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Chapter One Introduction Understanding Women’s Psychological Responses to Various Forms of Patriarchy Holly F. Mathews and Adriana M. Manago In her chapter in this volume, Adriana M. Manago analyzes interviews with first-generation Maya college students in Chiapas, Mexico. Susana commutes daily from her village to the city and tells how her world view and aspirations have changed due to education. When asked why she did not want to get married right away, Susana answered: “Because I want to study, I want other experiences, I don’t know exactly. I’m free to go out at any time, to wake up at any time, late, early, I don’t have a schedule, that is, I get phone calls, let’s go, and well, there’s nobody to ask permission to go out, just my parents, [I say] ‘I’m going out.’ . . . I have this freedom to do what I want.” She seems to have embraced the individualistic goals that many feminist scholars argue accompany economic development and the spread of Western discourses. In contrast, contributor Ayesha Khurshid reports that many of her rural female Pakistani respondents, who were among the first to be educated and find jobs, still agree to traditional arranged marriages. In explaining why, one young teacher, Salma, said: “How could I refuse my father’s wishes? He has educated us [the sisters] against the wishes of the family. He did everything for us. So I knew that I had to do this [accept the marriage proposal] for him. I proved [to the community] that my father was right in educating us.” While Salma values education and the rights of women to work outside the home, her duty to uphold her family’s honor by obeying her father’s wishes remains central to her sense of self. How are we to understand these seemingly contradictory beliefs and behaviors? Are they simply the result of incomplete or uneven forces of modernization and the survival of archaic patriarchal value systems in isolated regions? No country has modernized more rapidly than South Korea, which arguably has one of the world’s most highly educated populations. Yet when contributor 1 Kelly Chong interviewed well-educated, middle-class Korean housewives, many of their views about marriage and gender roles appeared to echo traditional Confucian values. As one woman explained, “I really believe sincerely that for any woman, obedience is something she has to deal with and accept. . . . A wife obeying, raising her husband continuously and making him the leader, that is the most essential aspect of marriage.” Contributor Leta Hong Fincher questions why a new generation of highly educated, urban Chinese women continue an old custom of registering joint property solely in the husband’s name, compromising their marital power in the process. One of her respondents explained her agreement with the traditional custom by saying, “His family thinks I’m more capable than him. Even though I’m younger, the companies I worked for are better than his. So his mother thinks her son needs some kind of guarantee. . . . His mother started crying on the phone and I thought, forget it. . . . After all, she’s my elder [zhangbei]. Since she started crying, I knew that this issue was also really hurting her. So I thought, forget about it, whatever works is fine.” Clearly, patriarchal beliefs and practices flourish even in modernized societies and among well-educated women. Deniz Kandiyoti (1987, 324) highlights the central paradox confronting feminist theorists seeking to understand and change gender oppression cross-culturally: what is the relationship, if any, between emancipation and liberation? She reports that while the formal emancipation of Turkish women was achieved through a series of legal reforms and the establishment of a secular republic, corporate kin control of female sexuality continued to reproduce a culturally specific experience of gender for many. Kandiyoti (1987, 324) concludes, “Insofar as subjective experiences of femininity and/or oppression have a direct bearing on the shaping of what we might imprecisely label a ‘feminist consciousness,’ they have to be taken seriously and analyzed in far greater detail than they have been.” Contributors to this volume met for a week-long seminar at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in April 2015 to examine how women’s subjective experiences shape and are shaped by changing sociocultural and political conditions. Noting the need to move beyond a dichotomy of accommodation and resistance, the organizers brought together a group of feminist scholars with field research experience and...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780826360847
Related ISBN
9780826360830
MARC Record
OCLC
1124609064
Pages
296
Launched on MUSE
2019-10-21
Language
English
Open Access
No
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