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Approaches Revision Notes: GENDER: Good essay structure/set of points to focus on:
- Wage disparity/property ownership.
- Association of men and skilled work, women and unskilled.
- Centrality of women to the home.
- Women's public identity as workers.
1. How does the history of work interact with perceptions of gender roles?
- One of historical traditions = that late medieval period was a 'golden age' for women workers.'Golden age' = useful arg for both liberal feminists (can easily return) and socialists (capitalism is the enemy).Susan Cahn talked of "women's descent from paradise".Judith M Bennett warns against idealising the medieval period.
- Too easy: "'medieval' functions in this story as the antithesis of modernity". Pessimism = "almost a foundational faith of women's history". Suits "our longings for another world... of a kinder and gentler variety". Labels this "history's seductive tale".
- "The medieval household economy was not an egalitarian refuge that capitalism and industrialism somehow cruelly undermined".
- The decline of the position of women has been linked to the growth of capitalism.
- However, many historians now disagree with this.K Honeyman and J Goodman: "labour markets in which women face discrimination are... very longstanding".Honeyman and Goodman talk of the "complex relationships between patriarchy and economic materialism".Some see women's role in the home as the equivalent (as in just as important):"Some Marxist-feminists have redefined reproduction as the functional equivalent of production" (Joan Scott).Nice quote: "the household economy... was shot through with sexual inequality" (J M Bennett).Overall, there has been less change than one might imagine:J M Bennett talks of "strong and sure continuities in women's work across the centuries". REINFORCES BREAKS DOWN Because of women's other priorities, Did farmers in the late medieval they could not participate in work in period really care about gender?
the same way, and this reinforced
- Wages called "the lowest gender roles. common denominator of
- E.g. 'How can a woman in comparability" by Joan Scott.
these deplorable circumstances educate and raise her children decently?' (Tailor delegates to the London Exposition, 1862).
- Emph on women's place being in the home: Edmund Tilney, Master of the Revels to Elizabeth I, stated firmly in 1568, 'the office of the husband is to provide money; of the wife not wastefully to spend it'.
- Less able to support themselves: P Slack's study of the Poor Law in Eng shows old women 2x as likely to be in receipt of relief as men.
Guilds played a crucial part in reinforcing masculine stereotypes, as well as male bonding.
- First discussed by Lionel Tiger in 'Men in Groups'. Said men did this to boost their control.
- Merry Wiesner also highlights this, focussing on early modern Germany. Says may have homoerotic element.
- Honeyman and Goodman agree - highlight how by late C15th, all of Cologne's guilds were male.
- Helped to propagate view that women = disorderly.
- Married journey men were attacked with "vehemency" (Wiesner) - many chose to stay single, living in all-male journeyman's hostels.
- "A seedbed of fraternity as a popular belief" (Anthony Black).
- Susan Bardsley argues that they didn't, only about price, and that it was piece rate that mattered.
- "Wage discrimination... is neither rational nor efficient" (Bardsley).
- Bardsley argues that wage ration went from 70% C14th to 50% later C18th. (Bennett argues against this - supplementary produce, regional diffs mean it was more likely always around the 70%
- E.g. Alice George, tall woman, 1681: received as much as a man as she could do the same work (rec'd by John Locke).
- E.g. usually, estimates from England in the 1830s-40s showed that a man could reap
3/4 an acre in the time it took a woman to reap 1/2. During time of work protests, women could come to the fore:
- E.g. 1830s and 40s were time of disruption for French garment tradesmen due to the growth of 'confection' (readymade clothes). Women important in the protest, e.g. 'La Tribune des Femmes' =
protest newspaper edited 1832-34 by Saint-Simonian women. Central in winning contracts from Rev'nry gov't in
1848. - Could also help to build collective identity of women (e.g. Joan Scott's argument RE: the above), and make them aware of their potential for power: "To seamstress leaders the exclusion of women from universal suffrage was a gross injustice" (Scott). 'La Voix des Femmes' (feminist-socialist newspaper)
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