Feminism: Is the Main Role of the Family System to Promote Male Domination?
The family is an institution where people feel most comfortable and regard as natural, the cornerstone of our social world (somewhere where people can retreat from the stresses of the outside world) and the most important aspect of someone’s life. There are lots of different views about if the main role of families is to maintain male dominance still to this day, with many fully agreeing and many fully disagreeing. These include the feminist theories (which cover difference feminists, Marxist feminists, liberal feminists and radical feminists) and also functionalists.
Firstly, discussing the functionalist views; they believe society has many parts that must work together efficiently in order to maintain social harmony and coherence. Sociologist Murdock (1949) studied over 250 societies around the world, arguing that the family was universal. Functionalists support the idea of the traditional nuclear family (a small family, with a mother, father and around 2/3 biologically related children) while believing the family supports individual members of the family and society as a whole. They don’t support oppose single parent and same sex families and particularly favour the nuclear family, describing the family as a positive institution – all family members receive nurturing, unconditional love and care. This comes onto Parsons (1955) ‘Warm Bath’ theory. This theory supposedly supports the idea that the male (father) within a family can relax in his ‘family environment’ after a hard day at work, but can only work functionally when family members fulfil their own roles. Women have expressive roles which include looking after children and taking care of the emotional and caring role, while men have the instrumental role, going out to work and earning money for the family. These roles are to be seen as a figure and role model for children to look up to in the functionalist’s eyes,