Contributions of Feminist Sociologists to the Study of Family Life
What Is Feminism?
"In my heart, I think a woman has two choices: either she's a feminist
or a masochist." - Gloria Steinem
There are three types of feminism - Marxist, Radical and Liberal. All
feminists believe in gender socialization, although they all blame
different groups of people for women being treated the way they do.
Marxist feminists blame society or capitalism, radical feminists blame
men, and liberal feminists blame nobody; they just want equal
opportunities for women.
"We still live in a world in which a significant fraction of people,
including women, believe that a woman belongs and wants to belong
exclusively in the home." - Rosalyn Sussman
Marxist feminists believe that women are oppressed by society and are
being used to help capitalism. Capitalism is a system that helps the
rich people stay rich, and the poor people stay poor. This is done by
rich people handing down valuable possessions where as the poor people
have nothing of value to pass on to the next generation.
Engels said the nuclear family is like an institution - the women are
expected to stay at home and do housework whilst the men go out to
Veronica Beechey argues that women, as housewives, perform two key
functions for capitalism by staying at home. By doing so, she believes
women provide free care for current and future workers by looking
after her husband and children. This helps the capitalist system
because if the workers are in good health they can work harder and for
longer hours. The second key function housewives provide is by acting
as a cheap reserve army of workers that can be sent back to their
homes when they are not needed.
Barret and McIntosh suggest that the nuclear family is an ideological
instrument and that most people are bought up to believe that they
should live as a nuclear family. Because of this, other family
structures are seen as inferior and blamed for anything that goes
wrong. They also suggest the nuclear family is anti social as they do
not socialise with anyone outside their family network.
Marxists have contributed to the study of family life by showing us
how women are being exploited in the world of work.
"The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only
at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until
then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between
the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race." -
Susan B. Anthony
Radical feminists believe that women are oppressed by patriarchy -
this is where men are the head of the household. They believe that
with male dominance comes a false sense of power and this leads to
rape and sexual...