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Men and Women - The Past 50 Years

            In this essay I am going to be exploring the different views of how the roles of men and women have changed in the past 50 years and whether it has been significant, my reason for this is to discuss how far sociologist would agree or disagree with these different views.
             Young and Willmott (1973) believe that the symmetrical family has become the typical family form in Britain; they believe that gender segregation still exist but symmetrical families are developing much more joint conjugal roles and that there has been a large amount of equality between men and women. Young and Willmott also suggest that symmetrical families are opposite but sill similar stating that the husband and wife might still complete different task but there is still a fair division of roles and contribution around the house. Another aspect of the Symmetrical family is that the role of the 'breadwinner' is more shared that laid upon the male, as there are more families with both spouses in paid-employment than in the past. Young and Willmott think these changes have occurred due to the vast rise in feminism, and that this has had a major impact on gender roles generally; females have started to reject the traditional housewife role due to the influence that feminism has had on their attitudes, they have fought a long and hard battle for equal rights in the workplace and in education. As a result of them practically 'winning' the battles to a certain extent more females are in paid-employment that in the last 50 years with lead them to become more financially independent which has also caused females to gain more freedom, equality and status inside and outside the home.
             Ann Oakley (1974) is a feminist who is critic of the Young and Willmott's symmetrical family study and isn't convinced by their evidence as she believes that occasional help from a husband like ironing his own trousers on a Saturday doesn't make him a 'good' husband and it also doesn't mean he is helpful in the home.

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