When talking about women inequality do you take into consideration the economic class of the individual?

For example, it has been stated by some many times in this category that women through history and even modern times have never been oppressed or that feminism is exaggerating this oppression. But are you taking into consideration the economic status of the individual? It is very different the social position of an ancient queen or a modern rich white woman, than the majority who lived and still live in poverty.

Can you see how different it could be?

Other example: for centuries women could not own property, have their own business and less study. If the woman was rich, her family or husband could take care of her. On the other hand if she was poor and was not married there were very few options: going to a convent or prostitution. Unfortunately in many countries women are still not better than in the past.

What thoughts do you have on this?

p.s. Please no answers like: but men have also been oppressed and are also poor. This question is directed to the women's social condition

11 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    It was pointed out to me recently that we should be thinking in those terms. That, okay, poor people have it worse. Well, within that group, women have it worse than men, and that's how it is for every group. A rich queen has it better than a peasant, but a king has it better than her, and a male peasant has it better than a female. It works for other kinds of groups, too. I don't know who decided that the "who's more oppressed" game was a fun one. We simply cannot compare the plight of black people and women, for instance, but we do know that black women face more discrimination than black men, just as white women face more discrimination than white men.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Yes, it's really important to do so, and to take into account other variables of status as well, in order to see how oppression operates at different levels of the social structure with regards to the oportunities people have to make meaningful choices.

    In that context, there are some privileges and attached to each type of role/position, and it is those differences that have enabled oppression to function *between* the various groups as well.

    For example, upper class (aristocratic, not wealthy middle class) women in European societies have always had far greater access to abortion / pregnancy termination, but far less opportunity to make decisions about their personal lives (e.g., who they would marry) or the lives of their children.

    Working class women have had to work, but this has also given them the freedom TO work, whereas middle class women struggled to achieve the right to be employed and to keep their own pay.

    Women of colour have been oppressed not only as women but because of their race, but this has enabled them to circumvent many of the ties which bound white, middle class women to certain roles. An example is Sojourner Truth's famous pipe smoking. If a white middle class woman had behaved in the same way, she would probably have been put into a mental institution (many were).

    Were any of the 'privileges' worth the oppression? Of course not, and this remains true today, although it's less obvious.

    Is it *worth* a whole class (maybe underclass) of women, children and men, being oppressed and exploited so some people can enjoy watching pornography?

    Many would argue that a system which enables certain activities to prosper under the cloak of other, less disreputable activities, is NOT worth it.

    Others argue that individual freedoms disallows a social context.

    Regardless, the systemtic oppression of groups, with disproportionate representation of women and children within them, continues, and even though many would chhose to be free, somehow they don't get the chance to make that decision ...

    Cheers :-)

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  • Ethel
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Even though the US Constitution mandates separation between Church and State, just about every devout Christian considers morality when voting. And look where it's gotten us. Officially, religious morality has no place in politics, but in reality, religion plays a large part. Do you believe that a Muslim, Buddhist or atheist would ever have a chance to be elected, even if they had overwhelmingly great economic or foreign policy ideals?

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Your point is a pretty good one, and is quite often overlooked in gender studies, due to the fact that gender studies, like all academic disciplines, is an ivory tower ghetto inhabited by people of very limited social exposures. There is a ridiculous tendency in tradition feminist studies to focus on issues that are important to western, economically privilleged women--as if having more scumbags CEOs with vaginas will somehow help women in a third world country who can't get adequate drinking water, or enough fuel to heat their homes and cook their meals.

    Anybody who focuses on gender oppression, or racial oppression, or any specific oppression with an agenda-pushing, tunnel vision is revealing that they are a limited thinker, unable to synthasize complicated ideas and conflicting experiences. That is my basic problem with your typical academic feminist hack. I can't stand to think about how many hours I wasted in my life sitting in a college classroom, eyes rolling to the back of my head as some extremely privilleged, upper-class female, whose daddy had always paid for her to attend all the best schools and have all the best opportunities, lectured to me about how oppressed women are in our society--no matter that I actually grew up dirt poor in a single-mother household, and hence had a much more genuine, real-life experience of societal oppression. Because I was a virile, articulate, athletic male, I was automatically considered complicit in patriarchy, and any rich, privilleged twit with a **** was automatically a victim, even if her entire life had been spent reaping the rewards of the unjust capitalist system, while I was working underage just to help keep an actual female led household afloat.

    Robert G: Your theory on that upper class women traditionally suffered from more oppression than lower class women is absurd, romantacized gobbley-****.

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  • Junie
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Yeah. It's my understanding of the lives of working class women that causes me to shout at Betty Friedan: What, are you nuts?

    Feminists are the ones who have argued that a woman with small children is on a level playing field with childless men. She is not. The modern feminists worked for no-fault divorce, worked to end alimony, and don't want to give the impression that a mother might have different workplace needs than a father. This is a HUGE diservice to any woman who wants to be a primary caregiver, even for a short while.

    Go back to the classical feminists, who argued for housewives' rights. THEY understood that mothers need extra protections within a marriage - current fems do not.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Wealthy people have always had more options than poor people, and have been somewhat immune to the turning tides of the economy. Poor women have suffered horribly throughout history, not to mention women who were slaves, and were consistently raped throughout their lives due to their slavery. In a democracy, however, since there are more poor women, and poor people that wealthy ones, the poor could come together and vote in rights for themselves. Unfortunately they are pitted against each other due to their competition over the small amount of economic opportunity they have. If they banded together they could be a mighty force for positive change.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I would argue that upperclass women were far more opressed FOR BEING WOMEN then lower class women were. In the cases of serfs, slaves, share croppers and other lower class peoples neither men nor women realisticaly could own property, gain political office, or hold power of any kind. The relationship was inheriently more equaltarian because both partners were needed to successfuly run the house hold. In the case of upper class women, they were used for breeding, political marriages, and never held office or power unlike thier male counterparts

    Edit- Rasta im talking about being opressed in the context of opression that comes speificaly for being a woman. An upperclass woman had more privlege than a lower class man, let alone a lower class woman I understand thier were alot of social rules that gave men power over woman, IE final say in choices, but the choices were usualy trivial and far between, most people worked for survival and didn't spend time worrying about how unfair it was that some people made more decisions

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  • 1 decade ago

    I think its important to note the socioeconomic class of women in a given civilization. In history, poor women only had the option of doing domestic work or making beer/ale -(Talking about European women who made ale as a means of financial support. They were paid very low for it but when men started to sell ales and beers even at the expense of some women making the product, the sales of these alcohols went way up.)- or getting married to a man who was rich or had some sort of nobility...but the majority of rich women (those who actually owned land before marriage or were born into it or married into it and became widows) were oppressed but were not really 'against' it. For instance, I can make the argument that calling a person a "*****" or "N_______" (The spelling differs with everyone) was the actual term to use for a black person (Slave or Freedman). When it comes to women especially those of nobility status by their husbands, I tend to get the feeling that they lavished the lifestyle rather than be against it.

    I think, for the most part (Please note I said for the most part), that the working class women have been the actual force behind the feminism movement. There have been a few female organizations that spawned over time for women such as the NACW (National Association of Colored Women) but the thing about this organization was that they were high class black women who wanted to teach middle and lower class black women how to be "Lady-like" or how to be "Graceful". Although their intentions were fine, they were out of touch with the population of women on the lower status scale.

    Look at World War II....Look at the women who went to work while their husbands and all the men went off to war. These women were of lower and middle class. They went to work to survive for themselves as well as their families and lost their jobs when the men including their husbands came back from war. When it comes to high class women, I just don't see anything positive spawning from their lifestyle besides that old concept of "Going to college to marry a lawyer/politician/doctor/businessman." and their creation of "Sunshine clubs" or clubs for women (like sororities for adult women.)

    It's just me but I just have this classist feeling (Yes, I admit I am classist against high class people. Sorry) that the lower and middle class ladies who protested for their rights as women of all kinds were the leading force behind the whole movement and the higher class females saw this, liked it, and "wanted" it because what these feminist were doing was "enticing".

    Source(s): Sorry about my disgusting bias.
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  • Nep
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    When the common man had to work in fields, mills, mines, or... for 12 hours a day to feed his family, while it took the woman many hours just to cook one meal, to milk a cow and process it just for milk(and butter), it took hours to wash clothes(no washing machines), to school the kids and take care of them...... I'm not sure they were too concerned about equality this and equality that. They were surviving.

    The common man had no choices either, but to work dangerous and back-breaking labor for his family to eat. If you call a man breaking his back all day an oppression of women? How insulting to a common man who has no chance of education either. Everyone acts like every man sat around all day and all men were scientists, artists, ... and every man in the world got together in this room and said that they were going to oppress women.

    Life is simply about survival, and nothing more. Now with technology, we don't have to work as hard in and out of the home allowing our society to change. Othewise, we will still be 'surviving'.

    Edit: Actually, you ask us to speak on how women are oppressed... this would require us to speak in relatives--relative to men. But you say that we can't discuss how poor men are. Therefore, you're not allowing us to answer your question. Most homeless are men.

    I've come to the conclusion that women will always be victims... even though younger professional women are making more than men by far, even though the grade schools cater to girls and disregard our boys, most medical research goes to women and hardly any to men's causes, how our society is sexist towards men in Parental Rights.....

    but somehow, women will always be victims. I don't think this will ever change.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Socio-ecomonic status must be taken into consideration. Historically women were oppressed-regardless of their economic class. Today I would argue that class does afford certain women more rights than others but that is a late 20th century concept. Even if a woman's husband was exceedingly rich for example in early America/England, she did not technically have any legal rights to that wealth. But her wealth would have afforded her more social rights then women of a lower class. And in fact if her husband died, her son would have the rights to it over her. Widows were at the mercy of their male children to provide for their welfare.

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