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Feminist Perspectives on the Family

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1 Feminist Perspectives on the Family
A teaching resource from the Education Forum

2 Influence Feminism has had considerable influence on the study of the family in recent years - perhaps more than any other approach. Feminists have been critical of the effects of family life on women

3 Patriarchy Central to the feminist approach is the idea of patriarchy or male dominance of society. It is argued that patriarchy is established and reinforced in family relationships - “the personal is political” Feminists argue that men benefit from families at the expense of women - both in their personal experience and broadly because the family sustains patriarchy in society

4 Marxist Feminism Basic position -the family with its exploitation of women serves the needs and perpetuates capitalism Examples: 1.Benston - family responsibilities make male workers less likely to strike. 2. Ansley - emotional support in family stabilises male workers -makes them less likely to take their frustrations out on the system. 3. Feeley - The family values and teaches obedience - children learn to accept hierarchy and their position within it.

5 Criticisms of Marxist Feminism
Marxist Feminists tend to ignore the diversity of modern family life assuming that everyone lives in heterosexual nuclear families. Marxist Feminists paint a very negative picture of family life - possibly exaggerated. Women are portrayed as passive victims of exploitation

6 Radical Feminism Radical feminism see gender exploitation as the essential (most important) social division in society - more important than class, ethnicity etc. Patriarchy is all pervasive and extremely damaging EG Purdy - women’s exploitation is largely the result of their child care role. Purdy advocates a “baby strike” to force men to take women’s claims to equality more seriously

7 Difference Feminism Post modernists have claimed that both Marxist and Radical feminists fail to understand and appreciate the diversity and difference of women’s experience. EG 1.Calhoun studied lesbian and gay families 2. Nicholson argues that all types should be accepted as equally valid as they may suit the needs of different women in different circumstances. Go Back to Lesson Start

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