Lecture 3: Gender and Family

Families in Crisis?

  • We are losing the traditional nuclear family, heterosexual family, middle-class family, less-divorce or no divorce family
  • The nuclear family in the 1950s is in fact not traditional, but is a particular family form in the historical period in North America. It has never been a traditional family. It is a modern form of family
  • Although we think of the family as a private sphere apart from the competitive world of the economic and political life, the family has never been a world apart
  • The workplace and family are deeply interconnected; the family wage organizes family as well as economic life, expressing an idealized view of what the family is and should be

Aboriginal Families

  • Pre-contact: Combination of nuclear families with extended family and clan structures. Gender relations were different. They were complementary; rather than male privilege
  • Aboriginal families shared an emphasis on extended family and clan in their definition of kinship (relationship)
  • Many aboriginal groups were egalitarian and practices gender complementarity
  • Gender Complementarity: The division of labour assigned different tasks to men and women, but male privilege either did not exist or was limited by other forms of customary power
  • Colonialism tried to break this family as it was not part of Christianity where the men should be the leader and women the followers
  • Upon the colonial encounter, they were taught by missionaries the Christian family life of male domination and female obedience
  • Since 1867 (The Indian Act): The Church / state-run Indian residential schools and separation of First Nations children. The Indian Act had disenfranchised many women and children
  • Residential Schools: Residential school experience was devastating for the entire Aboriginal community. Violence was displayed in these residential schools as they were separated from their parents, disciplined etc. They received substandard education and were poorly nourished. Students were beaten and tortured for speaking their native languages, and many were sexually abused by the staff members at these schools
  • New Woman: Women’s new ability to vote exemplified the era of NEW WOMAN, the independent modern woman who did not need to depend upon a man. Not everyone approved this (Ex. When women began to leave the home during First and Second World Wars to enter the labour force, join unions, many felt that employed women were stealing men’s jobs)

Agrarian Households (Farm Families before Industrialization)

  • Agrarian households were unlike the nuclear families. Like Aboriginal ones, agrarian households included individuals who were productive in which everyone worked to ensure family survival
  • Productive entities where every family member worked to survive. Men were landowners and heads of the household. Women belonged to them being a mother, daughter or wife (male dominance existed). The separation of spheres however did not exist in these families. The home was the workplace for women (farms etc.)
  • There was less differentiation between his and her spheres. Both men and women, children worked around the homes. Women produced many of the things needed for the family
  • Women enjoyed control over household matters and performed valued and essential tasks. Women owed men respect and admiration

Industrialization: Mid 18-19 C European and North America

  • Production moving out of the household (farming and agriculture for instance) to capitalist industry
  • The family structure began to change due to industrialization and urbanization
  • Men moved out of the home to enter factories, shops, and offices for wage labor
  • Men became productive as they were the bread-winners. The separation of sphere (public and private sphere) existed as men worked outside the house and women who were in charge of the domestic sphere (private sphere)

Separation of Sphere: Refers to the public sphere and the private sphere. Women are placed in the private sphere. A woman’s job includes providing companionship as a mother, helping her husband, and facilitating the development of her children. Men are placed in the public sphere. Their job includes being involved in workplace, politics. The ideal father provides for his family economically.

  • The ideology of separation of sphere arose during the industrialization and urbanization period. With the transformation of agriculture to industrial, men became more involved working in factories, shops and offices. The gap between public and private sphere widened. Men were less involved in housework and childcare, because most of their day was spent doing paid labour for capitalist owners. Unlike in the pre-industrial era, where mothers and fathers shared responsibilities in the household including fathers teaching their sons skills and behaviours, preparing them for adulthood, and mothers cooking meals, cleaning dishes, shopping, washing, housework was now associated with women, also known as domestic labour. Hence, men were freed from housework, and women confined in it
  • The Cult of Domesticity: Domestic labor became housework and associated with women
  • Men worked for paid labor, whereas women were responsible for taking care of the family
  • Therefore, there was a modern divide between public and private sphere (women taking care of the household, men working for paid labor)
  • But women made their moves into the public sphere through feminism movements
  • Women’s suffrage (1920) and wartime labor market participation (World War 1 and World War 2)
  • Temperance movement: This movement had arose because during the time, men consumed more alcohol, in which the family income was distributed largely to excessive drinking

The Post-War: Rise of the Nuclear Family

  • The post-war brought a dramatic increase in marriage rates and a sharp decline in the ages of first marriage (people married at young age)
  • By 1950, about half of women between 20-24 in Canada were married. This was in reaction to the hardships and separations of depression and war
  •  In 1950s, a distinct pattern of family life emerged. This model was characterized by high rates of marriage at young age, high fertility, and low and stable rates of divorce
  • The scholarly celebration of this particularly family form: separate spheres with breadwinning fathers and housewife mothers. The housewife maintained the home for her breadwinner husband who worked outside it. This was also known as suburban nuclear family
  • But the domestic housewife was not so ideal for many women. They felt isolated from the world and demanded rights equal to men

State of the Canadian Family

  • Canada’s rate of child poverty may look good compared to that of the USA, but we have the second-worst rate among industrialized nations
  • Poverty rates of children of single mothers and Aboriginal children are significantly higher than average (Ex. Aboriginal teens become pregnant at seven times the Canadian rate)
  • Many Aboriginal individuals and communities suffer from endemic (widespread) poverty and social problems
  • Apart from child poverty and the challenges Aboriginal families face, Canadian families have steadily become smaller since 1971
  • The two-parent family model is becoming less common today
  • Canadian marriage rate has steadily declined (Ex. 4.7 marriages per 1000 in 2003, which is less than half the 1940s rate of 10.9)
  • Those who do marry are doing it later and later

Gendered Marriage

  • Sociologist Jessie Bernard (His and Her Marriage): His is better than hers in terms of martial satisfaction, health, career outcomes
  • Sex is something that she has and he wants, and he is willing to do pretty much anything, including promising eternal love and fidelity, in order to get it
  • The Marriage for Men: Men are healthier, better career outcome, martial satisfaction
  • Even after divorce, men remarry much more quickly than women, and widowers die sooner than widows after the death of a spouse
  • Married men earn more than single men. And single men are less likely to be employed, tend to have lower incomes than married men, and are more likely to get involved in crime and drug use
  • The marriage for women: career outcome is worst, martial satisfaction not as great as for men
  • Wedding remains to be central to women
  • However, marriage is beneficial for both men and women (Ex. Married people have more sex more often than unmarried people and enjoy it more. Married people have longer life expectancies and fewer health problems, lower levels of risky behaviour, suicide, depression, and other psychological problems. And married people save more)
  • Arlie Hochschild introduced the second shift: Women participate in the workplace for the same amount of hours as men, but they also work in the household
  • Families experienced a drastic change when women entered the workplace. Women worked not only because they desired equal rights as men, but for ambition. They wanted to work because it was beneficial for both them and their families. However, women were now responsible for both paid work and housework. This is called the second shift. Women’s second shift caused them to work more because men shared little to none responsibility of housework and childcare. The consequences included women working more, causing fatigue and stress
  • The unpaid housework and childcare that women disproportionately take up after they come home from their paid employment
  • Despite the large-scale entry of women into the labor market, men’s unequal share of the second shift has not yet happened, only about 20% of the households. They report more martial satisfaction for both men and women
  • The Issue: Men tend to see their participation in housework in relation to their wives’ housework. Women tend to see their work as necessary for family maintenance (Ex. When men do the dishes it’s called helping. When women do dishes, it’s called life)
  • For women’s second shift to change dramatically, men must learn and be supported to do child care and housework, and to share full responsibility for all aspects of family life
  • Men who voluntarily share the housework tend to have a happier sex life. Gender inequality in the family will gradually decrease
  • A change in the private sphere will bring about dramatic changes in the public sphere

Changing Families in Contemporary Canada

  • The family size has become smaller since 1971. By 2006, average of 3 people
  • The rise of single-parent families and single-person household
  • Marriage is changing
  • Marriage rate is in decline
  • People today are married at a later age (the average age for both women and men are over 30)
  • Increase of common-law marriage and the institution of same sex marriage
  • The divorce rate has become higher since 1968 liberalization of the Divorce Act, although it’s dropping slowly since 1987 (about 40%)
  •  Just as there are his and her marriages, there are also his and her divorces because divorce affects wives and husbands differently. Divorce invokes gender inequality as well (Ex. Women’s resources and income tends to decline after divorce than men’s)
  • Divorce affects women in material and financial terms and men in emotional and psychological terms
  • Divorce is a remedy of BAD MARRIAGE
  • HOWEVER, divorce is ONLY beneficial for children when it removes them from a high-conflict marriage
  • Also, in families where the father is absent (lone parenting) the mother faces an impossible task. She cannot raise a boy into a man Another issue is that fatherless boys tend to commit crimes. Lone-parent families are at a risk of poverty, especially headed by women
  • Single-parent families are also more likely to be poor. Children in single-parent families have lower levels of well-beings, self-esteem, educational attainment, and adjustment than those in two-parent homes
  • Canadians and Diverse Families: 40% of Canadians believe there is no ideal family model. 94% approve of interracial marriage, and more than two thirds approve of same-sex marriages

Gendered Parents, Gendering Children

  • One cause of the decline in martial happiness is children. Couples who remain childless report higher levels of martial satisfaction than those with children
  • In Canada, older couples are generally more satisfied with their marriages, especially if both partners are retired
  • Parents influence gender differences in their children. They possess a set of gender-specific ideas of what their children need. That is, they were themselves socialized to some belief in what girls and boys of various ages are like
  • Therefore, constructs of ‘boy child’ and ‘girl child’ are produced, with different expectations attached to each
  • Throughout childhood, gender difference and gender inequality are created and reinforced through play, the media, and the schools (Ex. The toys children play with are designed to be sold as girls’ toys and boys’ toys. Girls are given dolls and doll houses. Boys get trucks and building blocks and are told that they are ‘sissies’ if they want to play with girls’ toys)
  • As a result of gender stereotypes, parents believe that boys rather than girls should be independent, and parents encourage boys to explore and master their world
  • From a very early age, physical appearance is tied to social definitions of masculinity and femininity. Girls are rewarded for their looks and for appearing attractive, whereas boys are more frequently rewarded for physical performance
  • Boys play to achieve dominance. Girls play to make sure everyone has a good time
  • Girls are often ‘banned from some sports and allowed to play others only under simpler rules (Ex. Touch or flag football). Even when they play the same sports, boys and girls do not play them together

The HPV Vaccine and Maternal Responsibility

  • Amy Schalet: Sex, Love, Autonomy
  • Why do American and Dutch parents have different attitudes about teens and sex?
  • Would you let your teenager’s boy/girlfriend sleep over?
  • American parents dramatize sex. They argue that Premarital sex is dumb
  • Dutch parents agree to premarital sex as long as it’s a long term relationship.
  • The point of the article is that young adolescents are experiencing sex differently in America and Dutch
  • Teen Sexuality
  • In America, parents do not accept teen sexuality because of Raging hormones. Parents & public opposed to teen sex because it leads to unintended consequences. Schools in America promote abstinence only until marriage
  • In Netherlands, parents accept teen sexuality as part of the youth phrase, love, steady relationships. Public, health professionals, and media adjust moral rules governing sexual life. Sexuality a part of life to be governed by self-determination, mutual respect, frank conversations, and prevention of unintended consequences. Sexuality is part of life to be governed by self-determination, mutual respect, frank conversations, and prevention of unintended consequences. Therefore, in Netherlands, sex is normalized
  • Independence and Control
  • In America, teens not autonomous until they become independent and live outside the home. For them, teen sexuality is a threat to parent authority. They emphasis danger of sex. Parents encourage teens to wait. Dramatizing: Parents do not see what kids are doing. Difficult to communicate
  • The Netherlands downplay dangers and difficulties of sex. They accept that sex is part of children’s lives and permit sleepovers (as long as there is a long-term relationship). Teen sexuality is no threat to parent authority. They believe that teenagers can fall in love and have healthy sexual relationships

HPV Vaccine in Ontario

  • Most commonly sexually transmitted infection
  • 100 strands, 30 transmissible by sex
  • Can be cervical, penile, throat cancer
  • Ontario’s HPV Vaccination Program: Vaccination preventing HPV is offered free to students in Grade 8
  • Mothers in the family make the decision for vaccination for their daughters. The daughter may act prematurely due to her fear of needles. However, it is the mother’s decision of what is good for her daughter. Fathers on the other hand refuse to participate in this decision.  Sometimes, wives don’t discuss vaccination decision with their husbands because of distrust of their decisions. It is the other way around as well, because the husbands trust the decisions of their wives regarding vaccination

Mothers tend to take care of health decisions in the household instead of fathers

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