Connections 20008. Gender Inequality: Sociological and Literary Perspectives
The major concerns of this connection are examined in SOC 260: How do we learn to be women and men? How are our cultural beliefs and social institutions gendered? How do different sociological and feminist theories illuminate gender relations? How can we better understand the perpetuation of inequality by examining images of women in the media, sexism in language and violence against women? How is sexism related to racism, class stratification and heterosexism?
A number of these questions will be pursued in FR 236 through a close reading and discussion of a series of literary texts that explore the lives of women who, in widely different social settings, confront beliefs and institutions that establish and perpetuate gender inequality and privileged male dominance. Students will consider various reactions to patriarchal hegemony by women in two traditional institutions: married life and the convent. Unhappily married women (Iseut, Phèdre, Emma Bovary) turn variously to adultery, incest, madness and suicide in an attempt to deal with their plight. Bent on expiating her sense of guilt through the sacrifice of her child’s freedom, a mother forces her illegitimate daughter (Suzanne Simonin) into the convent against her will, where she is brutalized physically and where she becomes the object of lesbian desire. Despite their apparent victimization, all of these women possess enormous strengths and adopt particular strategies that inform their resistance to gender inequality.