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Gender Oppression

Vrushali Patil

Subject Gender Studies
Sociology » Sociology of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Gender oppression is defined as oppression associated with the gender norms, relations, and stratification of a given society. Modern norms of gender in western societies consist of the dichotomous, mutually exclusive categories of masculinity and femininity. Developing in tandem with industrial capitalism and the nation-state, they had particular consequences for women and men. While masculinity was to consist of rationality, autonomy, activity, aggression, and competitiveness (all qualities that made men the ideal participants in the emerging public sphere of economy and polity), femininity was defined in contrast as emotionality, dependency, passivity and nurturance – all qualities that deemed women's “place” in the private sphere. These naturalized views of gender categories were embedded in burgeoning disciplines such as biology and sociology. However, not only were they premised on a dichotomous conception of sex and gender, they were also premised on heterosexuality, middle-class status, and European ethnic origin. As such, the gender oppression embedded therein is associated not only with the category with less power in the binary (femininity), but also with subjects that somehow deviate from either category. Mainstream sociology initially ignored gender as well as gender oppression, marginalizing feminist sociologists in the early years. The subsequent period of structural ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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