Most of the material below is from Haralambos,N. & Holborn,R.
“ Themes and Perspectives in Sociology”
1) The Functionalist Murdock argued that the sexual division of labour (men do this, women do that) derives from the hunter-gathering period of history. (which ceased around what is now Turkey & Iraq approx 10,000 years ago-KB)
2) Parsons, also a Functionalist, gave what is essentially a biological reason, namely that women are best at such tasks as socialisation because they give birth and are thus “naturally” suited to look after children.
3) In Psychology, in the 1950’s, Bowlby argued for “maternal deprivation”. Stay with you young children or else they would become criminals. So they we are. History, Biology and Psychology concluded that women should do the housework and childcare.
4) Oakley’s main point, ( a Feminist) apart from some anthropology which shows that gender roles are not as fixed as these writers assume, was that the mother-housewife role is a cultural construction . (In other areas the slightly broader term is used – a social construction .) It was produced in the latter half of the 19 th . Century. (See Oakley notes on “Housewife” 1974)
8) Patriarchy is a system which systematically advantages men, i.e. more wealth, power (and….leisure time!)
Some Radical Feminists agree with the history as biology line of argument e.g. Firestone argued that biology (pregnancy etc.) led to women being dependent on men. Rowbotham argued that the concept of patriarchy used by writers such as Millett to explain all history was too vague.
9) Marxist-Feminists such as Benston uses the concept of reserve army of labour (See WW1 & WW2) Hartmann points out that capitalism might produce low paid jobs but this does not explain, by itself, why women take up these jobs.
We still need to use the notion of patriarchy (e.g. local factory which ran a 6.00pm – 10.00pm shift – who volunteered for this?)
rejects the notion of a gender which shares the same interests and instead emphasises the differences between groups of women e.g. lesbian versus heterosexual, younger women versus older women. Like most postmodernists, they want to improve the position of women by deconstructing masculine language.
12 Walby’s reply is to argue that this approach minimises the sharp edges of inequality (she uses the word oppression) where it is difficult to discern the use of male violence in relationships (there is usually one student per year on average affected by this), job segregation and the resultant low wages for women.