Following the rise of capitalism, the revolution of women’s rights and the availability of contraception, the late twentieth century ushered in new household structures, not unprecedented, but certainly not within what was previously accepted as a social norm. These new familial structures included unmarried couples, homosexual parents, and parents who had been remarried and brought the new dynamic of step relations into the family unit. Gradually divorce, pregnancy outside of marriage, and the now oft liberating realm of single parenthood lost some of its social stigma. When industrial capitalism took hold, women were ushered outside of the domestic sphere and into the workforce. In addition to the socialization of domestic tasks, this was a condition required for liberation. The institution of the nuclear family, however, as an economic unit is central to meeting the needs of capitalism. Within the present system, employers pay workers a wage, but fail to take responsibility for the social costs of maintaining the current generation of workers- or for raising the next generation of workers into adulthood. These tasks are shouldered by separate families, and within the family, it is principally women who are expected to perform the unpaid domestic labor of raising children, cooking, housework and primary healthcare. Capitalism, in essense, now essentially relies on the unpaid labor of women within the home.
The establishment of the nuclear family is increasingly important today. As privatization, layoffs, and the dissolution of the social safety net have become facts of life, the pressure on individual families and women within them, has become immense. Capitalism is defined as:
A social system based on the principle of individual rights. Politically, it is the system of laissez-faire (freedom). Legally it is a system of objective laws (rule of law as opposed to rule of man). Economically, when such freedom is applied to the sphere of production its result is the free-market.1
Women’s oppression, far from being a thing of the past, has deepened as the elite, ruling class offensive has increasingly cemented itself into our social system. As a result, wages are lowering and living standards are dropping on a widespread scale. Women are expected in this day and age to not only attend college and receive- not just one, but several- degrees, become working professionals who out earn or at least are on par with the men, and who finally are expected to raise, foster, nurture and educate the young of our nation.
The fact that women are now able to contribute to the families income has certainly given them improved influence inside of their homes and within the family structure. Women who are working outside of the home and bringing in an economic contribution are able to have a say in purchases and are also given room for wider negotiation in regards to domestic duties and childcare from their significant others. The ability of a woman to support...