Domestic Worlds and Public Worlds

Topics: Gender role, Gender, Sociology Pages: 7 (1099 words) Published: February 1, 2011
Week 4Day 1 Domestic Worlds and Public Worlds
Readings: GCC Part III
CR Berkowitz, Can a Gay Man Be a Housewife?
First Response Paper Due Wednesday February 2

Summary of Previous Week

If we are looking to the primate for a record of Hunter and Gatherer behaviors then we must be very careful indeed not to anthropomorphize characteristics in either direction.

This is an oversimplification but it is the essence.

As I said, the research changes weekly, when new fossil evidence, genomics or simply a paradigmatic shift in the understanding of gender in prehistory emerges theories move to accommodate new information.

Public Private and
Sexual Division of Labor and Gender Stratification

Opposition of public to private a modernistic modality/dyad based on androcentric anthropological analyses rooted in Victorian western ideology. Still, they are hard to elide. [way too much was made about, doesn’t mean that we should ignore this sector; specific set of ideas: even though we know that public and private are these black and white thing, we changed our opinion that there is still some difficulty found in the public priveate split; ]

Rosaldo and Lamphere- Woman, Culture and Society 1974
Reiter-Toward an Anthropology of Women 1975

Pervasive asymmetry between the sexes
Traditional Dyadic reading of Gendered Behaviors or as they were called then “Sex Role Theory” held that public=powered=political=male
a post feminist, more nuanced inspection saw women’s bargains with both patriarchy and their “real” circumstances.

To be male is to disassociate from female realm

Three issues that are key to the discussion as feminism emerged:

Is male domination universal? In some sense yes, but it does not look the same everywhere. Is male domination explained by the public private split?
No. Because this appears differently depending on the context… Under what conditions does domestic and public split have relevance? Good Question…

An apparent Split emerges from industrial revolution…why?
Subsistence PP

Domestic and public spheres interpenetrate
All this implicates gender, status and power
Informal power more important than once conceived
Women’s circumstances must be seen by women



Whatever men do is valued
Men’s houses key to understanding rank/hierarchy/stratification Search for gender asymmetry followed trend in anthro to look for broadly human Incest taboo, marriage patterns, and family structure.

uterine and Iroquoian examples

More complex women use private space differently depending on time.

Margery Wolf- Taiwan-uterine family structure

Rosaldo suggests an analysis of gendered relationships and hierarchies “Womaness” not definite as defined by Westerners

Colonialism- perhaps the place where Public/Private emerges as a theme? A Victorian legacy?

Gender Relationships rather than women should be a focus

Not all women can be treated as part of the “universal” category of woman

Civilized/native another hierarchal paradigm
Parallel sex system- separate but equal=native
Civilized=men in political control

Lila Abu-Lughod’s Bedoin women self determined
Patricia Zavella’s- Chicana women and self-determination
Karen Sack’s- black and white women family notions at work

Production and reproduction

Summary- in 1974 public private a useful dichotomy
Now more nuanced and complex looking at the intersections of race, sex, gender, power, law, education, etc.



Not just a study of who does what. But a study of why and meaning. Housework as an occupation

Home=proper eating
Reflects relation between husband and wife

Two features
Women are cooks
Marital justice and obligation

Women cook-men breadwinners

Who cooks for whom
Women cook for family
Service work
Marital and parental relationships define who is served...
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