When farm couples break up: gendered moralities, gossip and the fear of stigmatisation in rural communities
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionSociologia Ruralis. 2015, 55 (2), 227-242. 10.1111/soru.12065
This article draws on interviews with farm women and men who have experienced a family break up to analyse their experiences of gender expectations in family farming, their fear of stigmatisation and their receipt of help from the rural community. The interviews illustrate their compliance with dominant constructions of rural gendered moralities. Men struggled to live up to the ideals of rural masculinity, which centre on hard work, self-sufficiency and mental strength. Women, who were strongly influenced by the moral norms of rural womanhood, managed to retain their feminine dignity as being caring and considerate of the family. Rural communities are often characterised as nurturing close relationships, but also as being pervaded by social control and gossip. Both women and men interpreted their break up as a private matter and deliberately avoided disclosing their relationship problems in order to protect themselves and their families from gossip, which made it difficult for them to seek and receive help from the rural community. While some of the hardships are recognisable for any divorced couple, the article is concerned with the rural farm particularities of the divorce situation.