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Sc2220 Lecture 9 2009

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Lecture 9: Consequences of the Socio-Sexual System

Lecture 9: Consequences of the Socio-Sexual System

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  • 1. SC2220: Gender Studies: Consequences of Socio-Sexual Systems Dr. Eric Thompson
  • 2. Consequences of “Sexual Exchange”
    • Human Relationships & Socio-sexual Systems
    • Consequences:
      • Dual Economies of Provisioning and Prestige
      • Objectification
        • Women as sex objects
        • Men as success objects
  • 3. Human Relationships Forged On…
    • Affective (“Emotional”) Bonds
      • Bio-chemical; conditioned by positive neuro-chemical feedback (“feelings of love”)
    • Exchange Relationships
      • You have something I want. I have something you want. Let’s make a deal… (“sexual-exchange”)
    • Cultural Imperatives
      • Learned rules and categories provide us with models of how to act vis-à-vis others. (“rules of marriage, dating, etc.”)
  • 4. “ Socio-sexual System”
    • Human Infant Care – Need for investment of a lot of resources to raise children
    • Sexual Exchange – Social bonding of males (fathers) to females (mothers), which channels resources from males to children (unusual among mammals).
    • This is biologically driven (e.g. by hormones) and culturally shaped (e.g. by rules of marriage). But it is primarily social (relationships of exchange).
  • 5. The Dual Economy: The Shift from Provisioning to Prestige Provisioning Economy Prestige Economy Provisioning Subsistence Use Value Prestige Status Exchange Value
  • 6. Foraging Systems (Typical of Most of Human History) Provisioning Economy Prestige Economy Most Activity is Provisioning. “ Prestige Economy” is relatively small. Most Adults are Economically Independent. Very little Socio- Economic Hierarchy. Women have relatively Independent Spouse Choices. Men who provide “Prestige” Items are favored (e.g. Meat, Honey).
  • 7. Agricultural and Industrial Economies (from 10,000 Years Ago) Prestige Economy Provisioning Economy Prestige economy becomes far larger than the provisioning economy. Most activity aims to produce and acquire surplus, for exchange. Exchange systems create concentration of wealth, and status hierarchies and more competition. “Have nots” are dependent on those with wealth, and must follow their orders. This includes women in “ sexual exchange” relationships.
  • 8. Some Effects of the System
    • Patriarchy: Stressed Men; Oppressed Women
      • The system drives men to compete in ever greater status competition (women too, but they have marginally less incentive)
      • Women must make choices within systemically structured “patriarchal bargains” (i.e.
        • Women must compete with men, often at a cultural disadvantage (such as discrimination in education or jobs)
        • Or women must submit to a man (e.g. husband), who will provide for them.
    • “ Sex Industry”: Sex, and especially women’s sexuality, becomes a commodity.
    • Women lose their “choice” and become property.
      • Family and kin systems in which group decision overrides individuals; women “exchanged” between groups in ways that do not benefit the women themselves (or their offspring).
      • Human trafficking and forced prostitution.
  • 9. Transformed System: Changes so extreme that the system “reverses”
    • Dowry – under extreme Patriarchy, the position of women is so devalued, that Wealthy families pay to get their daughters into good marriages
    • Host Clubs – Extremely wealthy women (in Japan, young women who become wealthy as sex workers) pay for “sexual” (or “emotional”) services of men.
  • 10. Objectification
    • “ Don’t treat women as sex objects”
    • What do we mean by this?
    • Is it possible to “desire” someone without “objectifying” them? Is it wrong for someone to be your “object of desire”?
    • Are only women “objectified”?
    • Are men “objectified” differently than women?
  • 11. Model of Individual Subjectivity/Objectivity Humans as Subjects and Objects Subjectivity Reflexive Cognition, Attitudes, Desires Objectivity Embodied Physical Presence People are both subjects and objects. As objects, we are embodied beings. In part, this is merely physical presence. But socially, and especially sexually, we are objects in relationship to the subjectivity of others. In complex economic arrangements, for example, our labor can be bought, sold, and utilized not only by ourselves but by others. In sexual relations, we are the embodied objects of others’ desires. “ Objectivity” (in this sense) is the quality of being an embodied physical presence. “ Subjectivity” is the quality of reflective cognition, attitudes and desires (which motivate activity and behaviors).
  • 12. Sex Object, Success Object Same? Different?
    • Sexual Exchange implies that Women are “Sex Objects” and Men are “Success Objects”
    • Similarities:
      • The person becomes a “means to an end” (sexual gratification, emotional gratification, wealth/resource accumulation)
    • Differences:
      • Embodied objectification (sex object) vs. “Disembodied” (externalized?) objectification
      • Being “success objects” leads men in general into activities that may be empowering (for some of them); Being a “sex object” does not.