This is a role that the mother naturally wants to fulfil due to the bond from birth with her children which makes her attached to her child. Therefore a mother wants to care for her child, yet may feel oppressed because she has been given the role of sole carer of her children while her husband has a mediocre role in the upbringing of a nuclear family. This situation shows how the family transmits oppression to women globally through isolation and gender roles where common nuclear family roles are assumed and carried out, sometimes out of necessity enhanced by a mothers natural bond with her children.
Therefore children need their mother and “after all, in a child-oriented society, what could be more reprehensible than an apparent neglect of children’s supposed needs? ” (Oakley, 1976, pp. 221). So, broken marriages or families oppress wives and their children and transmit oppression upon women globally by making them assume old fashioned gender roles while turning them off the idea of marriage due to its mental and physical workload, isolation, high failure rate and negative effects on children plus women when separation occurs.
Writers such as Shulamith Firestone in the ‘Dialect of sex'(1972), located the source of women’s oppression primarily in their biology. Firestone states that “the essential difference lay in women’s reproductive role (in nature) and in the social construction of the nuclear family (in culture)”. However, biology of a women can not be changed, therefore it is cultural changes that must be changed in society possibly through the feminist movements that have increased women’s rights to a certain degree at this time.
So now women are trying to make cultural changes by becoming part of the male world but “even when women are working, independent and not in a family they still feel that whatever career a woman may have, her most important role in life is still that of becoming a mother” (Gilding, 1997, p. 207) which is a natural animal instinct. This leads to the realisation that even though women do oppress themselves through marriage and childbirth most women do still want to have babies and be part of a family due to their natural animal drive to bear children which occasionally clashes with thoughts of being freer and less oppressed.
Women are now more often choosing to have a career first and a family later or not at all due to the varying levels of commitment and oppression placed upon women in marriage and childbirth. Therefore, most people do not live in a nuclear family. “Nearly 50% of families include working female spouses, then only one in four Australian families conforms to the stereotyped nuclear family” (2062AMC Study Guide, 2004, p. 55). This shows that the family has transmitted the oppression of women globally and that women are now more cautious and wise due to the knowledge of how families can oppress women.
Therefore, women now usually choose to postpone a family until they are older and have already succeeded in the other areas of their life. Social, cultural and feminist affects on family oppression of women globally. Over time, there have been many changes in the way the family oppresses women globally, these changes are partly due to social, cultural and feminist effects. One social and cultural effect that previously oppressed women relates to how in the past birth control was considered a threat to the family.
“For example, conservative opinion forcefully maintained that birth control was a threat to the family”. This belief that birth control was a threat to the family obviously led to a lack of knowledge in this area and became a source of young women’s oppression. Thankfully, now due to health education and increased women’s rights through feminist movements, birth control is widely used and it is considered a tool for successful family planning.
Furthermore, the stigma that birth control is a threat to the family has been recognised in regard to the possibility that it encourages pre-marital sexual acts, yet it has been recognised by women that it leads to them having more choice and protection from unwanted pregnancies, thereby being freer and less oppressed. Gender oppression is another form of social and cultural coercion that helps the family to directly oppress women globally. “Recent analysts seem to agree on the distinction between radical feminism, which holds that gender oppression is the oldest and most profound form of exploitation” (2062AMC Study Guide, 2004, p.
65). This also relates to families that are not nuclear. For example, “in the past many gay men and women lived in sham marriages rather than suffer the stigma of homosexuality” (Gilding, 1997, p. 24). Therefore having a sham marriage and family can be a form of social, cultural, gender and family oppression forced upon gay women so they are more socially acceptable. Although “feminists have challenged beliefs that any specific family arrangement is natural, biological, or ‘functional’ in a timeless way”.
Also the recognition by feminists that ‘normal family life’ has negative as well as positive ramifications sets it apart from the functionalist analysis of the family as a personal haven, a source of social, moral and spiritual support (2062AMC Study Guide, 2004, p. 70). However, the nuclear family remains the most successful and socially acceptable family system. Some feminists “identify the family as a primary site, if not the primary site, of women’s oppression and seek to abolish it” (Barett & McIntosh, 1982, p. 20).
But others argue that feminism must acknowledge that most women “have willingly identified marriage, children and a family with their own happiness” (Barett & McIntosh, 1982, p. 20). Therefore, feminists should be more concerned with reducing oppression within the family then condemning the family as the primary source of oppression. This is especially important when realising that the reason families oppress women is mainly due to society and cultural norms of behaviour and habit along with maintaining the system of the nuclear family, which has been one of the most successful family systems to date.
But because there has been and is so many ways the family oppresses women then some of these reasons will be purely selfish, self-indulgent and related to the way society influences the family and males in the family, which inturn results in the outcome of males desiring to dominate and control women like their old fashioned fathers did. Feminist movements have had a very big effect on society and on women, by fighting for the increase of women’s rights. But sometimes feminists go to far when placing all the blame on men or the family even if this is partly true.