So below is a short introduction into what Black Feminism is, why it is needed, & then a little reading list of some books I have found profoundly helpful. Liberation politics should not be divided nor should it be on a quest for liberation while it stifles the voices of other oppressed groups. Black feminism is a core component of our struggle against oppression & domination & we need to remember that this is not a Black woman’s issue. Black feminism is for everybody, it is inclusive, empowering, & liberating. Continue reading
Robert Hauhart describes a survey that is used to illustrate how students in an online sociology course tend to learn about inequality in everyday life. The online course discussed personalizes key concepts found within Hoschild’s works on the ‘second shift’ of domestic labor, by asking students to connect these notions with their own experiences.
The article begins by providing data that states since the end of World War II the United States’ women’s labor force participation has exorbitantly increased. In 1949, 31 percent of American women were employed outside the home, by 1960 this figure increased to 38 percent, and by 2000 to 60 percent, and states this increase as substantial demographic and social change of the past century. The article also presented data stating that U.S. women spent 30 hours per week doing unpaid household work in 1965, which was more than six times the time spent by U.S. men (4.9 hours). By 1995 this gap had narrowed with women doing 17.5 hours of work each week and 10 hours of work each week.
The goals of the class survey used were to induce student’s recognition of the unequitable division of labor within today’s society as well as to increase their understandings of the patterned nature of societal inequality through the analysis of the gendered division of household labor in relation to other issues of gender inequality that may originate outside the home. Hauhart asked students to review a list of household tasks as well as to evaluate household members’ contribution to the performance of each task. Students were also asked to write about the ‘ideal’ level of contribution from each household member within their own household. Most of the responses received by students illustrated a continuing gap in performing household labor between sexes in heterosexual couple households. Although the age range of class members was between 18 and 43 between 2003 and 2004 and was distributed evenly over the range, there were not any apparent age related trends in either direction. Hauhart’s main points were that the unequal division of American household labor following World War II has continued to be a stubborn and problematic issue, and that the online course discussed was a legitimate method of educating students on this topic as well as intimately involving and engaging students with this issue by imploring students to relate their own personal experiences with the unequal division of labor to the class.
After the administration of the survey class members were asked to comment on their responses and those of their classmates. The responses tended to be varied and there was adamant discussion following. Generally speaking, the online course tended to spur the results desired by the author, which included results for the survey, as well as in depth discussion of the results. Hauhart stated that there were a multitude of chances to note the various topics of inequality as well as stratification within undergraduate sociology courses, and that he experienced problems conjuring meaningful discussion encouraging equal participation rates within class discussions and achieving student recognition of connection between unequal circumstances and the perpetual patterns of extant and widespread structured inequality. The author also illustrates that the survey results received were for teaching rather than scientific purposes. The use of surveys, journals, quizzes, and exercises were used to open discussion, introduce controversial ideas, and create a comfortable environment for investigating a comfortable setting to explore topics in depth within sociology classes is a common pedagogical. Hauhart demonstrates that the primary innovation offered is the translation of technique into online settings.
Hauharts main points were that the unequal division of American household labor following World War II has continued to be a stubborn and problematic issue. It seemed like he unnecessarily repeated some of his main arguments. As mentioned in the piece, the course only ‘briefly’ referenced Hoschild’s study of the ‘second shift’ phenomenon’, which made me consider whether student’s were able to adequately digest the various variables including types of household tasks completed (indoor, outdoor, as although it is a somewhat simple study. I also thought more information could have been gleaned regarding the division of labor results he received from his students. For instance the number of children could have been listed as well as if the household was dual earner, the racial makeup, SES status, as well as geographical location. These factors are all relatively easy to attain and would have added significant detail and deeper insight into why the reports of the gendered division of labor were reported the way they were. It also seemed as if the results of the survey could have been discussed in a bit more detail. I also thought the specific percentage breakdown of the household survey could have been discussed in more detail, as most seemed to be far from parity.
As for contributions to the sociology of gender I do not think it is adding much to the literature. The sample it uses to describe the division of household labor is relatively small (38 students) making it difficult to generalize to a wider population and its findings do not state anything that has not already been said from previous literature. Essentially I would call for richer or more detailed data, as well as a larger sample size to more accurately assess the quantity as well as quality of labor completed by members within households. Additionally, although the structure of the class exercise is relatively interesting and was adept at involving class members in a legitimate conversation about gender, this would be helpful to sociologists within the field of education. I am curious of how other factors such as age, race, class, sexual orientation, SES, occupational status, and educational background play a role in determining the division of household labor. I am interested in how these a combination of these various factors interact and how they determine the way in which couples divide labor within the household. An affluent straight white heterosexual couples may indeed divide household labor differently than an African-American lesbian couple who fall below the poverty line. I also think a richer description of the type of work done by various couples would be helpful for future research, as the amount of time spent on a task does not necessarily denote its level of difficulty, and a broad category such as yard work covers a variety of task difficulty from tractor lawn mowing to intensive gardening. I am also interested in what the ages of the children were for those students who completed housework, as knowing the exact age of a child would provide a better sense of what tasks it could complete.
Hauhart, Robert C. 2007. “Teaching about Inequality in a Distance Education Course Unsing the Second Shift.” Teaching Sociology 35 (2): 174-183.
Part of our blog’s purpose is to highlight struggles for liberation and freedom going on around the world and do what we can to let everyone know about them. On that note I had the pleasure some time ago to talk with Satori Ananda, an activist and organizer working with an organization called Friends of the Congo. Their organization’s goal is to highlight the abuses, outside influences, and internal conflicts that is tearing the Congolese people apart. Their main organizing effort in this capacity is an event called Congo Week which was October 14-20th last year. They also have a speaker tour which also spreads their message across different communities. Below is an email interview done with Satori about conditions in the Congo, her organization’s involvement, and what you can do to support their efforts.
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I have been recently noticing a number of different programs & individuals pushing the whole “Save our Sons” campaign in the Black community & it always leaves me feeling like they are missing something vital. But what could it be??? Hmmmmm…. oh, yeah, BLACK GIRLS/WOMEN!!!! What is with this whole “We only need to save our sons” mentality amongst the Black community??? Your daughters deserve/need your help too!
While this piece is not in any way about ignoring the plight of African men & their struggle, I do want to point out that fact that they do NOT struggle alone & in many instances their struggles are the struggles of African women & in many ways African men oppress African women via misogyny & patriarchy via systematic sexism. This male privilege in the Black community leads us to devalue our beautiful daughters as we raise our sons up. The focus or emphasis on our sons has a cost & that cost is our young women. We baby our sons, pacify them, encourage them, invest in them & in many cases we leave our daughters to have nothing. Continue reading
The social sciences as they have developed in the western world has it as it’s goal to develop, catalog, understand, and organize human behavior. Sociology, Political Science, Psychology, Philosophy, Anthropology, Communications, and all the other social sciences seek to make sense of the social world human beings have created for themselves over the past million years of our existence. For myself, I chose to study Sociology, the study of human interactions. Much like many of the other social sciences, it has it’s roots (in the western world, other societies have their own forms of all these fields hundreds or thousands of year before Europe) in the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. Because the period that Sociology came into being along with other social sciences it’s focus was on Europe and interactions between European people, to the detriment of other societies and groups of people.
Europe’s barbanistic and imperialistic interactions with the rest of the world over the intervening 200 years influenced the social sciences in a way that is classist, sexist, and racist in both their theories as well as the professional practice of these fields. Examples of racism for instance infecting these fields is the “culture of poverty”, eugenics, functionalism (or at least some applications of said approach), the entire field of Anthropology, and Democratic Peace Theory.
Although in recent years, the influence of the Civil Rights/Black Power, Women’s Rights, LGBT*, Anti-Colonial, and Anti-Capitalist movements have influenced a new generation of social scientists who have not been as influenced by these oppressive circumstances, problems still remain. I can only speak for myself as an African in Sociology, but there are still great and many barriers to having the oppressed voices heard in the social sciences. especially for those of us who are practitioners of those social sciences like myself. One of the most important and basic of these barriers is what I would like to call the “Assumption of Oppression Bias”. Continue reading
I figured I would write this post to share my recent experiences with some individuals in my department and specifically with some of my classmates in one of my classes this semester. This semester I have come to understand that there is nothing more dangerous than an intelligent, well spoken, conscious, & confident African woman. I have become aware of this because my classmates have highlighted me as a present threat in class. Continue reading