Where are the men? : low-income women's experience of heterosexual relationships

Cooper-Evans, Mia Samantha (2001-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The purpose of this paper was to review the available literature concerning how low-income women experience their heterosexual relationships. Particular attention was paid to the constructs of social support and intimacy which have both been cited as important variables for coping with stress. It was found that, despite there being more stressors associated with poverty, very little research has been conducted on lowincome women. However, when comparing the available literature, there seem to be important differences between low-income and middle-class women's expectations regarding heterosexual relationships. The literature suggests that for low-income women, heterosexual relationships can often be experienced as an additional source of stress, particularly as traditional gender roles playa greater role in expectations regarding the provision of social support. It therefore seems as though some low-income women, in a bid not to submit to traditional role expectations, choose to stay single and strive for financial independence in order to retain power within heterosexual relationships. The need for intimacy was not clearly articulated by low-income women but a desire for a sexually faithful partner was expressed. Although it seemed as though low-income women did not expect social support or intimacy from their male partners, they did articulate other specific expectations. The literature suggested that low-income women could reliably expect sex and the conception of children. from their heterosexual relationships but that their other expectations were often disappointed. However, heterosexual relationships are considered an important means for low-income women to gain status within the community. Finally, the current review of the literature highlighted the considerable overlap between the constructs of social support and intimacy. In conclusion, further research needs to be conducted (particularly in South Africa) in order to determine how low-income women experience their heterosexual relationships.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie studie was om 'n oorsig te kry van die beskikbare literatuur oor laeinkomstevroue se ervaring van hulle heteroseksuele verhoudings. Aandag is in die besonder gegee aan die konstrukte van sosiale ondersteuning en intimiteit, wat albei as belangrike veranderlikes tydens die hantering van stres aangedui is. Daar is bevind dat, ondanks die feit dat daar meer stressore is wat met armoede in verband gebring word, baie min navorsing nog oor lae-inkomstevrouegedoen is. Wanneer die beskikbare literatuur egter vergelyk word, lyk dit asof daar belangrike verskille is tussen die verwagtinge wat onderskeidelik laeinkomstevroue en vroue uit die middelklas het ten opsigte van heteroseksuele verhoudinge. Die literatuur voer aan dat lae-inkomstevroue heteroseksuele verhoudings dikwels as 'n addisionele bron van stres beleef, veral aangesien tradisionele geslagsrolle 'n groter rol speel in verwagtinge rondom die verskaffing van sosiale ondersteuning. Dit lyk dus asof sommige lae-inkomstevrouein 'n poging om hulle nie aan tradisionele rolverwagtinge te onderwerp nie, verkies om nie te trou nie, maar om eerder na finansiële onafhanklikheid te streef in 'n poging om die mag in heteroseksueleverhoudings te behou. Die behoefte aan intimiteit is nie duidelik deur lae-inkomstevroue aangedui nie, maar wel 'n behoefte aan 'n enkelvoudige heteroseksuele verhouding. Alhoewel dlt gelyk het asof lae-lokomstevroue nie sosiale ondersteuning of intimiteit van hulle mansvriende verwag het nie, het hulle ander spesifieke verwagtinge genoem. Uit die literatuur wil dit lyk of lae-inkomstevroue met redelike sekerheid seks en die verwekking van kinders van hulle heteroseksuele verhoudings kon verwag, maar dat hulle ander verwagtinge dikwels teleurgestel word. Nogtans word heteroseksuele verhoudings as 'n belangrike manier gesien waarop lae-inkomstevroue status in die gemeenskap kan verkry. Die huidige literatuurstudie belig ook die aansienlike oorvleueling tussen die konstrukte van sosiale ondersteuning en intimiteit. Ten slotte is dit duidelik dat verdere navorsing gedoen moet word (veral in Suid-Afrika) om te bepaal hoe laeinkomstevrouehulle heteroseksueleverhoudings beleef.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52611
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