This article discusses the relationship between gender history and the history of the family, especially in the field of consumer studies, and examines works that consider the rise of a ‘modern’ public sphere, structured around mass consumption and potentially more inclusive with respect to women. Reframing Jürgen Habermas's account with a gender-conscious approach and recognizing the power of the discourse in shaping historical processes, some of the studies it considers critically utilize the Habermasian assumption that commercial culture caused a radical transformation of the classic bourgeois public realm. Focusing on the contemporary debate about women shoppers and the challenge they posed to the masculine public sphere, these works explore the tensions between different ‘publics’ that were emerging in the nineteenth century within European societies and the changing ways in which domesticity and motherhood were linked to consumer culture. The article also looks at the politicization of everyday life in twentieth-century Europe.
Susanne Klausen and Alison Bashford
This article analyzes the preoccupation of eugenics with fertility control—a broad term denoting all methods by which humans seek to induce, prevent, or terminate pregnancy. It also discusses the role of eugenicists in establishing birth control clinics, and to advocate for more controversial technologies of reproductive control such as sterilization and sometimes abortion. It also shows the link between feminist, eugenic, and neo-Malthusian discourses. It begins with the classic definition of eugenics and then indicates that contraceptive information would be offered to married women who are too young, ill, or weak for pregnancy, or who experienced pregnancy too frequently. This article also provides an understanding of the role played by feminism in the social acceptance of technologies of reproductive control. It concludes that eugenic feminists often connected by neo-Malthusian ideas have played a leading role in developing new reproductive technologies.
The historiography of gender in the Ancien Régime has explored two sets of interrelated issues. One is the question of the changing nature of men's and women's experiences and the ways in which they related to each other. Another is the way in which gender had an integral role in shifting cultural, political, and—explored to a much lesser extent this far—economic patterns. In both cases, historians have debated whether gender hierarchy intensified and women's opportunities became more constrained, whether changing patterns reformulated gendered expectations but not in a way that a “better or worse” paradigm is appropriate, or whether new forms of gender relations created new opportunities. In the Ancien Régime, gender made a difference: for all social ranks whether peasants, artisans, or nobles, for economic matters as market practices intensified and a consumer revolution ushered in new fashions for Parisians and peasants alike, for cultural processes as traditional categories were problematized and new possibilities were debated, and for political debates as novel forms of politics as well as innovative ideas about sovereignty and authority emerged.
Catriona M. M. Macdonald
Women's history, as conceived since the 1970s, was not the first and has not been the sole avenue through which gender concerns have intruded upon comfortable historical conventions, nor has it always offered the most successful or most obvious approach to gendering Scotland's past. This article considers the ways in which women's histories (as opposed to women's history) have informed Scottish historiography in the last hundred years, and examines the extent to which gender perspectives (no matter how crude or old-fashioned) infused writings on Scotland's past in this period. It looks at the views of Scottish historians such as Agnes Mure Mackenzie, in whose histories nationhood rather than gender offered the dominant perspective. Between 1899 and 1969, establishing Scottish history's place within a resistant academic environment, challenging Whig perspectives on Scotland's past, and achieving both within a political context in which Scottish nationalism was regularly treated as an incidental and faintly comic distraction, proved to be the principal and most distinctive motivating factors in Scottish historical scholarship.
Janet C. Gornick and Natascia Boeri
This article examines the link between gender and poverty. It begins with a discussion of selected theoretical perspectives that have informed the study of poverty, with emphasis on economic insufficiency, capabilities deprivation, and social exclusion as well as the feminization of poverty. It then considers key contributions to the empirical literature on poverty and gender, focusing on interdisciplinary studies that define poverty based on economic resources. It also reviews selected empirical results from a group of twenty-six high- and middle-income countries, based on data from the Luxembourg Income Study Database. More specifically, it explores the likelihood that women and men live in poor households, and how that likelihood varies by family structure and the strength of their attachment to the labor market. Finally, it explains how the empirical results and the main findings from the literature review contribute to the challenge of evaluating the connection between gender and poverty.
Donna J. Guy
This article discusses gender and sexuality during the national period and the shift from women's history to the study of the social construction of both femininity and masculinity and of various forms of sexuality. It argues that this has problematized “the notion of universalized female oppression,” a trend in line with the general historiographical emphasis on individual and collective agency since the 1980s. Gender here is both a topic and a category of analysis. The discussion thus sheds much light on other aspects of—in this case, national—society, such as notions of nationality and citizenship, the nature of the modern state and law, populism, and revolutionary and feminist politics.
Alexandra Minna Stern
This article considers the adjacent analytics of gender and sexuality and explores the emergence, consolidation, and persistence of eugenics over the twentieth century with keen attention to transnational variations and networks. It seeks to synthesize the growing body of literature on gender, sexuality, and eugenics and discusses various examples for hereditarian ideas and practices in the United States and Latin America. Furthermore, it turns to three substantive areas and discusses women's ambivalent relationship to eugenics, with emphasis on how female reformers navigated the tensions between breeding as an act of empowerment versus a biological burden. It examines the complicated relationship between sexology and eugenic thought, which ultimately supports an overwhelmingly hetero-normative interpretation of the family, despite scattered subversive possibilities. Finally, it concludes with a brief discussion about eugenic continuities into the twenty-first century, especially in regard to debates over the gay gene and the demonization of same-sex relationships and families.
This chapter, which examines the issues of gender and women's rights during the Cold War, discusses how the United States and the Soviet Union used the status of women as a measure of national progress. It explains that the United States promoted women's domesticity and consumerism while the Soviet Union maintained that the measure of woman's status was her equality to men, which should be measured in terms of equal pay and the number of women in the workforce. The chapter also discusses the factors that led to the breakdown of the Cold War paradigms for women's rights, and describes how non-aligned countries challenged the early Cold War agenda and worked toward a more nuanced approach to the global improvement of women's status.
In 1939, an Ojibwe woman named Naynaabeak was involved in a conflict that shows some of the complexities that American Indians experienced throughout the history of settler colonialism in the United States. Her family did not live on a reservation, but they were Ojibwe people and tribal citizens and her home and fishing spot were historically Ojibwe places. The complex legal world defined by borders disrupted Naynaabeak’s ability to make a living, and her conflict was simply part of everyday existence for many Ojibwe women. This chapter considers the hurdles that Naynaabeak’s generation overcame in their determination to make a living, and how their efforts to remain on their lands, fishing grounds, forests, hills, and mountains—and especially their sacred places—enabled their descendants to maintain indigenous communities which still exist. The chapter reviews the literature about gender and labor in American Indian history to illuminate its major themes.
One of the central questions in feminism is whether gender matters. In the case of food activism, gender is also a controversial issue. In particular, one may ask how foodways—the beliefs and behaviors surrounding food production, distribution, and consumption—constrain and empower men and women to become political actors, or how gender power and identity are enacted in food activism. In this article, the author reviews the literature on food and gender and examines how gender can enlighten the study of food activism. She draws on her own ethnographic research on food, culture, and gender in Sardinia and Florence in Italy, and in Pennsylvania and Colorado in the United States. Using a food-centered life history methodology, the author has investigated people's depictions of the role of food in their lives. Her findings show that women use food as a medium to talk about their experiences, their cultures, and their beliefs. Thus, food allows the public to become aware of lives that would otherwise go unnoticed—the lives of ordinary women.