NEGATIVE - CRITIQUE - FEMINIST CRITIQUE OF PRIVACY 138
B EXT IMPACTSPUBLIC/PRIVATE DICHOTOMY PERPETUATES PATRIARCHY
PUBLIC/PRIVATE DICHOTOMY REIFIES GENDERED THINKING
Susan Baker, Senior Lecturer in European Social Research at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences, 1999; WOMEN AND PUBLIC POLICY: THE SHIFTING BOUNDARIES BETWEEN THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SPHERES, "Risking Difference: Reconceptualizing the Boundaries between the Public and Private Spheres," EE2001-hxm p. 5-6
Since the 1980s, feminist scholars have been highly critical of the construction of a dichotomy between the public and private spheres.2 Making such a sharp distinction does not provide us with a useful or insightful way of making sense of, and grouping patterns of, activity in the world. The private sphere is supposed to refer to the family, unsullied by state regulation, where women are confined and men absent. In contrast, the public sphere is supposed to refer to the world of rational discourse and political life, where men are engaged and women excluded. The reality of both men's and women's lives is more complex. Far from seeing the public and private as separated by a clear boundary, we need to recognize that they have always been connected. Furthermore, there is a wide variation in the rigidity of the distinction, and in the relative scope of, the two domains through time and between societies (Randall, 199 1, p. 14). Even as far back as in Greek society, the interrelationship between the public and private spheres is revealed by the fact that the oikos provided the necessary support base to allow the master the freedom to participate in the polis. Similarly, in today's liberal democracies, there are both direct and indirect forms of state regulation of the family; men pass between the public and private spheres on a daily basis, and economic modernization and industrialization has brought increased numbers of women into the public through, for example, participation in the labour market. Furthermore, socalled private issues have a very public dimension. Reproduction provides a good example, as this has become a public-policy issue, particularly since the rise of second-wave feminism in the 1970s and 1980s. The private sphere is a site of sexual politics (as revealed, for example, by issues such as domestic violence and marital rape). Similarly, male violence against women is a publicpolicy issue, not least because it constrains women's freedom in the public spheres (Van Schendelen and Ottes).3
PUBLIC/PRIVATE DICHOTOMY REIFIES PATRIARCHY
Susan Baker, Senior Lecturer in European Social Research at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences, 1999; WOMEN AND PUBLIC POLICY: THE SHIFTING BOUNDARIES BETWEEN THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SPHERES, "Risking Difference: Reconceptualizing the Boundaries between the Public and Private Spheres," EE2001-hxm p. 6-7
However, while the public-private dichotomy is analytically unhelpful-that is the distinction does not provide a conceptualization that adequately reflects the complexity of men and women's lives-the dichotomy has nonetheless been of major importance. Thus, even though the claim to a clear separation between the public and private spheres is not borne out by empirical study, this does not deny the fact that the claim can also serve other purposes-it can have an ideological function. From the viewpoint of feminist analysis, its significance is that it has formed part of the theoretical and practical support structures of patriarchy. The public-private split can be seen as a 'deeply gendered dichotomy' (Lester, 1997). In the modem welfare state, for example, the dichotomy has structured a political theory and practice of democracy and citizenship that has marginalized women.