“Women’s status has indeed improved over the last century, but it is still not high enough. Good is not good enough.
” as quoted from Tong (2014, p.49). This single quote conveys the difficulties women have had in their journey for gender equality so far. Women’s rights have vastly improved in the last century, through gaining the right to vote (Representation of the People Act, 1918) to the more recent movements surrounding the gender pay gap. The feminist perspective is a way of interpreting life according to the feminist movement which seeks to address the social and cultural imbalance of power between men and women.
This is done by addressing the notion that women are of lesser value in comparison to men by focussing on the common humanity between the genders and seeking a future of equal opportunity (Hannam, 2007). As a practise, Feminism is not monolithic in its ideology, thus has several different theories behind the movement. Such theories include, liberal, Marxist, radical and existentialist feminism, as supported by Tong (2014), all of which have a core aim of increasing gender equality. This would not be to make men and women the same in every aspect of life, but to realise that the differences between the sexes and allow adjustments to be made to enable any individual to take any given role within society. When thinking about feminism with regards to the family, it is important to note the clear inequalities between the two genders within the family environment, and why typical domestic roles have formed as a result of this. The feminist perspective on the family concentrates on the development of a nuclear family involving the ‘cereal packet norm’ (Leach, 1967) of which the ideology is perpetuated by government policy. This essay will argue that the role of women in the family environment is of unequal value to the male members which is caused by a history of a patriarchal society and women’s subordination.
Particular focus will be given to reasons behind why there are specific gendered roles within the family, moreover, this essay will explore the objective that gender is a social construction, and the dismissal of gender could create a greater level of equality. Furthermore, attention will be given to how the ‘perfect nuclear family’ is imperfect and could be considered the greatest cause for inequality between men and women in the domestic environment.One evaluation of the family from the feminist perspective is that gender is socially constructed and shaped by political, social and cultural needs. One key influencer of this view was Simone de Beauvoir, who describes people as becoming a woman and the difference between the genders is negligible, stating that women were as capable as men with regards to decision making and thought (1953). Further support of this view is evident according to Laqueur (1992, p.
70), “what constitutes masculinity or femininity is an unknown characteristic anatomy cannot lay hold of”, this could mean that gender is a non-binary concept whereby the role is of a subjective nature. When exploring the feminist perspective on the family, the second wave of feminism is crucial when looking at the construction of gender roles in the family. One such theory is the female gender is brought about for the purpose of child bearing and subsequent rearing, despite the only genetic difference is a single ‘Y’ chromosome. Despite the biological basis being similar between the genders, identity of being a girl or a boy is taught from a very young age whereby a little girl, for example, observes masculine and feminine roles in her parents. When the child copies a behaviour, she will be praised only for the one that is appropriate to her gender, thus building the attitude of wanting to be a girl by doing female actions (Mischel 1967, 1970, cited by Oakley, 2005).The socialisation of gender roles in children can be seen from the feminist perspective to be a result of the ‘idealistic’ nuclear family, in terms of a married heterosexual couple with two children and share residence (Murdock, 1949). The women can be seen to be socialised into subservience as throughout generations, being a housewife was the only role for women. Despite more opportunities forming for women to join the workforce today, the nuclear family is still the most common family type in the UK, with 67% of all families being nuclear Office for National Statistics, Anon.
, 2017). The stereotypes of housework that are popular today involves the housewife as an oppressed worker, conversely, housework allows opportunity for creativity and time for leisurely activities (Oakley, 2005). This description is akin to women’s role within the household throughout history.
Through a lack of opportunity in wider society