Radical Feminism and the Family

Radical Feminists and their theories on the family

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Radical Feminists

Radical feminists beleive that patriarchy (the system of male domiation in society) is caused by men and not captitalism as Marxist-Feminists believes. They believe that patriarchy existed well before the industrial revolution.

Radical feminists believe that patriarchy benefits all men and that the nuclear family functions to suit them.

Radical Feminists believe that the nuclear family is the main place in which patriarchal ideology is tought to children via gender role sociolisation.

The ideology of the nuclear family encourages the notion that a sexual division of labour is 'natural' and 'unchangable'.

This results in the exploitation of women as patriarchal ideology mainly views women as sexual objects when single and mothers/housewives while married

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Millett and Firestone and Dworkin

Radical Feminists Millet and Firestone believe that men and women are seperated into sex-classesin which they have very different iterests and levels of power.

Men are the dominant class and use their power to exploit women.

Millett argued that 'the personal is political' in which she meant men exploit women in personal and sexual relationships.

Fellow Radical Feminist Dworkin argued that 'all men are potential rapists' meaning that all heterosexual couples have unbalanced power and therefore men are exerting their power over women to see sex in 'their terms'.

Radical Feminists also argue that patriarchal idology was used to define and label same-sex relationships as deviant rather than an alternative to heterosexuality.

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Delphy and Leonard and Purdy

Delphy and LEonard believe that women contribute to men's work by 'flattering, excusing, boosting, sympathising and paying attention to them' to give them well-being, while some men, who claim to love their wives are actually exploiting them, by not returning the favour.

Purdy believes that women's disadvantages against men are down to their childcare responisblities she bvelieves that women are encouraged to have children by patriarchal ideology and anyone who does not is eccentric and selfish.

Purdy suggests that the only way to stop patriarchy is to have a babystrike and that that is the only way for women's pleas for equality will be heard.

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Criticisms of Radical Feminism

  • It is dated and they fail to take into account economic and social changes such as the feminisation of the economy
  • Radical feminists see women as passive and do not take into account the range of social identities today.
  • Radical Feminists over emphasise the nuclear family and do not take into account recent changes in family diversity.
  • from an Interpretivist point of view, Radical Feminists neglect the meanings family has for it's members and it ignores the numbers of women who enjoy motherhood and the housewife role
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Really helpful thank you :)

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