kaigou: under this playful boyish exterior beats the heart of a ruthless sadistic maniac (2 charming maniac)
[personal profile] kaigou
We've been having dinnertime discussions over the past few nights about whether certain advancements in society could only happen because of previous advancements -- specifically, a shift in perception or understanding of one's role in the world. Like, for instance, the development of unions. There were guilds in the western medieval world, but those were owned/operated by the master craftsman. The workers themselves -- apprentices, journeymen, not-quite-masters -- weren't the ones who had say-so. Seems like the guilds acted more like chambers of commerce, in some degree; they allowed the businesses to band together to set prices, to protect a monopoly, to lobby the local government for lower taxes or better treatment, and they might extend loans to their own. Still, not quite the same as a union -- and I would say one of the biggest things unions did was present the notion of a place where workers could air grievances, be heard, and get bad situations changed. Like, allowing for lunch breaks or not making children work (let alone for twelve-hour shifts) and so on.

CP's comment was that the union movement seems to have its sociological nucleus in the socialist/communal movements of the early 19th century. In other words, that you couldn't think of "the worker's rights" until you had some kind of framework for understanding what a "worker" was. As in, not an individual but as one of many other "workers" who formed a collective, and could/should claim rights as a collective.

The same kind of goes for democracy, in that it's not like the US was the first to think of sufferage (not being truly universal until almost 150 years after the country was founded). It was just the first to think of broader sufferage, having the most lenient voter requirements anywhere -- sure, not even a fifth of what we have today, but compared to its contemporaries, damn near any (white, male) could vote regardless of class, education, land ownership, finances, or marital status. Now I can't remember where I read the essay last week, but apparently there was representational government elsewhere (ie Britain, and I think Germany) but it was highly limited. The upshot was that of the white male population in those places, roughly one of every twenty or so men (or fewer) actually qualified to vote. When the US first began, it requirements put the sufferage closer to one of every five adult white freedmen could vote, and the rest of our history has been knocking off the rest of the requirements, one by one*.

My point is that the notion of "universal" sufferage wasn't really possible until certain other factors had been satisfied. As in, at a certain point universal sufferage became conceivable, but it wasn't considered feasible until other major shifts had occurred. Like, for once, realizing that human beings are human beings regardless of the color of their skin, which translates to "and therefore adult black men should get to vote, too". But first there had to be the shift from seeing a segment of the population as insignificant to seeing them as part of that voting collective, or having the potential to be part.

This kind of stuff intrigues me, especially since my current wip has heavy leanings towards being more alt-history than fantasy. (Or more like alt-history with a heavy veneer of fantasy, I guess.) But the historical basis means paying attention to what would be an anachronism -- and, say, feminist mindsets would be anachronistic. Even the Iroquois, whose influence is definitely there in the earliest American feminist essays, were more proto-feminist. But meeting them proved to be the consciousness shift required for someone to take the next step.

What lies underneath this, I think, is money.

Not to be crass about it, but when slaves were freed, they stopped being something you paid for and became someone you paid. The economic freedom of owning your own home (your own castle, as it were), putting food on your own table, and providing for your own family, becomes a first step for people to demand further rights. In a way, it's a repeat of the earlier process the British colonists went through during the French & Indian War -- having economic opportunities they'd not had in Britain, they chafed at heavy-handed British rule. (Another case of "something had to shift before something else could happen"; if the French & Indian War hadn't occurred and started that major shift in self-perception for the colonies, the US might be the southern half of Canada right now.)

Anyway, it's a different set of issues with Native American sufferage, since IIRC that was less of an economic thing and more of a political issue (boiling down to taxes), and had to do with whether individuals of a sovereign nation had rights to vote in US elections. Given the various treaty-holders were thus at the mercy of those they hadn't elected, duh. But that's kind of its own case, so forgive any misstatements or glossing, here.

With women, though, I'd say it's also economic. The industrial revolution didn't just get more women into work in the various shirtwaist factories and cotton mills and so on; it also brought about advancements that were major housewife time sinks. Like gas stoves, and electricity, and widespread indoor plumbing, and so on. Being able to get out of the house and get a paycheck leads to economic independence (or at least less economic dependence); the rise of the unions also benefited women, too. What had been wifely chattel became something (someone) that might, someday, achieve economic parity, and the push for sufferage -- which seems to have been pushed aside by abolition and then reconstruction (at least in the US) -- rose again.

So. That's what I'm thinking: that as a group achieves -- or finally realizes the potential for achieving -- economic independence, the next step is to reach for greater social power. Or maybe I should say: seeing economic independence within our grasp gives us the sense that we now also hold the currency of power, and we'll trade on that for social, political, emotional, etc, power. I know I'm glossing a lot of details, but I think the basic concept is sound, here.

Which brings me to something I'd been thinking about several weeks ago, about political power and how it's tied to economic power. What triggered the contemplation was reading a review of... uh, I can't even recall the story's title. I'm pretty sure it was SF, and by an avowed feminist, and most of the reviews indicated the story showed its age (late 80s, mid-90s, maybe?) in terms of its gender flipping. That was big, for awhile, to reverse everything like some kind of a thought experiment. I'm not bothering recalling the title since it's not really an issue with the book per se (which I haven't read), so I can't say whether the book handled the premise well. It's just the premise itself that jumped out at me.

The story posits a world where women have the political (and cultural and religious/magical) power, and men are the subservient class. Highly objectified and sexualized, as well, almost a one-for-one flip in those regards. Here's what jumped out at me: the men continue to be in charge of commerce. (One reviewer made a comment to the extent that the story posits commerce/trade as 'dirty' and therefore not something that women would lower themselves to do.) In short, a world where the political/social power is in women's hands, yet the economic power appears to remain in men's hands.

Uh. I can't think of a historical instance where this would be true. The one who does the work and brings home the money -- the cash, to buy things and pay for things -- is the one "in the world" and thus the one with the social/economic clout to be part of that world. This doesn't seem to change even if one brings home the money and gives it to someone else, like in Japan where the wives (whether or not they work) appear to be the vast majority of household-account managers, including giving their (working) husbands a weekly allowance. Who ends up with the money doesn't change who earned the money, and I think it's the earning that's the signifier, here. Or else all those Japanese women, like plenty of American women in the past, would have far more economic power by dint of being in charge of their household's overall income.

It's possible the story had other factors in play, to offset the shift that'd come about from such economic realities. Like, say, I don't know, some kind of mass hysteria that strikes men in political situations. Or something. But barring that, the ones who hold the economic power -- the ones able to earn -- are the ones who get to run the show.

That in turn reminded me of one of the rare cases where a matriarchal society exists and the woman are the money-earners. (There are other matriarchal and matrilineal societies, but in a lot of those, it appears it's similar to the Japanese setup, where the men willingly turn over their social power and/or earnings to the women's control.) It's the Haenyo ("sea women") of Jeju Island, in South Korea.

Note: the Wikipedia entry says the women only started near the end of the 19th century, but the translated-from-Korean articles I've found give dates more like around the 16th or 17th century. From what I'd read previous, I'd been under the impression it was a matrilineal society where maybe the women doing the ocean-farming (for abalone, seaweed, and other sea-floor goodies) were given their positions by dint of the older indigenous religion, or some such.

Turns out that it's actually due to Confucian assumptions that the only person in a family who'd ever earn a wage would be the husband. When the Joseon nobles decided they needed to increase tax revenue, they decided that the products of sea-farming were luxuries (and abalone was a huge luxury in massive demand), and therefore should be taxed heavily. The tax was just too high to make a living, though, and the men who'd been sea-farming had to stop, and start looking for other work.

I have to wonder who had the bright idea, since it seems so obvious but it's the last thing that'd be obvious if you had the big blindspot known as Confucian Assumptions: the women do the sea-farming. Women aren't taxed, after all. From what I can figure out, the women weren't taxed for a really long time, because taxing them meant the Confucian minds in charge of Korea would have to acknowledge that women could a) work outside the home, b) get paid for it, and c) get paid enough to owe taxes. Just A alone probably made some of their heads explode, let alone carrying onto wrapping their Confucian assumptions around B and C.

However, the result of this paradigm shift was that now the families had children and homes that needed caring-for -- and the women were busy making a living for the family. Over time, by necessity that role fell to the men, and now among the Haenyo communities it's the men who take care of the house, do the cooking and cleaning, and raise the children. Incidentally, the Haenyo also retain more of the pre-xtian indigenous/shamanic rituals/beliefs than other similar groups, which maybe has to do with the shamanic traditions in Korean history being strongly pro-women, compared to Confucian and Christian assumptions. I guess if you're the wage-earner, you also get to say what religion the household is going to be. Which is another duh, but speaks to how economic power also informs religious power.

The Haenyo themselves, maybe more than anything else, are shining examples of just how ingenious humans can be when it comes to figuring out how to get around paying a penny more in tax than required. (Death and taxes, the two truly universal experiences.) But beyond that, it's also a counter to the argument that bringing home your income and giving it to your wife makes her the 'economic power'. No, it just makes her the person holding the purse strings; she's still within the domestic sphere only, with no social/political currency except as what's borrowed from her (money-earning) spouse.

A story that posits women as the money-receivers, while men remain the money-earners, feels too much to me like the premise my grandfather thought was appropriate: the man does the dirty work, and the woman (up on her pedestal) shouldn't worry her pretty head about the cost of things. She has power over him, but only insofar as it's power he's granted her. She doesn't actually have power on her own; that must be earned, and she's got no chance to earn it. (It's especially ironic that my grandfather felt this way, given that my grandmother made $5 more a week than he did when they first got married, and she continued to make more than him until she finally left work -- eight years later! -- to have their first kid.)

But anyway. Am I missing something? Is there another solid economic example somewhere, in which the past few centuries of social patterns (male wage-earner, female wage-receiver) ever resulted in women having the social/economic power? Does that even seem likely, given the entire history of women (up to this day) marginalized income-wise compared to men? Or am I the only one who sees a correlation between the slow but incremental increase of women's wages as a percentage of men's and the slow but incremental increase* in women's voices within the social/economic/political spheres?

* not counting those places that would really really like us to backslide and undo the past fifty years, but I figure these things come in waves.

Date: 4 Nov 2012 07:55 am (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
I think there's probably an economic school-of name for the concept that your idea of where economic control is, there the major decisions in a lot of other spheres would go. (Such as religion and political affiliations.) A proper Western housewife with firm grip on the household tallies and receipts during the Victorian era would never allow expenditures that might come out against her husband's general political views. He can always find another wife or household manager, after all. Frequently had to, as often as the wives died in childbirth. If nothing else, old graveyards are very convincing about the life expectancy of women in those eras.
It might be useful to look at matrilinear cultures like the Navajo. My understanding is that in the traditional culture, the woman owns the hogan, the household goods, the livestock, everything. If she wishes, she can throw her husband's boots out the door and declare them divorced and that's it. Now, there is the possibility that she can do that because she brought all the household value to the marriage in the first place. Also, this doesn't allow for the fact that most Navajo these days don't live in hogans, and they certainly don't herd sheep for a living. The distortions of modern life on that culture would go back over a hundred years, from the terrible way the reservation schools treated the kids since the reservations first started.
The very concept of reservations goes back to appropriation of wealth. Georgia settlers wanted to rob civilized tribes, including the Cherokee, of their farms and animals and houses, and were allowed to do so. Allowing American Indians to vote would mean admitting they had any rights to any of the land, couldn't have that. Treaties (similar to strike negotiations, actually) were not actually permanent agreements to stop taking more land for settlers, they were just to get the tribes to sit down and shut up (and stop being such effective warriors) for awhile longer. Dehumanize them (as with slaves) and you can shove them off into increasing marginal land, or outright murder them.
I think the concept of workers rights and perhaps more plainly, expectations, go back further than obvious union organizations, strikes, and voting on agreements with management.
When you had the enclosures, emptying the land of humans in favor of sheep, and the mass migration of Irish and Scots, for example, people were dislodged into early factories in towns. The Industrial Revolution created huge masses of disenfranchised workers who had no connection to existing authorities on the land, and not much by way of current laws to protect them from mill owners and mine owners out to extract value from them as well as the ground. They had nobody to appeal to who could stop them getting maimed, killed, poisoned, and tossed out to wander when they were too injured to work any more.
I remember somebody linking the history of the unions to the riots of weavers in Holland, for example. It's also very interesting the check the causes of riots in London, over time. They also had weavers riots. One of the first by weavers in London was in 1719, that's early.

Also, some interesting stuff on the early history of unions here, agreeing that the connection between guilds and unions is not a smooth one. Trade unions were actually outlawed in the 14th century in England and gradually in other countries until the 19th century.


RE: incremental increases in women's self-determination, wage increases, and political voice, it does go in waves. However, various wars and genocides in Africa and in Bosnia, and most recently the problems in Syria and Iran, convinced me that it is not always promised to have a forward progress.
It is very worrying the amount of backslide on any kind of civil rights that such a civilized country as Iran has done, it's being used as a model for other places, and some people would love to see the same thing here--not in Muslim terms, but in so-called rightwing Xtian ones.
Where I see some hope of progress is in the skilled work. Computers don't care what gender you are. However, there's also the added tension that, traditionally, the minute some trade (telephone operator, secretary, clerks, etc.) starts sliding into being viewed as pink-collar work, the wages go down, the treatment gets sloppy, and there's no competition among employers for the best of the best; quality of work and of employer slides off into the dumpster. This is often the excuse used to keep workplaces hostile to women, and some of the geekplaces are the absolute worst about it.
Some of the computer game companies treat their programmers worse than any mine company would dare, seriously, with demands for 60-hour weeks on salary, no overtime pay, puny bonuses, and absurd deadlines cranked up ever more absurdly as time runs by on a project. They basically stripmine kids out of school until they're burnt bits of bacon after five years, and then they have no further use for them. This is held up as the standard that you poor women can't possibly match up to.
Right, thanks, you just keep building your sports games, we'll be looking elsewhere for somebody who wants to hire wholistic thinkers who can do decent art.
I just know there's some brilliant company or government agency out there who's going to make mint on such a neglected resource, and maybe treat them decently for a few years. It's just a question of getting those friends who meet that description hooked up with that company who really needs them.
Edited Date: 4 Nov 2012 08:44 am (UTC)

Date: 4 Nov 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane
traditionally, the minute some trade (telephone operator, secretary, clerks, etc.) starts sliding into being viewed as pink-collar work, the wages go down, the treatment gets sloppy, and there's no competition among employers for the best of the best; quality of work and of employer slides off into the dumpster.

And of course the reverse happens as well; work once viewed as pink-collar work and then turned into a Profession starts excluding women. :/ I should probably know more about how this happened to programming. (There's the no-true-Scotsman moving-the-goalposts hilarity of "project management/design/testing/documentation/systems administration/sales/graphics/etc. aren't REAL tech jobs" but I know the scene now and how it used to be, not so much about the shift from one to another.)

I can't find the original place I heard this related insight, but: back when nursing, teaching, and convents were the only places that smart, ambitious women in US/UK could shine, of course we had amazing work for very low cost. Now we actually need to pay well to get good nurses and teachers, because smart women have other options.

I just know there's some brilliant company or government agency out there who's going to make mint on such a neglected resource, and maybe treat them decently for a few years. It's just a question of getting those friends who meet that description hooked up with that company who really needs them.

You linked to Wikipedia -- the Wikimedia Foundation is hiring, including for a visual designer. (I work there and find it woman-friendly and respectful of its workers.) More apropos of your point and of kaigou's, "Quilted is a five-person worker-owned and cooperatively managed web design, web development, and print design company." I think the wish to be treated respectfully at work is a huge reason people end up starting their own tech businesses.

Date: 4 Nov 2012 11:30 pm (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
@kaigou, OTJ training used to be the most respected among the old skool aerospace contractors that my dad worked for. Practical, hands-on, knows how the details on the equipment work, well up on the super sekrit gear those folks do't share with other folks, for example. Very big on who you worked for, who would vouch for you. Also very unstable business, subcontractors were always scrambling, always hiring and firing and the folks who did the work were in constant flow from one place to another.
Not quite the same as working for, say, Westinghouse, or Proctor and Gamble, or one of the really stable large financials. Problem with working for various large companies was that there was the expectation of working for one company for a long time, and you get the stinkeye for being fired or for being ambitious and disloyal.
There's always that tension between self-educated vs. "has an official piece of paper to prove it," or an official endorsement, or a good reference.
These days, it's hard to prove what OTJ *means* if you've been dealing with really crumby supervisors and managers who won't give you any kind of reference--or, if they're already infamous in the biz, whose references would be really suspect anyway. (That movie The Devil Loves Prada is coming to my mind again..."Oh, you lasted a whole week with her? My goodness!")
These days it's much less easy for programmers to just say, hey, I learned PERL in a weekend, let's do this-- and yes, I know someone who did that about twenty years ago-- because now many parts of industry and programming work are a lot less wild west (aka, rare knacks + skills in high demand) than it used to be.
Some of the difference is that those folks didn't worry about imposter syndrome. Nobody else knew any better anyway, they're gonna have to wait on somebody who can muddle their way to a solution on this anyway, why not give it a fling?
The folks signing the contracts in admin had no way to know who's any good out there at the bleeding edge, they have to rely on somebody who hasn't been able to fix it so far, to tell them who sounds like they're any good or who's a flimflam artist.
I think some of the big orgs out here have been contracting an awful lot of work with very official, very large scale bulls-@@ artists on the corporate scale, and getting left with the bill for stuff that doesn't work, and they want their own employees to just siddown and shuddup and not admit this fact to anybody. (Oooh, scandal--that gets expensive too.) This creates a hostile environment for anybody with a tendency to point out the Emperor has no clothes, or to try to fix some of the mess.
If the bean counters are saying, "we don't have time for goofs, we can hire somebody else next week better than you," and they can, using official pieces of paper to prove things, that's a whole different scene. OTJ experience can get presented in a more impressive way to those folks, but it does take a bit of attitude-adjustment.
When I read:
"...too tech to be welcome in the areas that would otherwise be glad to have another woman..."
There's a certain disconnect/alien there which has to be overcome.
But you do speak design, so what I see is presenting the idea, "here's somebody who can translate for you, who can fight for what you need because they do understand where you're coming from." The outer gate-guardian, if that makes sense?

Date: 6 Nov 2012 08:21 pm (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane
I have a bachelor's degree in political science and will probably work in the tech field for the rest of my life, so the topic of on-the-job experience is intensely important to me. :-) I am glad to work someplace where these kinds of things get said in job ads: "You are able to learn quickly. Relevant hands-on experience and eagerness to learn and try new concepts is more important than having certificates."

These days, it's hard to prove what OTJ *means* if you've been dealing with really crumby supervisors and managers who won't give you any kind of reference

I've spent the last few years in the world of open source (been paid for it for a few years), and while "I have n years of experience with such-and-such" isn't terribly easy to prove in some contexts, "here are my open source contributions" (which can include the proverbial weekend hack) really helps with clueful hiring managers. However, less clueful hiring managers and recruiters will fall back to relying on certificates and CVs and ignore more granular and specific evidence, sigh. And of course not everyone has that weekend, or can contribute to FLOSS while on the clock. (I gave a talk to try to encourage companies to do it, though.)

Date: 7 Nov 2012 03:38 am (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
Oh, excellent idea! Open-source folks can use skills at all different levels, and it's a great way to show you know how to do things at increasing skill levels.

Date: 6 Nov 2012 08:25 pm (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane
My sympathies on the impostor syndrome. I hope you can take a look at what Wikimedia is doing in terms of design (public mailing list) to see whether it seems like a team vibe that you'd be interested in, as a volunteer or as a candidate for a paid position. Some of those folks have more of a self-taught background, some more UX, some more art, some more techish, if I recall correctly.

Date: 4 Nov 2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
Thank you brainwane, will forward that para on wiki to some folks who could use it. No idea if they're a good fit or not, I have to let them make that judgement call!

Date: 6 Nov 2012 08:21 pm (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane
Thanks! Glad to help.

Date: 4 Nov 2012 10:59 pm (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
I'm sure they will! Project management, at least, if nothing more elaborate.

ALso, you mentioned:
Not to mention if the companies did have to pay overtime, they'd probably find very quickly that they really didn't need those 60-hour weeks after all, and would find other means to be more efficient and not work everyone to death.

Yes, very much this. In gaming industry/computers, this was the stinkin' model of great productivity pushed by the likes of early PC building pioneers. It's still penny-ante garage operator and it's still stupid.
Edited Date: 4 Nov 2012 11:35 pm (UTC)

Date: 5 Nov 2012 04:50 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] miffy_sees
"I just know there's some brilliant company or government agency out there who's going to make mint on such a neglected resource, and maybe treat them decently for a few years."

Hello, can you explain more to me about what you mean in that statement?

Are you referring to women in tech as a neglected resource?

Can you describe any potential businesses or organizations that would make a mint off of the neglected resources? (e.g.: a company that does web design for small organizations focused on X). Thanks!

Date: 5 Nov 2012 06:43 am (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
@miffy sees:
RE: "Women in tech" is probably too broad a topic to simplify in this way.
I know a fair few women who weren't computer programmers to start with. They just taught themselves some stuff with databases, and they were already in responsible enough positions they found themselves having to fit new bits onto inadequate contractor work to make things actually work okay. Not fun stuff, not what they signed up for, and they're making the best of it. The sort who went on from running test scripts for the business and objecting to contractor nonsense, and figuring out fixes. Then being relied on to come up with more fixes!
They'd probably say they're not programmers. But they're doing the work. They get treated better at the agency where they started than they would at the contractor, although the contractor might pay them more in the short term.

I also mentioned "game programming." By this, I meant the folks who create arcade games and computer playstation and PC-based games. The folks I know were working before the most recent famous games, and the managers were getting told how to bully folks into working outrageously illegal overtime hours because the company's entire staff of employees were self-employed contractors or on salary. Likewise, the contractor charade allows them under US law to get fired at will. All of that is bullsh-- that should have been stopped by OSHA long since, but none of it was getting dealt with under former Pres. Bush. I doubt they've done much about it since then, I don't know lately.
Similarly, many of these folks were having major gender-based discrimination issues. The companies were also booting out senior folks with experience in favor of kids fresh out of school who get paid a whole lot less, so age discrimination has been a problem for the last fifteen years or more. Possibly better called salary-discrimination, there.

RE: web design, sorry, over here near Silicon Valley that's waaaay out of date as a practical career for a lot of folks. Too many people at it around here, lots of flimflam artists. Everybody claims to be a web designer, everybody thinks they can make a living doing it here, there's far too many people trying to compete, and the big companies have been outsourcing it to cheap places like India since they don't care that much about the results anyway--if they even know what good stuff looks like. (just look at the clutter on their websites, ewww.)
This is another job that's fallen into that abusive category, "pixel-stained technopeasant."
I would not advise somebody *here* to tackle that kind of competition.
I'd advise them to try to find something a little more difficult, more technical, less frequently attempted, more in demand. Building financially secure shopping sites, perhaps, although that might have an oversupply of workers now too, I'm not sure.

Similarly, trying to do art for CAD design now requires a little more specialization in industry work of some kind. Just doing 3D art design is difficult because 1) training = EXPENSIVE and 2) frequently out of date before you're done and 3) companies who hire you want employees who've already learned it and paid for it-- but they won't pay you enough to make up that education cost. (This is like hiring a doctor without accounting for the cost of that MD degree.) They'll pay the same as for a 2D artist with barely any computer background.
Are you getting the idea these companies are acting like artists are an extractive resource, not a renewable one?
However, I'm expecting to see some really interesting things popping up from smaller companies with access to the kind of instant 3D printers that the dental companies are starting to use. Not huge pieces, but designers in 3D who can model parts that fit together correctly could end up doing some really interesting stuff. And I *know* that's not a common skillset. (I've had trouble getting co-workers to understand 2D subsets such as you find in basic MS Explorer looking at your own computer files.)

One of the commenters above mentioned Wikipedia as a decent diversity-friendly employer. Google has a good reputation has such an employer (even with the recent uproars over their odd ideas about privacy vs. security for women trying to use their service). I think you could say Google has made mucho bank out of being a desirable family-leave friendly place to work.

Edited Date: 5 Nov 2012 06:52 am (UTC)

Date: 4 Nov 2012 12:58 pm (UTC)
law_nerd: Our 1/2 Lab puppy stares intently off into space. (Default)
From: [personal profile] law_nerd
Is there another solid economic example somewhere, in which the past few centuries of social patterns (male wage-earner, female wage-receiver) ever resulted in women having the social/economic power?

It doesn't have the longevity (no centuries of patterns yet), but one other potential example I can think of where a pattern may be being established is in countries where only citizens can own real estate – and other people want to. In particular, countries that are "retirement destinations" for wealthy Europeans and North Americans, can end up with a sort of inversion of the mail-order-bride syndrome. He is the one who has the money, but his money cannot directly buy what he wants (the beachfront property).

[And I think I should put a disclaimer in here: I'm sure the practice can also result in nasty and abusive situations for some of the women concerned, and it's problematic or potentially problematic in lots of other ways, and I don't have anthropological or sociological backing for any of this, so my knowledge is partly from newspaper articles, partly conversations with folk I met there, and is, therefore, very much anecdotal... so merely another possible data point, not a fully established and proven theory.]

My parents lived and worked in Thailand for ~16 years, and there was a progression they saw happen repeatedly. It started when the guy with lots of social power and financial power decideed to retire to land of "beautiful willing women" and marry one so he could have a castle home. Fortunately (at least for most of the women concerned) that's not where things ended. His money paid for land and home on it, but if he pissed her off, he'd be divorced, out of the country, and trying to figure out how to get the property sold and some significant portion of his money out of the country when he was dealing from abroad with people who really had no further interest in being helpful.

As far as we could tell, this was a fairly well recognized way into land-ownership, and upward mobility for women, and it wasn't held against them. Often the marriage would be conditional on things like him setting her up with whatever entrepreneurial goals she might have... and if that was shop-front, it could also mean employment for other family members.

Whether or not she went for some other economic independence, the women in those relationships ended up with real power in the relationship, demonstrated by the fact that their husbands were often surprised (sometimes pleasantly, sometimes not, mostly depending on whether they thought they were marrying a doormat) by how things worked out.

Date: 4 Nov 2012 04:29 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
That is so cool about Jeju. I'd been wanting to learn more about them since Tamra aired, but it's hard finding things in english about it.

I'm guessing the 80s/90s thing was going for an aristocracy vs bourgeoisie distinction and failed. In the Jeju case, the women are the masters of their business world and home but are considered non-persons by the overarching political/tax system.

Date: 5 Nov 2012 05:27 am (UTC)
mishalak: Mishalak reading a colorful book. (Reading Now)
From: [personal profile] mishalak
Is there another solid economic example somewhere, in which the past few centuries of social patterns (male wage-earner, female wage-receiver) ever resulted in women having the social/economic power?

I seem to recall that in certain parts of the industrial revolution that the opposite actually held true. The woman working in the factory actually earned more than her husband could, but he received the wages and stayed in charge. But as I recall this was not generally a stable situation since male egos could not take this resulting in drunkenness and bad treatment.

Date: 5 Nov 2012 06:53 am (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
@mishalak, yes, I recall seeing something like that also. I've also seen people mention the same issues for recent immigrants to a new country where the father gets some any-old-job where he doesn't need the new language, while the wife or the daughters learn the language sooner and get better jobs than the husband does, and the kid have to continue to translate for him. The comment was that it distorts the traditional power relations in the culture.
Edited Date: 5 Nov 2012 06:54 am (UTC)

Date: 8 Nov 2012 10:37 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I want to say in England at least it was considered theft for a woman to keep her own wages.

The less popular Bronte sister wrote a book about a woman to escapes an abusive husband with her small child, and thus is guilty of theft and kidnapping. Didn't have the same popular appeal as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.


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