" Cultural and social differences, then, between men and women are not so much reflections of differing social roles and expectations as they are reflections of basic genetic differences between men and women..." (Groenhout 51)
3.1. The family
To understand this criticism of feminism and the reaction to the attack on female domesticity, one has to know something about the background that initiated this reaction. This refers especially to the view of the family as a valued institution central to the structure of society that is in decline throughout the world.
A number or critics note how the feminist view and the "new" role of women in society has negatively affected the family. This has resulted as well in many feminists turning against the more radical views of feminism as they feel that they endanger the integrity of the family and family life. As one critic notes, "From the early days of the women's movement feminism was perceived as force actively working against the family. Social conservatives charge feminists with renouncing the family as a source of repression and enslavement... (Klatch) Therefore, feminist ideology has been related to the collapse of the family, which is seen by many as "...the foundation of our society; if that crumbles, everything else goes." (Klatch)
Some critics of feminism go even further in their rejection of the standard feminist assessment of family life.
Feminism and feminists are not only responsible for destroying the family, but also the basic fabric of society, and the well being and health of individual women, men and children. Feminists are, according to this view, responsible for generating those problems feminists have struggled most with, such as abuse, violence, incest, rape and pornography.
This is a stern counter argument to the feminist view of the role of the woman in the home and the family, which frames the present discussion.
There are many other criticisms that can be brought against feminism. Feminism is also seen as the "New Narcissism." Klatch puts this view concisely as follows:
Inextricably bound to the association of feminism as anti-family is the perception of feminism as an extension of the new narcissism, a symbol of the Me Decade. For in condemning the family, social conservatives argue, the women's liberation movement advises women to pursue their own individual interest above all else.
Summation and conclusion
The view that women who are domestic and work at home and who support their families are necessarily subversive and oppressed has been a cornerstone of the femininity ideology. While this may be the case in some instances, it is also true that many women find a sense of freedom, identity and value in their roles as stay-at-home housewives and mothers.
An argument that runs counter to this feminist view is that many women often chose to stay at home. This also relates to other criticisms of the feminist ideology. Especially with regard to the effect that feminism has had on the family. There is a strong feeling among many feminists and non-feminists alike that the family is a valuable and important component of society and that the women's function in the home is a vital and necessary one. They therefore object to various feminist views that serve to degrade and reduce the importance and the value of domesticity.
Despite the prevalence of feminist theory in the contemporary world, there is little doubt that the domestic role of the women and the wife is still seen as an important part of life. As Kalene Westmoreland states;
Domesticity has endured as a facet of everyday life in the late twentieth century and beyond, despite cultural acceptance of feminist beliefs and ideals which encourage women's movement away from the private sphere of the home.
The author also notes that there need not necessarily be a divide between the realistic aspirations of the feminist movement and domesticity. Rather, domesticity and the feminist ideals of equal rights and aspirations can function in concert. In other words, in the final analysis, the liberal ideal of personal freedom and women working at home and supporting the family are not necessarily incompatible.
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