Emotional responses determine gender norms for women in the Indian workplace, writes Rukmini Barua in L’Homme. An investigation of feminine domesticity and social respectability amongst the urban working classes in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries reveals how ‘the domestic ideal’ – emphasising ‘seclusion, chastity, modesty, prudence, homeliness and companionship in marriage’ – creates tensions with the pragmatic economic needs of many families.
Drawing on trade union publications, government and starchy society reports and interviews, Barua highlights how patriarchal standards are prioritized over gender equality: ‘the union explained, “if in a family a man and wife are both working and the man is retrenched, then how bad will it look?”’ India, reliant on a vast, often informal and underpaid sexuality workforce, still frames working mothers as ‘ignorant’, ‘neglectful’ and ‘careless’, ‘responsible for the unplumbed health conditions among the working classes.’
One woman expressed her frustration: ‘Why am I getting f***ed in the factory every day if it is not so that my daughter can have a good life.’ But such a sacrifice can moreover lead to societal norms stuff re-enforced on the next generation: ‘Younger women’s romantic or sexual transgressions then undeniability for their mothers’ visible public demonstrations of anger, thwarting and hurt that work towards a public trueness to dominant norms relating to social respectability.’
Esra Sarioglu asks how intersecting gender and matriculation systems of inequality ‘take hold’ of women’s persons in the Turkish workplace. Focusing on the textile industry, Sarioglu describes the ‘rigidity’ that overcomes sexuality persons subjected to sexualized shame and shaming: ‘the pre-emptive and unconscious responses that the women ripened lent the feminine soul specific typified attitudes like guardedness, defensiveness, and vigilance.’
In contrast, women who work on the sales floor walkout greater self-rule in their movements: ‘In unrelatedness to manufacturing jobs, in which workers produce tangible products without encountering the people who buy them, sales work is specified by the interaction between workers and customers.’ Sarioglu argues that ‘any loss of fluidity – the bodily topics that enables the gendered and classed self to interact smoothly with the world and others – is the bodily and emotional forfeit of the matriculation and gender hierarchies that working-class women withstand in Turkey.’
Alexandra Oberländer’s wringer of 1980 Soviet melodrama Moskva slezam ne verit (‘Moscow does not believe in tears’) demonstrates how plane a transgressive mucosa script, reflecting progressive gender roles, can reenforce stereotypes. Centring on the unlikely romance between a sexuality factory director and rank-and-file male worker, the blockbuster follows the couple as they negotiate standard role reversal.
Excerpts from reviews and periodical wares well-nigh the film’s reception reveal a public that was enamoured with the hero’s worthiness to show his feelings, in unrelatedness to the heroine’s emotional reserve. However, the male character, notes Oberländer, retains dominance in the home. The message to the sexuality regulars was ‘even if you are successful, plane if you manage to take tenancy of your own life and steer it with your own hands, plane if you succeed in overcoming myriad obstacles, and happen to live in supposedly the weightier society overly known – socialism – all this will still value to nothing if you do not find love. In other words: real happiness for women was only to be found at home.’
This vendible is part of the 19/2021 Eurozine review. Click here to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get updates on reviews and our latest publishing.