Angela Davis explains how the embracement of anti-racist ideals is necessary in redefining family values. If you see feminism as a movement that strives for equality and the eradication of policies, mind-sets and practices that place people in a hierarchy, othering different groups of people who do not fit in the socially constructed norm, it is not difficult to see how these ideals are explicitly feminist. As explained by Gloria Steinem "family values" is singular. This implies there is a "normal" family; one that is accepted and all others that are not. The "normal" family in our society is based on white heteronormative patriarchal ideals. There is so much diversity in our nation in addition to our world that by creating this "ideal" family, and defining what people should strive to be, we are ignoring all the other groups of people. By practicing and embracing anti-racist ideals not only are we accepting every group and every individual but also we are promoting healthy, nurturing values. To be anti-racist is to be peaceful, accepting and to promote equality. These are my values I personally try to, and want to, incorporate in my family. They are my family values and I believe are the values feminism is striving to insert into the broader population's idea of family values. This "family" is not only one's biological family, but it is also one's neighborhood, city, state, nation; this family is individual kin and communal societies. It is narrow and broad which I believe is a very new and necessary dynamic.
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Mary Pardo's article on the activism of the Mother's of East Los Angeles illustrates the Latino women as heterosexual who is active on behalf of her family. In other side, Valerie Lehr provides a different construction of family which is lesbian and gay roles. Children is really important and cannot missing in the family whether heterosexual or homosexual couple. Children draw upon the family. Therefore, children are the purpose of fighting for justice in order the children in our community to live in a safe environment. It also draws upon the view no typical family. All types of families are accepted whenever they are raising good children, responsible and take positive action. This differs from the traditional view of "family" where the household is headed by "the male - headed patriarchal nuclear household" (Steinem, 47). In traditional family issues the male would be the one dealing with any kind of conflicts or political issues. The male voice would be heard and taken into account over the female voice. Although women are still fighting to have better life, but they still stay in the traditional roles because they knew that without a male presence they would not be heard. Therefore, women kept the traditional "family" by doing their work in the community but making sure the house was clean, there was food on the table and did all the responsibilities.
Of the feminist family values expressed in the Feminist Family Values Forum, I find a particular assertion from Gloria Steinem to be particularly compelling. Her ideas about our society's definition of family are particularly intriguing. She states, "I think the first thing we need to reconsider about 'family values' is saying 'family' in the singular. The minute you say 'family' in the singular, it defines one kind of family as normal and renders all other forms peripheral or wrong." Her point is very interesting as we in the United States, as is context of my strongest understanding of "family," do have a tendency to have particular associations with, and expectations for, the word. I feel as though Steinem's point about the word "family" is a feminist family value as feminism has historically been motivated to be inclusive of marginalized individuals, or families, and challenge dominant conceptions of nearly everything. Therefore, I feel that it does indeed go against many traditional family values as it challenges the notions of a tradition family to begin with, drawing into question what a family is and who compromises one. By problematizing the very term "family," Steinem forces us to face the very (mis)conceptions that we have of what it means to be part of a family and to, as an outsider, recognize a family as a family.
In reading Gloria Steinem's section of the Feminist Family Values Forum, I was struck by her boldness, her bluntness, her willingness to critique almost everything about the way we understand ourselves and our role in society, and stand by it. Because it needs to be stood by.
Steinem calls the term "family values" an artificial construction, created entirely by the function of industrialization and capitalism. According to her, this idea of "family values" exhibited by the nuclear male-headed family, is an extremely new idea in American society, and came about as a result of the developing needs of modern America (161). This has led to black and white, patriarchal concepts about how men and women should act.
One idea of hers that particularly stood out to me as important was her idea of how parents should raise their children, because "there is a direct line between the kind of families we have and the kind of society we create" (162). She asserts that the only way to escape the "prison of gender" is to raise sons more like daughters, so that they will grow up without these preconceived notions of how they should behave and what they can do, whereby continuing the cycle (163).
This value is feminist because it seeks to address the inherent inequalities present in our society, which often originate in the way we were raised. This value addresses a need for a family structure not steeped in the traditional "husband should do this, wife should do this" family values. Rather, it speaks of freedom--of growing up in a family where someone can be who they want to be and enter society as a person they're happy with.
I think one of the key values from the Feminist Family Values was the idea of the woman being the rock of the family. On page 157 there is a line which reads, "the burden of sustaining the family, of lessening tensions, of attempting to sustain adequate living conditions for all members of the family, becomes the burden of women." I think this is considered a feminist family value because it's an issue/value that should and easily could be shared between both partners. I think this is also interesting because men are often entitled with being the rock of the family based on them being supposedly stronger, more emotionally stable and the ones "bringing home the bacon". However, today it is becoming more and more common for women to be working full time jobs in edition to being the CEO of the homestead. Thus this value is drawing upon the less modern ideal family where the women manages the home while the man works in the world. Although today this can be opposite, it isn't all that uncommon for a man to stay at home or to be less financially helpful. My mom supported my family for the majority of my life (until recently being laid off) and I would be lying if I said that it didn't have much impact on the home-front. Considering my parents grew up with the notion of the man supporting the family, my dad always felt intimidated by my mother. Meanwhile, my mom was still in charge of maintaining the family (and the household for that matter). This is certainly a feminist family value that needs adjustment, in my opinion. Family maintenance is not a one person job.
One of the feminist family values that made my family values differ from the traditional family values is the idea that parenting should be taken up by both parents. Despite the fact that my parents comes from Africa where we believe in the traditional family values that assumes a separation of work and responsibilities, my parents were still able to adopt a feminist family value when raising us. The reason why this is a feminist family value is because it eliminates the role of gender and separation of work between genders.
In Africa, the idea of traditional family value is assumed as the definition of a family structure. We believe that a woman is the homemaker while a man is imagined in the public world of work. Young women were also made to believe that being a good wife means abiding by the traditional family values which was socially constructed by the government to promote social hierarchies. I remember that my mum sometimes told me that while they were having babies and my father had to help out, his friends taught my parent's relationship was not a real African relationship. They saw my father as a shame to the African figure and my mum has a lazy African woman. This explains Patrick's idea that "class, gender, race, ethnicity, religion constitute categories of belonging that invoke family rhetoric". This brings me to the point that the context of culture is a very important context which needs to be taken into great consideration when discussing feminist family values.
In the Feminist Family Value Forum, Maria de los Angeles Jimenez discusses the concept of motherhood, focusing especially on motherhood in Mexican culture. Naturally motherhood is a very important concept in the feminism, but also in the idea of family values. What role is the mother expected to play in the family? Is she the one mainly responsible for the children? The mother in a family is the one who bears the children and nurtures the them, but to what extent? She describes the concept of motherhood as being expressed dually in the Mexican culture by two prominent figures, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and the Llorona. The first is the pure mother, while the second is not pure, having committed crimes against her children in seeking vengeance against her husband. She says that whichever way a mother may be seen, she is still defined my the concept of being a mother. She says that in the family, the mother is the central figure, which I would say is very similar to many other cultures as well. Maria goes on to say that for Latinos in particular, culture plays a very important role and brings many important contradictions of motherhood up. In the context of her culture, which is bound in a patriarchal system, women challenge this system by fighting for their rights, dignity, and independence. The idea of motherhood is very important, Maria continues to say that, "The burden of sustaining the family, of lessening tensions, of attempting to sustain adequate living conditions for all members of the family, becomes the burden of women" (37). She is presenting motherhood and the role of the women in a different and non-traditional way because she is representing people who are usually not seen at the forefront. She represents marginalized mothers and women who she says are usually "faceless" and "unknown". Maria shows that the family structure is a complex and dynamic one in which mothers play the central role, but it is also places certain restrictions of them.
From where I come, Sudan, our Family Value's most important aspect is the family. Everything revolves around not only your mother, father, and siblings but rather with your cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and other relatives. Sometimes I feel that values kept with my relatives is more important in our family than those kept with my siblings. I think this is mainly due to the embedding of our religion, Islam, into our culture where our Prophet Muhammad said "None of you have faith until you love for you neighbor what you love for yourself." This embedding of the religion creates a lot of my family values. But to the question of what makes my family values explicitly feminist. I think that this is answered in the role women play in holding our family values. In my culture, the children of a couple is always a million times closer to the mothers family then is to the fathers. Although it is a patriarchal society, that aspect of life is held mainly by the mother. The family values of the mother and her family is passed on to the children, and because usually marriage is to relatives, the values are passed on to the next generation, and so on. I think if anything my family values is closest to Maria de los Angeles Jimenez from the Feminist Family Values Forum. She talks about how her culture is a patriarchal culture, but the family values is held by the mother. She also says that the woman and her activities are what develops the family, which is likewise in my culture. This is probably because the woman is the most one that influences the family due to the amount of time she spends with the family.
Many years ago, families had moral values that served a purpose in their lives. Mothers stayed at home and care for the children while dads went to work and provided for the family. In the home mothers would make the children to do their chores and homework before they could go outside and play. Back then, there were no computers or video games to play with so kids had to entertain themselves. By the end of the week, the family would go to church on Sunday. These were simple family values that build foundations for families back in the day. People were committed in doing the right thing. Even though most families could not afford fancy cars or nice clothes, they continued to make the best of everything. The most important value learned back then was respect and self-respect. Parents taught their children to respect them and other adults and respect themselves.
These family values differ from family to family world-wide.In my mind, a family is simply a group of people, who loves, supports, and helps each other unconditionally, and endlessly. Family is drawing upon by work, play and love.Family values are the foundation for how children grow, are taught and supported. Traditional family values usually include such topics such as religion, marriage, communication, traditions, morals, holidays, interactions with relatives and how time is spent together. Traditional family values are usually passed on from one generation to the next, giving children the structure and boundaries in which to function and thrive. Family time, love, play and work give children this foundation. Take the time to share your family values and traditions with your children. Schedule family meetings together, share meals together where the family gets together to talk about the day, schedule recreation and relaxation into your day-to-day life. The definition of family values is the social standards defined by the family and a history of traditions that provide the emotional and physical basis for raising a family. Work together within your family to identify and create your own family values.
Group A should post entries by Monday evening and Groups B and C should post comments by Wednesday at noon.In a 200-word post, list and describe a feminist family value that is articulated in the Feminist Family Values Forum. Your entry should address the following:
- What makes your family value explicitly feminist?
- How does it differ from some of the "traditional" family values?
- What definition of "family" does it draw upon?