1. Gene Poole and Rasa Von Werder discuss Patriarchy's repression of sex.
2. Gene and Rasa discuss conflict strategies.
3. Jepedera offer new book on female violence, 'See Jane Hit.'
4. Beata M. from
submits reasons WHY WOMEN ARE THE POOR ONES.
Rasa carries sexuality within her spirituality, Gene says...Rasa remarks ***
***(Gene, do you put the word in parentheses because my guruhood is in
question? Like 'actress' Jayne Mansfield?),
advocate for women, perseveres Despite heavy attacks and attempts to
discredit her, Rasa maintains her balance,
*** THIS IS A GOOD POINT. MY BALANCE IS NOT SHAKEN WHEN ATTACKED,BECAUSE MY
IDENTITY, MY BEING, IS IN GOD, AND GOD WORKS THROUGH MY BODY.
WHEN PEOPLE ATTACK MY BODY OR EARTHLY PERSONA, I AM NOT THERE. LIKE I SAY,
'YOU CAN'T KILL ME, I'M ALREADY DEAD.'
in her mission of empowerment of women.
Rasa is 'one of the few' who dares bring her
whole Being to the task of helping women and
men to confront the damages done by our
contemporary culture; and she fearlessly offers
that human sexuality is entirely relevant to
every aspect of human nature.
*** THE BIG BREAK AGAINST SEX WAS DONE BY PATRIARCHY, NOT SO MUCH TO DISTURB
THEIR OWN ACTIVITIES, BUT TO KEEP WOMEN IN CHECK. (WOMEN HAVE TO BE
CONTROLLED FOR PATRIARCHY TO WORK.) A SMALL PORTION OF THE REPRESSION DID
FALL UPON MEN - ONLY A SMALL AMOUNT.
THIS PARADIGM OF ANTI-SEXUALITY IS NOW ERODING AS MATRIARCHY RISES QUICKLY.
THE OLD ANTI-SEX CONDITIONING, FROM A FOUNDATION OF 'RELIGIOUS VIRTUE' IS
FALLING APART. PEOPLE ARE FEELING LESS GUILTY ABOUT SEX, ABOUT LIVING
TOGETHER, AND ABOUT NUDITY. THEY ARE FINDING THE TEACHINGS AGAINST SEX,
FORNICATION, MASTURBATION, TO BE, FUNDAMENTALLY IRRATIONAL. RELIGIONS ARE
HAVING TROUBLE CONTROLLING WOMEN AND MEN THESE DAYS, IN THAT ARENA.
WHEN WOMEN ARE FREE, THE ENTIRE PLANET WILL BE LIBERATED. ANIMALS AND NATURE
WILL BE SEEN AS GOD, JUST AS THE BELIEFS OF PAGANS AND MANY OTHERS
PROMULGATE. MEN AND ANIMALS WILL BE FREE ALSO. WELL, MEN WILL NOT BE
COMPLETELY FREE. THEY WILL BE 'SECOND CLASS CITIZENS.' I AM NOT IN ANY WAY
NERVOUS ABOUT MAKING THIS STATEMENT, AS NOTHING CAN STOP WHAT IS COMING -
NOTHING. IT IS INEVITABLE.
Sexuality cannot be removed, ignored, or censored,
in our task of understanding ourselves and the
terrible twists and deformations which are
enforced upon us as we have lived our lives
in contemporary culture.
*** IN MATRIARCHAL DAYS (NORMAL) SEX WAS NOT A SIN. PEOPLE WERE RELAXED
ABOUT IT. THEY WERE NOT FEARFUL OF IT.
We will not succeed in healing, if we try to
compartmentalize ourselves and try to sequester
our sexuality away from those aspects which
we are able to deal with 'comfortably'.
It is easy, convenient, and 'normal' to ignore
or avoid taking our own sexuality into account,
as we try to make sense of our lives. If you
come to know, or at least know of Rasa, you
may also come to appreciate how she embraces
sexuality as a necessary and inevitable aspect
of our Being.
*** THE REASON PEOPLE GOT SO HYSTERICAL WHEN I PREACHED AND DANCED NUDE WAS
BECAUSE I WAS TO 'STAY IN MY CAGE' OF WHORE, AS OPPOSED TO MADONNA. WHEN I
DID BOTH, I BROKE THE MOLD, BY BECOMING 'MADONNA AND WHORE' AT THE SAME
THIS FLEW DIRECTLY IN THE FACE OF PATRIARCHY, AND DESTROYED AN ASSUMPTION,
THAT A WOMAN IN THE SEX TRADE WAS OUTSIDE THE GRACE OF GOD; THAT SHE WAS
SPIRITUALLY DEGRADED. HOW COULD SHE MAKE MEN LUST AND THEN SAVE THEIR SOULS?
HOW COULD SHE BE A SINNER AND BRING MEN TO VIRTUE? THIS SEEMED LIKE A CLASH,
A DICHOTOMY AND A CONTRADICTION IN TERMS. IT SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE, YET SHE WAS
Contrary to assumption, the human Being may
be 'retrained' in regard to how sexual energy
arises and is deployed. Most of us have come to
assume that once sexual arousal has begun, that
the course of its actions and results is writ
in stone. We seldom wonder how 'others' sexual
energies manifest, and what courses those
energies take as they expand. And this is much
of the chronic disagreement and disappointment
which arise between men and women, from puberty
onward into maturity.
Rasa 'goes the distance' as very few, man or
woman, ever has, and she does this in service
of our whole Being. In truth, sexuality and
spirituality are not only intermingled in us
by nature, but because each is an alias of the
other, suppression of one leads to disturbance
of the other. It is seen by adepts, that the
two are inseparable, and if taken together,
reveals the power and glory of both, as one
unified expression of alive Being.
*** IN THE CHURCH, MOTHERGOD ON MY INTERNET SITE:
WE ALSO CREATED QUITE A STIR BY MIXING IN PROVOCATIVE AND NUDE PHOTOS, AS
WELL AS TALKING ABOUT ECSTATIC MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES THAT SOUND JUST LIKE
SEX. THAT WAS A NO-NO. WE HERE BROKE ANOTHER TRADITION, THAT RELIGION, A
CHURCH, DO NOT TALK ABOUT SEX IN A POSITIVE WAY. NUDITY IS NOT TO BE
PROMOTED, AND SEX IS NOT TO BE SPOKEN OF EXCEPT IN NEGATIVE TERMS. BUT WE
MAKE THE CLAIM THAT SEX IS NOT A SIN, EXCEPT FOR RAPE AND EXPLOITATION,
(WHILE AT THE SAME TIME ADMITTING THE VALUE OF CELIBACY TOWARD THE LIFE OF
UNION WITH GOD.) AS IN 'STRIPPING FOR GOD', PEOPLE ONCE MORE SCRATCHED THEIR
HEADS, SAID IT DIDN'T SOUND RIGHT, AND ATTACKED RASA FORCEFULLY WITH
RIDICULE AND CONDEMNATION.
We ignore this truth, at our own peril.
Disturbances of 'sexual ecology', such as
blockades created by sexual abuse, lead to
isolation, and worse. Personal/sexual boundaries
which have been breached by abuse, create
'defenses' which are in fact very serious
vulnerabilities which masquerade as the
ability to control oneself, and as is all
too common, to the assumption that we can
We humans have become so boggled by our
own native power, that we have long since
lost track of what it is, what it means,
and how to use it properly. I have found
the approach used by Rasa, which seems to
emanate directly from her heart, to be one
of the most challenging to our social
conventions which push our painful
dilemmas 'under the rug', indefinitely
deferred, and left to fester and infect
us and individuals and as a culture.
*** INDEED, RASA IS BRINGING INTO THE OPEN - WITHOUT HAVING FIGURED IT ALL
OUT AHEAD OF TIME - WHO SHE IS, AND WHAT SHE THINKS. IT IS JUST HER, NOT
SOME ELABORATE SCHEME PLANNED OUT IN HER HEAD. SHE WAS IN THE SEX TRADE, SHE
LOVED GOD, AND THIS ENTIRE EVENT, OF HER LIFE, IS A PUBLIC EXPOSITION OF SEX
HEADS ARE GOING TO WAG, BOATS ARE GOING TO ROCK, AND THIS WILL GO ON
INDEFINITELY, UNTIL THE DAY THE WORLD CATCHES UP WITH HER. ON THAT DAY,
NUDITY AND SEX WILL BE REGARDED AS TOTALLY NORMAL, NO GUILT OR SHAME WILL BE
IMPUGNED TO IT.
Written by Gene Poole
and Rasa Von Werder
* * *
Discussions here and:
THE WARS AGAINST WOMEN - GENE POOLE AND RASA
Here are some links to pages which treat
the works of the Chinese warrior, Sun Tzu.
Sun Tzu put forward some priniples which
have become the 'gold standard' for military
strategists of modern times, believe it or not!
First, this link, which is to a page which
is long and complicated, but which does offer
some fine points, including possible resolution
to the questions of 'who really was Sun Tzu':
From that page:
"One of the most interesting sections in
the Sun Pin Ping-fa is a treatise on what
is termed "guest and host." The guest is an
army of occupation, whereas the host is the
army that is called on to carry out a
protracted war of resistance against occupying force.
The host, although weak in military power,
is able through prior arrangements and planning
to force the guest to follow his plans. The host
has the initiative; the guest can only respond
and follow the initiative of the host. The host,
because of his innate knowledge of his native geography,
uses this factor to his advantage and is at ease in
his own country. The guest does not have knowledge of
the geography and is almost blind and in constant
danger and a state of anxiety."
Gene's comment: If the 'territory' is the
human 'heart', can we depend upon the ignorance
of the enemy, and thus properly defend and win?
*** GENE, WHAT STRUCK ME IN THE MOST RECENT WAR IS HOW LITTLE HOMEWORK THE
ATTACKERS DID, HOW THEY USED ME FOR SADISTIC PLEASURE AND ENTERTAINMENT,
WITHOUT KNOWING THEIR DESIGNATED VICTIM AND ENEMY. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT
WAS? I PERSONALLY WOULD SAY IGNORANCE, JUST ASSUMING (AS DID SO MANY ON TV
SHOWS I WAS ON) THAT A WOMAN IN THE SEX TRADE CANNOT AND WILL NOT FIGHT
BACK. HISTORICALLY THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN CORRECT, AS I DO NOT KNOW ANY
FEMALES BEFORE ME, IN THE SEX TRADE, WHO PUBLICLY FOUGHT MEN AND PATRIARCHY.
AND THEY COULD EASILY ASSUME I WOULD FALL APART AND RETREAT AS SOON AS THEY
ATTACKED ME VISCIOUSLY, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT WOMEN USUALLY DO. BUT THAT IS
WHY I WENT ON ALL THE TV SHOWS, TO MAKE UP FOR THE WOMEN WHO COULD NOT FIGHT
BACK, AND TO GALVANIZE THEIR ENERGY AND GIVE THEM HOPE, AND IT DID STIMULATE
WOMEN I SAW, IN THE AUDIENCE, (AND SOME SEX TRADE WORKERS AFTER ME, JUST ONE
OR TWO) TO STAND FIRM AGAINST MALE HOSTILITY. IT CAUSED WOMEN TO HAVE MORE
SELF ESTEEM AND CONFIDENCE, ONCE THEY SAW A HERA FIGHTING IN THE OPEN, AND
THE OTHER THING THAT AMAZES ME IS I TOLD THEM ALL THESE THINGS - EVERY WORD.
AND THEY LISTENED TO NOT ONE WORD, BLINDLY AND FORCEFULLY ATTACKING ME OVER
AND OVER AGAIN. WHY WAS IT SO DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO FIGURE OUT I AM A
VETERAN OF WARS? WHY WERE THEY SO PRESUMPTUOUS? IT WAS THE EXACT SAME THING
ON EVERY RADIO AND TV SHOW I WENT ON IN THE 90'S, PREACHING FEMALE
SUPREMACY. THE HOSTS WERE BAFFLED AND BEWILDERED, LITERALLY THE STIMULATION
WAS COMING AT THEM FASTER THAN THEIR BRAINS COULD COMPUTE, AND ONE OF THEM
RESORTED TO PHYSICAL VIOLENCE AGAINST ME - AND THAT WAS HIS MAJOR DOWNFALL.
BECAUSE OF COURSE, I TOOK HIM TO COURT AND SUED FOR 40 MILLION. THAT HIT ALL
THE HEADLINES AND I DID MORE TV SHOWS AGAINST HIM, EVENTUALLY LEADING TO HIS
DOWNFALL ON TELEVISION.
If an attacker is 'heartless', our success is
assured, even before the battle begins.
It is the blindness of the 'enemy' which assures
his own defeat, in this territory of the heart.
"One hundred victories in one hundred battles
is not the most skillful. Seizing the enemy
without fighting is the most skillful."
Finally, in general (no pun!) and with
fine summaries and commentary:
My own study of the words of Sun Tzu have
been profitable for me...
SOUNDS GOOD TO ME!
From: John Rooney
Subject: "See Jane Hit" jepedera
Amazon has listed a book called "See Jane Hit". It's
about violent girls and why there are more of them.
As you know the stereotypes are breaking
Subject: Engendering poverty research. How to go beyond the feminization of
Engendering poverty research. How to go beyond the feminization of poverty
This article discusses the gender dimension of poverty risks and some of the
methodological issues connected to the implementation of a gender-sensitive
approach in poverty research. More specifically, it focuses on the
relationship between poverty and inequalities in the process of distribution
of resources within households.
The debate on the definition and 'measurement' of poverty rarely includes a
specific discussion of gender, treating poverty principally as a
gender-neutral phenomenon. It often ignores gender differences in the
causes, extent and experience of economic deprivation.
But poverty has always been a gendered phenomenon: historical data provide a
remarkably consistent picture of women's experience of deprivation over the
last hundred years (Glendinning and Millar, 1991). Other findings (e.g.
Scheiwe, 1994; Ruspini, 2000) indicate that women's poverty is a quite
different experience from that of men's: the structural causes of women's
poverty are to be found in the interaction between dependency, social
exclusion and social change within the three resource systems: family,
labour market and welfare systems. These causes are rooted:
1. In the private domestic sphere. Power within marriage and the family is
directly related to the control of financial resources and to the
participation in the labour market. Generally speaking, husbands have more
power than wives in the control of family resources (Pahl, 1989). It has
also been observed that the poverty of a poor family is not shared equally
by the members. In poor households women more often have responsibility for
managing the money, whilst in households where the main source of income is
earnings, men will more often control the finances (Pahl, 1995). Other
studies on families below the poverty line find that the women primarily
bear the burden of a family's poverty, inasmuch as they inhibit their own
consumption. Thus, the decline in the quality of life coming from poverty
affects the woman more than the man, in that the woman manages the limited
resources to satisfy the whole family's demands (Lee 1999).
2. In the sexual division of labour which assigns to women a primary role
(largely hidden and unpaid) and a secondary position in the labour market.
Women's lives are still shaped by the family responsibilities they have
traditionally been expected to take on: these tasks shape women's work
patterns, the type of occupation they work in, their earnings and their
social security benefits. 'Moral obligations' create a time conflict between
paid and unpaid work, care tasks and employment (Leccardi 1996)1: such
inequalities in the distribution of unpaid work remain even when the man is
unemployed. As a consequence, women often take a poorly paid job, in order
to meet family needs (Graham, 1987) or find employment which fits in with
their domestic chores: part-time work; work which is near their homes or
their children's schools; and work in anti-social hours, that is, when their
partners are at home to care for the children. At the same time, their
partners may oppose their employment unless the home environment does not
suffer (Payne, 1991). The major investment by women in unpaid work reduces
their potential for earning income and increases their risk of poverty
(Daly, 1992): thus, the earning gap between the sexes is a direct
consequence of the home responsibilities assumed by women. Women's income
stability over the life course may also be greatly affected by economic
dependency (Sorensen and McLanahan, 1987): the greater the dependency, the
greater her potential loss of income should she lose her spouse by death or
(increasingly common) divorce.
3. In the welfare sphere. All this is reflected in the private, occupational
and public systems of welfare provision. The inequalities which women
experience in paid work are mirrored in their different access to, and
levels of, income replacement benefits (Glendinning and Millar, 1991).
Institutional arrangements can negatively affect women's and mothers' access
to income and increase their poverty risks or may limit the number of
available alternatives and therefore make it difficult to find ways out of
poverty (Scheiwe, 1994).
4. financial institutions, e.g. insurance companies and mutual societies as
well as employers and the state, provide mechanisms for distributing
resources between women and men and between generations. Tax systems
subsidise some of these transfers through the use of tax relief on
contributions paid by employers and/or employees as well as on the funds
generated by the insurance or mutual companies themselves. Financial
markets, as well as labour markets, have an impact on the distribution of
resources between men and women but the assumptions on which they operate -
especially with regard to access to credit and to mortgages - have not yet
been subject to the detailed scrutiny to which labour markets have been
subjected (Land 2000). As an interesting example, Pahl (2000) shows that
gender differences in the use of credit cards are associated with
differences in employment status. When the man and the woman are both in
full time employment they are equally likely to use a credit card. However,
women in part time employment are less likely, and women without employment
very significantly less likely to use a credit card, by comparison with
their employed husbands.
Social inequalities are also shaped by social change. Life course changes
are far more pronounced for women than for men both in the family and in the
labour market. The most dramatic changes in the life course are portrayed in
the family sphere. Family life course changes include population ageing, the
weakening of kinship networks (as a consequence of both increasing
individualism and falling birth-rates), the increase in separation/divorce
and in non-marital unions, the increase in births out of wedlock, and a
decline in nuptiality. Changes in the labour market have created a complex
scenario marked by a reduction in the number of opportunities for obtaining
permanent jobs and by a parallel increase in flexibility: unemployment and
marginal forms of employment, a decline in life-time occupations, and a
shrinkage in permanent contract career ladders (Mayer, 1993; Morris, 1994).
Obviously the transformations currently underway do not have the same impact
either on the diverse groups which make up society or on the individuals
within each family: some subjects - such as women - are more vulnerable than
others. Families where the head of the household is a woman, often separated
or divorced and with dependent children, are indeed far more vulnerable than
families where the head of household is a male or where an adult male is
Thus, specific risk factors affect women (and men) in particular. The
expectation is that critical family events - such as lone parenthood,
divorce or separation, particularly in the presence of children - will be
stronger predictors of poverty transitions for women than for men because of
the female economic dependence on a male breadwinner combined with caring
responsibilities at home.
The different interaction of beginning events also determines a different
duration of poverty spells for the sexes: female poverty trajectories are
longer than men's, since they are strongly related with critical family
events and women's burden of care and domestic work (Ruspini, 2000). Women
are also more likely to enter poverty situations such as lone parenthood or
low income, to remain in those situations and to exit from them with greater
difficulties. Finally, poverty among women persists and is structurally
reproduced over time and generations: one of the vehicles for the
transmission of poverty arises from the absence of sharing of family
Thus, women cannot simply be 'added in' to existing analyses: instead, a
different analytic framework is required. What is needed is the elucidation
of the different processes by which both women and men fall into, experience
and escape poverty, as opposed to the paradigm we have now, which is an
analysis of the way in which households experience poverty. Our
understanding of women's position in society requires us to look not only at
individual women's position in the labour market but also at their familial
position, the resource they derive from it and their level of dependency
within households (Sorensen and McLanahan, 1987). As Millar argues (1999),
in order to develop gender-sensitive ways of 'measuring' poverty what is
needed is a way of placing individuals within households and measuring both
their contribution to the resources of that household and the extent of
their dependence on the resources of others within the household. Thus, the
most crucial question for poverty research is how to open the 'black box' in
order to understand whether and how women's poverty is concealed (Millar and
Glendinning, 1989; Arber 1990). We shall ask to what extent do all household
members share the same level of economic welfare and what methodological
implications emerge from the study of intra household resource distribution.
The challenge is how to proceed methodologically. In order to offer an
answer to this crucial question, I will discuss three of the central
methodological issues required to analyse poverty and especially women's
deprivation: identification of the poor and how to engender the poverty line
approach; appropriate units of measurement; and the non-monetary dimension
Engendering the poverty line approach
There are many alternative ways of defining poverty and to identify the
poor: any 'measure' of poverty involves a large number of choices. Moreover,
poverty rates are very sensitive to the definition of poverty itself. The
adoption of either one or other method to define low income may heavily
influence both the absolute number and the structure of the population which
The poverty-line approach poses in particular a number of problems. In fact,
there is both the crucial question of where to draw the line and that of how
to conceptualise and measure income and money resources (Daly, 1992).
Moreover, only relying on income ignores the fact that there are other
resources that can profoundly affect people's standard of living: gift
exchanges, income from relatives and friends, services/benefits in kind such
as savings produced through women's domestic labour in food preparation,
cleaning and other household tasks. It is indeed extremely difficult to
estimate either the magnitude and the distribution of income received from
'hidden' transfers or from home production: this is particularly problematic
in the case of women, since in practice, the largest source of home-produced
goods today is the work that housewives and mothers do in the home (Ruggles,
1990). Thus, the 'poverty line' approach is inherently gender-blind. The
question is, how to engender it
Let us start from the choice of the equivalence scale: an adjustment in
needs is important, since economies of scale may arise as a household
increases in size. One can assume that, due to economies of scale, the needs
of a family for resources grow with each additional member, but not in a
proportional way. With the help of equivalence scales, each family type in
the population is assigned a value in proportion to its needs (Foerster,
The choice of an 'official' equivalence scale is controversial, since it can
substantially affect the composition of the poverty population. This choice
is even more controversial in cross-national research, since it must account
not only for differences across households but also of country-specific
differences (Burkhauser et al., 1994). Thus, there is a considerable range
of methods which can be used to derive equivalence scales and a large number
of scales are used in OECD countries.
Another priority is to use and compare different assumptions about sharing.
There are various possible solutions to the problem of measuring
within-household resources. The traditional approach assumes complete
pooling of income, so that the living standards of all members of the same
household are assumed to be the same. One alternative is to make the
opposite assumption ( of no pooling at all ( and measure poverty rates on
that basis (Millar, 2000). For example, Daly (1995) distributed households
income among individuals by applying two conditions of income sharing: the
first is that household members share the aggregate income equally; under
the second assumption family income is allocated unequally among members,
using the adjustments inherent in the OECD equivalence scale. Not
surprisingly, Daly's empirical evidence shows that the assumption of equal
sharing yields the lower poverty rates. It is female poverty rates which are
most affected: women are particularly hit by hidden poverty.
It is also necessary to define a threshold or poverty line to distinguish
households and individuals who are poor from those who are not. Due to the
fact that poverty is a contested concept - a phenomenon difficult to
understand, define and measure - it is not possible to draw one single,
valid poverty line, below which all individuals or households are undeniably
poor. As already said, poverty lines can be set using a great variety of
alternative methods, and figures depend crucially on the poverty line
chosen. In my analysis of female poverty dynamics in Germany and Great
Britain, I defined the poverty lines as 40 percent, 50 percent and 60
percent of the median monthly household equivalent income and of the median
monthly individual labour income.3 Those below the 40 percent line may be
classified as 'very poor', those below the 50 percent line as 'poor' and
those below the 60 percent line 'near poor'. The choice of using different
poverty lines is an appropriate correction for the arbitrary choice of using
only one poverty interval: poverty rates are indeed very sensitive to the
poverty line definition itself (Buhman et al., 1988).
The unit of measurement: aggregate and individual poverty measures
The most crucial question for poverty research is how to open the 'black
box' in order to understand whether and how women's poverty is concealed. I
shall ask to what extent do all household members share the same level of
My answer is that there are two possible ways of exploring the concealment
of women's poverty within households. First, through careful choice of the
unit of measurement. Second, through increased availability of variables
which specifically aim to depict the three processes involved in the
acquisition and expenditure of resources within the family: the entry of
resources into the household (sources of income); how resources are
allocated and controlled; and how resources are expended (Daly, 1992).
Early 'measurement' of poverty (e.g. by Rowntree) was at the household
level, and much still is. The reason for focusing on aggregate units rather
than on individuals is based on two assumptions. Firstly, that resources are
shared equally within the household: under that assumption, the household is
treated as an inseparable economic unit in which every member shares in the
common resources, and a member's personal resources are used to meet the
collective needs of the other members. Secondly, it is implicitly assumed
that all members of poor households experience deprivation caused by poverty
to the same extent.
It has indeed long been a tradition to assume that family resources are
distributed equally among its members, with the family serving as the
fundamental unit. Also, the inclination has been to take the head of a
family as the major subject (Lee, 1999).
Ample evidence on financial management within marriage has thrown
considerable doubt on the prevalence of egalitarian income pooling by
couples. Various patterns of money management have been reported, some of
which involve the male breadwinner having discretionary funds to spend on
himself unmatched by similar resources for wives (Pahl, 1989; 1995). Other
evidence has shown that family members have unequal access to resources
(such as food and clothing) as well as to space, warmth and light, and men
tend to be the 'privileged' consumers. Wives tend to be responsible for
basic necessities and children's needs, and to control a larger proportion
of the budget the smaller it is. Access to resources within households is
determined by the relative status of family members: it is structured by
norms of behaviour that are a consequence of power relationships which are
themselves structured by gender, age, class and race (Brannen and Wilson,
If the unequal sharing of resources is occurring, then conventional methods
of poverty 'measurement' will lead to an underestimate of female poverty and
an over-estimate of male poverty (Findlay and Wright, 1994). Thus, in order
to make gender differences explicit in research on poverty, an aggregate
measure of income is not particularly useful. The study of poverty on an
aggregate rather than individual basis obscures the particular circumstances
of women. By contrast individual measurement assumes that no sharing or
pooling of resources (through the common use of rooms and amenities) takes
place within the family.
The use of family income to 'measure' poverty masks the economic weakness of
women. If, on the one hand, the family plays a crucial role in pooling
different sources of income and in mediating hardship, on the other hand it
can also mask an unequal distribution of resources. In fact, women add a
great volume of non-market work that helps families to cope with the lack of
resources resulting from either unemployment or job instability. If a
couple's income and resources are not pooled, then married or cohabiting
women, whose own income is low, may suffer from poverty that is hidden
within official statistics (Ward, et al. , 1996).
Acquisition and expenditure of resources within the family
The availability of variables which permit the exploration of how income and
other resources are converted into standards of living within the family is
a crucial element for understanding women's poverty. If it is true that
family members pool their resources to some degree, the pooling clearly
presents problems in the measurement of income levels, as we do not know to
what extent people pool their resources and how "to relate this pooling to
patterns of control and responsibility for different items of expenditure by
the various household members" (Millar and Glendinning, 1989:376).
Unfortunately, such variables are very rare. What follows are the main
points that emerged from my comparative research experience, which used
national household panel data:
1. The British Household Panel Survey makes it possible to understand how
household finances are arranged. It contains two crucial variables: the
first describes which person in the household is responsible for big
financial decisions and the second describes how financial decisions are
2. The European Community Household Panel data offer the possibility of
identifying the household's main source of income and, also, make it
possible to gain insights into both the characteristics and the relevance of
personal financial support from others outside the household.
3. The German Socio-Economic Panel survey, while not permitting the question
of how household resources are organised to be investigated, contains
several variables concerning financial assistance and private transfers from
outside the household, however, most of these are only available from 1994.
The data set also offers some information concerning child-care and other
kinds of help offered by persons outside the household.
4. The Bank of Italy Survey on Household Income and Wealth contains
information concerning the exchange of financial resources within family
networks and intergenerational transfers of resources.
5. The Panel Study on Belgian Household contains some variables concerning
the exchange of financial resources within family networks.
6. The Swedish Household Market and Non-Market Activities survey offers some
information on child-care by persons outside the household and some very
general indicators about financial help which comes from outside the
A final suggestion comes from Millar (1999; 2000) who argues that the issue
of how to place individuals within the household and capture not only their
contribution to the resources of that household but also their dependence
upon those resources also lies in the examination of sources (not just
levels) of income. A good example of such an approach is a study of low pay
and poverty in Britain (Millar et al., 1997), which estimated the
contribution which different individual sources of income made to reducing
the risk of household poverty. Figures show that, of all low-paid workers
(defined as hourly earnings of less than half the median for all workers)
very few (only 8 per cent) were able to lift their households out of poverty
by means of their own income alone. If it is the man who is low paid, he had
a much greater chance of being able to lift his household out of poverty
than did the low-paid women (2.4 per cent). Finally, low-paid lone mothers
are the least likely to be able to keep their households out of poverty (29
per cent stay poor) and where they do manage to stay out of poverty it is
state support, through benefits, which does this.
Alternative measures of poverty
Any understanding of poverty requires a focus not just on numbers: the
individual experience of poverty should also be described (Alcock, 1993).
Poverty research that uses income-based measures and indices of material
well-being, fails to address the multi-dimensional nature of deprivation and
focuses attention on narrow policy objectives (mainly on raising income
levels) (McKendrick, 1998). The non-monetary dimension of deprivation is
very important if we wish to capture the gender nature of poverty, since it
makes it possible for us to understand the consequences of economic hardship
and the connection between low incomes and lack of resources.
There are less quantifiable aspects of poverty, such as not being able to
see friends and relatives, which are not only different for women and men
but also differ between diverse groups of women. A comparison of activities
pursued by women and men on benefit shows that while for both sexes
activities outside the home were severely curtailed by living on benefits,
women, on the whole, were even less likely to participate in such activities
than men (Bradshaw and Holmes, 1989).
To take account of the multi-dimensional aspect of poverty, non-monetary or
hardship indicators can be used to supplement the income or expenditure
values. This approach tries to make a direct assessment of deprivation by
collecting data on a certain number of specific fields, for example food,
clothing, housing conditions, possession of certain consumer goods, health,
education, social contacts and leisure activities. This method was pioneered
by Townsend (1979), who defined poverty not simply as a lack of money, but
also as exclusion from the customs of society. It was developed and improved
by Mack and Lansley (1985): they defined being in poverty as a situation in
which people had to live without the things which society as a whole
regarded as necessities.
Previous empirical evidence from ECHP data (Ruspini, 1998) showed that lone
parents were a particularly vulnerable group when compared to married
mothers as they were less likely to have access to consumer assets. It was
also quite difficult for them to save, take an annual holiday, replace
furniture or invite friends or family round. As Millar (1989) said, the lack
of such items suggests that lone mothers may be more socially isolated than
two-parent families. The initial economies which are immediately made in a
situation of reduced domestic income involve a reduction of social and
leisure activities: holidays, hobbies, entertainment. Moreover, the lack of
a private means of transportation (and/or of a telephone) drastically limits
the possibility of going out and seeing friends or relatives, both for the
mother and for her children. The fact that they received benefits from the
State did not guarantee an adequate standard of living.
Thus, economic poverty has important negative implications for the lives of
poor women, lone mothers and consequently, their children. Living in poverty
inevitably restricts the activities in which children can participate: Cohen
et al. (1992) documented that poor families could not afford to send their
children on school trips or outings with friends. Others said there were few
play facilities for children and they had no money to travel further afield.
Moreover, coping with little money creates difficulties for relationships
within couples and between parents and children (Oppenheim and Harker 1996).
Discussion: towards a gender-sensitive definition of poverty
I would like to conclude with a summary of the methodological reflections
presented here, which may be useful when considering the issue of gender
issue in poverty research:
1. The researcher is required to make very careful methodological choices
and should be fully aware of the meaning and impact of these choices on
2. Concerning the identification of the poor, it is important to integrate
alternative research traditions. Given the limitations of the official
definitions of poverty, a combination of alternative poverty measures is
3. A crucial methodological challenge for women's poverty research is how to
open the family 'black box'. There are various possibilities, such as
combining different poverty measures, that is, tackling the problem by
collecting income data for both households and individuals. As already
discussed, the gap between women and men increases if one takes into
consideration individual income data. Another possibility concerns the
greater availability of variables specifically aimed at depicting the three
processes involved in the acquisition and expenditure of resources within
the family. Particularly, we should consider ways of accounting for assets
and other non-cash resources when measuring poverty.
4. Thus, there is a need to design suitable, adequate and comparable data
sets for the study of female poverty and its dynamics. New data collection
(both quantitatively and qualitatively oriented) may be required in order to
address some questions.
This article is a shorter and revised version of an article submitted to the
'International Journal of Social Research Methodology: Theory and Practice'.
Many debts were incurred in the course of writing this article. In
particular, I would like to thank Jane Millar, Julia Brannen, Rosalind
Edwards and Christina Pantazis for reading various drafts and offering
1. There is little evidence suggesting any significant change in men's
attitude; women's entry into paid work has not been matched by an increase
in the sharing of unpaid work (Lewis, 1993; Sabbadini and Palomba, 1993).
2. I am indebted to Hilary Land for this insight.
3. It would be possible to use the mean instead of the median. The median
has been chosen because it is less affected by the extreme values of the
Discussions here and: