The Family as a Social Institution

Topics: Gender, Female, Gender role Pages: 8 (2956 words) Published: October 10, 2012
The family as a social institution is a brewery for patriarchal practices by socializing the young to accept sexually differential roles. In the Shona culture, from a tender age, the socialization process differentiates a girl child from a boy child. Shona males are socialized to view themselves as breadwinners and heads of households whilst females are taught to be obedient and submissive housekeepers. The cause of such differentiation and discrimination is the fact that society views women as sexual beings and not as human beings (Chavet 1982). McDowell and Pringle (1992) further states that women are not only constantly defined in relation to men , but are defined as dependent and subordinate to them as well . As a result , women are socialized to acquire those qualities which fit them into a relationship of dependence on men. These qualities include gentleness, passivity, submission and striving to please men always. Culture is the impact of societal traditions and values. Culture has also been defined as a way of life. The UN Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 reaffirms the importance of the role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace building and stress the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace . It also emphasizes the role of women in decision – making processes at all levels. Porter 2007 maintains that gender based exclusions cement cultural stereotypes such as the idea that men are suited to the public realm, are dominant in the household and valued and that women can only operate in the domestic sphere are naturally subordinate and inferior. This stereotype is a major stumping block to empowering women and encouraging their capacities to flourish. Within cultures, gender is tied intricately to other aspects of identity such as ethnicity and religion. Anthropologist Koltak 2004 defined culture as an integrated patterned system. He goes further to maintain that culture encompasses features that are sometimes regarded as trivial or unworthy . However the most significant cultures are those that affect people in their everyday lives. In Shona culture , once a girl reaches puberty all teachings are directed towards pleasing one’s future husband as well as being a gentle and obedient wife. Her sexuality is further defined for her, as she is taught how to use it for the benefit of male race. These cultural teachings foster a dependence syndrome this is why most African women depend heavily on their husbands for support. As a result , once husband dies the woman quickly remarries so as to find another pillar of support to lean on. According to interviews with Shona women who visited Harare Central Hospital’s Social Work Department during the period of January – June 2006 , it exposed women’s dependency on men . Most women who sought grants needed assistance from government because their “ husbands deserted them’’ better still , “ because they did not have a husband” . All these answers spell out how patriarchy creates dependency on males to the extent that in the absence of males , many women cannot manage to take care of themselves financially. In the family, the male child is preferred to the female child. In fact males rules females by right of birth even if the male child is not the first born in the family , he is automatically considered to be the head of the household who should protect and look after his sister. The female child is further discriminated upon due to the fact that eventually she marries out and join another family whilst the male child ensures the survival of the family name through bringing additional members into the family. (Human Rights Monitor, 2001).This...
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