Comparing Capitalism & ParEcon

Comparing Capitalism & ParEcon Regarding Gender

How do economic institutions impact gender relations in a society and vice versa? This page compares Capitalist and Parecon implications for Gender relations.

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“The Bride”
by Rembrandt


by Klimt

Introducing Capitalist Gender Releations

In a capitalist economy, there is no intrinsic inviolable economic reason there should be gender division. If sexism doesn’t exist, capitalism does not necessarily create it (though it could) — just as it doesn’t create a group conflict and hierarchy between people over and under five feet tall, say, or with light or dark hair, and so on. If there is no extra-economic hierarchy — or at least mutual gender hostility, capitalism is unlikely to impose one. But, if sexism does exist, then a capitalist economy is highly likely to abide its dictates and even aggravate it.

Mainly, employers will exploit gender hierarchies, and certainly not violate them — reproducing them in the work place rather than creating workplaces that have upside down authority relations. You don’t hire women bosses for male workers, but vice versa, if society has severe sexism of the U.S. sort in its culture. Likewise, payments to employees and their allocation in all kinds of work will reflect greater and lesser bargaining power for different genders, thus reinforcing their relations with material payments that parallel hostilities.

Introducing ParEcon Gender Releations

In a parecon, the economy has no intrinsic dynamics vis a vis gender. However, it also violates sexism at every turn by providing no means by which a dominant gender group can be anything other than equal with every other gender group. There are no material benefits, power benefits, or other benefits that one gender can have at the economic expense of another, in a parecon. Additionally, however, a parecon needs from other spheres of social life people who are able to interact equally and with initiative in the economy. There is therefore not only no inclination for a parecon to abet sexism because it has no hierarchies, and a parecon not only provides material and social conditions that are contrary to sexism, giving people equitable prospects, etc., a parecon needs from society household dynamics that are participatory and democratic in their implications for people’s attitudes and inclinations.

Well and good, but what about household activity? Would it be part of the economy, or not? The answer is maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t. One could imagine a parecon/society that took either approach. If household activity was deemed part of the economy, it would be carried out as part of people’s overall balanced job complex, but it would also have to be socially valuable, not excessive, not insufficient, etc. (You may see, in this, why this option is perhaps not so likely).

More likely, household activity will be considered other than economic (do we really want to say nurturing a child is like producing a bicycle), or to the extent economic, part of consumption (like cultivating a garden), and not of production. The beneficiary of household activity is the household and its members (as with consumption), overwhelmingly, not other clients or consumers. The amount of household activity done depends on tastes and preferences of people in the house, not those outside…for things like continually redesigned rooms, more or less cleaning, and so on and so forth. But, if this second approach is taken, which seems quite probable, nonetheless household activity would not be undertaken by one gender to its disadvantage while the other gender as a result has free time for enjoyment or self advance. But it would be kinship norms that would take care of this equilibration of participation and implications, not economic norms — even though the guiding principle would no doubt be essentially the same as that for balanced job complexes in the economy.

Evaluating Capitalist Gender Releations

While capitalism does have a tendency to want to hire people who can do jobs regardless of irrelevant attributes, it also has a far more powerful tendency to maintain and defend and when possible exacerbate corporate divisions of labor, hierarchies of decision-making influence, and hierarchies of pay and abiding and aggravating gender hierarchies proves to do this, whereas violating them risks this. Thus, capitalism is historically, predictably, quite poor regarding gender relations, improving only under extreme political and social pressure.

Evaluating ParEcon Gender Releations

A parecon is about as anti-sexist in its intrinsic structural and interpersonal implications as an economy can be without going on to actually dictate gender norms, which, of course, an economy ought not do.

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