Families and Households - Feminism


Families and Households - Feminism 1/4


  • Had a huge influence on the study of the family, introduced new areas of investigation such as: housework and domestic roles, contribution to the economy, domestic violence
  • Actually recognises the dark side of the family, unlike most other perspectives, and identifies/explores the harmful effects the family has on women, four main types of feminism
  • For feminists, the family and marriage are major sources of female oppression and gender inequalities in society - whether housework, childcare, power and authority or women’s employment outside the home are studied
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Families and Households - Feminism 2/4

Feminists look at four main themes in their analysis of the family:

1. the family as a place of work -  housework and childcare are as real as waged work outside the home and are mainly performed unpaid by women and unrecognised as work, benefiting men, emphasises by Oakley as hard, routine and unrewarding work that remains the primary responsibility of women,

2. the myth of the symmetrical family - an idea proposed by Young and Wilmott, but women perform most of the household tasks, make sacrifices to buy children’s clothes and feed family members and are less likely to make the most important decisions in the family and are more likely to have their career impacted,

3. the greater dependency of women on men’s earnings - the average pay of women is approximately 85% of that of men, largely linked to traditional roles as housewife and mother,

4. domestic violence

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Families and Households - Feminism 3/4

Radical feminism: blames men, Andrea Dworkin- men secure power over women through **** and intimidation, economics is controlled by men and women pay w/ domestic labour, Greer- marriage doesn’t benefit women, women are better off without the patriarchy, however, it’s kinda biased (men=bad, women=good), ignores progress and some marriages are sorta happy

Difference Feminism: equality feminism, acknowledges differences between men and women and the variety of domestic arrangements and the effects they may have (Marxist/radfems ignore different family types), Calhoun- lesbian family study, ‘choice’ families, baso gay families are equal to hetero families, Nicholson- alternative families are better than traditional families but all should be accepted, however, they lose sight of the inequalities between men and women in expressing the choices open to people, also neglect common experiences of women in families e.g still have to do most of the expressive role work

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Families and Households - Feminism 4/4

Liberal feminism: already have equality, just need minor changes, social institutions aren’t patriarchal, people are just socialised to be, families cause inequalities in relationships due to mainstream working culture (long hours) and men refusing to pull their weight, ‘march of progress’, think increased equality in the family is happening, men actually raise the kids so women’s oppression is ending, however they’re kinda ethnocentric, don’t really help with the fight for equality

Marxist feminism: it’s capitalism. And men. Economic inequality, dependence, political confusion and unhealthy social relationships between men and women cause women’s oppression, dismantle capitalism to liberate women, Bensen- men’s obligation to family weakens bargaining power at work (cannae strike), Ansley and Cooper- the emotional support of wives serves as a release valve for men’s frustration in a capitalist system, however, ignores variation in family life, assumes all families are traditions, exaggerates, issues families are bad

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