Feminism rejects Young and Willmott’s idea of the ‘symmetrical family’ as they believe society is patriarchal and that women are still being seen as the second class citizen within the family. Although, feminist sociologists did see that there were changes between gender roles in the family. For instance, Warde and Hertherington saw that the younger generation of men within the age grop of 20-30 did more within the household as they were socialised at the time of the changing social status for women. This socialisation is going to give hope for women in future generations. They also saw that men did the chores at home when they had to such as the absent of their wife. For example, if their wife was away on a business course, it was likely that then the husband would cook dinner however only then. It was also 30 times more likely for women to work in the household in comparison to men. In addition, a very strong feminist Anne Oakley saw that men would help but only on the simple jobs such as taking children for a walk or fixing the car. Men would only do jobs which benefit them such as playing with children in the evenings. Although this is a positive march of progress, this meant that the male would benefit from bonding and as a result, would bombard the wife with even more time to spend on chores. Evidence shows that only 15% of men within the household do chores whereas 25% helped with childcare. This suggests that Young and Willmott’s ‘march of progress’ is much exaggerated.
Feminists believe that this is because chores are seen as dominant to women and that as a result, to keep the family generating, men become the full-time breadwinners are women stay at home. This results in the encouragement of women’s dependence on men. Women therefore end up being financially trapped in their husband’s life as they are unable to afford for themselves. This leads to the exploitation of women which is a key part in why women are considered second class citizens.
This has unfortunately also lead to a horrific issue … domestic violence. Domestic violence accounts for a sixth of all crimes meaning that there are 6.6 million cases a year. 1 in 4 women are assaulted at least once in their lifetime which is a shocking number due to the exploition in a patriarchal society. Domestic abuse does not occur randomly but over a very long period of time including factors such as psychological and physical abuse. Mirrlees Black suggests that most victims are women and 99% of all domestic abuse are committed by men. Dobash and Dobash suggest that domestic abuse is mainly linked to the authority and power that men feel they have. For example, if the man comes home and is questioned by the wife about why they are late home for dinner, this abuse could be the way of them conferring power and showing ‘who is boss’. Official statistics are known to understate the issue of domestic violence. This is for two main reasons:
Victims are unwilling to report the crime as they are emotionally and financially dependent on their partner so live under the fear of being left abandoned. This means the dark side of the family carries on being the ‘norm’ for many families.
Police may fail to report and investigate the issue as society is lead to believe the family needs to dependent of institutions. For example, the family is a private sphere and police investigations could open up a lot of secrets which might be insensitive. Also, society is bought up to believe that the family is a free institution and you are able to leave if you feel like abuse is common.
Resources and decisions
It is obvious to say that the breadwinner in the family normally get the main control of how the resources are distributed and how the decisions in the family are worked out. This is because the family member who earns the money is seen to be more in power than the nurturer. This means there is inequality in the household and the women are once again, exploited. Women