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Podcast Episode 8

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast
Episode 8: Sex, Gender, and Property

We tend to think that our modern understanding of gender as distinct from biological sex is new. It’s actually not, although the precise way in which we divorce biology from gender is distinct to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries…

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The following works were used in this podcast:

McMunn, Anne, Lauren Bird, Elizabeth Webb, and Amanda Sacker. “Gender Divisions of Paid and Unpaid Work in Contemporary UK Couples – Anne McMunn, Lauren Bird, Elizabeth Webb, Amanda Sacker, 2020.” Work, Employment and Society 34, no. 2 (2020): 155–73.

Rao, Aliya Hamid. “Women Breadwinners Still Do Most of the Family’s Chores.” The Atlantic, May 12, 2019. https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/05/breadwinning-wives-gender-inequality/589237/.

Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States. Reprint (1980). New York: HarperPerennial, 2015.

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25 Comments

  1. Madeline Orr Madeline Orr

    In Episode 8 of the podcast, Dr. Bezio discussed the gender disparities that existed during colonial America and how they can still explain and relate to the role of gender in our society today. She also discussed the differences of the role of women between classes. While there were, and still are, two major expectations of women which were to bear children and to maintain the household, class often created differences within those expectations. I thought that it was interesting that on the outside upper class women seem to have a much easier life and role but they have much less freedom and equality to men. Middle class women had to work besides their brothers and husbands creating a kind of equality that upper class women did not experience, and they feel more comfortable fighting for their discontent and desire for change. I thought it was interesting that women who were more chaste and virtuous were more desirable for men. How have these values evolved to allow reputations of women to matter less when it comes to relationships? Or has this type of culture and values even changed?

  2. Olivia Cosco Olivia Cosco

    In the 8th podcast, professor Bezio discussed the difference between gender roles between classes. Across all classes, women served men to clean and maintain the household, and bear and raise children. While these “duties” still occur in woman today, the disparities between men and women have lessened. I am wondering why it is that we as a society, have been able to make women more equal to men, but have not been able to make people of different races equal to white people. Over the years, we have been able to make women fairly equal to men, so why is it that the black lives matter movement is taking so much longer to really make a change?

  3. Isabela Keetley Isabela Keetley

    What I found most interesting about podcast 8 is the idea that middle class women were far better off than lower class women (to be expected) AND wealthy upper class women. I never learned that these were the women in the public spotlight, the women that had the greatest level of equality, because they had less restrictions than upper class women but the means to speak out that the lower class did not. I think it’s very important to consider genders during these times versus gender roles today. I believe there is much more equality and freedom today for women, specifically in the US, to assume head of the house as opposed to men and for men to be “homemakers”. What I find interesting however is the idea that many women worldwide (not US) do not have the same freedom. How can it be that women in Saudi Arabia were very recently granted the right to vote and the right to drive a car without their husband? How do we as a society achieve the level of equality that we have in the US worldwide?

  4. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    In podcast 8, Professor Bezio talked about gender and how it varied depending upon what class you were in. I found this podcast to be very interesting. Firstly, I didn’t recognize that people who lived in Medieval Europe thought that gender was a malleable thing. On top of that, I found it interesting that the poor men and women were more equal to each other when compared to wealthy men and women. I think this was a shock to me because I often associate wealth with power, therefore assuming that the men and women would be more equal but I thought wrong. Since the 1900’s, we’ve seen women gain the right to vote and become somewhat equal to men. We’ve also seen the Civil Rights Movement and Black Lives Matter movement in action. My question is, do you think other minorities within the United States, such as Native Americans or Hispanic people, rise up and spark some type of equality movement?

  5. Kathrine Yeaw Kathrine Yeaw

    Most everything in this podcast I had already known or learned about in some way. The idea of domestic spheres from long ago still having a major effect on gender roles today is something that has been ingrained into my brain since I was little. Although, one thing I didn’t really realize is the major difference in the lives of upper and middle/lower class women, which is still something that is apparent today. Today, I see a lot of upper class families in which the father works and the mother doesn’t, although there are still many cases where both parents work or just the mother works. What confuses me is how women are supposed to have “lesser” jobs, or just not have the same respect that men get, yet it’s clear, from what women were supposed to do in the 1700s, which is still mirrored today, that women do a lot more work. My question is then, is there any way women will gain the same respect as men by still doing the things they do today (work a decent job and manage the household) or do they have to do the same as men (be the breadwinner for the family, not having to manage the household)?

  6. Zariah Chiverton Zariah Chiverton

    After listening to Professor Bezio’s podcast, it was interesting to hear how the oppressive system against women came to be. Women then and women now notice and try to break free from it but what is stopping the progress of women’s rights? It slowly has gotten better as time has progressed but there is still a lot further to go.

  7. Mia Slaunwhite Mia Slaunwhite

    There is still such a large gap in the homes with males helping and taking the stereotypical women’s responsivities. This has always bothered me in a way that men think they are superior to women within the household duties. When will there be a shift? Maybe when the United States has its first Female President could there be a shift. Men have always been at the top, in the highest positions possible. It is just now that, recently, is there a noticeable shift in some women being able to prove themselves and be the CEO, or the highest position in a company. Listening to podcast 8 has made me question what more is it that women have to prove to be seen as equals to men in the workforce and have dominance?

  8. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    What shocked me about this podcast is how many parts of our gendered culture of today is very similar to what life was many years ago for the upper class: young women still somewhat reflect the virtues of their family, the most attractive women are those who are highly sought after, children of the upper-class are either raised mainly by their mother or by a babysitter, and women still mainly have the domain of the household, even though that is shifting. Although some of these characteristics apply to the middle class too, a shift in equality and respect in a household is much more noticeable today. Will the upper class always be more gendered than any other social group just because of the extended amount of free time, therefore leading to arbitrary rules? Or does a complete shift for all women just require more time?

  9. Sofia Adams Sofia Adams

    In Podcast 8 Dr. Bezio discussed gender roles primarily for women across all classes in society (as well as across time periods). I found the role of women in the middle class very interesting. I had never realized or even thought of how the middle class women had more equality and rights than upper class women. They worked along side their fathers, husbands, and sons because whether they had their own family business or farm they could not afford not to work or to do gender specific jobs. I also never thought about how middle class women were the women to fight for social justice because they had the means to as well as something to fight for. I think the role of women in different class generally gets brushed over in history classes and women in general are grouped together. I wonder why this is? I also find how the current pandemic is highlighting how prevalent gender roles are to be extremely interesting. Why is it that our society is so ingrained with the idea that women take care of the children? The men are home right now what stops them for helping with their children’s online education? I was also very struck by Dr. Bezio saying, “the more economically dependent a man is on his wife the less domestic work he will do”. Is this because of ego? How do we change the perception that women naturally belong in domestic fields?

  10. Elina Bhagwat Elina Bhagwat

    Podcast 8 was really interesting when thinking about how gender roles and stereotypes have changed over time. After listening to the podcast it became evident that gender roles really haven’t changed as much as I thought they had. Women are still expected to to the housework and take care of the children even if more women are working now than they did several decades and even centuries ago. What stood out to me is that women chose not to join political things because of their role as the housekeeper. The biases and gender roles that were inevitable and present in society contributed to the women’s decision to not join politics. This made me wonder if women’s lack of political contribution was due to not only their need to stay home and take care of the house but also that this idea of women being inferior to men may have prevented them from pursuing political careers. I always thought that men prevented women from joining politics but now it seems as though both parties played into gender roles which ultimately left women out of politics for a long time.

  11. William Coben William Coben

    Podcast 8 was incredibly interesting as it discussed the transformation of gender roles and stereotypes over time. The podcast began talking about gender over 300 years ago, and the class impact on gender and concluded with a discussion on modern day gender stereotypes. What I found most interesting in this podcast is the fact that the upper-class gender stereotypes that were observed long ago in the past oftentimes seem to hold true in modern-day America. Many wealthy families have mothers that raise children, do not provide as a source on incomes, and take on the responsibilities that wealthy women in the 1700’s took on. My question is: will the upper class always uphold the stereotypes that remained present in the early ages, or will upper-class women break free from the stereotypes and live a life with the same freedoms and opportunities as their male counterparts.

  12. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    Podcast 8 focused on sex, gender, and class and Dr. Bezio started the podcast off with an interesting and quite bizarre anecdote about a French boy who everyone thought was a girl for most of his childhood. Once the boy’s true genitalia was exposed, society believed that if someone dressed as a certain gender then their sex and anatomy would magically change. Dr. Bezio described this as the “One Sex Model”, which wasn’t debunked until the early 1700s with the rise of gender essentialism. This just shows how underdeveloped science and studies regarding anatomy or genomes were in this period and it is interesting to see how it contributed to racism and sexism. My question, then, would be how was science and the natural law of inferiority so influential in racist, sexist, or classist movements in this time? If science was so unreliable and new, why did people allow it to influence and segregate their everyday lives?

  13. Jeffrey Sprung Jeffrey Sprung

    In Podcast Episode 8, Dr. Bezio discussed the concept of gender. It was very fascinating to learn about the evolution of the understanding of gender in society. For example, I was surprised that people thought that gender was malleable in the 16th century. Furthermore, Dr. Bezio’s analysis of women’s role in society in the 20 and 21st century was very informative. It is really interesting how women’s roles in families and society vary based on class and culture. For example, Dr. Bezio mentioned that upper class women generally do less work in the house; meanwhile lower class women have a lot more household responsibilities. My question is why does society’s empowerment of women vary so much across the world? For example, why were women in Saudi Arabia just given permission to drive a car in 2017?

  14. Alexander Dimedio Alexander Dimedio

    I find it very interesting how money makes everything easier. Women who were better off financially could control their lifestyles and inequalities much easier. I would like to learn a little more about the development of this inequality though. We discussed and read about how the Native American women had an equal role to men in their society, and I am interested in how gender inequality first developed. What made people think this is how society should be run? What role does history have in cementing the ideology that men are greater than female? Finally, have we done enough in todays America to remove the domestic sphere and inequality?

  15. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    In the podcast, you discuss how, historically, a woman’s value was tied to her ability to be a good wife to her husband. This reminded me of a story I heard on the news after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. When the dean of Harvard Law School asked Ginsburg why she took a spot in the law school from a man, she responded that she went to law school to be a better wife to her husband. This was in the 1950s, and today, this conversation seems unthinkable. When did the narrative around female individualism change in the United States?

  16. Sara Moushegian Sara Moushegian

    This podcast by Profesor Bezio touches on the history of how gender stereotypes have been instilled in our society since colonial times. The idea of gender performance is touched on, which is the concept that gender is not just indicated by biological differences, but by the daily practices that have been learned and performed based on the cultural norms of masculinity and femininity.

    In today’s society, women are challenging these norms, especially in the workforce by entering the industries that have been historically male dominant and leaving the domestic space. Although, I still believe there can be ulterior motives of a company hiring women into these predominately male positions. A company may just want to profit off the success of being perceived as a diverse company, and not actually be passionate about empowering these women. This tendency, along with affirmative action, begs into question: how do we know if a woman receives a job because of her qualifications, or if the company is simply motivated by diversification? Is the company losing a more qualified male candidate? Should that even matter? I personally believe it does not matter if on paper she is not as qualified, women deserve these advantages after all the discrimination our gender has received in history in the workforce and in all realms of society.

  17. Michael Childress Michael Childress

    One part of the podcast I thought was especially interesting was the consistent theme that the middle class does ends up doing most of the work in the various revolutions or pushes for rights. Previously we talked about how the middle class carried out the agenda of the the rich whites in early colonized American because they were baited by the hope of true freedom and equality. Today, we talked about how middle class women had to do most of the pushing for women’s rights. The lower class women wanted change, but didn’t have the money or resources to make it happen. The Upper class women had the resources, but they did not have the same frustrations or incentives to make changes. When hearing this, I thought of two options the middle class women had, and I wanted to see which of these you thought were most effective. First, the middle class could push for a revolution from the upper class (which seems difficult to me because women’s voices tended to be stifled by dominant males). Alternatively though, couldn’t middle class women tried to offer assistance to lower class women, and try to give them the resources they needed to more comfortably help drive this revolution? Did they try to gain the support ( in just sheer numbers if nothing else) from the lower class women? Was this ever a tactic, or did the middle class women try to tackle this issue on their own, trying to keep their energy focused on the mission of more equality, as opposed to creating a larger united front to make a larger push?

  18. Samuel Hussey Samuel Hussey

    In episode 8 of the podcast, Dr. Bezio discussed the ongoing issue of gender inequality in our society. Progress has been made to lessen the gender gap over the past few decades, but we continue to fall short because of the negative impact tradition and implicit bias has on our society. If humans were to have their memories wiped and forget any past traditions or biases that impact our psychology, would we still see gender inequality? Would it be the other way around? Or would we live in harmony without the negative ideologies our ancestors have passed onto us?

  19. Thomas Bennett Thomas Bennett

    At the end of the podcast the Revolutionary and Civil war were mentioned in relation to women in society. During wartime, men have historically been the portion of the population who fight in the military. This resulted in women doing the sterotypically male jobs back home. How did these two wars and future ones(WW1 and WW2) affect women’s standing and perception in society?

  20. Maggie Otradovec Maggie Otradovec

    The different ideas of gender in each class is an incredibly interesting topic. The idea that the poorer you are, the more equal you are (to an extent) is odd, as the disparity between the poor and the wealthy is a source of inequality in itself. What I am curious about, however, is how religion factored into this notion. Did the religious backing of masculine superiority come before (as a cause) or after (as “evidence) the distinction of gender in terms of superiority?

  21. Henry Groves Henry Groves

    During the 8th podcast, I was interested in hearing about the distinction between upper and lower class gender roles and how gender mattered more in the upper class. I guess it makes sense when looking at it; however, I was never told about how gender roles at first were shown primarily in the upper class. Dr. Bezio mentioned this about today’s gender roles too when talking about if the man is reliant on the women for economic reasons the difference between household work becomes less. It is interesting to me that this has been the case for hundreds of years. My question is, “Does the problem with gender roles come more from economic status or another factor?”

  22. Mohamad Kassem Mohamad Kassem

    Episode 8, “Sex, Gender, Property” discusses the idea of how gender roles in society are shaped in colonial America. A great point that was mentioned in the podcast was the intersectionality of class and gender and how class sets certain expectations for each gender. I was surprised to see how upper-class women were considered less equal to men than women of the lower class as they had more restrictions that limited their freedom. Nowadays, we see that society still assigns specific roles for each gender, and coming from an Arab Muslim background I am confident to say that this division is present in the Middle East as women are expected to obey and submit to their husbands, fathers… As Dr. Bezio mentioned, they are expected to maintain a household and bear children just like the older American society. I wonder how long will it take conservative societies to be able to progress and reach a higher level of gender equality? Will they ever be able to get rid of certain values that come from their religion and cultural beliefs?

  23. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    I found it most interesting how it was really the women of the middle class who have really been the leaders in the Women’s Movements. I had always just assumed that the upper class women had been the leaders for gender equality just because they had the means to do so. But, it does make the most sense that middle class women would be the one’s to lead the movement. This is because they were seen as more equal to the middle class men because they had to do similar work, but they also weren’t in a very comfortable living situation unlike the upperclass. I wonder what the next Women’s Movement will be? Was it the Me Too Movement, and if so how do we keep that movement alive? Or if it’s not what can we do to fight for gender equity in the meantime?

  24. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    In this podcast, Dr. Bezio mentions the differences in lifestyle between upper and lower class women. While upper class women were subject to a life of domesticity and were sometimes treated as property, lower class women were often treated in a more egalitarian way as they were forced to work to provide for their family. This is not to say that women of all classes did not face oppression as most women’s wages were automatically given to their husbands if they were poor. Still, as intersectionality suggests, women of different classes experienced different forms of sexism. Given social class’ powerful effects on American society, it is not wild to question the effect of class had on the feminist movement. How did class influence which concerns of sex equality were included in feminism and which were, at least originally, not? How have feminists from a broader socioeconomic range influenced and changed the demands of feminism since the 20th century?

  25. William Clifton William Clifton

    Dr. Bezio gives a really intriguing perspective on gender and gender roles in society. I find it fascinating the way our history continues to reflect current gender norms and commonalities. While it is obvious that gender fluidity has a prominent role in today’s culture, women continue to have a large underlying stigma in America and around the world. What I find so fascinating is prior to this chapter, I believed gender relations to be positive in America, at least today. I look back on past feminist movements and gender equality movements, and feel confident change has been made. Maybe that level of confidence is unwarranted. There are so many examples of this stigma in the professional world, but I want to focus on the potential danger that comes with pop culture in America and the narrative that we are building for younger generations. I would argue that the constant message of objectifying women whether it be by males or even some females is a powerfully dangerous narrative to deem as acceptable. Do you agree? If so how can we change that?

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