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Feminist View of the Family

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Explain the feminist view of family.

Feminists take a critical view of the family, it oppresses women and reproduces patriarchy. They have focused on the unequal division of domestic labour and domestic violence against women. They regards gender inequality as something created by society. There are various types of feminists with different views of such
Marxist Feminists suggest that the nuclear family meets the needs of capitalism for the reproduction and maintenance of class and patriarchal inequality. It benefits the powerful at the expense of the working class and women.
Margaret Benston argues that the nuclear family provides the basic commodity required by capitalism: labour power by reproducing and rearing the future workforce at little cost to the capitalist class. It maintains the workforce´s physical and emotional fitness through the wife´s domestic labour and women in families can be used as a reserve army of labour to be used in times of economic growth and pushed back into the home during times of economic slow-down.
However, difference feminists argue that they assume all women are exploited under capitalism. For example, Lesbian and heterosexual women, black and white, middle and working class women have very different experiences. Black feminists would also argue that Marxist feminists ignore black and Asian women’s experience of racism.
Radical feminists such as Kate Millett see modern societies and families as characterised by patriarchy (domination of men over women and children). They argue the family is the root of all women’s oppression and should be abolished and the only way to do this is through separatism (women living separately of men). Diana Gittens refers to the concept of age patriarchy to describe adult domination of children, which may take the form of violence against both children and women.
Delphy and Leonard see the family as a patriarchal institution in which women do most of the work and men get most of the benefit. This patriarchal ideology stresses the primacy of the mother-housewife role for women and the breadwinner the family as legitimating violence against women.
However some would argue that this model is dated and fails to recognise recent trends such as the feminisation of the workforce and women’s divorce laws. Liberal feminists argues that separatism is unlikely to work because heterosexual attraction makes it unlikely that the nuclear family will disappear. Hakim argues that this model also fails because it doesn’t consider that females may be exercising rational choices in choosing domestic roles. By contrast, functionalists argue that radicalist feminists ignore the very real benefits that the family provides for its members such as intimacy and mutual support.…...

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