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Gender Issues

In the 1990s it was asserted that planning decisions might have a sexual- identity element. In 1997 a group called Gays and Lesbians in Planning (GALIP) was formed as a division of the American Planning Association (APA) to represent the interests of gays and lesbians.16 One item that GALIP members mentioned was the recognition of and planning for districts that, either commercially or residentially, are oriented toward gays and lesbians. Within the planning profession, reaction to the formation of GALIP was mixed. Some took an "it's-about-time" view. Others argued that planning is about serving a general public interest and that the assertion of a separate gay and lesbian interest is divisive. How big a set of gay and lesbian issues can be identified and developed remains to be seen.

Feminism and Planning

A number of planning educators who define themselves as feminists have argued that there are feminist perspectives on planning and a set of feminist issues that should be, and often are not, addressed in planning. For example, a number of feminist planners have suggested that the way many suburbs were planned seemed more to suit the interests of men than women. The argument first surfaced in a major way in the 1960s with The Feminine Mystique, which, among many other points, argued that a house in a suburban subdivision where there are nothing but similar houses, even though it might be a nice house equipped with all the best furnishings and appliances, is really something of a prison for the woman who stays home all day with the children, and that this isolation contributes to boredom and depression.17 In fact the author, Betty Friedan, referred to the matter as "the problem that has no name." Whether that argument has lost some importance in the intervening years, as labor force participation rates for mothers of young children have risen and as the percentage of the adult female population living in households with children has declined, is an open question. More generally, feminists have suggested that in the past, planning (like almost all other professions) was male dominated, that most of its literature was written by men, and that most of its historic figures were male.18 This naturally tended to "privilege" male over female interests. Feminists suggest that a city or a metropolitan area laid out by women rather than by men might be a very different place.19

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