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Theories of Gender Relations - Essay Example

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Equally important, if not more, is the 'gender relations' - the nature, causes and consequences of this relation - that we encounter in our everyday lives. An analytical study of some issues emanating from this relation is sought to be made in the following paragraphs.
In conventional theorising human-kind has been studied in their multifarious activities as 'male and female' based on the biological differences between them. These 'biological' differences have been considered as natural, and as a commonly-understood category of their separate physiological identities. The 'categories of sex and gender' were not deemed to be separate ones but thought as different expressions signifying the same or a unified entity. However, the characteristics and attributes of 'male' and 'female' were taken as distinct and unique to each and separate from each, but complementary to each in many areas. (Keating)
FAO defines gender as 'the relations between men and women, both perceptual and material'. Gender is not a biological concept defined on the basis of sexual characteristics of either women or men, but is constructed socially. Gender is crucial to society as an important principle of its organisation determining its processes of production and reproduction, consumption and distribution. Nevertheless, gender is often taken to mean in popular perception as being the promotion of women only. "However, as can be seen from the FAO definition, gender issues focus on women and on the relationship between men and women, their roles, access to and control over resources, division of labour, interests and needs. Gender roles are the 'social definition' of women and men. They vary among different societies and cultures, classes, ages and during different periods in history. Gender-specific roles and responsibilities are often conditioned by household structure, access to resources, specific impacts of the global economy, and other locally relevant factors such as ecological conditions (Bravo-Baumann, 2000). Gender relations are the ways in which a culture or society defines rights, responsibilities, and the identities of men and women in relation to one another. Gender relations affect household security, family well-being, planning, production and many other aspects of life" (FAO, 1997).
A Note on 'Gender Relations in 'Traditional Societies'
In traditional societies which are still found to exist in many countries and in the vestiges of "traditional societies" thriving in some 'ethnic pockets' of the 'modern, liberated societies', gender relations are defined by an inter-related three-set phenomena, namely, "(1) segregation of the sexes, (2) male domination/female subordination, and (3) the primary role of woman as wife and mother within the family unit". (Gender Relations in Persia). The "re-Islamized" present day Iran is typical of a 'traditional society', where the 'three-set phenomena' find their full expression. The 'segregation of sexes' is discernable when activities outside the house in the public 'world of politics' and that of 'the market place' are the exclusively reserved domains of the male, while the 'world of women was indoors, in the kitchen and the 'bed-room', private and domestic'. From the very moment of her birth, a woman's subordinate ...Show more
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Summary

This paper seeks to discuss some aspects of gender relations as advocated by a couple of theories and their explanations of the 'unequal experiences of women and men at work'. A comparative analysis of the 'feminist' and 'empowerment' theories of gender relations, in the context of their similarities and differences will be considered in the course of the discussion in the paper…
Author : tyriquehettinge
Theories of Gender Relations
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