Feminist perspectives on the family


Liberal feminism:

Liberal feminists are concerned with campaignig against sex discrimination and for equal right and oppourtunities for women.

  • they argue that women's oppression is being gradually overcome through changing people's attitudes and through changes in the law e.g. Sex Discrimination Act 1975 - which outlaws discrimination in employment
  • they beleive we are moving towards greater equality, but that full equality will depend on further reforms and changes in the attitudes and socialiation patters of both sexes

In terms of the family, they hold a view similar to 'march of progress'. Although liberal femenists do not beleive full gender equality has been acheived in the family, they argue that there has been gradual progress. 

however other femenists criticise libebral feminists for failing to challange the underlying causes of women's opression and fr beleiving that changes in the law or attitudes will be enough to bring equality. marxist and raical femenists beleive instead that far-reaching revolutionary changes to deep-rooted social structures are needed.

Marxist feminism:

marxist femenists argue that the main cause of women's opression in the family is not men, but capitalism. women's opression performs several functions for capitalism:

  • women absorb anger - that would otherwise be directed at capitalism. Ansley describes wives as 'takers of ****' who soak up the frustration their husbands feel because they suffer at work. for markists, this explains male domestic violence against women.
  • women are a 'reserve army' of cheap labour - that can be taken on when extra workers are needed. when no longer needed, employers can 'let them go' to return to their primary role of unpaid domestic labour.

markist feminists see the opression of women in the family as linked to the exploitation of the working class. they argue that the family must be abolished at the same time as socialit revolution replaces capatalism


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