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February 25, 2013

Professor examines social expectations of women

PSU prof. examines legacy of feminist movement, book


The idea of rebellion is still risky and generates fears, she said.

“I see our young students still internalizing all the tensions that the dichotomy provokes in many of them ... It’s something we still have to talk a lot about because it’s how I think young women today still experience the kinds of choices that they have,” Mody said. 

“At the same time, a lot of our students will articulate not wanting to have any of the stereotypical aspects of social identity put on them. They will articulate rejecting concepts of race, of gender, but that’s not how they live their lives. So the idea that our identities are somehow more plastic, more flexible, more able to move among sets of choices that we can really shape and create ourselves and be who we want to be, I think it’s still kind of a dream we have.”

Social constraints, economic constraints and the job market have an impact.

“Workloads have intensified for everyone. Unemployment is a factor, globalizing trends, widening gaps of all kinds. 

”Getting back to Betty Friedan’s direct appeal to the woman who is asking that question ... ‘Is this all?’ Even in those lives of privilege, there is a sense of primacy to the given identity that is attached to one’s reproductive capacity,” Mody said. 

”One could say one is serving a class need in that respect, ... you’re reproducing the class. You send your daughters to a college like Smith, so they will marry the young men from Yale or Harvard because in those days, of course, the colleges were still sex segregated. You have to meet the right kind of people to marry, but it didn’t change the fact of your primary function.”

The persistence of glass ceilings suggests maintenance of sets of hierarchical relationships.

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