This weeks topic was something that always fascinated me. I have always wanted to look deeper into different gender roles men and women face in society, specifically those when it comes to families. Because of this, I will be focusing on our readings that tell us more about family structures and roles.
Before we look into what families are like today, we need to explore more into marriage. Today, the main reason people would get married is because they love each other. But as Stephanie Coontz says in her speech “On Marriage,” people used to use marriage for many different things. She says “The upper class used marriage to seal military alliances, to sign peace treaties, to consolidate wealth, to increase their claim to social power.” I like that before Coontz talked about what marriages are today she talked about what marriages were originally made for. It could have been as part of business deal or a way to join two powerful families, but marriage today is not what it used to be.
There are many ways to interpret why we have marriage. Based on what we heard above about why some older marriages were made, different people have created their own views on if marriage is good or not. As stated in the article “Feminist Perspectives on the Family” there are many different ways that different types of feminist view nuclear family structures as a bad thing. Liberal Feminist tend to think that men do not pull their equal weight in relationships and too much is expected from the women. Marxist Feminists think that relationships were created so that women could be used to reproduce the labor force and to absorb the anger Capitalism creates. Radical Feminists think that families were created to satisfy the patriarchy and let men continue to think they own women in relationships and are better than them. While all of these ways of thinking are valid, I think it is important to stop looking at families and marriages as they were defined thousands of years ago and focus on what a more modern family is like today.
When I was growing up, I always envisioned that a family was a mother, a father, a few kids, and a pet (you know, just like those stickers you see on the back of a car).But that was just because that is what I saw in public and in the media. But as I got older, I started to notice that not all families are the same. In “3 Ways to Talk About Nontraditional Family Structures Appropriately” Shoshana Devora says families can be anything, like “…women who choose donor insemination and to raise children as single mothers, parents who adopt or use surrogates, LGBTQ+ families with two parents of the same gender. These are just a few examples of the countless different ways of creating and raising a family, all equally valid and loving.” I used to think that my friend who was raised by a single parent wasn’t a “real family” because it wasn’t the exact same as mine. But afterwards I realized that it is not up to me to determine what is a family and what isn’t. Like Devora says, we don’t have room to judge others on a family relationship that is just as valid and loving as ours.
Coontz, S. (2011). On Marriage. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwtb7jz8G4k
Devora, S. (2014). 3 Ways to Talk About Nontraditional Family Structures Appropriately. Everyday Feminism. Retrieved from http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/05/talk-about-nontraditional-family/
Feminist Perspectives on the Family (2014). RevisedSociology. Retrieved from https://revisesociology.com/2014/02/10/feminist-perspectives-on-the-family/