Gender Differences throughout History Essay examples

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Through investigations of writers as diverse as Silvia Federici, and Angela Davis, Maria Mies, and Sharon Hays, Judith Butler, and Steven Gregory we have come to understand that confronting the categorization of gender differences is a complex and nuanced project. Whether one is an ontologist, exploring the metaphysical nature of gender differences (that may or may not lead down the road of essentialism) or a phenomenologist exploring how exactly it is that one “does” gender—to the extent that there even exists a concept called gender—one must employ a varied and multipartite approach. Writers such as Federici, Mies, and Davis sketched out a framework of the history of gender roles for us. From what Federici calls a time of primitive…show more content…
Joan Scott, whose essay Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis appears just a few years prior to Kerber’s, demonstrates that by drawing from other diverse disciplines (anthropology, cultural studies, economics, literary criticism) historians can show how knowledge, power, and indeed identity can be shaped by the category of gender. Echoing other poststructuralists of the time, Scott tells us that gender is, in point of fact, part of a larger system of relationships, and it links together the forces of ideology, normative behavior, political action, and identity formation. Scott breaks with tradition and suggests that gender is defined in relation to other cultural and ideological forms and not tied to any biological origins, or mired in the rubric of sexual roles; that it is in effect, not about some essential attributes but about its social function within an historical period. In their engaging study On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough, economists Alberto Alesina, Paola Giuliano, and Nathan Nunn “test the hypothesis that traditional agricultural practices influenced the historical gender division of labor and the evolution and persistence of gender norms.” What they found was that in those societies that employed the use of ploughs for agriculture, women are less likely work outside the home, be elected to elected
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