A Woman’s Place Is In The Home Essay

These two anthropologists say that to see behaviour simply in terms of culture ignores biogrammar e.g. A genetically based program, which predisposes human beings to behave in certain ways. Since 99.9% of mans existence has been spent as a hunter and gatherer it is reasonable to assume that he has become genetically adapted to this way of life. Men are more aggressive and dominant because of male hormones (testosterone) which create behaviour appropriate for their role. Women are programmed (oestrogen) for reproduction and care of children. “The mother is totally essential for the well being of the child. Attempts to abolish gender roles will go against nature”.

What Tiger and Fox are saying that from day one men have been the person of the family who goes out to work and the woman stays at home and takes care of the children. They also say that biological hormones have programmed men to be like men and women to be like women so it would go against nature to make changes to these gender roles.

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George Murdock –> Social Structure 1949

This functionalist suggests that it is not genetic differences but differences in reproductive biology which create the sexual division of labour e.g. The greater physical strength of men and the fact that women bare and nurse children leads to separate gender roles because it is practicle and efficient to do so. Murdock surveyed the literature on two hundred and twenty four societies and claims to have detected a sexual division of labour in all of them. Men did lumbering, mining, quarrying, land clearance, house building and hunting. Women did cooking, gathering vegetables, water carrying, making and repairing clothes. “The advantages inhernt in a division of labour by sex persumeably accounted for its universality”.

Talcote Parsons –> Functionalist Sociologist

Gives a biological explanation of womens socialisation role he agrees with Murdock that the basis of the sexual division of labour lies in the fact that women bare and nurse chidren and establish a strong relationship (bonding) with the baby, But he says that women stay at home and men go out to work in modern society.

Parsons says that a mans role when working is an instrumental role and a womans role when at home is an expressive role. Instrumental role is treating something as a means to an end. e.g. life begins after you finish work because you hate work, the rewards are extrensic as in money. Both the employer and employee use each other for what they are capable of. Expressive role is when satisfactions come when working. Intrensic rewards like self fulfillment are achieved.

John Bowlby –> Childcare & the growth of love 1953

This Psychologist concludes that a mothers place is at home caring for the children. He studied psychologically disturbed children and found that many of them had experienced seperation from their mother at an early age. Deprivation from maternal love in childhood results in being unable to give or receive love later as an adult and being doomed to a career of distructive and anti-social relationships. ” The infant and growing child should experience a warm intermate and continuous relationship with his mothers”.

People who disagree with the statement:

Ann Oakley –> Housewife 1974

She argues:

What Murdock says is that it is not because of genetics that they have separate gender roles it is because it is efficient to do so. His survey outlined all the possible jobs men would do which women would not be seen doing. Basically it was down to strength and men were the most likely people to have it.

Tiger ; Foxes position is based on false chain of reasoning because they start with a doubtful generalisation about human society and then search for evidence to support it. The weaknesses which Oakley detects in their position are: Firstly they assume that we know exactly how evolution occurred and that it was more or less a linear process. Secondly they ignore the enourmous dependence of the human species on learning processes and on their capacity to invent maintain and change culture. Thirdly they reflect male self interest by focusing on the mighty hunter rather than the mighty housewife. The activity of which is of value is the male one. She concludes that the devalueing of the female roles leads to the domestication of women on behalf of male convenience. Needless to say that Oakley’s view is feminist, She foregrounds women.

Murdock is biased because he looks at societies through western and male eyes and therefore pre-judges the role of women as housewives and mothers e.g. From Murdocks own evidence many societies have shared roles and in others women undertake what Murdock calls mens jobs.

Oakley looks at modern society and finds countries Russia, China, Cuba and Israel have female soldiers. In India 12% of building site labourers are female. In some asian and south american countries upto a quarter of minors are women. Oakley denies that women necesserally have exclusive responsibility for childcare e.g. The Kibbutz shows alternative means of socialisation. She also looks at tribes and uses an example of the Alor, Indonesia where women perform agricultural labour, they return to the fields within two weeks of giving birth without harmful affects on their children because of alternative childcare arrangements. Oakley also denies that the female role in the home is an expressive one but instead is based on the myth and the women are convenient for men. Oakley claims the housewife role has the following characteristics:

1. It is exclusively allocated to women who who are economically dependent on men.

2. Has the status of non-work

3. It is unpaid and isolated

4. Has long hours Oakley estimates 11 hours a day.

5. It has little prestige “I’m only a housewife”

6. Housewives lack the benefits available to other workers e.g. paid holidays and pensions and your employer doesn’t contribute to your pension

7. The work is tiedious and dull and unforfilling

8. The housewife role is a dead end job with no chance of promotion

What Oakley states is that if you’re a woman and you are happy with all 8 characteristics you are perfect for a housewife.

According to Bowlby’s concept of maternal deprivation, Oakley notes a large body of research which shows having mothers working is not nesserally harmful to children and some studies show that children of working mothers are more likely to be independent and less likely to be deliquents (commit petit crimes).

Oakley concludes that gender roles are culturally rather than biologically determined. She claims that evidence from different society’s shows that there is no task apart from child baring which is performed exclusively by females. Biological characteristics don’t bar men and women from particular occupations because what they can do somewhere at sometime they can do anywhere anytime but for culture. Oakley says that we are tremendously diverse.

Jessie Bernard –> The Future Of The Family 1976

Bernard a feminist criticises Willmott & Young’s theory of symmetrical families as representing a male view because there is a need to look at the husbands and the wife’s marriage separately because the benefits to each are radically different.

“There is no greater guarantee of long life health and happiness for a man than a wife well-socialised into devoting her life to taking care of him and providing the regularity and security of a well ordered home”. The wife’s marriage is rather different as evidenced by the research, which shows more wives than husbands express marrital dissatisfaction e.g. demand most divorces. Compared with single women, married women are more likely to suffer from physical and mental ill health. Bernard claims that for married women there is a Pygmalion effect involving a woman conforming to the wishes and needs of her husband.

She concludes that given the evidence of the harmful effects of marriage on women “In truth being a housewife makes women sick”. Bernard’s quote means that not only are housewives sick physically but mentally they feel sick also.

Hannah Gavron –> The Captive Wife : Conflicts Of Housebound Mothers 1966

Gavron looked at the lives of fourty-eight working class and fourty-eight middleclass women with small children in north London. Her sampling frame was a doctors list and this is what she noticed:

The women were asked questions about home life, marriage equality, children, leisure and work. Housing was especially the problem for the working class 71% of whom shared housing with other families. There two major problems were firstly that the women were left at home with the child and felt isolated, secondly that it was difficult to find a safe place for the children to play. The middleclass were less affected by these problems as they were able to make social contacts more easily and they mostly had gardens for the children to play in.

When they first got married all the wives said it gave them more freedom but when their children arrived marriage became more like a prison. One mother says “Some days I am fed up I could scream”. Another mother said “You have no idea what its like to spend all day in one room trying to keep the children quiet because the landlady can’t bare noise. I feel like I’m in a cage”.

The two groups of women defined equality differently, for the middleclass it was independence (individualistic) and for the working class it was sharing (collectivistic).

The middleclass women saw childrearing as a break in their career. Although in nearly all cases the husbands helped to some extent with household tasks, Leisure was a problem. The working class solved this by either taking their leisure seperately or by using relatives to babysit as they were not keen to rely on people they didn’t know. Middleclass women were very consious about the dangers of becoming housebound and joined clubs, classes etc in an effort to meet people, although a quarter still said they felt lonely. Where the working class had relatives the middleclass made friends. Gavron concluded that the urban mother was at the centre of conflict between the demands of motherhood, careers and a useful life and that recent social changes had increased this conflict.

Cultural Diversity is another factor, which affects the family and its equality.

R.Ballard –> South Asian Families 1982

Ballard studied Punjabi, Gujarati and Bengali families in England. He found that these families were typically patriarchal and ideally co-residential where all contribute to domestic and wage-earning tasks although men ; women had work and duties, which were highly differentiated.

However changes were occurring, increasing numbers of women were needed to work outside the home, extended units were often split into smaller family units. Some British born Asians are rejected the traditional authority structures. Ballard found that many children existed in two cultures e.g. at home under the influence of primary socialisation and traditional culture and at school or work with secondary socialisation and exposure to the wider culture. The balance of these influences might depend on the area e.g. whether there is a high or a low Asian density.

J.Barrow –> West Indian Families: An Insiders Perspective 1982

The Caribbean family has five main types of structure:

1. Conventional Nuclear families mostly to be found amongst religious and/or economically prosperous groups.

2. Common Law families cohabitation where less well off unmarried couples cohabit may were also be reconstituted.

3. Matriarchal Family is dominated by a mother or grandmother although males contribute especially for their children they are often transient and so most support comes from the wider female kinship group.

Barrow all of those types of family are reproduced in England, Afro-Caribbean women are often heads of household and have a high tendency to paid work grandmothers have a key role in supporting their daughters and caring for their grand children.

Domestic Violence is also another factor that affects equality.

The key assumption of patriarchy theorists is that power is unequally distributed between the sexes, examples of the manifestation of this inequality are wife beating and rape both of which treat women as male property. This would suggest that if the man wanted his wife to stay at home she would do as she is told because of fear.

Rachel ; Russell Dobash –> Violence against wives in Scotland 1980

“For a woman to be brutally or systematically assaulted she must usually enter our most sacret institution, the family. It is within marriage that a woman is most likely to be slapped, shoved about, severly assaulted, killed or raped”. Traditional patriarchy involves a man having the right to control his wifes behaviour, violence is therefore necessary to put her in her place. They also found that although domestic violence are about a quarter of all sorts the police are very relunctant to get involved and make an arrest.

D. Marsden ; D. Owens –> The Jekyll & Hyde marriage in Essex 1975

In a study of battered wives in Essex they found that “Most husbands showed unreasonable wish to dominate them due to old fashioned and authoritarian attitudes”.

Pat Carlen –> Women’s Imprisonment 1983

After researching into the relationship between womens isolation in the family and domestic violence Carlen concluded that “Women who had entertained the romantic notion that marriage would give them protection, full adult status and companionship had found instead that it gave them the triple burdens of increased responsibility, increased dependency and a deadening sense of increased isolation from the world outside the home.

Susan Brown Miller –> Against our will

“All men are rapists”

Andria Dworkin –> ?

“Porn is the theory, Rape is the practice”

25% of all assaults are domeastic violence the reasons given are unsatisfactory performance of wives.

Before 1993, records were not normally kept by the British police about incidents or complaints of domestic violence.

In March 1991 the first case of rape in marriage in the UK as an appeal against conviction was turned down e.g. The rape was a few days after she had left him.

A 2000 Home Office study estimated that there are 300 thousand rapes and serious assaults on women in a year although only 10% are reported. Most of the assailants are known to the victims e.g. are husbands, lovers, boyfriends. Stranger rape is falling.

Traditional Patriarchy is stil around but is decreasing due to females being more educated and willing to work even after they are married.

Conclusion

Finch and Mason –> looked at negotiations around family responsibility in 1993

They found that there was no general agreement about the level of help and obligation one should feel towards family members. They therefore argue that we should talk about guidelines rather than rules in this respect, as what is expected within families seems to be varied. It is here that the importance of negotiation becomes apparent. The lack of clear rules leaves room for discussion, taking the form of negotiations about the type and amount of help to be given or expected.

Most Patriarchy theorists believe that a woman’s place is at home and to some extent it maybe but it is also arguably to say that what is it that women can do that men can’t in the home. Some radical feminists say that all men lead to patriarchal views but this is a biased view and it is not justified. Other feminists say men lead to domestic violence to keep women under control but there are also minorities where women attack men.

In today’s society people have choices and if these choices are denied they cause problems.

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