Gender inequality and sociological imagination

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Introduction

Sociological imagination is a term in sociology discipline which was firstly derived, defined and put into sociological use by an American sociologist known as C. Wright Mills in the year 1959. In our daily lives, this term describes sociology nature and how the discipline is relevant in our lives. By definition and according to C. Wright Mills, sociological imagination is being aware of the relationship that exists between the experience of an individual and the society as whole. The term which describes how the society makes one stop to thinking about his or her personal usual life and starts looking at it afresh (Crossman, 2017). The concept of sociological imagination shows that an individual develops a deep form of understanding of how historical processes develops his or her biography in the society. It shows how the life of an individual is linked to the society within which he or she lives.

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The paper shows how sociological imagination is applied in gender inequality. Why do men feel superior over women? Why do they oppress the female? What roles has the society played to maintain the dominancy of men over women? These are some of the issues addressed in this paper. By default most societies have it that the man is the head while the woman is the neck in the family. It seems as if it would be close to impossible to find a family were the man and the woman have equal powers in the family is  such a society. Gender inequality can be defined as perceiving or treating individuals as unequal wholly or partly depending on their gender and it arises from the difference in social gender roles which have been constructed in a society. Thereby, men and women have been seen as unequal.     

The issue of gender inequality is adversely affecting the couples of today’s generation. The life led by a couple from the time the individuals have the boyfriend-girlfriend intimate relationship to the time the individuals are declared husband and wife seem quite different. During the boyfriend-girlfriend intimate relationship, the male and female seems to both have equal powers in the relationship. During the marriage life, the man becomes dominant over the woman. 

Personal explanation

Reference is made to a friend of mine who and his girlfriend had ever had dream of getting married. As a boyfriend and girlfriend to each other, life was fine. Everyone admired the couple they would become in future. In our community, women were supposed to serve their men. However for this couple, both had equal roles in the relationship. For instance, both would cook, wash clothes and also clean the dishes without anyone feeling superior over the other. Some of my friends and I found such a relationship commendable because it uplifted the oppressed women. Others disapproved it with a claim that it was a sign of dishonour to men. 

As foretold by some of our colleagues, things started to change after their wedding; once they were declared husband and wife. The man never washed clothes, cleaned the dishes or cooked as it used to be. The burden was left to the woman. The man expected the woman to take full responsibility of a woman in the house; to serve him. The marriage was now full of disagreements. The man wanting to be the head while on the other hand the woman wanted equal rights in the family. It was not long before the couple divorced. 

Sociological imagination

Biological and social factors have played a major role in concluding an individual’s gender identity. Biologically, men are relatively more muscular when compared to women. Discrimination against women can partly be based on people’s presumption that women are weak. Thus these physical differences between man and woman makes women feel inferior. 

To certify gender inequality in the society, the conflict theory has it that men form the dominant gender in the society and their powers and privileges in the society are maintained by subordinating the women. The theory suggests that social groups that make up a society are in a constant struggle for dominance and are competing for the available scarce resources. As far as gender is concerned, the theory argues that men form the dominant group while the women are the subordinates and men earn their powers by working (Boundless, 2016). When the subordinate group is exploited or oppressed by the dominant group social problems are bound to occur. Further, the theory claims that the dominant group, men, applies a normative approach in which changes to the structure of power are prescribed. 

Critically, the conflict theory well suits our situation. In our case, the society has it that, men deserve service from their wives. The husband was forced by the society norms to gain his powers over his wife. Him playing the same roles as his wife, that is, performing house chores, which are associated with women made him an inferior in the society. To achieve his powers as required by the community, he was forced to leave the roles associated with women. Issues between the couple as discussed before began when the husband started abandoning the duties he used to do before. In this way his wife felt oppressed and as well exploited. Therefore, this marked the beginning of their social problems. Since the husband ever wanted to maintain his dominance in the family and the wife was not willing to submit, it thus ended up into a divorce. 

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Research shows that, women are likely to face the issue of gender inequality in their families. It shows that, men in most cases have the perception that it is the responsibility of the women to care for the children and perform house chores in the family. 

In an article, “Global Trends in Gender Equality” by Stephanie, it is pointed out that gender inequality which exists in livelihoods largely contributes to inequality in many other domains. The work shows that most women have lower incomes when compared to men and therefore have limited ability to avoid harmful relations. Studies show that employment can promote gender equity in livelihoods. 

The domains of capability, livelihood and empowerment have been used by some scholars to determine the trends in gender inequality. Under the domain of capability, it has been reviewed that since the year 1990, education has played a major role in closing gender inequality gaps and equality will be achieved in the near future as a result. In some countries however, the rates of educated males are falling relative to those of females (Seguino, 2016). Such falls were associated with the fact that men would tend to perform poorly or withdraw when educational institutions are perceived as feminised spaces. Under the domain of livelihood, it has been shown that gender gaps are still persisting. However, there exists progress in narrowing these gaps and thus issues that arise at household level such as domestic violence are decreasing. Employment and empowerment domain shows that there exists a wide gap between men and women in the industrial sector despite the narrowing gap in education. It suggests that the ratio of unemployed of female to male is big in most of the countries across the world (Seguino, 2016). Such results are attributed to low bargaining power of females at household level and declined access of women to employment. 

Conclusion

Gender inequality is a major issue in the society and can adversely affect families. The society plays a major role in widening the gender gap. The dominance of men over women as asserted by conflict theory is a subject for review in the present generation where both genders feel they have equal rights and powers. To achieve gender equality, it is thus important encourage women to get educated and avail employment to them. It is important to encourage self-independence among women.

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  1. Crossman, A. (2017). What You Should Know about The Sociological ImaginationThoughtCo
  2. Seguino, S. (2016). Global Trends in Gender Equality (1st ed., pp. 10-25). Boundless, (2016). The Conflict Perspective
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