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Globalism, labor and gender
Globalization can be defined as the process through which countries all over the world have become and continue to become more interconnected and interdependent with one another due to improved cultural exchange and cross border trade (Dweyer, 1994). Globalization is not a new phenomenon and has been in existence for centuries. However, technological advances in transport and communication have resulted in an unprecedented increase in the rate at which globalization has been effected in the past few decades effectively transforming the world into a global village.
Globalization has brought about improved international trade with big national organization being transformed into multinational corporations. Such companies base their business operations in more than one country while at the same time heavily relying on a thriving global economy (Dweyer, 1994). Globalization has also enabled the free movement of labor, capital as well as goods and services. It has also brought about a profound degree of transformation with regard to gender dimensions in the last three decades.
These transformations have precipitated contradicting implications in the manner with which men and women interact in the international as well as national arenas. Globalization has effectively broken down traditional structures defining gender roles in society (Dweyer, 1994). The traditional structure with regard to division of labor provided a distinct divide in the role men and women played in the development of a society. Men were obligated to engage in formal labor while women were relegated to domestic roles of child care, reproduction and in some instances, informal labor.
Globalization has provided women with the opportunity to venture into new areas of formal employment as a means to generate income, independence and actively participate in social activities. However, globalization has also presented new challenges with regard to labor with women being subjected to unsuitable working conditions and biased labor rights as well as their traditional roles in their domestic roles as wives and mothers.
This has been especially propagated by wealthy Western nations which run most of the multinational corporations. These multinational corporations have taken advantage of third world economies with an abundance of natural resources and cheap labor with the sole aim of realizing supernormal profits.
The Western nations have pushed the third world economies to subject their labor force to work in unsuitable working conditions, longer hours and low wages. This has resulted in the Western nations getting richer and the third world nations becoming poorer. This has resulted in a situation where women in the third world countries living in gross living conditions so as to maintain the high living standards of the Western nations.
Davis (1988) provides that reproduction rights have been a heavily contested ideological battle ground as old as humanity itself. Indeed, fertility control has been applied extensively among the different and diverse cultures all over the world that women, men and the state have sought to have absolute control. Davis (1988) provides the argument that reproductive rights should be the preserve of women with regard to reproductive freedom as opposed to population control or the right to abortion.
Fertility control translated to population control and this in essence determined the economic development and military power of societies (Hartmann, 1997). Many societies were agrarian in nature and as such a higher population translated to more agricultural productivity, food security and therefore a thriving society. On the other hand, societies which lived in cities sought to control population growth as it led to strains on the prospects of sustainable economic growth. In warring societies, female children were scorned upon as they contributed little to army enrollment. This led to instances where female infants were killed at infancy as they were seen as being unproductive towards societal ends.
During the Industrial Revolution, rural to urban migration brought about a situation whereby children in cities were seen as a burden as they curtailed not only the economic development of cities but also the freedom of women (Hartmann, 1997). Three main reasons as to why this was the case were incidences of overcrowding job scarcity and more so the stress and strain on women’s health as a result of frequent childbearing regimes. The prevailing ideology at the time sought to realize careful planning and investments with regard to the meager resources available. This pushed women to seek fewer children with the aim of concentrating limited resources and energy to raising healthy children. Unreliable birth control methods led women to shun such methods irrespective of their social standing. This was at a great cost with regard to women’s freedom, from a political as well as health standpoint.
Birth control pill and other forms of contraceptives available for women were tested on black women and the poor in America while in Europe, women from the colonies were used as test subjects for fertility control. This was because they had no political voice as well as the fear of the White race that population growth in the colonies would undermine their control in these regions. The Comstock laws were instituted to limit distribution of family limitation leaflets aimed at education women on the need for reproduction rights aimed at bringing about gender equality in a male dominated society (Hartmann, 1997). This was one of the means the US government used to prevent educating women on their reproductive rights.
Gender and the state
Pettman (1996) provides that there are indeed profound differences as to how the state relates to gender more so as the state is essentially dominated by the male gender thereby undermining the female gender. From a historical perspective, the individual was a term used to define a person of the male gender with the inherent freedom to interact and move freely in the public domain. The female gender in this perspective was always relegated to an inferior position in the public domain and only recognized relative to the domestic role they played at home. These were ideally the political constructs of ancient Greece which are still adhered to in most contemporary political structures such as in North America.
Public political power as well as centralized authority sought to institute a clear division as to public space and domestic spheres. Women were sidelined to accommodate the private or domestic spheres on as were children servants and slaves.
In the western world, classical thinkers in the political realm such as Aristotle and Plato as well as authors of the modern state such as Locke and Hobbes also sought to exclude women from active politics (Pettman, 1996). They did so by pointing out the inherent differences among genders as defined by biology and cultural inclination thus sidelining women in the running and subsequent development of the state.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) have gained a voice in the recent past both in a political and social standpoint. This has been precipitated by social movements which arose from the west in the 60’s and more so after 1968 when civil rights movements changed the political landscape in North America. As such, these movements questioned the long-established political class adherences thus creating divisions and new social identities. Supporters of the different social identities brought about the realization of identity politics. This meant that women strongly sought to identify with principles of feminism, black people with the black civil rights movements and gay and lesbian communities with sexual politics. This brought about new approaches to political solidarity giving these previously marginalized groups a political voice.
The LGBT have been a marginalized group for a long time in America and were subjected to oppressive measures by the American states. For instance, after the dreaded disease AIDS was first reported in the US, it was associated with the LGBT community. As such, the government failed to seek to understand the true nature of the disease and instead sought to seek its remedies. This resulted in many of the members of the marginalized LGBT to suffer in silence as they saw their friends and lovers die as well as being shunned by childhood friends and family members.
We are living in the modern age which is also referred to as the age of information. The relay of information defines the economic development of a society as was seen during the Industrial Revolution. Print media was widely used then and contributed greatly to the advancement of globalization. In the contemporary world, technological advances in communication have precipitated the digital age redefining perceptions on the new social reality. Through the repetitive relay of messages and images through electronic media and the internet, both the patriarchal culture and gender stereotypes have been reinforced via views and themes thus influencing public opinion.
It is important to note that feminine rights movements in the western world more so in North America and Europe have played a significant role in shaping scholarly agendas with regard to the field of feminist communication studies (Lemieux, 2013). In the same regard, mass media has also redefined the way societies relate to heterosexism and gender variance among women. The media has been successfully used towards the realization of gender parity.
As much as female audiences are place in a cultural context that reproduces a given cultural representation whether inclined to masculinity or femininity, it has offered scholars with crucial insights towards better understanding the cultural dimensions relative to equality and power.
The media has given women a voice on a micro level though this has not been matched at a macro level given the inherent limitations prevailing at the micro level (Lemieux, 2013). For instance, issues faced by women in the western world and third world countries may have some similarities such as oppression and other cultural limitations. However, on a macro scale, their limitations are profoundly different such that women in the third world countries will have lower chances of successfully effecting actions championed for by feminists in the west. On the other hand, issues championed for by women in third world countries may meet challenges precipitated by third world states.
For instance, successful divas such as Beyoncé Knowles have used the media to successfully realize successful careers and compete in a male dominated industry. As a public figure, Beyoncé has used her persona to reach women from all walks of life where they are at through digital media platforms (Lemieux, 2013). She and other artists have used digital media to transcend racial and gender divides to strongly champion for the feminist agenda. As such, she has enabled the feminist agenda to be widely propagated to the black people as it was previously a preserve for the White people.
Davis, E. S. (1988). “Contested Terrain: The Historical Struggle for fertility Control,” in Women under attack: Victories, Backlash and the Fight for reproductive Freedom. Boston: South End Press.
Dweyer, A. (1994). “Welcome to the Border,” in On the Line: Life on the U.S.-Mexican Border. London: Latin American Bureau.
Hartmann, B. (1997). Committee on Women, Population and the Environment, “Call for a new approach,” in Reproductive Rights and Wrongs. Boston: South End Press.
Lemieux, J. (2013). Black Feminism Goes Viral. Ebony. March 2013.
Pettman, J. J. (1996). “Women, Gender, and the State,” in Worlding Women: A Feminist International Politics. New York: Routledge.