Governmental Family Policy
The modern working woman is struggling to balance work and family. The Second Wave of feminism has pushed her into the workforce, promising its ideals of equality in wages and in the home. However, many women find themselves in a world that devalues their work in home and in the workplace. Our society has not yet caught up to the Third Wave of feminism, which attempts to break down the traditional gender roles our constructions of work and family are based on. Many are hoping that government intervention through work policies that reflect the demands of an egalitarian family will be able to propel men and women out of the "stalled revolution".
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That may explain why the government is avoiding a proactive role, but another question must be addressed as to why our society is looking to the government for a solution to the modern gender dilemma. The government does not have a good track-record when it comes to representing the historically oppressed. The government has helped support the patriarchy that exists in our workforce today and still stands to benefit from it.
Why would the government attempt to break down our traditional "bread winner" society?
If anything, the government benefits the most from this construction. As long as the value of work relies on dedication and long hours, the United States will continue to have the hardest working labor force in the world. This is a bad situation for men, who are under pressure to maintain the "bread winner" title and miss out on quality time with their family. This is a bad situation for women- working mothers especially- who have to compete on the same level with men for less money, and still bear most of the burden of the "second shift."
But, this situation is by no means bad for the government, at least in their perspective. The less equality women achieve in the workforce, the poorer they are compared to men, and society can hold on to model of the "traditional" family a little while longer. The picture of women achieving their full potential in the workplace and independence from men is a scary one for the conservative forces in power. That would just lead to divorce, single mothers, delinquent children, homosexuality, and who knows what else.
If this is all true, then it becomes dismal that any party in the government will be willing to destruct this oppressive machine that had worked in its favor for so long. But, there has been a growing interest in United States for these work policies and a growing pressure to follow the path led by Western European countries.
Western Europe's social benefits that relieve the pressure on working families are a great example of how a former patriarchal society has attempted to right the wrongs- even if it was for completely the wrong reasons. Did even these governments intend to promote gender equality, or was it just another attempt to further capitalism? "I'd like to think that the reason why the boys are now so interested is that they've seen the light- the innate justice and good sense, etc- but in truth, the interest is far more to do with electoral strategy" (Bunting, 1).
The same strategy can be used here in the United States by the parties. "Work-life balance is now regarded as the political equivalent of unexplored Antarctica- virgin territory with huge potential" (Bunting, 1). If only John Kerry would have utilized this strategy. The majority of mothers voted for George W. Bush, proving the good looks of John Edwards were not enough to win the hearts of the female vote. "Politicians who talk about the work-life balance show some understanding of the aspirations of...