Sunday, 18 September 2022



Patriarchy means rule by the father. This concept refers to a system that values men more and gives them power over women.

Sexual Division of Labour

A system in which all work inside the home is either done by the women of the family or organized by them through the domestic helpers. Gender division is a form of hierarchical social division seen everywhere but is rarely recognized in sociological studies. Gender division tends to be understood as natural and unchangeable. However, it is not based on biology but social expectations and stereotypes. Both boys and girls are brought up to believe that women’s main responsibilities are housework and raising children.

India offers many opportunities to women, with women having a voice in everyday life, business, and politics. Nevertheless, India is still a male-dominated society, where women are often seen as subordinate and inferior to men. Some of the factors for the sexual division of labour in which women’s life are said to be under patriarchy are:

  1. Division of Labour in Ancient and Traditional Societies: 

In traditional societies, Women are assigned tasks that do not require much physical strength and can be performed close to homes, like child rearing and home maintenance, while men are generally given tasks that require vigorous physical activity such as hunting, fishing in the deep sea, or herding. The sexual division of labour seems to have a biological base, especially in simple primitive societies. Though this is a typical scene found in most societies, there is great cross-cultural variation in the kind of labour that is considered appropriate for men and women.

  1. George P. Murdock’s Comparative Study on the Division of Labour by Sex: 

American anthropologist George P. Murdock once studied 224 traditional pre-industrial non-literate societies in an effort to discover regularities in the sexual division of labour. “In these societies warfare, metal working, hunting and trapping, fishing, and trade are predomi­nantly male activities. Cooking, the manufacture and repair of clothing, pottery making, and fire making and tending are predominantly female activities. Agriculture, on the contrary, which includes the preparation, planting, and cultivation of the soil, is an activity shared almost equally by the two sexes.” It provides a cross-cultural comparison of the division of labour based on sex.

  1. Dowry Tradition: 

In India’s dowry tradition, where the bride’s family gives the groom’s family money and or gifts. Dowries were made illegal in India in 1961. However, the law is almost impossible to enforce, and the practice persists in most marriages. Unfortunately, the iniquitous dowry system has even spread to communities that traditionally have not practiced it, because dowry is sometimes used as a means to climb the social ladder, achieve economic security, and accumulate material wealth.

The model used to calculate the dowry takes the bridegroom’s education and future earning potential into account, while the bride’s education and earning potential are not relevant to her societal role of being a better wife and mother. The bridegroom’s demand for a dowry can easily exceed the annual salary of a typical Indian family, and consequently, be economically disastrous, especially in families with more than one or two daughters.

  1. Cross-Cultural Variations in Division of Labour by Sex:  There is great cross-cultural variation in the tasks that are consid­ered appropriate for men and women. In many societies, the division of labour is completely different from that of the one found in modern societies. The general tendency, however, is for men to be responsible for tasks involving strenuous effort or great hard work and for women to be responsible for tasks that can be performed near the home.

  2. Women’s productivity: 

Both within the household and outside in paid work, women provide all kinds of services to their husbands, children and other members of the family throughout their lives. The work done by housewives is not considered work at all; therefore, housewives become dependent on their husbands. Men also control women’s labour outside the home by making women sell their labours or preventing women from working. This control over and exploitation of women’s labour means that men benefit materially and economically from the subordination of women. This is the material or economic basis of patriarchy.

  1. Women’s reproductions: 

Men also control women’s reproduction power. In many societies, women have no control over their reproductive capacity and they cannot decide how many children they want whether to use contraceptives or a decision to terminate a pregnancy. Patriarchy idealizes motherhood and forces women to be mothers. This ideology of motherhood is considered one of the bases of women’s oppression. It restricts women’s mobility and reproduces male dominance.

  1. Gender Roles are Not Inborn: 

Gender roles are not necessarily innate and are not wholly determined by a society’s relationship to its environment. Although all hunting-gathering societies sent men out to hunt while women cared for the home, in early agrarian societies, there was a less rigid division of labour. Thus, societies evolve from hunting and gathering to agrarian produc­tion and, the demands of pregnancy and child-rearing are less limiting, the division of labour by sex becomes more varied, although women tend to specialize in household tasks and men in tasks that take them outside the home.

  1. Influence of Culture on Gender Roles: 

The cross-cultural study of the division of labour by sex makes it evident that gender roles are highly influenced by culture. Male and female roles are not necessarily fixed for all time, even though the relationship of earlier societies to their natural environment often required a division of labour by sex. They can change as cultures adapt to new environmental and social conditions.

  1. Control over women’s sexuality: 

Women must provide sexual services to their husbands according to their needs, desire and mode. Legal regulations restrict the expression of a womans sexuality outside marriage in every society, while male promiscuity is often condemned. Another way of exercising control over women’s sexuality is when men force their wives, daughter, or other women in their control into prostitution. Rape and the threat of rape is another way women’s sexuality is controlled through notions, shame and family honour. Lastly, women’s sexuality is controlled through their dress behavior and mobility which are carefully monitored by the family and through social, cultural and religious codes of behaviour.

  1. Women’s mobility: 

Besides control of women’s sexuality, reproduction and production, men also control women’s mobility. The imposition of (pardha) restriction on having the house limits interaction between the sex is some of the ways by which patriarchal society control women’s mobility while male are not subject to restriction.

  1. The Impact of Technology: 

As a result of technological advances, the greater strength of males becomes less important, making it less sensitive to maintain the earlier division of labour. In fact, modern societies have demanded more involvement of women in a broader range of tasks. This has given rise to a demand that women should not be excluded from access to any roles, including those that are associated with high levels of power and prestige.

  1. Property and other economic resources: 

Property and other productivity by men are passed on from father to son even in societies where women have legal rights to inherit property, customary practices, social sanctions and emotional pressures prevent them from acquiring control over them.

However, even though India is moving away from the male-dominated culture, discrimination is still highly visible in rural as well as urban areas throughout all strata of society. While women are guaranteed equality under the constitution, legal protection has a limited effect, where patriarchal traditions prevail. The gender division of labour is not fixed for all time; it keeps changing in response to wider economic, political and social changes.