The different gender roles within the society and in particular in the marriage set-up differed depending on the individuals social status, upbringing, family values, beliefs and even the social class in which these individuals were brought up and ended up in. According to Jessi Streib in the book The Power of the Past Understanding Cross Class Marriages, as she discusses as to how class affects marriages and the diversity of different marriages and their social classes, she notes that these couples in most cases despite their upbringing and the standards of living, rarely changed their marital roles. Furthermore, these marriages did not only navigate around their difference in social class alone but also on their gender differences too. Often in marriage, gender is considered to be omnipresent which played an uneven role in molding sensibilities. According to Streib, sensibilities are the habits, beliefs, values and individuals pick up from childhood and mostly their lifestyle. In most of the scenarios of the interviewees that Streib sort information from, the wives were expected to manage the house whether or not they had a high education level or a well built career. In such cases, the availability of servants and maids did not deter them to instruct or give orders on their needs and how things should be done in and around the home. Some of the women worked without pay, meaning they were stay-at-home mothers and wives. They depended fully on their husbands for a livelihood and were never bothered by the fact that their duties were confined at and within the homes.
Contrary to this, whether the husbands were poor or wealthy, the role of providing for the family was very evident in all the stories and findings from the interviews. This did not in any way hinder their high-achieving wives in pursuing more in their education level, and careers. In most cases, both the husband and wife would support each other in the family provision, but the father was more the leader in making sure the family had all it needed. For instance, as Streib interviews, some of these couples concerning how they felt class affected their marriages, most of them did not consider their class background an issue until they visited their parents and in - laws. Differences depicted from the family members were evidence that parents played a big role in the way their children behaved in future and the way they would raise their own families. Contrary to this, despite the values that were instilled in the children from both classes of parents who were either blue_collar employees or white_collar employees, their children who happen to be the interviewees took up different roles in their own marriage set up where they formulated their own way of living, far from what was taught in their own homes. For instance, as Streib expounds on class and sensibilities he clearly states that,
Those from different classes shared their lives but not theirideas of how to live them their resources but not their ideas of how to use them, and their children but not ideas of how to raise them.
As in the case of either spouse moving for the other, the difference in the gender and number of making decisions in terms of the other spouses achievements, like a new or better job opportunities which sometimes required the other spouse to change jobs and moving to a different residential place depended on the agreements and preferences of the couple.For instance, one of the interviewees named Anneka and her husband William kept on moving from place to place because of the wifes nature of jobs. In the book, Anneka remarked that her husband Sam changed jobs and careers a couple of times because of her.
Anneka was a wife with a white collar job whilst her husband was a blue collar employee who gave up work and promotions he loved doing in order to support the career of his wife. In addition we can see that Anneka asked William to let go some of the jobs he used to do like the military job and in other instances, William had to give up working on the oil rigs which required him to be away from home for longer periods and instead chose to follow his wife Anneka to her new job.Generally, it is always thought and believed that women are the ones who follow their husbands to wherever place they had to go because of their jobs, but as we have seen in the case of William and Anneka gender is not really the determiner of who followed who. In the instances, despite the gender, the class of either of the couples was the determiner of who had to move for the sake of their partners careers.
Thirteen blue-collar-origin respondents moved for their partners career, whileonly two white-collar-respondents - one man and one woman moved for themspouses job.
The gender of who came from which class never mattered because couples from different class backgrounds both male and female either married from people of the same class or different classes. This is evident in most of the scenarios where either of the spouses came from a different class background; hence both men and women got married overlooking their class differences.
According to Coopers writings, it was the womens responsibility to secure the future of their children mostly because of the work that mothers put into their children in terms of emotional labor and the unpaid works they always apply to their children. On the contrary, some families with a high earning mother who had to work most of her time dictated that the father takes responsibility in helping to take care of the children. Traditionally, it is the women who are expected to take care of the home and the children whereas the father secured the financial well-being of the family. In some instances as mentioned earlier, the man had to support the wife in some of the home responsibilities despite the fact that he had to spend most of his day fending for his family. This is because the women who despite their high careers in their early days of the marriage had to quit working for the sake of their children and that is especially after they delivered their first child. Furthermore, their responsibilities for the children tend to increase with the increase in the number of children and their years. For example, Brooke had to attend to most of her childrens meetings at the school which dictated that her husband Paul remains home preparing the meals for the rest of the family a scenario that led Cooper to refer such marriages as neo-traditional because they deferred the stereotypic nature of labor division in most families.In some instances, the familys responsibility to either of the spouses might change with changes that come along the way in their marriage life. As in the case of Gina and Sam Calapato, Gina who is the wife had to take charge in maintaining the security of the family financially after the husband Sam had to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. Their roles changed indefinitely and Sam had to stay back home and take care of the home, by cleaning, cooking and helping their daughter Mindy in her school assignments.
Women were depicted to be the worriers of the families probably because they tend to be the individuals with more serious matters within the families hence the tendency of carrying a high level of stress and anxiety. Contrary to the wives, husbands portrayed characteristics of a carefree being that cared less and had the ability to have fun during very difficult times. The presence of unequal division of emotion reflected an imbalance in the division of psychic burdens in the families. In terms of whom among the couple worried more and why, it all depended on either of the couples personality or maybe the gender but in some instances, both combination of gender and the couples personality contributed.
According to Francis in Family Trouble, childrearing is usually highly gendered and in most cases has reorganized the division of labor within the house. Francis records that the relationships are transformed and strengthened. In the past few decades fathers have been seen to take up the roles of taking care of the children but women still hold the core places in child care. Despite these findings, stigma in child care among both the genders has clearly been identified but still women experience more forms of stigmatization compared to men. Compared to Cooper, Streib identifies some facts that contributed to the difference in personality that is created or molded by the difference of background classes. For example despite the fact that Anneka a white collar wife felt disrespected by her blue-collar husband who occasionally left his clothes all over and randomly for Anneka to pick. According to Anneka, her husband has not thought through on his maid services and at most instances, the instances of him leaving clothe cluster around the house were the main reasons they disagreed on. On the contrary, Lilian who is a stay at home mother but originally from a family of blue-collar parents had no problem with her husband not helping with the house chores. According to her, the husband is learned and he should not bother to attend to such. In addition, her position as a stay at home mother contributed to the fact that she was expected to take care of all the household duties. On the other hand, Cooper explains that the income in a family and their class determined how the couples related and how the dealt with some worrying issues within the home. For example, there are findings that depicted a difference in the division of security of work among the gender of the couples that differed with the difference in their social class and educational achievements hence the reflections of the development and economic changes of these families.
With all the findings registered by Streib and Cooper, it is evident that they succeeded in uncovering the intersections of class and gender inequalities especially through recording the different experiences in the different individuals and marriages. Streib and Cooper compiled lengthily on the issue making sure that reader understands the matter being discussed.
Jessi Streib, The Power ofthe Past. EBook. 1st ed (Oxford University Press, 2015)
Cooper Marianne. Cut Adrift - Families In Insecure Times. EBook. 1st ed. (University of California Press, 2014)
The Change in Family Norms
Traditionally, the normal family is viewed as one that the man takes up all responsibilities of taking care of the family by ensuring that all the financial needs of every family member are met. On the other hand, it is the duty of the woman to maintain the home by cleaning it and grooming everyone from the husband to the children. Child care is also a womans responsibility despite her level of education and the class background. This norm has been seen to take a different course in most families especially in the cases where there had to be an issue to be taken care of, these roles changed indefinitely. In some cases, the couples never had specified roles for each one of them hence both the wife and husband took up the duties in supporting each other around the home.
As described by Francis, some families fell apart in the cases where they were more expected to support each other psychologically, financially, emotionally and in any other ways possible. In the scenario of Sergio and Joan, where the condition of their child caused ripples in their relationship since they had different views of what the child was going through or what had to be done in order to see the child get better, their differences developed to be an issue that led to the need of them separating. Between them, Joan did more than Sergio in terms of seeking different help from different professionals. On the other hand, Sergio was more laid back and car...
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