In every society there exist a relationship in which members are united by means of kinship and societal roles. The most basic of this relationship is known as a “family”. The main role of the family involves cooperation within the unit with the task of overseeing the bearing and raising of children (Macionis, 2008). Considering the societies as can be seen and experienced today, it is not hard to generalize that indeed families are necessary part of a society. Nevertheless, some people believe that the concept and act of making families results to inequality.
This idea is something that can be traced back to the time of Plato wherein he stressed on the abolition of family and creation of a “noble lie” to strengthen cooperation within the whole society and to get away from the institution of bias and inequality that family generates. This essay would like to take into consideration the fact that family can actually lead to inequality. Although, it is an established fact that family leads to cooperation, sociologist are convinced that it is the main perpetrator of inequality. The essay will discuss the fact that in family relationships men are still more dominant than woman.
Furthermore, the essay will give light on the ways that women can achieve equality with men in terms of familial role. The idea that the family leads to cooperation is grounded on the fact that family ties generate loyalty within family members. Family creates the idea of membership and denotes being a part of something. According to Macionis (2008), families perform several vital tasks in societies. One of these functions includes socialization. By socialization the family creates “well-integrated members of the society” (Macionis, 2008). Another function is the regulation of sexual activities.
It is well-known that families serve as the basis of kinship. Kinship is the social bond that is based primarily on marriage, ancestry and adoption (Macionis, 2008). Focusing on marriage, which is the legal foundation of the family that centers on sexual activity, childbearing and economic cooperation, the concept of property rights and other civil rights are regulated. Aside from this, traditions and other cultural beliefs such as incest and other family-based taboos are established. Furthermore, children who are born to married couples are given more preferences in most societies.
In some societies, they treat the children of unmarried couples with repulsion. Lastly, families create material and emotional security (Macionis, 2008). It provides haven and comfort to the people. Nevertheless, the idea that families cause inequality also has its own grounds. The main reason centers on the exercise of power in family-relationships that is controlled mostly by men. In today’s scenario, women who had several partners are still degraded in the society. On the other hand, men who had several partners retain more manly or ‘macho’ image. In marriage, women and children are more prone to violence than men.
Although they are being protected by law, they are still being abused in their homes. The fact that modernization and liberation increase the capability of women to work, it leads to child neglect and it increases the incident of single parenthood. Since women are empowered, they do not value their marriage the same as before. Nonetheless, women’s primary role as argued by most sociologists such as Macionis (2008), includes emotional care and child-rearing. However, men are treated or portrayed in societies as the breadwinner or as the main supporter of the family.
Upon single parenting, women divide themselves between child care and supporting their family. Traditional roles entail men as the main ‘power figure’ in a family (Macionis, 2008). Although, this mind set is currently being change, since it is a part of tradition, most families still follows the old setting. Thus, men are still seen to hold more power than women. Furthermore, the fact that woman traditionally acts as carers refrains them from holding more dominant role in the family. Women may still gain dominant role, however, in the current situation women are stuck in child rearing and caring.
The new reproduction technologies such as in vitro fertilization allow women to conceive aside from the conventional means (Macionis, 2008). In some cases, such as sperm donation, men are not anymore needed to conceive a child. Thus, families can exist even outside marriage or even without legalities such as cohabitation. Since men cannot reproduce, women are empowered in such a way that they can still create families even without men. Although men can still dominate through traditional roles, women can still achieve a dominant position. In societies today, women are empowered.
They have more opportunities than before. Traditional roles are being neglected. However, despite the fact that modernization is on its way, women are still caught in the inequality maze. This is due to the fact that women still retain their childbearing and child rearing status and responsibilities. The context of family is currently changing. It is not seen anymore as simply a matter between men and women. It is not anymore treated as a civil or legal union. More than often or in many states, marriage and family can apply to homosexuals and can be regarded as civil unions.
Family remains the smallest structure or institution in the society however, it does not entail the same meaning as before. As a conclusion, families remain as a necessary part of the society. However, there have been changes in the traditional roles which somehow empower women. It gives women the capability to work and to earn money. In the end, the empowerment produced another inequality, women becomes the breadwinner and at the same time, the child bearer and carers. Works Cited: Macionis, J. Sociology. 12th edition. Pearson Hall. 2008.
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