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Gender, Land and Sexuality: Exploring Connections

Jacobs, Susie (2013) Gender, Land and Sexuality: Exploring Connections. International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, 27. ISSN 0891-4486

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Abstract

This article explores links between the issues of sexuality and gendered control over agricultural land. It discusses gendered land rights in several settings, concentrating particularly on agrarian and land reforms. I argue that land redistribution in the "household" model, discussed for Chile and Nicaragua, tends to entrench male household and agricultural control. In contrast, more collective forms, discussed for Vietnam, have displayed economic weaknesses but had potential to undercut such control by socialising women's labour. Fears about and visions of female sexuality have much to do with backlashes against inclusion of women, either through allowing them membership of cooperatives and collectives or through granting rights such as joint titling to land. In sub-Saharan Africa, there currently exists much discussion of improving women's control over agriculture and its products. These continue to meet opposition, despite female predominance in agriculture in the region. Thus, even though women work on the land in many societies, this does not give them any automatic "closeness" to nature or say within households. Control over women's, especially wives', labour within peasant households, is linked to the manner that their persons and their labour are bound up in this socio-economic form. The article also examines two feminist attempts to configure alternative agricultural forms: the case of a lesbian agricultural collective in the west of the USA and an Indian model of new female-centred households for single women. Heterosexuality as an institution and gender subordination more broadly, as the examples here indicate, have to do not only with sexual practices or identity but extend also to issues of labour and access to crucial resources. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

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