Women, men and power : gender relations in Montserrat
This thesis draws on and informs feminist theory and Caribbean studies and is concerned with investigating the particular form of gender relations in Montserrat. Gender relations are conceptualised as power relations between men and women. This argument is derived from an exploration of the possibilities and limitations of a range of feminist literature: marxist feminism, socialist feminism, women's studies, feminist geography, radical feminism and the studies of women and development. The gender relations in Montserrat are explored in four areas of social organisation: the household, the workplace, union patterns and heterosexual behaviour. They are seen as universal features of women's lives and, potentially, the main sites of gender relations. Montserratian gender relations were found to be patriarchal, but varied in strength within the four social areas. The household per se was not a site of patriarchal gender relations unless shared with a male partner. The workplace did not exhibit patriarchal gender relations. Gender relations in marriage and cohabiting unions were strongly patriarchal; those in visiting unions were either egalitarian or weakly patriarchal. Heterosexual behaviour, involving sexuality and biological reproduction, was identified as the main site of the maintenance and reproduction of patriarchal gender relations in Montserrat. Montserratian gender relations are shown to be broadly similar to those of the Caribbean generally; but there are exceptions. Very low levels of marriage and cohabitation mean that household gender relations are less patriarchal than in other islands. In comparison with other Caribbean islands, where MNCs, law wages, strict gender segregation and a lack of employment legislation prevail, Montserratian women experience higher wages, job security and greater employment opportunities. The Montserratian workplace, therefore, cannot be seen as a site of patriarchal gender relations. However, as is commonplace throughout the Caribbean, union patterns, specifically marriage and cohabitation, and heterosexual behaviour are sites of patriarchal gender relations.