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Feminism and the family

Feminists are generally highly critical of the family as they believe it has harmful
effects for women and that it is generally responsible for patriarchy and the
inequalities patriarchy creates between men and women.

Feminists reject the functionalist idea that the nuclear family is the best…

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a. Manipulation- refers to the ways that parents encourage or discourage
behaviour on the basis of appropriateness for the child's sex.
b. Canalisation- refers to the ways in which parents channel children's interests
into toys and activities with are seen as normal for the child's sex.

Manipulation and canalisation involve…

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greater equality within marriage and greater sharing of the responsibility for paid and
unpaid work and childcare.

This evolutionary change has come about for a variety of economic, social and legal

Economic and social changes

Wilkinson notes that the economy has undergone tremendous change in the last thirty

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However these changes do not mean that liberal feminists are fully happy about the
degree of change. They believe there is still a long way to go in terms of equality
between men and women especially in the fields of mass media however they believe
that gentle persuasion and consciousness-raising…

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is strong or when there is a war on and will be the first to be fired when the
economy is in recession or war is over. However these exploitive practices rarely
are questioned as capitalist ideology makes it clear to women that their place is
in the home and…

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and at work (see Wilkinson's genderquake in the section of family structure and in
liberal feminism).

Radical feminists say that capitalism is not the reason why women are exploited as
women are exploited even in non capitalist societies.

Functionalists and the new right criticise the Marxist feminists as they say…

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husbands and daughters are often victims of sexual abuse by male relatives in the

Delphy and Leonard- women contribute a great deal to their husbands work and leisure
by providing for their emotional and sexual wellbeing. However husbands rarely
perform this function for their wives. Men may claim to…

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Like functionalism, Marxism and Marxist-feminism, Radical feminism is guilty of
overemphasizing the nuclear family and neglecting the rich diversity of family
types in modern society such as lone parent families and extended families.
Radical feminists ignore those accounts of family life in which females
experience motherhood as fulfilling and rewarding…

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down and having children and being housewives as optional not obligatory. This has
coincided with the feminisation of the economy and workforce which has meant that
has been increased alternatives to women not wanting to go down the traditional and
socially accepted route of settling down to nuclear family life.…

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independence have made women more aware of patriarchal oppression and more
confident about opposing it by divorce.

O'Donnell says that divorce may also be the outcome of tensions produced by women
taking over the traditional male role of breadwinner in some households especially
where the male is unemployed leading to…


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