- Term Papers and Free Essays

To What Extent, And For What Reasons,

Essay by   •  March 5, 2011  •  1,864 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,218 Views

Essay Preview: To What Extent, And For What Reasons,

Report this essay
Page 1 of 8

To what extent, and for what reasons,

has feminism fulfilled its objectives in post-war Britain?

This question poses several different additional questions which will hopefully bring me to a conclusion as to whether or not feminism and feminists fulfilled their obligations in post-war Britain. Firstly the term feminism must be defined so as to assess their obligations. Also the effect that the World Wars had on society and in particular women to see whether there is a significant change in structure and whether or not this is where the obligations come from, where the change began and it was the duty of the feminist leaders to continue the change in the same or a differing vain.

After having assessed the nature and direction of these obligations, I will then be able to gage to what extent they have been fulfilled.

Feminism in itself is a tricky issue. Heywood describes feminism Ð''it is characterised primarily by its political stance: the attempt to advance the social role of women' . This although seemingly vague has its benefits due to the diversity of the ideology itself. The earliest feminist ideas derived largely from liberalism and reflected commitment to individualism and formal equality. In Contrast, socialist feminism, largely derived from Marxism has highlighted links between female subordination and the capitalist mode of production, drawing significance of women being confined to the family or domestic life. There is also the issue of radical feminists to consider as they moved beyond the perspectives of existing political traditions. This group believes that gender divisions are the most fundamental and politically significant cleavages in society, and call for the radical restructuring of personal, domestic and family life. However the word feminism has stretched to other more, specific pressure groups such as black feminism, psychoanalytical feminism, and post modern feminism. As is evident there are several different angles from which feminists can take their stance, all differing greatly, this is why it is so difficult to generalise their view point. However the ultimate focus of Ð''advancing the social role of women'. The Stanford encyclopaedia of politics defines this with reference to differing opinions of sexism within feminism as a whole. I points out that feminists disagree about what sexism consists in, and what exactly ought to be done about it Ð''they disagree about what it means to be a woman or a man and what social and political implications gender has or should have' . This shows the complications involved in assessing the properties of the feminist ideology.

The key issues however to assess are the ones which have been affected most since the world wars. These I believe to be the economy and the change in employment for women and rates of pay and availability of work, also the division of domestic work linked with the education levels and how they have improved for women and the content changed. Resulting in the ultimate representation within the political system showing haw things have changed not only in this country but all over the world, including several developing countries. Firstly there is the basic issue of division of domestic work and how this has changed and the changes that it has made throughout the economic spectrum. In the wake of the suffrage movement, there were a number of secular organisations such as the WI that combined social, domestic and leisure activities with work perceived as being beneficial to the community. This started with the WI's involvement in the First World War fro which they initially received grants from the Ministry of Agriculture . Although these jobs were voluntary they were however a beginning as the working women in society were no longer the lower or working classes but the middle and lower-upper classes creating a shift throughout the class system. This rise in work outside of the home shows the beginning of the demise of housewifery. This change was encouraged greatly by most divisions of feminism shown by the criticisms made by Beechey and Whitelegg in there book, Ð''Woman in Britain Today. In this they heavily criticise the work of women within the household by entitling a chapter Ð''Women in the family: Companions or Caretakers?' They claim that divisions of work within the home is Ð''determined by sexual divisions inside and outside the marriage, and marriage is by definition the union of the two sexes. Decisions made by individual couples need to be seen as taken within an overall social structure based on sexual divisions (men's power over women) of which marriage itself is an integral part: a contributory institution. This view is typical of radical feminists and shows how their view is not of individual rights and changes within small communities such a marriage but their quest to change society as a whole and to free women form the oppressive nature of society and the power that men hold over them without their consent. There was a great decline of full time housewifery and a rise in the amount of women in the work force. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th until just after the Second World War, women accounted for just under a third of the total labour force. This figure gradually rose to 40 per cent in 1981 and stood at about 45 per cent in 1998. These trends are however masking the continuing significance of gender differences in employment patterns which are illustrated by looking at part-time employment. In 1998 four out of ten women were employed part time, whereas among men part-time work accounted for only one in twenty, the overwhelming majority worked full-time, and frequently for longer hours than female full-time employees. The change of amount of women in the work place and the change in position in the work place are inextricably linked. The amount and standard of education given to women has changed dramatically even in the last fifty years. The only form of expansion in education for women before the world wars was the Board of Education allowing girls over the age of fifteen to drop science in favour of domestic studies. Only the daughters of skilled manual workers were able to go to secondary educational though after some intense competition due to the very limited places. The Education Act of 1944 reorganised the education system and provided primary education for all children between five and eleven, and secondary education for all children over eleven. Specifically for girls however, there were no fee or scholarship necessities. However there was a report in 1963 revealed that there was little change in the amount of girls in education since the 1920's, it also noted that there



Download as:   txt (11.4 Kb)   pdf (129.9 Kb)   docx (13 Kb)  
Continue for 7 more pages »
Only available on