Is the USA still a patriarchy?

Children, kitchen, Corona : The crisis is the stage of patriarchy

Carolin Wiedemann is a sociologist and publicist. Her book "Zart und frei. On the persistence of patriarchy and how it is nevertheless overcome" will be published shortly by Matthes & Seitz.

In the week before Easter, 332 emergency calls due to domestic violence were received in Berlin, twice as many as in the previous year. In China, where the curfew due to Corona was stricter than here, the cases tripled. In Italy, on the other hand, the hotline for victims of domestic violence reported significantly fewer calls than before the Covid lockdown - the victims could no longer contact them because their violent partners were permanently close to them, according to the experts. It is unclear how often women in heterosexual relationships are actually beaten, pushed, or pushed to have sex at home these days. Here and in all other places of patriarchal rule.

Patriarchal rule? Neither in Germany, nor in Italy or in China, there is patriarchy, nor in the legal sense. After all, all people are equal before the law. But male rule persists in everyday life, in people's thinking and in their actions - and the Corona crisis reveals that once again. It is said that in times of crisis problems appear like under a magnifying glass. In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to the nationalistic orientation of German politics (borders are being drawn, the admission of refugees is suspended), the basic patriarchal structure of our society is becoming even clearer than before.

[All important updates of the day on the coronavirus can be found in the free Tagesspiegel newsletter "Questions of the day". Plus the most important news, reading recommendations and debates. To register, click here.]

The general focus is on what feminists have long denounced: that all the professions in which people look after others, look after them and educate them, are not adequately remunerated. And that it is mainly women who work in these professions. The second gender equality report by the federal government already showed in 2017 that women make up 87 percent of the staff in care services and 85 percent of the staff in nursing homes. The situation was similar in raising and caring for children. The upgrading of care and reproductive work was urgently urged.

Women do more housework than men

The federal government's report also demonstrated that unpaid work at home is still patriarchally distributed. Across shifts in heterosexual couple and family households - which are presented as the normal and ideal basis for living together, especially in Corona times - it is the women who on average take on washing clothes, raising children and caring for the elderly. Even if they are employed and earn more than their partners. According to the 2017 survey, adult women in Germany do 87 minutes more care work than men every day, so they still spend a good one and a half times as much time on unpaid care and housework.

This difference is most striking in heterosexual couple households with children, i.e. in the small family. There are still no studies on how this situation worsens in times of Corona and daycare closings. But the editors of scientific journals report that submissions by men have risen by 50 percent in the past few weeks, while women scientists virtually no longer submit any texts. This is probably explained by the fact that the latter are busy with the children at home - regardless of the subject in which they completed their habilitation. Men, on the other hand, are obviously more likely to think they have to explain the world to others.

Children stay with their mother in nine out of ten cases after their parents split up, which is one of the reasons why many women as single parents don't have a second to themselves these days. If they can no longer do their job besides childcare when they become unemployed, they only continue to confirm the statistics: They were more threatened by poverty even before the corona crisis. In 2015, women received a 53 percent lower pension than men.

Bisexuality is produced socially

Health Minister Jens Spahn is currently planning a rescue package for various professional groups, such as dentists, which should secure 90 percent of their remuneration from 2019. He did not think about the compensation of those who look after their children at home. The Greens do - they want to compensate for the care expenses with a proportionate continued wage payment. In view of the current gender ratio, this is unfortunately not an emancipatory idea: For single parents, but also for women whose partners are busy zooming in while keeping the children from breaking into their home office, this “Corona parental allowance” would be nothing more than the new edition of the so-called stove premium. This rewards women for not giving their child to daycare.

[Follow all new developments on the coronavirus in our live blogs on the virus worldwide and the virus in Berlin.]

All of these patriarchal phenomena are not to be ascribed to “the nature” of the sexes, but to the way in which bisexuality is still socially produced, how people are still made men and women from an early age. The two established gender categories were co-founded and underpinned by the binary organized labor relations of bourgeois capitalist society, which created two spheres. In private, emotionality and the ability to form relationships are required of some, while others, in public and in the factory, are required to be rational and tough.

The working conditions have changed, women can become chancellors, neoliberal equality policy has even enforced quotas for women on supervisory boards, but the binary gender construct persists. As the queer feminist collective “kitchen politics” proclaims, those who are considered to be girls are created in the image of the housewife and those who are classified as boys in accordance with their counter-image, the man outside of the house. Even the toys still convey to the little ones that they are two types of people, one by nature for the challenges outside, the other for the private life, for the less important things.

The housewives are supposed to keep the shop together

This heteronormative and hierarchical gender relationship is inscribed in our state, which, even beyond Corona, still strengthens the patriarchal organized nuclear family with the "spouse splitting". And now relies on all of the housewives he assumes to hold the store together, that they are available, devoted to the family, the man and his well-being. The lack of social appreciation for care work and (domestic) violence against women and other gender identities are results of the same problem.

Gender studies have repeatedly revealed this, and materialist feminists in turn have shown why, in view of capitalist and patriarchal guidelines, reproductive work is devalued in relation to productive work: after all, caring for the sick does not make direct profit. This has resulted in feminist struggles and strikes in recent years, which have called for new ways of living in solidarity for all. Their visions are more emancipatory and far-sighted than the recommendations of a working group at the Leopoldina, for example, from which white, old men explain the world once more.

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page