Is A Woman’s Place in the Home?
Glynis R. Hay Rickards
Is Woman’s Place Is In The Home?
I glanced at my watch; it was 3:30 p.m. I logged off the computer picked up my car keys and signaled to my boss. He knows the meaning of that familiar signal. It means I am dashing off to pick up my kids (ages 10 and 13) from school. After picking them up I will take them home and leave them to perform the familiar routine that they have been practicing for years. First they will have their bath, then take the microwave able containers with the specific day labeled from the fridge, placed it in the microwave oven, have their dinner, complete their assignments then head to the baby sitter. The baby sitter being none other than the good old television set or their video games. I would call from my office occasionally to ensure that everything is okay. They have strict orders not to open doors to strangers, and all emergency numbers are at their fingertips. This routine has taught them to be responsible and independent children. At approximately 7:00 pm I would drag myself home, check their assignments, have a little chit-chat with them and then head off to bed.
I compared this to the days when I used to get the bus home from school and would be greeted by my mother with a smile on her face and a cool drink in her hand. She would ask us the familiar question, which we sometimes forget to answer. “How was school today? Did you enjoy you nice lunch that I packed in your lunch kit”? After our bath we would sit at the dining table and enjoy a nice warm meal while sharing the days events. In retrospect I can only ask myself this question. “What has happened to those good old days”? Why did women abandon their place in the home?
Prior to the Industrial Revolution which took place in the Eighteenth Century there was no place for women in the work world because most tasks required manual labour and therefore women would not be considered for such tasks because physical strength was required for effective performance. The advent of the Industrial Revolution, which can be described as the historical transformation of traditional into modern societies, saw the birth of mechanization for manufacturing and other processes. Machines were invented to perform most jobs and the need for women to operate these machines became apparent. Piece work shops and textile factories along with other factories were established and women became a part of the workforce. It was noted that most women joined the work force out of economic necessity. The ability to earn wages provided them with a better standard of living, independence, and mobility, and also self esteem, since they were now able to contribute to the world’s economic development.
While they enjoyed the status of being independent they had to deal with the negative aspects of being a woman in the working world. Women were forced to deal with the lack of amenities. For example proper rest rooms were not available. Their home life suffered because they had to deal with working a full day in the factory then returning home to perform their domestic chores and looking after their family. They would sometimes perform similar jobs to men but would receive less wages and also had to deal with the pressures of sexual harassment. Women received high praises for their performance on the job, but they were deprived of promotional opportunities and rewards because of their gender.
The process of socialization can be negatively affected by the absence of women in the home. While men are seen as the head of the family the women are often responsible for providing the foundation for primary socialization to take place. “Socialization is the process by which individuals learn the culture of their society”. (Haralambos, 1990, p. 4). Primary socialization is the most important factor of the socialization process as this takes place during infancy. During this process, which can be described as a “getting to know you” period, the child develops a bond with the family. The child copies the behaviour of the parents, respond to the approval and disapproval of the parents and also learns the language and develops social etiquette. While the father helps in this process the mother is instrumental because of the natural bond which exist between mother and child.
Psychoanalysis, Erikson (1973) research on psychosocial development proved that; “During the oral-sensory stage which is between birth and eighteen months, the basic crisis centers around the development of either trust or mistrust”. A child is completely dependent on others for the fulfillment of his needs e.g. feeding. If these needs are consistently satisfied and if he receives love and stimulation he will develop a sense of trust, not only in others but also in himself. If, on the other hand, his needs are not satisfied regularly and he receives little love, attention and stimulation, he will develop a sense of mistrust. The presence of the mother at this stage of development is important because of the mother child relationship and it is therefore easier for the mother to successful guide the child through this stage of development.
The deterioration of family norms and values has been attributed to the absence of women in the home. When a child enters society they must learn specific guidelines, which determines acceptable and appropriate behaviour within a culture or society. In short they must learn what is right and what is wrong. These “rights and wrongs” are the norms of a society. The child would be taught general social conducts i.e. appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. Again the mother is normally the chief individual who ensures that these norms are upheld and failure to do so would result in the use of positive of negative sanctions, which are actually rewards and punishment. Values on the other hand are beliefs that there are thing, which are good and desirable and worthwhile striving to achieve. Values can be compared to materialistic achievements, thought it appears materialistic it also takes on the disguise of ambition and self confidence. For example aiming to be first in your class, being a doctor or a lawyer. These are all values that are instilled in us because we are a part of a family, and we are taught that the accumulation of material possession is a symbol to determine ones’ achievement.
The birth of Generation X has been blamed on the absence of the mother in the home to provide continuous inspiration. The group of people born between 1961 and 1981 who are now viewed by society as having little hope for the future because they lack values and suffer from the lack of vision to need to achieve success.
Should women search for their aprons and cook spoons and reclaim their rightful place in the home? Or continue wearing linen suits and step boldly in leather high heels? Can women effectively contribute to society by playing the double role of homemaker and executive?
While it can be argued that initially women left the home because of economic necessity. Overtime they have established themselves as being a necessary part of the workforce and have even infiltrate areas that were once dominated by men.
Women are now decision makers in large organization and have placed their mark on society from as early as 1911 when they entered the field of aviation a predominantly male area. There have also been female inventors who have contributed to the development of the country. For example a woman invented kelvar, which is a material, used to make bulletproof vest. Previously the only office job opportunities opened to women were steno typists and other clerical positions. Today women are a dominant force in large organization such as Hewlett-Packard, Bank of America and Colgate Palmolive.
Being in the forefront of top organizations is an indication that women have gained confidence and respect in the working world and her strength as a leader and as an individual who has a contribution to make to the world’s economic growth is now recognized. Studies have shown that women in business tend to be more productive, reliable, and conscientious and pays greater attention to details. They make crucial decisions and are not intimidated by the fact that they have to compete with men for top positions.
It is my opinion that women make better managers because the egotistical effect is not a prominent feature of the female species. Academically more women are successfully pursuing higher education in University than men.
Despite strides towards gender equality women are still being victimized and denied promotions because they are seen as “not tough enough” for the position. A survey done by the International Labor Organization revealed that women’s overall share of management jobs rarely exceeds twenty per cent. There have also been litigations and various organizations have been established with the main aim being to end institutionalized discrimination against women.
The shifting role of women in the society and the fact that women still desire to be wives, mothers and professionals has made the phrase “Working Mom” an acceptable part of our culture. The establishment of day care center cannot replace the home environment, but they have effectively assisted with the psychosocial development of children, bearing in mind that women who are sometimes mothers often manage these centers. Successful professionals who had the experience and benefit of being the child of a working mom will attest to the fact that they were motivated to succeed because they observed their mother efficiently balancing her two roles. It is therefore difficult to say a woman’s place is in the house because a woman’s rightful place is anywhere she believes she can effectively contribute to society.
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