Fertility and Gendered Violence and masculinity

In the last week I have had a few moments of clarity which have helped me to see the direction of travel for my PhD a little clearer than before. I have attended sessions exploring philosophy and my philosophical stance. I have previously talked about this and outlined my inclination towards radical humanism. This means that I place my views in the subjective end of research methodology in organisation inquiry as I question the supremacy of factual an quantitative data when examining persistent problems, particularly gender and inequity. The humanist perspective appreciates the endless complexity of individual perceptions and human ability to interpret or affect their environments differently. My radical position comes from my innate desire to do research that can contribute to discourses of change (and ideally have meaningful impacts to make change). My humanist inclination is reinforced by my belief in fair opportunity for all. Overall, I felt this centring of my philosophy represented me as well as possible, but I was pleased this week when a professor talked about borrowing from other paradigms. This is especially interesting to me given my occasional drifting alignment and my concern that over subjective focus can be exploited by hardened objective structures.

In recent times I have thought a lot about the implications of my positionality, particularly when considering my ideas of ideology and the structures of control. I have long viewed the structures of the state as working in concert with corporate power and ideological views imposed on the population. Listening to Owen Jones’ ‘The Establishment’ has reinforced my view and provided further evidence of the tentacles of power, strangling humanity and our environment, all for the pursuit of market forces and neo-liberal ideology. Partriarchy is a natural bed-fellow in this ideology of competition and corporate greed, as men have inherited social power, influence and a tradition of dominance extending back in time. Powerful men have sculpted our world, for good and ill. One theory that has helped me to access this conflict between the individual and the structure is Structuration (Giddens). The continuum of powerful structures of control and individual motivations for security have helped me to see where dystopian control structures and individual acts of collective resistance and subversion can fit. It has been a time of focusing on my conceptual framework with theories that can underpin my thinking.

Focusing in

The week started with a supervisor meeting with my primary and second supervisors. I have shared my edits to my fertility paper and received written feedback on the updates I have made. Reflecting on the impact of fertility and its relevance to my research question, it has become increasingly clear that much of my focus can be centred on the fertility and infertility in the workplace. Through my reading so far, I have encountered examples of inequitable and unreasonable treatment for mothers, as well as women feeling pressured to conform to a masculine workplace paradigm. The aspect of fertility in the workplace I find most troubling and therefore most important to investigate is the fertility/infertility double-bind. Women encounter the double bind when having to either choose to delay or indefinitely defer families to pursue their careers, versus women who encounter detrimental consequences for becoming mother and trying to retain their careers and progress. The questions I am left with are:

  • Why do women shoulder so much of the responsibility for parenting?
  • Is there a culture that promotes women as mothers, but not men as fathers?
  • Why don’t more men take a more active role in care giving for children?
  • How can the expectations of women and men be influenced so that it is not a mother’s duty to deal with the consequences of being a parent?

Fertility is a prominent and highly relevant trope within dystopian literature and this will enable me to access the lessons of dystopian resistance and highlight the controlling structures of ideological totality.

Gendered Violence

I attended a thought provoking, challenging and stirring lecture this week. Gendered violence, and specifically violence against women, is something I abhor. I watched the Kavanaugh hearings and my heart broke for the life time trauma Christine Blassey-Ford has endured. One thing that really stood out for me in the lecture was during the discussion when an insightful was the underlying issues that lead to men acting violently towards women. It struck a chord with me as I often fall into the trap that societal narratives lay of blaming the perpetrator and not considering the system that guided them there. Let me be very clear, there is no excuse for violence against women and I am not excusing any perpetrators of their responsibility. I am, however, postulating that men who commit acts of violence, harassment or sexism do this for a reason and it is that reason that allows these incidents to persist. The answers may lie in the experiences of men in patriarch and the ideology of masculinity as portrayed in familial, educational, media and cultural realities. These normalised and normative behaviours can become almost ritualistic in society. The wolf whistle, the sexist comments, the ‘man spreading’ on public transport, the physical intimidation in work spaces… all acts of violence, and precursors to more physical acts. These are clear examples of ‘masculinity’ that need an overhaul!


I am going to be exploring the role of masculinity in greater depth, particularly in the context of fertility. I am intrigued to investigate men’s perceptions of their duty as a father during pregnancy and with children. I feel that cultures can shift if men are encouraged to take more responsibility for child care and as a parent. I perceive, as a father to be, a delineation between the experiences of men and women in this area. Apart from the obvious physical experiences of women opposed to men, there is something psychological that is obscured or avoided between men which seems far more open between women. I think masculinity could be a place for further exploration in light of men in dystopias as allies or men’s roles to support subversion. Ultimately, the problems of gender inequity affect women and men and it will be collective cooperation that will help to change things.

Until next time!

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