Patriarchy sample essay
Societies around the globe have a traditional set of protocol as to who is supposed to the head of family, clan, or even a bigger societal group than these ones. Among the African societies, the man is a de facto head of the family and the larger society, and the woman just serves the role of subordinating him. This is a true reflection of the early religious societies, for example the Israelites and the Muslims of the eastern societies, which recognized the fact that the work of the prophets belonged to the males and that women were no longer to appear as public leaders or role holders.
In Western Europe and indeed much of the continent this was the case before the middle ages and in the renaissance period. This defined societal leadership of the early days was referred to as the patriarchy, and the family heads themselves as the patriarchs. Now, according to the Webster’s new collegiate dictionary, patriarchy is a social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wife and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1977).
With time, given the rapid changes the society was going through, especially in Western Europe the principles and the core values of patriarchy began to be faced out. In Britain where the process was sudden, patriarchy suffered its biggest blows in the period between late 17th century to late 18th century (precisely 1689-1789). This process that brought in all these changes was described as the reconfiguration- the change in the roles of men and women. We are going to discuss the effect of this process on the society during the century stated above.
The reconfiguration of patriarchy in Britain. (1689-1789). During the early times, the British society just like any other society of ancient times was composed of large families, and included members from across relations. However, desire for privacy and compatibility began growing. Couples who intended to marry desired not only the formal romantic love but also an overhaul change in the relationship once married. The changes following these developments resulted into smaller family sizes.
The married couple could now spend a lot of time together, in addition to developing common interests and pastimes. Furthermore, these developments meant that personal live of this married couples changed, with houses built to develop privacy from children, house servants and guests. Rooms were set aside for specific purposes and were partitioned by hallways from one another. Couples were now spending more together and had more time for themselves, this coming as a result of limited family sizes.
The bearing of few children had an advantage for women because maternity deaths reduced, also reduction of disablements at child birth that were common in the early times and above all women had an added time to pursue domestic chores. Although attempts of birth were not successfully (because birth control methods of this time- withdrawal and coitus interruptus- are not reliable) families managed to succeed in the child spacing. There was the idea of commercialization of childhood. A child born of a family in ancient Britain had to undergo a torturous procedure that was referred to as wet nursing.
Therefore the child had to spend most of the time away from the mother. By mid 17th century children were receiving a lot of attention from their parents. A family expecting a child had to purchase all the toys necessary for the comfort of a child. Books full of pictures (and also helpful to the parents) to entice the child were bought. It was emerging that mothers wanted to nurse their children themselves by obviously breast feeding and also figuratively teach them in the process.
This new found relationship between women and their children meant that children would now become companions to the outings involving visits to the museums and comp sites that were also emerging with a lot of speed. Another development coming in the 18th century was the emergence of bourgeois as a culture. This culture worked on the idea that home life was the fulfillment of an individual lifestyle, and included more spending on leisure pursuits and literary programs. Unfortunately, this privileges associated with this culture could not be associated with every member of the society.
For example, working women could not afford the cost of instructional materials for their children or even the time to use these materials. In response to these some women employed wet nurses, an irony for this age. This group of women enjoyed little privacy in their places residence because they still had to consent living with large families in single rooms. House wives were still being beaten by their husbands and children too suffered beatings in the hands of their fathers.
Consequently, by late 18th century two distinct family classes were emerging- one based on companion marriage and the other o patriarchal dominance of husbands. In the eighteenth century a rigorous transformation in family life was underway, one that bourgeoisie shared with the nobility: the celebration of domesticity. The image and indeed reality was that of the happy home life, where love was the bond between husband and wife and between parents and children, and both men and women came to dominate both the literary and visual arts.
Only those who were wealthy enough to afford to dispense with women’s work could partake of the new domesticity, and only those who had been touched by enlightment ideas could attempt to make the change. Indeed where it occurred, the transformation in the nature of family life was one of the most profound alterations in the eighteenth century. Consequently; the most important step that had an impact towards transformation of family structure was in the centering of the conjugal family in the home.
Conclusion: We have seen that eighteenth century Britain was a society of orders that was transforming itself into a society of classes. That is to say that official ranks such as noble and commoner were giving way to ranking by wealth or poverty. The rise of science and enlightment ideas highlighted the contradictions. Enlightment ideas looked to the future, to a new world that was ruled fairly to the benefit of all human beings, male and female alike. Authority, society and the individual had the chance to improve but if the odds and the rubble of the past was forgotten.
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