The Myths Of Families Essay

2137 words - 9 pages

Question 1:
In The Way We Never Were, Stephanie Coontz suggests that society romanticizes past generations of family life and points out that these memories are merely myths that prevent us from “dealing more effectively with the problems facing today’s families” (Coontz x). Coontz proposes that researchers can take empirical data and create misleading causality for that data, thus feeding cultural myth and/or experience. Coontz believes that “an overemphasis on personal responsibility for strengthening family values encourages a way of thinking that leads to moralizing rather than mobilizing for concrete reforms” (Coontz 22). She calls on us to direct our attention to social reforms, which can be accomplished by avoiding victim-blaming strategies and asking questions. Coontz suggests that conflict arises within society as we idealize past family traditions and demonize new family traditions. She expresses how society dismisses the difficulties of the past and highlights only the good. Coontz states, "We need to get past abstract nostalgia for traditional family values and develop a clearer sense of how past families actually worked” (Coontz 13). She suggests that in order to distract people from social ills (e.g. lack of strong government support for family and a social safety net) and government responsibility, focus is put on families and how they have failed: “Despite empirical evidence to the contrary, the myths about family persist largely as a way to explain social ills through private, domestic arrangements” (Notes xi). The focus on people’s personal and intimate domestic lives distracts us from civil and community responsibilities, which creates conflict within society. Parents tend to be blamed, as a way of distracting people from asking questions like the following: Why are there not more school programs? Why are people in debt? Coontz calls on her readers to avoid victim blaming strategies and to try to ask questions that raise demands for social reform in order to decrease this conflict.
In Fun Home, Alison Bechdel demonstrates how myth and stereotyping contribute to the construction of prejudice. Alison’s father, Bruce Bechdel, lived a false life by denying his sexual orientation and created the illusion of a “normal” family life. By marrying a female and creating offspring, he perpetuated the public illusion that he had the perfect home and family. Despite this myth of perfect domestication, the true private life of the Bechdel family could be described as dysfunctional. Bechdel “witnessed only two gestures of action between” (Bechdel 68) her parents, which consisted of her father giving her mother “a chaste peck before leaving on a weekend trip” (Bechdel 68) and one time when her mother “put her hand on his back” (Bechdel 68) as they watched television. Bechdel writes how on both occasions, she “was astonished and discomforted” (Bechdel 68) and suggests that both her mother and father preferred “fiction to reality” (Bechdel...

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