Relationships between men and women in postmodern Britain have come a long way from the days when marriage was nothing but a consensus between man and father. However, society has still not moved past the gender prejudice that has been embedded within people for decades. Due to this, feminists of all variations have put forth strong arguments regarding the relationships between men and women. These egalitarian viewpoints have brought through a wave of Marxist, liberal, and radical feminists who all share the common interest of women, yet have slightly different theories. Radical feminists have argued the case of women, stating that they have been exploited for far too long, regardless of the supposed ‘equality’ that has been thrown about within society. They believe that within relationships, men are still the dominant sex, as they are statistically still the highest earners in Britain; therefore women have another reason not to work – in order to try and be the breadwinners of the household.
Also, within families, women’s choices are still disregarded, which can be highlighted in the households of ethnic minorities, where women have very little say with regards to the running of a house, and also they have very little freedom of expression. Marxist feminists, such as Benston, argue that the typical nuclear family provides the basic commodity required by capitalism, such as reproducing in order to maintain a workforce, and also maintaining the present workforce’s health and wellbeing. She therefore argues, that both men and women play an important role, whilst conforming to a New Right perspective on the matter. In opposition to the radical feminists, Britain has become subject to the feminisation of the working industries. With the arrival of technology and closely monitored support, women can now take over roles that men previously dominated. This has given them the right to be the breadwinners of their own families, and also allows them to choose whether to be in a relationship or not.
In addition to this, within symmetrical families, there has been an increase in the domestic division of labour, where men have taken on more responsibilities at home, and have therefore given increased support to women within the household. Furthermore, women now have the power to choose how they live, whether it is as a singleton; in a relationship – cohabiting or marrying – and even as a single parent. In regards to this, women are also allowed to have a child as they please, whilst working, due to improved childcare and rights upon them. On the other hand, the New Right and functionalists still believe that women should not be out there working, as they view the traditional nuclear family as the best type of family. Within this, they believe that the man should be the breadwinner whilst the woman stays at home; taking care of the children. This then helps fulfil their purposes to society which then leads on to social stability.
Whilst on the topic of social stability, Parsons views the nuclear family as the best way to ensure a stable upbringing and development for children, as it ensures a warm bath state environment as the children will be constantly relaxed and exposed to love and care, as well as the suppression of insecurities. Parsons also believed that the wife shouldn’t work, as her demands may conflict with the males, and to save this she should stay at home, completely opposing feminist views. Although the consensus of marriage is not the norm today, it is still a prominent factor in many relationships, as traditional families – such as within ethnic minority and the older generation of the white working class – still expect the man to ask the fathers permission.
This brings up the issue of the woman having little to no say in the matter, which again goes against feminist expectations. Furthermore, women are still used as sexual objects and are still lured in to marriage by ‘loving lies’, as referenced by the Rolling Stone magazine’s covers on hyper-sexualised women. This has brought about a new wave of divorces as the feminist nature of society today has enabled woman with the power to leave if they wish, yet this is still an abolished issue.