By Val Reynoso
Frigga Haug was a German sociologist and educator known for her Marxist analyses on gender and femininity. Frigga Haug explores gender dynamics and patriarchy informed by social constructs of morality in her essay “Gender Relations.” Haug makes this case by explicating that morality through a gendered lens is tied to sexuality, gender roles, and one’s body.
Haug’s points on morality are confirmed by Western societal gender expectations and the ways in which capitalism upholds and manifests these phenomena. Sexuality is a prime aspect in which gendered perceptions of morality are applied.
Haug states that the gist of female morality is found in women’s nature, in their bodies, in the way they are sexualized, or in their relationship to them given that a moral woman can be recognized by the way she experiences her body; on the other hand, men are associated with business, law, and property and have a different set of morals that are rather detached from bodily perception.
Respectability politics and the objectification and hypersexualization of women’s bodies are indicative of how women in modern capitalist society are socialized as being reduced to their bodies and reproductive capabilities, as is the epitome of misogyny and cissexism. Women are expected to be pure, submissive, conservative, subordinate and only be sexual with a monogamous partner or a husband whose property the woman would be; a woman who deviates from these standards is socialized as immoral and therefore less of a woman given that their way of being is seen as not being worthy of respect.
In contrast, men are not objectified nor socialized as property in the sense women are, given men’s dominance and male privilege in patriarchal, capitalist society. Men are encouraged to be and praised for being more sexually liberated because men’s morale and social expectations are not tied to sexual conservatism and purity like how it is for women. Men are socialized as property owners and untouchable leaders in all aspects, whereas women and nonmen are socialized as property and as vulnerable beings whose self worth is codependent on men and on the male gaze.
Social reproduction is another phenomena in which gendered perceptions of morality are applied. Haug explicates that the same values have different meanings for men and women and imply different practices and demand different responses; morality calls men and women to order, however, men and women obey in their own ways respective of their genders. Moreover, social reproduction refers to the work that goes into producing workers who then have their labor exploited in the name of capitalism.
The weight of social reproduction is typically shifted towards women and nonmen given that women are socialized to stay at home and do domestic work. Women are expected to socially reproduce predominately male workers so that they then go off to make money for the household through an already male dominant workfield, seeing that feminized work such as domestic work is not valued as much socioeconomically under capitalism.
Social reproduction of women’s domestic labor is also indicative of how women and nonmen and their labor is utilized as a tool to advance the productivity of male workers.
Women are expected to obey the orders of men even within the household and to satisfy the needs of the men so that they may be the best workers possible at their jobs, whereas men set the standards of productivity and morality. Furthermore, the workers seize of the means of production and the establishment of a socialist state that will overthrow capitalist class interests and wither away to full communism will liberate proletarian women from the burdens brought to them by capitalism, classism, imperialism and all other oppressive isms and misogynistic standards of morality and labor.
Val Reynoso is a Politics and Human Rights undergrad, journalist and Marxist-Leninist activist.