The feminist perspective on the family

  • Critical of the family
  • Agues it oppresses women and focuses on the issues of domestic divisions of labour and domestic abuse
  • They dont regard gender inequality as natural or inevitable
  • There are several strands of feminism
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Liberal feminism

  • Concerned with campaigning against sex discrimination and for equal rights and opportunity for women
  • They believe that female oppression is being overcome gradually by a change in attitudes and law e.g the sex discrimination act of 1975
  • Full equality depends on further reforms and different socialisation patterns 
  • Hold similar views as the 'march on progress' sociologists but do not believe that full equality had been achieved
  • Criticised by marxist feminists and radical feminist who argue that a change in social structure is needed to achive equality
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Marxist Feminists

  • The main cause of female opression is not men but capitalism
  • Womens oppression forms several functions in society..
  • 1. Reproduction of the labour workforce by socialising the next and providing for the current
  • 2.Absorbing the anger from men that would otherwise be directed at capitalism
  • 3.A reserve army of cheap labour that can be employed when workers are need and let go when not
  • The oppression of women in the family is linked to the exploitation of the working class
  • Argue that the family needs to be abolished and that we need to create a classless society
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Difference Feminists

  • Argue that we cannot generalise all womens experience
  • All women have very different experiences to one another 
  • e.g White feminists ignore a black womans experience of not just sex discrimination but also racial discrimination
  • However other feminists argue that all women share similar experiences e.g they all face the risk of domestic violence and sexual assuallt
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Radical Feminists

  • All societies were founded on patriachy
  • The key division in society is between men and women
  • They believe men are the enemy and that marriage is the key instution in society that establishes patriarchy and oppresses women
  • For radical feminists the patriarchal system needs to be overturned and the only way to do that is through speratism
  • Germain Greer argues for the creation of all female households as an alternative for heterosexual households
  • Some radical feminists even go as far as to encourage political lesbianism
  • Jenny Sommerville would argue that radical feminists have failed to recognise the improvements to womens position
  • The reality and inevitability of heterosexual attraction for most people makes seperatism impossible.
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