In the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China lives a small ethnic group called the Mosuo. Among the Mosuo, romantic and family life are separated into different spheres by design. Children are usually raised in the home of their maternal grandmother with the help of their mother. She may maintain a long-term, monogamous romantic relationship with the father but, unlike in the West, this is considered separate from her role as a mother.
The role of the biological father is discretionary. There is no word in their language, in fact, for husband or father. A father is allowed, but not required to provide financial support and he is usually permitted to visit the mother and their child(ren) only at night. They call it “Axia” or “Walking Marriage.” The children’s primary male role models are usually their uncles, who remain under the authority of the children’s grandmother as they live under her roof.
From the Mosuo point of view, separating marriage from the raising of children ensures that the vagaries of romance do not disrupt the happiness and health of the child and its mother. Nor can the father wield power over the mother by threatening to withdraw from the marriage. Meanwhile, because the family of origin is never eclipsed by a procreative family, the Mosuo system reduces the likelihood that elders will be abandoned by their families when they need support in old age.
Divorce is a non-issue…there are no questions over child custody (the child belongs to the mother’s family), splitting of property (property is never shared), etc. If a parent dies, there is still a large extended family to provide care.
This way of organizing families is an excellent refutation of the hegemonic view that children need the biological father to live under their roof (and by implication, to be their patriarch). You can learn more about the Mosuo in the documentaries The Women’s Kingdom and The Mosuo Sisters.
Dr. Jonathan Harrison earned a PhD in Sociology from the University of Leicester, UK. His research interests include the Holocaust, comparative religion, racism, and the history of African Americans in Florida. He teaches at Florida Gulf Coast University and Hodges University.
Ray Rice’s violent assault of Janay Palmer has placed a spotlight on the criminal records of professional football players more generally. It is tempting to presume that men who spend their lives perfecting the use of violence are more violent in their day-to-day lives, but we don’t have to speculate. We have some data.
USA Today maintains a database of charges, citations, and arrests of NFL players since 2000 (ones they found out about, in any case). According to their records, 2.53% of players are arrested in any given year. This is lower than the national average for men of the same age. And, despite the publicity, this year looks like it will be the least criminal on record.
Domestic violence is the third most common charge or cite, following closely behind another violent crime, assault and battery. But by far the most common trouble NFL players face is being charged with a DUI.
Interestingly, not all teams have similar rates of arrests, charges, or cites. These data below reflect 15 years of data, showing the wide disparity among teams. The number of run-ins with police tend to correlate well year-to-year, so this chart represents a stable trend.
Neil Irwin, writing at the New York Times, says that varying levels of criminal activity may be related to club culture (that is, some franchise’s may be better at suppressing or inciting criminal activity than others) or it may be influenced by the cities they play for (e.g., there won’t be as many DUIs in cities like New York City where there’s substantially less driving). Both are great sociological explanations for the variation between teams and consistency across seasons.
Women in the U.S. have made some monumental gains at work. We’re now at least half the labor force and more women today are middle- and upper- managers in corporate America. Even so, I wasn’t surprised to discover that women have not (yet) made similar inroads into high-level corporate crime.
Rather, it’s “business as usual” when it comes to who is responsible for orchestrating and carrying out major corporate frauds.
For the American Sociological Review, Darrell Steffensmeier, Michael Roche, and I studied accounting malpractices like security fraud, insider trading, and Ponzi schemes in America’s public companies to find out just how involved women were in these conspiracies. The Corporate Fraud Task Force indicted 436 individuals involved in 83 such schemes during July 2002 to 2009. We read and recorded information from indictments and other documents or reports that described who was involved and what they did.
I expected the share of women in corporate fraud to be low – definitely less than the near-half that are women among (low-profit) embezzlers arrested each year– like your bank teller or local non-profit treasurer. However, I was surprised that women corporate fraudsters were about as rare as female killers or robbers – less than 10% of those sorts of offenders. Of the 400+ indicted for corporate fraud, only 37 were women.
Most of these frauds were complex enough to require co-conspiracy over several years and a criminal division of labor. Often, women weren’t included at all in these groups. When they were, they were nearly always in the minority, often alone, and most typically played rather small roles.
The Enron conspiracy, for example, led to over 30 indictments; three were women and each played a minor role. The five women indicted among 19 in the HealthSouth fraud were in accounting-related positions and instructed by senior personnel to falsify financial books and create fictitious records. Martha Stewart, rather than criminal mastermind of an insider trading conspiracy, committed “one of the most ill-fated white-collar crimes ever” in which she saved just $46,000 after receiving a stock-tip second-hand from her broker.
Women were almost never the ringleader or even a major player in the fraud. Only one woman CEO led a fraud – the smallest fraud we studied – and two women with their husbands. One reason surely must be that women are not as often in positions to lead these schemes. However, even when we compared women and men in similar corporate positions, women were less likely to play leadership roles in the fraud. Is there a “glass ceiling” in the white-collar crime world?
What most surprised me, however, was how little the women benefited from their illicit involvement. The wage gap in illicit corporate enterprise may be larger than in the legitimate job market. Over half the women did not financially gain at all whereas half the men pocketed half a million dollars or more. The difference in illicit-gains persisted even if we compared women to their co-conspirators. Males profited much more. Women identified “gains” such as keeping one’s job.
Even when women are in the positions to orchestrate these frauds, it’s likely that the men who initiate these conspiracies prefer to bypass women, involving them in minor roles when need dictates or when trust develops through a close personal relationship. And women hardly initiated any schemes. Women business leaders tend to be more risk-averse and apt to stress social responsibility and equity, perhaps making corporate fraud unlikely.
So, would having more female leaders reduce corporate crime? We don’t know, but we think it’s likely. Women executives tend to make more ethical decisions, avoid excessive risk-taking, and create corporate cultures unsupportive of illegal business practices. Time will tell if, on the other hand, women moving up the corporate ladder increasingly adopt a wheeler-dealer, “dominance at all costs” corporate ethic.
Some may be a little disappointed that women either cannot yet or do not exercise their power over others to illegally advance their business (and personal) interests as men have been doing for generations. There are moments when I catch myself “rooting” for a more successful pink-collar offender – and examples exist. However, when I consider the destruction and havoc wrought on the U.S. economy and so many peoples’ lives by these financial crimes, I am reminded that this is not the way in which I hope women wield power when business leadership roles are more equally shared.
Jennifer Schwartz, PhD, is an associate professor of sociology at Washington State University. Her research focuses on the gender and race demographics of criminal offenders, violence, and substance abuse.
Prisoners who can maintain ties to people on the outside tend to do better — both while they’re incarcerated and after they’re released. A new Crime and Delinquency article by Joshua Cochran, Daniel Mears, and William Bales, however, shows relatively low rates of visitation.
The study was based on a cohort of prisoners admitted into and released from Florida prisons from November 2000 to April 2002. On average, inmates only received 2.1 visits over the course of their entire incarceration period. Who got visitors? As the figure below shows, prisoners who are younger, white or Latino, and had been incarcerated less frequently tend to have more visits. Community factors also shaped visitation patterns: prisoners who come from high incarceration areas or communities with greater charitable activity also received more visits.
There are some pretty big barriers to improving visitation rates, including: (1) distance (most inmates are housed more than 100 miles from home); (2) lack of transportation; (3) costs associated with missed work; and, (4) child care. While these are difficult obstacles to overcome, the authors conclude that corrections systems can take steps to reduce these barriers, such as housing inmates closer to their homes, making facilities and visiting hours more child-friendly, and reaching out to prisoners’ families regarding the importance of visitation, both before and during incarceration.
In Michael Kimmel’s sociology of gender textbook, The Gendered Society, he offers us the following two pictures and asks us to decide, based on our gut-level reactions, whether the two individuals pictured are male or female:
If you are like most people, you find, perhaps to your own bewilderment, that the first individual seems male despite the female pubic hair pattern and apparent female genitalia and the second individual seems female despite the presence of a penis and scrotum.
Kimmel suggests that this is because, in our daily life, we habitually judge individuals as male or female on the basis of their secondary sex characteristics (e.g., body shape, facial hair, breasts) and social cues (e.g., hair length) and not, so much, their primary sex characteristics (i.e., their genitalia).
In that sense, Kimmel argues, social cues and secondary sex characteristics “matter” more when it comes to social interaction and gender is really about gender (socially constructed ideas about masculinity and femininity), not so much about sex (penises and vaginas).
Images borrowed the images from Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach, by Kessler and McKenna. University of Chicago Press. Originally posted in 2009.
by Chloe Albin and Georgiana Bostean PhD, Sep 11, 2014, at 09:00 am
In order to be successful in many parts of labor market, women must exhibit traits that are typically considered “masculine.” The title of a fashion article in Glamour magazine hints at — okay, blatantly states — this reality:
Man Up, Ladies! That whole menswear separates look is so hot right now. (Suits, layers, plaids, you name it.) We’d promote you instantly!
Women can do masculinity, then, to reap some of the rewards offered to those who embody it, but there’s a catch: women must maintain their “femininity,” too. Women face gender rules that require that they wear makeup in order to be seen as beautiful and competent. Not doing so brings costs.
One study, for example, compared viewers’ perceptions of females with varying degrees of make-up, ranging from no make-up to glamorous. Research participants were shown photos of female faces and asked to rate the images on attractiveness, likeability, competence, and trustworthiness. Respondents rated the faces wearing make-up higher on likeablility, competence, and especially attractiveness, compared to the faces with no make-up.
These gendered behavioral and beauty norms amount to a double-edged sword for women. They must do masculinity to be successful at work, but they must be feminine to get along. So, man up, ladies… but not too much.
Chloe Albin is a senior at Chapman University studying dance and psychology. Dr. Georgiana Bostean is an assistant professor teaching sociology and environmental science and policy. She studies population health.
This ad for the 2015 Kia Soul featuring hamster people is… charming.
It’s also a very good example of advertising that just up and shrugs and admits that its target is primarily men. The scientists and engineers are all male and the audience is intended to identify with them. The females are sexual objects that exist to attract and revel in male attention. They literally buy them at the pet store, for goodness’ sake.
Hello Kia Soul! Like, women are 51% of the population and we make purchasing decisions. Maybe go with advertising that’s a tad more inclusive? You know, one or two female scientists would have been totally do-able. Your weird science could have included some hunks alongside the hotties. Maybe one of your guy engineers would have liked that, too. I’m just saying. Being more inclusive would have been easy. There’s no excuse for this.
Benedict Anderson famously coined the phrase “imagined community” to describe the way that large groups of people without direct contact could nonetheless think of themselves as a meaningful group. He originally discussed this in the context of nations. In his book, he writes:
It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion… it is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings.
Whenever someone refers to “Americans,” he or she is conjuring up this idea of an imagined community. Why do we feel that we have so much in common with other Americans? We will only meet a very small percentage of Americans in our lifetimes. We have things in common with some other Americans, but very little in common with still others. And, in many important ways, we are probably more like certain segments of other societies (e.g., individuals in the middle class in the U.S., for example, are probably more like those in the middle class in the U.K. than they are like very poor or very rich Americans).
Others have used Benedict Anderson’s term to describe other kinds of imagined communities. Apparently Skoal is hoping that “dippers” will find a sense of comraderie and devotion to each other (“loyalty”) and the product through the imagining of a Skoal community (“Brotherhood”):
OUR 75th ANNIVERSARY IS ALL ABOUT YOU.
75 years ago we created Skoal Smokeless Tobacco. And on that day, dippers created something else: A Brotherhood.
Guys who share a love of quality dip. Enjoyed the finest way possible.
It’s something we never could have anticipated. And something we’re honored to be a part of.
That’s why, instead of making our 75th anniversary about us, we’re making it about you.
2009 is the Year of the Dipper. And we’ve come up with some pretty big ways to celebrate it. And we’re not just talking cake.
So keep an eye out. And a pinch ready.
You’ve been giving us your business — and your loyalty — since 1934.
It’s time you got some thanks in return.