ways of enacting it are seen as selfishness, man-hating, feminist dogma, or deviousness, rather than more ways of enacting femininity and expressing ‘femininity’.


  • As Butler (1992) sees it, ‘part of the project of postmodernism … is to question the ways in which such ‘examples’ and ‘paradigms’ serve to subordinate and explain what they seek to explain. More generally, for Butler, ‘identity categories are never merely descriptive, but always normative, and thus, exclusionary’.
  • Feminist postmodernism or postmodernist feminism for Haraway (1993) ‘revolves around the politics and epistemology of place, position and status, where there is no partiality and universalism to listen to the claims of rational knowledge’ . Her feminism supports ‘interpreting, translating, stuttering and partially understanding science and politics’. Haraway adopts irony as both a ‘rhetorical strategy’ and a ‘political method’, and she places the cyborg—a machine/creature hybrid—’at the center of (her) ironic belief’. Yet there are also modernist elements in that center. For example, Haraway insisted that ‘valid witnessing depends not only on modesty, but also on nurturing and accepting alliances with a vibrant group of others’.
  • Richardson’s (1997) theoretical projects revolve around ‘redefining sociological discourse as a feminist-postmodernist practice’. When interrogating narratives, Richardson looks at ‘issues of representation’, specifically what hierarchies they reproduce. more than any other contemporary social theorist. Richardson has examined writing practices for their political baggage and transformative promise and has experimented with a variety of genres in his theoretical endeavours. In constructing her ‘feminist speaking positions’, Richardson thus creates a ‘postmodernist sensibility’ that celebrates a plurality of modes and multiple sites of contestation. Richardson’s bold interpretation of non-tradition
  • All styles for writing social theory put her in the camp of feminist theorists committed to breaking representational boundaries as well as discipline-based boundaries. Some feminist theorists (Alfonso and Trigilio: 1997) have published their work in dialogue form, for example in the form of electronic-mail exchanges. Others (eg Rinehart: 1998) talk about feminist theorizing as a ‘dialogue’. At least two feminist social theorists—Katherine Gibson and Julie Graham—have done their




  • Collaborative theory using a joint-name pseudonym (JK Gibson-Graham) to designate the authorship of his texts. Then they largely write in the first person singular! What Richardson and others are theorizing is, in fact, a deep connection. And what can be said, who can say it credibly and who can hear it in meaningful, practical ways?
  • Feminist thinkers have drawn widely on Foucault’s writings, although usually in different or selective ways. Foucault’s work on the body, and on sexuality in particular, has been particularly important. In his work concerning the asylum and the prison, Foucault suggests that the body was the focus of new disciplinary processes integrated to the establishment of the modern state. In the ‘disciplinary society’ of modernity, the body is strictly controlled and ordered through direct supervision, or direct supervision, to coordinate the activities of individuals within the regular settings of modern organisations.
  • Here the body appears to be relatively positive: indeed, in his study of the rise of the prison, Discipline and Punishment, Foucault talks of the new administrative orders being presented as ‘submissive bodies’. In his later writings, especially as he moved on to reflect on the nature of sexuality, Foucault placed a greater emphasis on the body as a medium of action and a source of pleasure. His multi-volume work The History of Sexuality attempts to demonstrate that in modern societies the body becomes a site of ‘dual power’: it is disciplined on the one hand, but becomes a center of fulfillment and self-discovery on the other. Is. Understanding.
  • As Lois McNay points out, many feminists have objected to Foucault’s non-gendered treatment of the body. Her discussion of prisons, for example, focused almost entirely on an underlying model of the male experience, rather than considering the specific ways in which women’s discipline differed from those affecting men. Yet the force of this criticism, as McNay points out, may also be exaggerated. Foucault’s

Writing provides insight into how the body is ‘acted’ by gender construction, as in some key ways the ‘inscription’ of social influences on the body is actually a means of producing gender differences. The ‘visible’ rendition of women’s history should not lead us to conclude that it is an isolated and isolated experience, unrelated to other aspects of social organization and change.

  • In McNay’s view, instead of criticizing Foucault for neglecting gender, we should
  • For a critical appraisal of Foucault’s concept of the relationship between power and the body, see. Foucault correctly sees power not only as a negative, ‘ability to say no’, but also as a productive phenomenon. The view that Foucault’s study of ‘disciplinary society’ provides no basis for an analysis of resistance to power. McNay’s argument is wrong. Foucault’s theory, in fact, examines resistance and observes that it takes as many different forms as the contexts in which power is exercised. Yet, Foucault fails to adequately see that ‘biopower’ is a paradoxical and tense force. Biopower can provide a means of salvation in some circumstances and is not just a process involving administrative regulation.


  • Nancy Fraser focuses on Habermas Like Foucault, although she often refers to the struggles of women’s movements, Habermas rarely discusses gender issues in a systematic way. In his most detailed statement of his social theory, The Theory of Communicative Action, Habermas distinguishes between the symbolic material reproduction of societies. To survive over time, a society must provide economic exchange with the physical environment, and it must also create and maintain symbolic values and norms that provide a framework for communication among its members. In Habermas’ view, paid employment in modern societies is part of the system of material reproduction, while women’s unpaid activities in the domestic sphere, including childbearing and rearing, belong to the sphere of symbolic reproduction. Fraser finds this approach insufficient. The raising and raising of children is a material as well as a symbolic phenomenon; After all, it is the means of physical survival of the species.
  • Yet so is the realm of paid work: work is never just a series of economic transactions, but involves symbolic meaning and value. Fraser also questions Habermas’ thesis that the domestic sphere is related to the realm
  • ‘Social integration’ – integration of large scale institutions. Habermas’ conceptual distinctions, because they are not informed by a satisfactory explanation of gender, actually subtly serve to reinforce the conceptual distinctions that he explicitly exposes and criticizes. Habermas’ theory of ‘colonization’ of the ‘living world’ is flawed for similar reasons. In concluding her discussion Fraser indicates how Habermas’ ideas can be modified if they are linked, as they should be, with an account of gender.
  • Janet Wolff’s analysis considers the implications of taking gender seriously




  • Modernism as a cultural phenomenon. She begins with a brief discussion of some of the ideas of her namesake. Virginia Woolf was a champion of modernism and advocated a break with the tradition established by modernism. Wolfe was sympathetic to feminism and saw the new movements in the literature of her time as a means of breaking with the ‘man-made sentence’—the heavy, long-winded writing style of Converse. Women may be able to use new models of linguistic expression to give voice to specific lived experiences in a world dominated by men. Wolfe’s ideas about the relationship between modernism and feminism have since been echoed by many other feminist writers.
  • Modernism, points out Janet Wolfe (like postmodernism), is difficult to define. It is usually located in the period 1890 to 1930, but includes a variety of literary and artistic forms. Following Eugene Lunn, Wolff defined postmodernism as a rebellion against realism and romanticism, characterized by the disappearance of aesthetic self-consciousness, simultaneity, ambiguity and the ‘unified personality’. She notes, however, that these traits actually remarkably parallel those often associated with postmodernism.
  • Understood in this way, modernism appears as a history of male achievement. Here the general description of the development of modernism goes far beyond the failure to recognize the role of women writers and artists. Modernism is in fact primarily a masculine phenomenon. Looking specifically at the work of women writers, it is possible to see that modernism, as suggested by Virginia Woolf, often depicted the mechanisms of a patriarchal society.
  • Pierre Bourdieu accounts for the fact that women are, in most known societies, relegated to inferior social positions, in the economics of symbolic exchange

It is necessary to take into account the asymmetry of the status given to each gender. Whereas men are subjects of marital strategies through which they work to maintain or increase their symbolic capital, women have always been treated as objects of these exchanges in which they serve as symbols suitable for striking alliances. are broadcast in This object status accorded to women is best seen in the place where the tribal-mythological-ritual system attributes their contribution to reproduction. this system is conflicting




  • Properly negates the female labor of the womb (as it negates the associated labor of the soil in the agricultural cycle) for the benefit of male intervention in sexual activity. Similarly, in European societies, the privileged role that women play in symbolic production inside and outside the home is always devalued if not rejected. Male supremacy is thus founded on the economic logic of symbolic exchange, that is, based on a fundamental asymmetry between men and women in the social construction of relationship and marriage: that between subject and object, agent and means. A symbolic struggle capable of challenging the practically immediate accord of tangible and objective structures, i.e. of a symbolic revolution that questions the very foundations of the production and reproduction of symbolic capital, in particular, the dialectic of pretense and distinction that pervades cultural objects. as an indication of the distinction at the root of production and consumption.



  • Psychoanalytic Theory of Feminism :
  • Psychoanalytic theory suggests that the human individual ore ‘subject’ is socially constructed. It is partly because of the great influence of psychoanalysis that so many writers, both within and outside the sphere of feminist thought, have spoken of the ‘end of the subject’ in modern social theory. Agnes Heller takes up this issue. She doesn’t specifically discuss it in relation to feminism, or even gender, but careful readers will easily be able to apply her arguments back to the points
  • Picked up by previous selections within this section.
  • The ‘death of the subject’ is particularly associated with postmodernism, but, as it shows, has an ancestor in social theory and philosophy. Yet who really is the one who is believed to have died? Critics of essentialism would say that it is a ‘unitary individual’ category that has no relevance in social analysis today. Yet such a category was from the beginning a constructed category and in part such critics are attacking a position that few, if any, have ever held.
  • We can see that this is so by taking the concrete example of autobiography. A person who writes an autobiography is both the author of the text and the author as a subject as well as authorizing a ‘world’ in which that subject exists. Subject




  • the (human person) and the acted upon (natural and social environment) are never really separate entities, merely ‘acting’ on each other; They are mutually constructed in the course of history. Individuals have existed in all societies; The ‘subject’ is the creation of modernity. In the conditions of modern social life, in which, as previously emphasized, tradition has largely been taken away; The individual does not inherit a pre-given map for his or her self-understanding. Women and men in modern societies have contingent identities and are aware of this contingency; It is precisely this that makes for the formation of the ‘subject’ rather than speaking of the death of the subject. Therefore, we should see that the ‘openness’ of experience associated with socially constructed identity has been associated with modernity since its inception. is tied. ,







This course is very important for Basics GS for IAS /PCS and competitive exams




*Group c*

*Forest guard*






*Complete General Studies Practice in Two weeks*




**General science* *and* *Computer*


*Must enrol in this free* *online course* xxx76D77B987A




**English Beginners* *Course for 10 days*







समाजशास्त्र का परिचय











Beginners Urdu Learning Course in 2Weeks



Hindi Beginners Learning in One week



Free Sanskrit Language Tutorial



Follow this link to join my WhatsApp group:


Join Teligram group


Join What app group for IAS PCS


Join Facebook


Instagram link

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.