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A critical discussion of the urban experience in relation to the issue of gender - Essay Example

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‘Men and women’s conception, experience, and use of urban space is different’.Bondi claims that ‘urban space creates, imposes, reflects and distinguishes divisions between men and women’s experiences, control and use of public and private spaces in urban environments’…
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A critical discussion of the urban experience in relation to the issue of gender
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Download file to see previous pages ‘Men and women’s conception, experience, and use of urban space is different’ (McDowell, 1983: 59). Bondi claims that ‘urban space creates, imposes, reflects and distinguishes divisions between men and women’s experiences, control and use of public and private spaces in urban environments’ (1998: 161). The study of gender and geography has, since the late 1970’s been interested in the differing experiences of men and women in the city. For example, feminist geographers including McDowell (1983) and Darke (1996) have investigated how land use in the city has impacted on the way men and women live their lives, and how the role of gender impacts on the day to day experiences of men and women within the urban environment. This essay aims to explore how gender roles are played out within urban spaces. ‘Women writing on cities have arrived at differing conclusions’ (Darke, 1996: 88). Wilson (2001) for example experiences cities as exciting and liberating public environments and an escape from patriarchal imposed identities. However, she also acknowledges that ‘in recent years feminist have argued that there could never be a female flanuer…urban scene was at all times represented from the point of view of the male gaze: in painting and photographs men voyeuristically stare, women are passively subjected to the gaze’ (Wilson, 1992: 56). The differing viewpoints between feminist geographers themselves highlight the complex nature relating to studying gender in the urban environment. ...
Male domination led to men being the rulers, decision makers, generals and cultural leaders. Women were often subjected to domestic roles, hidden from public space. The introduction of women’s voting rights and gender equality laws went some way to rebalance gendered experience of the city as the 20th Century drew to a close. ‘However, even though legal barriers to women’s access to jobs and particular buildings have been removed, women are still excluded and made to feel uncomfortable in public space’ (Darke, 1996: 92). For example, Cockburn (1983) highlights how women receive not so subtle behavioural signals that tell them they are trespassing on the territory of men, e.g. wolf whistles on the street, sexual harassment in the work place and street posters depicting half naked women. Various authors including Darke (1996: 88) and Lewis et al (1989: 215) have highlighted that zoning patterns, based on stereotypical gender roles have created divisions between gendered experiences of the city, in which men control public space, hence becoming more specialised and important components of identity in the public sphere, whilst women are confined to private spaces. This is emphasised by Bondi ‘an important association remains between masculinity, public space and the city, on the one hand, and between femininity, private space, and the suburbs on the other hand’ (1998: 162). The ‘city of zones’ therefore compartmentalises activities such as work, leisure, travel and home life. Women are primarily seen as wives and mothers, whilst men are viewed as the breadwinner, whose job it is to go out into the public realm to earn a living and provide for ‘his family’. Darke’s (1996) ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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