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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

3 - Gendered Livelihoods and ‘Bargaining with Patriarchy’

Summary

Chapter 3 interrogates the diverse gender roles that women adopt (that of wife, informal wife, mistress, lover, sex worker) to depend on male income, in order to argue that commercial sex is at one extreme end of a such range of survival options. Concentrating on interviewees’ life stories, the first part of the chapter illustrates the different attempts of women to depend on a male income through reproductive labour – both in the informal economic sector and in the domestic sphere. The analysis points to the tensions in the traditionally available options of such dependency in the era of neoliberal transformations, and the difficulties that women face when attempting to pressure men into living up to their obligations. The role of sex workers’ perceptions and assumptions about men and their desires that are the basis for women’s performative gender roles are analysed in the second part of the chapter.