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Gender inequality - Essay Example

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Western feminists, such as Rich argues that rape and violence against women are central to the control of women and their bodies, especially when the advancement of women in the public sphere is de-stabilizing this power base:
Patriarchy is' a familial-social, ideological, political system in which men - by force, direct pressure or through ritual, law and language, customs, etiquette, education, and division of labour, determine what part women shall or shall not play, and in which the female is everywhere subsumed under the male. It does not necessarily imply that no woman has power, or all women in a given culture may not have certain powers.3
People ... whose lives cut unfamiliar paths across the distinctions of rule suggest still other structures of feeling in formation, other sites of power to identify, a wider range of sources to consider, and, not least, other kinds of memories to call on and stories to tell.4
When considering other theories of power, especially in relation to sexuality and race depends upon violence and control over the body, which is an indicator that there is inherent discrimination in the legal, social and political system. However, there is a lot of similarities in Western and Eastern cultures in respect to control and power over women's bodies. Carla Rice states that [w]henever we as women look at ourselves through the lens of culture, we' end up engaged in a war with our bodies, one that we cannot win. Society has inhibited our bodies and we have absorbed into our skin and bones (1999, 317)
Stoler introduces an interesting connection between women's bodies and culture; however the modern restraints on women and the body are not new, i.e. history has restrained the body in differing ways. The modern era has heralded freedom in the sense of the mind; however culture has enslaved women using their body again, i.e. the reproductive functions were the prison of the past, superficial beauty is the prison of today. This imprisoning of the mind by using the body is a very old weapon used by the dominating male hierarchical system in fear that women can no longer be so easily controlled. If one considers cultures, such as Asia and the Middle East, being too fat or having a big nose is not a thing of consequence; because women are still imprisoned by their reproductive functions. The male dominated system of the West has been forced to alter cultural images and notions to further dominate women; therefore culture has had to alter by forcing women into a new box, i.e. an underfed, tall, big busted woman.
The war waged on women's bodies is first a conflict over shape and size, over the terrain of our bodies, played in a deeply entrenched cultural taboos and a powerful dictate against women taking up space and claiming room of our own.5
This statement of Rice's sums up the conflict between the advancement of women and the restraints constructed by the male dominated culture, which has to adapt to the advancement of women in the late 20th and 21st Century. Rice is correct in her evaluation of the male dominated culture adapting to imprison women from declaring their own rights and space.
Foucault6 has provided a discourse that has gone farther than just making women equal to men or races equal, by understanding that ...Show more


Foucalt's1 and Stoler's theory provides more than just a discourse on the interactions of the male and female, within the public and private sphere. Both also agree that race within colonial nations also mirror the male and female power struggle in patriarchal societies…
Author : lexie00
Gender inequality
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