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People use gender roles to obtain power. In my life experience this is always been true. I look at it in my everyday life at the workplace. I happen to work with people who have gotten where they are based purely on their sex alone. I am not talking about sex in terms of intercourse, rather than gender. However this does work both ways. It also works for different types of power.
To say that people use gender roles to obtain power is a very broad statement. One must define two things. First “people” must be defined. This is a rather simple definition. People, for the purpose of this paper, are nothing more than men and women. Now these people use who they are, men or women, to achieve power. They use it against one another (men vs. women) and against each other (men vs. men or women vs. women). The second part we must define is “power”. This is a little more complicated than the first definition. There are all kinds of power: Domestic, Social/Political and Personal. Domestic power to me is power over ones home and or family. Social/Political powers are over one government or community. The type of power of a tribal chief or a community leader. Personal power is one everybody wants. Power over our own personal lives. I am not sure that everyone can achieve this. We all try but only a few gets to behold this dream. We can catch a glimpse of it in small triumphs in our daily lives. Everyone uses gender to some degree to obtain something that we want.
I would have to say the men are the biggest examples of people who use their gender to gain power. Domestic power is the power that I am referring to. In this day and age we do not really have a lot of this going on, at least not from what I have seen. But back in the era of our grandparents this was common practice. It was the wife’s duty, as a woman, to worry about the home and the children. She typically did not work outside of the home. Her main duty was to take care of the husband. The husband was the family provider. He was the one who supported the family financially. I have read a few stories now, and I can see that this is a type of power that is played out by the male characters in those stories. In Rifaat’s “Another Evening at the Club,” this was one of the main themes. It was a husband’s job to worry about where they shall live, and how they should live. The woman is merely another piece of property. The culture that this story takes place in, it is commonplace that a dowry is required by the bride’s family from the groom. He is, in a way, buying his piece of property. “He earns a big salary and gets a fully furnished government house wherever he’s posted, which will save us the expense of setting up a house – and I don’t have to tell you what our situation is - …” (Rifaat, page 54). This shows the bride’s family class and the eagerness of the family to marry their daughter off to someone who is in a higher class.
Other ways men use their sex to gain Domestic power is to treat the woman as if she were a child. This oppression, if you will, is probably the worst way to obtain the power of the family. “Fine, go and tell her I want to speak to her. There’s no point in your saying anything but I think it would be as well if you were present when I talk to her,” (Rifaat, page 56). This is a fatherly thing to say. I want to talk with her in your presence, but I don’t want you to say a word. This kind of oppression is that just like a father scolding a child. It shows her how much he is in control of the affairs of what goes on in the house. “…he bent over her and with both hands gently patted her cheeks. It was a gesture that promised her continued security, that told her
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Gender studies, Social psychology, Gender, Biology, Intersex, Sociology of gender, Power, Matriarchy, Elana Maryles Sztokman
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