It is a fact that household chores have always and still are mainly the women’s job in the family. Washing and ironing are definitely thought of as more of women’s role because only 18% of couples share this task equally. Men take more of a part in preparing dinner now with 35% claiming it is done equally but still 32% of couples still think it is the woman more. The most even chores among partners is looking after sick family members (45%) and food shopping (52%). 49% of men still do most of the repairs around the house.
Relationships have changed and have become a lot more equal between men and women have become a lot more equal than the traditional patriarchal relationship. Men and women are sometimes thought to have very different roles around the house. For example because women are supposed to have a nurturing and kind personality it is thought that they should look after the children, but the man is thought to have a more practical mind and strong so he does DIY and is the main breadwinner. These are called segregated roles.
Role conflict is when two or more of a person roles collide to make it impossible to fulfil them properly. For example, a woman could have three separate roles at one time as a mother, a friend and an employee. If she has to spend extra time at work and then has to look after a friend who is upset she may find it hard to find enough time for her family. When men and women stick to their gender segregated roles but make sure they both contribute equally, it is called joint conjugal roles. Young and Wilmott (1973) suggested that the main family form in Britain was the symmetrical family.
This is a family that works on joint conjual roles. Their relationship was more democratic or equal Compared with past gender roles decision making and leisure activities were shared more. The family would become a lot more home centred as the men helped out more. This gave them things in common, which caused relationships between spouses to be warmer and more caring. Feminists do not agree with this symmetrical family theory. Feminists claim that it is not truly symmetrical because even if a man helps more, it is still only help and the main responsibility is still the womans.
They also think that men will pick and choose their jobs and leave the women with the worst ones. Oakly (1974) is critical of this theory and does not think that the evidence is convincing. A husband that washes up at least once a week is regarded as helpful in the home to Young and Wilmott. She also argues that men that iron a piece of their own clothing, they are a ‘good’ husband. Oakly thinks that there is no evidence of symmetry in the home even if the woman is employed she still does more housework. Jan Pahl (1989), in her study of money and power in marriages argues that they are still patriarchal.
She found that men are more likely to make most decisions when she interviewed 120 married couples in Kent. Although she found that they share more decisions on what to spend the household income on compared to 30 years ago but however she points out that the man is still in charge of the finances and the wife’s access to money. This could sometimes leave women and children living in poverty even when the man has a good income. There are a number of factors that have contributed to equality between the sexes including changes to laws such as the sex discrimination act and equal pay rights.
These laws ensure equality in the workplace, which changes the way people think and makes women believe that they deserve the same rights at home. Now girls are getting the same standard of education as boys and the same opportunities which means that women are getting good careers that are equal to men’s. Also thins like media with soaps and celebrities promoting equality in the home and cost of living makes both partners work contributes to the changing attitudes. Another way of measuring equality instead of domestic labour is through things like decision-making, finance and power in the home.