It has been unanimously agreed, since Foucault, that power is not an intermittent and isolated force. Rather, the concept manifests itself daily as a continuous network of power struggles exerting on any individual regardless of his status in society, "from the great strategy of geo-politics to the little tactics of the habitat"(1980). As a result, Foucault argues, spatial arrangements do provide an analytical framework for the study of inequalities as valuable as economic or sociological explanations.
In 1974, Michelle Rosaldo was the first to apply such a paradigm to gender stratification. With the publication of her essay, Women, culture and society, she depicts a domestic-public dichotomy accounting for the variability of conditions throughout societies: empirically, it appears that the finest the boundary between the domestic and the extra-domestic is, the highest women's status might be (she mentions the Mbuti pygmies as a shining example of that link).
[...] Although stereotypically the share of tasks is at the expense of women, a deeper analysis proves that public space is actually not deserted by women. Not only do they intervene in the same areas as their husbands, but they can even enjoy a public sphere of their own, whatever its nature: the public hammam for Morrocan women, a political association for feminine anti-mafia coalitions in Sicily. These supposedly antifeminist societies do not create a total domestic isolation; women still intervene in their own way. [...]
[...] The argument here is not that social structure is utterly determined by space differentiation, but that the institutionalization of its legacy may be perpetuated as an ideal for the future generations. Differentiated spaces might thus pave the way for the expression of moral judgments, and somehow legitimate the stigmatization of women entering the public arena. It seems, after this section, that spatial exclusion is a far-reaching blow to women's rank in society. Carried to an extreme, Rosaldo's 1974 intuitions would draw to the conclusion that they only have two options to enhance their status: either entering the masculine public sphere or creating an alternative publicity, but in any case they have to cross the sacred line. [...]
[...] Exclusion from public space is not a necessary evil, because both exclusion and public space have different meanings all over the world. This diversity has to be taken into account to assess the impact of segregation on women's status, so that the side effects of spatial division are variously expressed. Bibliography ABU ODEH Lama (1993), “Post-colonial feminism and the veil : thinking the difference” in Feminist Review pp26-37 BRETELL Caroline and SARGENT Carolyn (2000), Gender in cross-cultural perspective, ed. Prentice Hall BUITELAAR Marjo (1998), “Public baths as private places” in Women and islamization : contemporary dimensions of discourse on gender relations, chap ed. [...]
[...] And as Raina Rapp noted, Tanzanian female farmer, a Mapuche woman leader, and an American working-class housewife do not life in the same domestic domain, nor will the social upheavals necessary to give them power over their lives to be the same. (1979). One should bear in mind too, those women's power and presence in public contexts has long been underestimated, quantitatively and qualitatively, by researchers. The lack of recognition does not impede the existence of an informal power exerted at home or outside. Raina Rapp argues, accordingly, that there is no such thing as an utter exclusion from the public space. [...]
[...] This pervasive assumption that, in a nutshell, men govern society and women govern home, is not unimportant to understand the phenomenon of dependence: it entails that society doesn't fit with women's needs and behavior, and that accordingly, they need an exterior spokesperson, either within the kinship (father, brother) or the marriage system (husband). Based on this observation, Whitehead argued that the very idea of an incomplete human being was a crucial justification of universal subordination. In this line of thought, one cannot overlook the far- reaching consequences of a hostile public domain when it comes to security. [...]
APA Style referenceFor your bibliography
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee