I have always been curious about hardcore feminists in heterosexual relationships. Which is why I was interested to learn about the different levels of feminism and their views on heterosexual relationships. After reading Feminist Perspectives on the Family I discovered that there are in fact three different views:
Ultimately, the bane of all feminists is the “nuclear family.” This is the traditional man and woman, who have dependent children, father goes to work, mom stays at home and takes care of the kids, the “basic” family unit. The liberal perspective, which basically states the main causes of inequality in the household are the “inflexible work hours of the breadwinner, and men refusing to pull their weight”(2014). When this article said “men refuse to pull their weight, it was referring to men not helping with housework, and child nurturing. This was a very interesting statement, obviously varies household to household, but in the “nuclear family” this is the case. Somerville, who is a big proponent for this liberal theory, states that the woman in this day has choices, to live on their own, explore a same sex relationship, be the breadwinner, or be a dual earning household. I thought it was very funny when Somerville says “women might do without male partners, especially as so many prove inadequate”(2014), it sounds like she had some bad past relationships to lead her to this conclusion. Anyway, according to Stephanie Coontz, the main predictor of a women’s satisfaction in a marriage is the mans involvement in child care(2011). One of the main solutions that Somerville provides is having a more flexible paid work schedule, which I completely agree with. If we look at countries that only work 32 hour weeks, you can see the difference in quality of life, as well as gender equality. These are the feminist ideals that when people think of feminism are overshadowed by the “man-hating” radicals. It would seem as though liberal feminists is the most popular perspective amongst feminists in todays society.
The marxist perspective is a very convoluted, but straight forward perspective that deals with the economics behind the relationship as the driving force of inequality in the household. It states that capitalism, not men, is the main oppressor of women in the household. One of the reasons behind the theory confused me. Fran Ashley stated that women absorb anger, instead of the anger being directed at capitalism. I think I just found it weird that the “nuclear family” husband is hostile towards capitalism, I do suppose that correlates to Marxism. This just assumes that the average person hates their job. I also don’t understand the solution is compensating women for child care, which would shoot taxes through the roof, and place a higher financial burden on the families? It is an interesting concept to look at child care as unpaid work. In the big picture, it is an essential part of society that children are nurtured. I don’t like how this theory diminishes the individual aspect, and looks at woman as reproductive mechanisms, and anger sponges. I think I’m just very passive to the marxist feminist theory.
Lastly, the radical feminist theory, which I think what most people think most feminist relate to, however is definitely not the case. It is interesting how we associate people with the most extreme subset within the group, an example we see in todays world is the association with Muslims to radical terrorist organizations. Going back to the radical feminist theory, they say families are the root of oppression(2014). Alternatives to these nuclear families according to radicals are women only communes, and political lesbianism(2014).
There is something to be said about all of these theories, but the big takeaways after learning about families is the nuclear family is what a lot of us are used to, however there are many other family options. “Many families start off using the nuclear model and adapt into something else entirely”(2014, Davora) this quote demonstrates that it is okay to start off with what is familiar, but if it doesn’t work you have the power to mold your own family model that works best for your situation.