Gender relationsThis is a featured page

Connell talked about four main structures in the modern gender system of relations and they are power relations, production relations emotional relations and symbolic relations.

In power relations, the concept of patriarchy is very important. It shows that men are the dominating sex and have more power over females which can be seen in rape cases. An article by Catharine MacKinnon (1983) analyzed about court procedures in rape cases and found out that many a times the female victim became the suspect. They are questioned about their sexual background and whether they have any motives in ‘accusing’ the male of rape. This is just one example of the power relations between the males and the females.

For power relations, Connell talks about the post-structuralist theory introduced by Foucoult. In this theory, the emphasis is that power in gender relations is dispersed and operates innately. This is captured in two areas: institutionalized power and personal, discursive power. This is where the concept of patriarchy mentioned comes in.

Besides power relations, production relations also come into play in the gender system.
The gender divisions of labor do change over time and are different between societies. An example mentioned is secretarial work that has changed from a male job to a female job. Another difference in divisions of labor will be the economy work that men do outside their home while the women will stay at home and be occupied with their domestic work. The social relations that govern work in the two aspects are different. For the male, work is done for money while for the female, work is done for love. The chapter also mentioned about the occupations and incomes associated with gender. For instances, males are more suitable for engineering and mechanical whereas females suit human services more and men have better incomes or benefits.
Emotional relations can be linked to sexuality and to the workplace.

In production relations, the gender accumulation process (Mies,1986) is brought into view and this is where the large organistions and global market is highlighted. The way the gender regimes of these institutions are organised is translated into the division of labour. These gender regimes differ in culture and history. For instance, if there is a deep- seated beliefs that men are supposed to do all the manual work and women are supposed to do all the public relations work, there will be gender bias recruitment drives. Ie. Engineering for men and teaching for women etc.

Emotional relations is the third point mentioned by Connell. As explained, this is the structure of emotional relation or attachment that a person have. As mentuoned by the previous author the dominant discourse here is sexuality ie. the difference in the conception of homosexuality and heterosexuality. This dichotomy is more apparent in western societies which seeks to define the undeifnable. For instance. if you look in the case of Thailand, the idea of a homosexual person is seen as a natural occurance as they are more acceptance to the existence of a third gender.

The last main structure of the gender system is on symbolic relations. Jacques Lacan came up with a system in which the place in authority is always that of masculine which brings us back to the concept of patriarchy. Gender can be symbolized in many ways such as through fashion and films. For example, in the 1960s, females wanted sexual freedom by having new fashion styles and that led into disapprovals by others. In films, women tend to get the passive roles while men are always having the active roles. Only when the filmmaker is a woman then was it possible for women to get their views heard. These four main structures can happen all at once and not one at a time. Therefore, gender relations can be quite a complicating issue.

After the identification of the 4 dimension of gender, Connel talks about the process of change. The post-structuralist theory mentions that gender categories are inherently unstable and
so each of this 4 structures develop a crisis tendency in which there is an internal contradiction that undermines the current patterns and force a change in the structure itself.

1. power relations
- women are the main group that is subjugated in the patriarchal power structure and they would have structural interest to change, This can be seen from feminist movements.

2. production relations.
-contradiction between equal contribution of social labour by men and women and the gendered appropriation of the product of social labour. That is, man and women are expected to contribute equally to the economy but men usually gets more benefits and higher pay as compared to women.

3. Emotional relations
- contradiction that the patriarchal order prohibit some emotional attachment and pleasure within itself. This is because, the patriarchal order is supposed to be the deciding power in a gender relations but then it inhibits itself in a way that boys are supposed to oppress their emotions unlike women who are allowed to openly portray how they feel etc.

4.symbolic relations
the unstable gender identity leads to a crisis in the legitimation of patriarchy. This is because since the identification of gender is inherently unstable as mentioned by Foucault's post-structuralist theory, it is very difficult to actually pin-point patriarchy as an absolute.


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