Feminist Point Thesis

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¶ … Feminist Point

Critique of feminism and domesticity

The central rationale and raison d' tre of feminism has been an interrogation and attack on the women at home involved in domestic activities as a virtual slave in a male dominated and paternalistic society. Domesticity is seen as the first aspect that should be critiqued in order to free the female for a life of anonymity and subservience. However, there are many anti-feminists as well as feminist voices that counter and question this view and who maintain that there is freedom and choice within the domestic and family situation.

This view would seem to be contrary to the first and second generation feminist view of the women in the family and the home. This counter argument discredits and to a certain extent deconstructs the modern feminist view of the female in society. This stance can be seen not only in anti-feminist and conservative diatribes and critiques but also in the writings and views of women who consider themselves as modern feminists in spirit and praxis.

A good example of the view that domesticity and home life is not a cause of subservience and oppression can be seen in an article entitled Feminist Homemaker Confesses: Taking the Irony out Housework by Mccloskey (1998) in this article the author states the following 'confession'.

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And now my confession. I am a grownup. I live in the suburbs. I am a homemaker. I am happy. No quote marks. The reality of this began to become clear to me when I saw an excerpt from a 1950s high-school home economics textbook that had been circulated, as a joke, around the corporate headquarters of a major company, giving tips about how to greet your husband when he arrives home. As a feminist, I was prepared to read it and laugh (or scream) -- but found that many of its recommendations were already parts of my daily routine.


Thesis on Feminist Point Assignment

The author continues to further substantiate this view that there is in fact nothing subservient, repressive or demeaning about her role as a wife and stay-at-home mother. She states for instance that, feminist home-maker stays home because she wants to be with her children, not because she believes it to be her designated place. She may have a part-time job; she may stay up until 1 a.M. On a work project; she may plan to resume her career when her kids are in school.


Mccloskey goes on to refer to the fact that she is economically dependent on her husband and works in the kitchen but that this does not detract for her sense of worth or dignity. (Mccloskey)

This confession is echoed in a growing body of literature and commentary that interrogates and critiques the feminist notions or dogma that all married women who live and work at home are subservient and need to be rescued from a cruel, male dominated mode of oppression.

The following discussion will focus on these various arguments and stances that critique the feminist point-of-view that denounces and degrade domesticity of the stay-a-home mother. Furthermore, it will also be suggested that in fact the women at home has been made to feel inferior and less valued in the light of feminist critiques.

Feminist views on female domesticity: a brief overview.

The common stereotypical feminist view of the modern woman can be seen in the following quotation: "The young, unmarried woman living outside of the nuclear family, pursuing a career in an urban setting (and the rejection of domesticity and patriarchal authority that these characteristics implied) was becoming the representative carrier of feminist resonance." (Dow 51) This refers to the feminist ideology that sees freedom and economic independence as being incompatible with domesticity. (Dow 51)

Carole Ferreier, writing in the Australian Humanities review (2006) summarizes the standard feminist criticisms of the domesticated women in the family. This refers to both first and second generation feminism. The seminal feminist work, the Feminine Mystique, written by Betty Friedan in 1963, "...called the widespread malaise among women in the home 'the problem that has no name'." (Ferreier) This refers to home and family life which was seen as the primary source of the oppression of women in modern industrialized society.

The family was therefore targeted as a central area of female subjugation. Juliet Mitchell's Woman's Estate in 1971 insisted that a central focus of the women's liberation movement was to."..'fragment [the] unity' of the family" and that it should "...concentrate on separating out the structures - the woman's roles - which are oppressively fused into it." (Ferreier) This attack on the family and the role of the women in the home was to resonate in other feminist writings and critiques of modern society. In this view the family "..."embodies the most conservative concepts available: it rigidifies the past ideals and presents them as the present pleasures. By its very nature it is there to prevent the future." (Mitchell 156)

Therefore one of the dominating trends in modern feminist theory is that the family and the domestic role of the women is a prime factor in the oppression of women in a male-centered and dominated society.

The case for female domesticity

There are many studies and articles that provide views and commentary about the family and domesticity that go against these common feminist stereotypes. The central claim that these articles make is that feminist views in fact reduce and belittle the value and significance of domestic work and home life. Marshal and Orum (1986) refers to views that see a necessary distinction in the roles of men and women in society. "Men perform the instrumental roles of breadwinner and household head (the domain of reason and power) and women discharge the expressive roles of homemaker and nurturer (the realm of the heart and morality)" (Marshall and Orum 15).

Combined with this is the view that modern feminism has in fact degraded and reduced the importance of the role of the wife and mother in modern society. Many conservative intellectuals state that feminism is guilty of "... derogating the housewife and trivializing women's domestic contributions. " (Steuter 294) This illustrates the important view that "...many women who feel their status as homemakers is being threatened by feminist attempts to draw women out of their homes and into the male public sphere." (Steuter 294)

In essence, these views infer the following; that the feminist insistence that in order to be freed women should not work in the home is a form of reverse oppression. Women who feel fulfilled and valued in the home are now made to feel inferior and second-rate in the light of the feminist critique of domestic life.

This view that female domesticity is not necessarily related to the degradation of the role of a woman is a strong argument that has its origins in the United States and other areas of the world in the 1960s. It is in essence a reaction to the more radical feminist views which suggest that being a wife and a mother in the home is an inferior role for women.

This interrogation of feminist viewpoints is also linked to others views of the modern woman. Some of the central myths of feminism that have been deconstructed and that relate to the present discussion are as follows.

The myth that the majority of women are now working has been questioned by some theorists. Davidson (1989) states that this is erroneous assessment and that a large percentage of modern women are home-makers or work from home. (Davidson 44) According to Davidson this is also related to another related feminist myth - which is that all women want to work.

A subsidiary myth is that most women want to work. This is critical, because if most women want to work, who could in good conscience fail to support their aspiration? In reality, nine out of ten American women consistently report that they do not desire full-time employment outside the home.

Davidson 44)

In essence what Davidson clearly suggests is that there are a great number of women who do not want to work outside the home and these women are in fact being prejudiced against by feminist norms and perceptions.

One of the greatest challenges to the feminist critique of the domestic role of the woman comes from the essentialists and sociobiologists. The sociobiological view is that that men and women are essentially different and that this presupposes that they are naturally inclined towards different roles and attitudes towards life. While feminists might see these views as being biased towards male hegemony in society, they are worth taking note of in the present discussion.

In essence, the sociobiologists argue that "...the two sexes are shaped by a long history of evolutionary change. That evolutionary change is driven by success in breeding -- those traits that lead to reproductive success are genetically passed on to future generations..." (Groenhout 51) This has led to genetic differences between men and women that predispose them… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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