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(en) France, Alternative libertaire de septembre - The gender division of labor activists (fr) [machine translation]

Date Sat, 29 Sep 2012 16:39:39 +0200


The issue of gender relations through the whole of society, it is inevitable that it also passes through activist organizations. A set of recent work in sociology seeks to highlight these inequalities. ---- The first element of social inequality between men and women for the activism. So traditional social space was divided into two kingdoms: the man the public space of the city, the woman, the domestic hearth ... One might think that in contemporary Western societies traditional view is exceeded. However, engagement in the public sphere of women is lower than men and varies depending on the type of activism. Indeed, women invest more easily in the associative activism considered more practical than political activism, more ideological, and the proportion of women in the organizations of the extreme left is low, more in anarchist organizations.

It seems in particular that virile image conveyed by the latter sometimes is not unrelated to this feature. This report to the public space is also reflected in a greater difficulty for women to speak in such general meetings. It should also take into account the unequal investment of men and women, the problem of the sexual division of labor within the domestic space. The assignment still often dominant female tasks of raising children and household activities.

The iron law of patriarchy

We often talk about the glass ceiling which reflects the fact that women do not occupy leadership positions in companies or under-representation of women among the elected representatives of the political parity laws do not compensate. It should however be noted that the militant organizations, especially trade unions, suffer from the same inequalities. Women are still less women than men in positions of responsibility. Thus, the model of the iron law of oligarchy - which states that any organization beyond a certain mass tends to generate a ruling bureaucracy - some sociologists speak of iron law of patriarchy. More, some studies show that it is often women who are able to behave says men who succeed in these positions.

Such a state of queries again the capacity of grassroots organizations to adopt other values ââthan those of male domination to be open to activism which emphasizes an ethic of care, values âârelated to care .

Mixed and non-mixed

The work of feminist theorists have led to broaden the concept of work, which remained in the theory of Marx limited productive labor of the worker, and the exploitation of invisibilisant reproductive work performed by women within the domestic space. In continuation of these studies, sociologists analyze the sexual division of labor activist.

We can notice the existence of a vertical division of labor which also affects the content of the tasks performed by the one and the other. Women often invest more on technical tasks as more political. It must be remembered that the feminist movement of the second wave, the Women's Liberation Movement (MLF), has just formed around the non-mixed because of the difficulty for women to find their place in the spaces militants mixed .

Current work on these issues sociology show the importance of paying attention to this dimension in our activism today.

Irene (AL Paris North East)
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