The nuclear family is a family system that has been operating for decades with much success. This system has been the most popular and ideal form of family that is used as a support network for children and parents alike. This network is also a haven from the insecurities of the outside world. Unfortunately, the family has also been a system that transmits and maintains the oppression of women globally in various ways. This essay will discuss how the family transmits and maintains the oppression of women globally and explain why this occurs, and how this oppression has been reduced through feminist movements.
How and why the family maintains the oppression of women globally. The family maintains the oppression of women globally in many direct and indirect ways, also the reasons vary. For example, reason may be related to, power, control of family members, cheap domestic labour, status, male dominance, or a strict/deprived childhood. Therefore, “the family is a system of unequal statuses, a hierarchy in which the order of priority is men/women, adults/children” (Skolnick, 1978, pp. 64-71, 86). In addition, “the family is envisioned as a system of perfectly interlocking needs” (Skolnick, 1978, pp.
64-71, 86) and these needs can oppress or help individuals within a family system. In addition, “the nuclear family is essentially a product of the extremely long period of dependency of the young” (Gilding, 1997, p. 3). This means, women feel they need to stay in an oppressing family for the benefit of their children and their peace of mind. Furthermore, motherhood is “an institution which aims at ensuring that potential – and all women – shall remain under male control” (Eisenstein, 1977, p.
13), eg: domestic control through childbirth. There is much conflict and oppression to endure in families; this may “take the form of crude physical coercion, as in spouse assault and child abuse” (Gilding, 1997, p. 254). This may be an outcome of a husband suffering from mental illness for various possible reasons like a deprived childhood and a women’s poverty through lack of financial and family support. Therefore, “more commonly, negotiation and decision-making are point weighted by unequal economic relations.
” “This is highlighted in post-divorce economies; more specifically, the concentration of poverty among single mothers, and the brutal fact that re-partnering is almost their only effective economic adjustment” (Gilding, 1997, p. 254). So women who are not economically self-sufficient and don’t have much support from friends and family often end up in relations that are economically beneficial, but sometimes abusive and oppressive also because they don’t know how to support themselves and cant get help from anyone else.
Furthermore, the Australian Bureau of statistics found in 1997 that “41 per cent of families received no child support from the other parent” (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1998). This means single women with children are much more likely to fall into poverty then men and this situation as explained above usually ends up in re-marriage for economic as well as personal needs. A lot of the time married women still need to work even when married and many of them due to their low education and lack of work experience end up in low paid labouring jobs in factories.
For example, in 1990 “almost four out of five married women aged 20 to 44″ were in the labour force”. Furthermore, “the statistics bureau said 64. 7 percent of all married women were in the workforce” (Rodgers, 1990, December, p. 7) in March 1997, compared with 53. 6 percent in 1984. In addition, women stay oppressed in labouring families where they have to work to help support their family. These types of jobs “seek high-quality labour at low cost”(Collins in McMichael, 1995, pp. 217).
Also employers know female labourers are less likely to argue or strike about unfair work conditions, which means they are more likely to be oppressed. Furthermore a “woman’s wage is based on her need” and “the lack of availability of alternative employment opportunities may exacerbate this situation” (Collins in McMichael, 1995, pp. 227). This situation leads to hardship for wives who work outside the home, then again inside the home doing domestic chores while looking after children and family.
This shows that society so far has been very patriarchal and women have been oppressed and treated as second class inside and outside the family. So it is not surprising that this somewhat cultural norm has led to Men claiming the family as their property because “it gives them control over women and children” (Oakley, 1981, pp. 236-264, 342-392). Sexual assault and violence is a major source of women’s oppression within the family, yet women constantly remain in families where they are victims of repeated physical assaults.
This shows how “the imbalance of power in the family and in society becomes” (2062AMC Study Guide, 2004, p. 75) a factor of women’s oppression. In addition “women with young children, are likely to be financially dependent on the male breadwinner” (2062AMC Study Guide, 2004, p. 75) and therefore less likely to leave an abusive marriage or family. How the family transmits the oppression of women globally. The Nuclear family depicts family orientated images of decency, love, tradition, discipline, and happy children. However, this is not always the case.
The family also transmits the oppression of women globally. For example in regard to “the first Australian study of marital roles, by the social psychologist P. G. Herbst in the late 1940s Herbst observed that housework and childcare were ‘mandatory’ for women, and ‘economic activities’ were ‘mandatory’ for men” (Gilding, 1997, p. 171). Furthermore, “A 1984 survey, for example, found that on average women spent almost 31 hours per week on unpaid domestic work, compared with about 14 hours per week for men” (Gilding, 1997, p. 174).
Therefore, “wives capacity to insist on companionship in marriage was compromised by rigid role segregation” plus low “employment opportunities for women” (Gilding, 1997, p. 172). However, over time there has been improvement, for example. Between 1974 and 1987 “men’s time on cooking, laundry and cleaning rose from an average of 19 minutes per day to 37 minutes per day”. Therefore, it can be seen that “social revolutions were always gradual, particularly when they confront real gender differences and traditional patterns of life (Colbatch, 1993,October, p.
13). In addition, marriage and family is a system, which men use to exhort gratuitous work from women. There is much isolation experienced by women in families, especially nuclear families, for example. “The isolation of the nuclear family in a complementary way focuses the responsibility of the mother role more sharply on the one adult woman, to a relatively high degree” (Parsons, 1955, p. 17). Furthermore, the absence of the father from the home means the women must take the most responsibility for the children.