It is fitting the “Theories of Urban Democracy” ends with reading on an ignored topic in previous readings of this section: gender. The authors of previous weeks all detailed their theories on the role of citizens in urban politics. Yet, none of the authors, save of Pasciuti, wrote in detail of the status of women in municipal democracy. Mills touched upon the role of women in the “power elite” in his book of the same title, but the role of women in New Haven society is secondary in Mills’ account.
This designation is not his intentional doing, but is a reflection of the subjects he recorded in The Power Elite The place of women in power dynamics in American cities is not clearly defined. Historically, women have been excluded from enjoying democratic liberties, specifically suffrage and employment. Societal norms dictated some women to remain in the private/domestic sphere until the Great Society programs, or in the case of poor and working class women whose dual roles as mothers/wives and employees often resulted in not being able to exercise political rights.
The authors assigned for this week did a great job of articulating the variety of limitation that prevent women from enjoying power dynamics in American cities. However, they each bring unique approaches to their unifying theme, just through the lens of race, class and feelings of citizens, but all relates to male dominance of societal systems. This paper argues that patriarchal hegemony, but within this hegemonic structure, issues of race/ethnicity and class, make up the root cause of oppression and isolation that women face in power relationships in municipal democracy.
Beginning with “The Patriarchal Welfare State,” Carole Pateman outlined her criticism of the modern welfare state as a design to benefit men and male dominance. The welfare state has done a disservice to women as it perpetuates the concept of the “social exile” that Hegel believed “women… are natural social exiles” and need incorporation through other means. Pateman summarized Hegel’s theory as on that can be explained by the exploitative nature of capitalism.
For Hegel, women are not made citizens in the same manner as men, but through traditional/conventional means through the family. For women, heir historical citizenship status encompassed their roles as mothers and wives in the family structure in a subservient position, then how can Pateman argued the opposite? Her compelling response to this question lies in employment and citizenship Citizenship is just on concept if those seeking it lack agency or independence. According to Pateman, men consider woman natural dependence, always in need of defending and male protection.
In the welfare state, this notion of protection relates to economic stability through non-domestic employment, a form of citizenship. Employment gives employees a stake in the larger society, a feeling of a civic community. In the private sector, the male is the breadwinner and protector of the family’s societal status. In the contemporary era, women hold jobs and professions, but are still excluded from citizenship. Women face high segregation and pay inequity, which occurred because “capitalist economies are patriarchal… and] are clustered at the lower end of the lower end of the occupational hierarchy. ” Women have been excluded from the labor force, but now that they are forced to undertake unskilled and low paying professions or other professions that perpetuate their roles as nurtures or caretakes. Such roles reduce any chance of women enjoying citizens in the traditional path that men do. Pateman made compelling arguments. However, her criticisms of the welfare state seem to discredit the successes it has in alleviating some of the burdens of property.
Further, welfare aids individuals without financial or political means to feel as participants in society. Patenam could have used more contemporary examples (1980s) to expand her argument. Whereas Patenam’s piece focused on the economic limitations of women as it relates to municipal democracy, Tovi Fenster discussed municipal citizenship through specific examples of the right to use and the right of belonging in urban settings. Fenster formed her theory of municipal citizenship through a critique of Henri Lefebvre’s theory of “the right to the city.
This theory claims that by virtue of being a resident of a city, the resident has a right to display their independence in that urban setting. The city dweller is a central actor in the political, financial, and cultural institutions in a particular urban area. Fenster objected to Zefebvrian citadenship because of its neglect to feature a discussion of urban power dynamics as these dynamics relate to gender, class, sexuality and race. In the gendered city, the right to use an urban space is complicated by private and public designations.
In the public use of the city, women are excluded from use as most of the societal benefits of living in urban life is for men. In the private sector, women remain subjected by the demands of men or traditional elements, which limits any independence they may have. Women do not have a right to use urban public and private spaces much of these spaces and designed by men and for their pleasure. For example, Fatma, an interviewee in Fenster’s study, “Home-prison! and City-Freedom, personal freedom, atmosphere, spring. Fatma feels confined in the home because of cultural norms that limit women’s independence, but liberate in the city where she is free from cultural hegemony of patriarchy. Women also face exclusion from use of urban spaces because of fear. In Fester’s interviews, many of the women expressed fear of using parks and transit systems because of aggression and harassment they face acted upon by men. If women fear use of public spaces, this fear leads to exclusion and thus no fulfillment of citizenship.
Citizenship is defined as inclusion and choice, which women do not have in either the rivate or public domains of city living, leaving them excluded from power relationships in American cities. Both Fester and Pateman ignore race. Amongst the authors assigned for this week, The Combine River Collective is the only author to discuss race as a hindrance to citizenship and power in municipal democracy. Yet, it should be noted, the Collective stated its intention to discuss race and issues that affect Black women. For the Collective, the liberation of Black women will lead to the liberation of other oppressed individuals.
They argued that Black women are the only people who can advocate for Black women because they are the most involved. The Collective cite equality in the sense of being appreciated as a human, but speak of the array of problems limiting the power of Black women in America. Perhaps the most fascinating point made by the Collective is the role Black men play in undermining the success of Black women. According to the Collective, Black men are a significant obstacle to Black women gaining power in power relationship in American society.
Black men shame Black women theorists by defaming their working and personality as “smart ugly. ” What is the purpose of such backhanded remarks? Black men desire to maintain their societal hegemony over Black women. They know that they will never reach the pinnacle of status in the social hierarchy as white men, so instead of having an equal partner in Black women, they prefer a subordinate. As a result of this view, Black men feel empowered to reduce the intellect of Black women based on physical attributes.
Two other issues facing Black feminists involves task management and racism. The Collective mentioned being overwhelmed as another limitation for the success of Black feminist. Black women take on various political issues and responsibilities that are not specific to their own issues. A Black feminist might campaign concurrently for LGBTQ and Third World rights while campaigning for the liberation of Black women. Juggling these issues have caused the liberation movement to stall.
And finally, the Collective explained their tance for working without the assistance of white feminist because they fail to recognize their superiority complexes as white women. The Collective called on Black feminists to not recognize any white feminists until such as recognition occurred. Black feminists understand that their fight will take generations. Once all systems of oppression are dismantled the true equality and equal power relationships will be obtained. Until then Black women remained excluded from municipal democracy.