AS Socioology: Ann Oakley

In lesson today there was some debate over Ann Oakley’s feminist position. It is hard to categorize her as one type, interestingly, most people seem to identify her as a Marxist feminist, but she herself merely calls herself a feminist:

‘When I say I’m a feminist what do I mean? I mean that I believe that women are an oppressed social group, a group of people sharing a common exclusion from full participation in certain key social institutions (and being over-represented in others). Women in Britain in the 1980s are still subject to the awful soul-destroying tyranny of being told the meaning of their lives by others in terms which are not theirs.’ Taking it Like a Woman, 1984, p186.

‘All women are feminists at heart. In their psychology lies a great love for women as a class. But it’s interred beneath a great mound of rubbish.’ Taking it Like a Woman, 1984, p197.

‘…it has become acceptable for a husband to ‘help’ his wife; provided he doesn’t help too much, it is regarded as probable that his masculinity will survive, The concept of ‘help’ here is obviously political…’ Becoming a Mother, 1979, p211.

‘Male-dominated culture has designated as female all labours of emotional connectedness… The principal mode of developing this sensitivity in women is the gender-differentiated nuclear family. Women mother. Daughters are transformed into mothers. An autonomous sense of self… does not need to develop. Women’s sense of identity is thus dangerously bound up from early childhood with the identities of others. Not so for men, who as little boys look into their mothers’ faces and see what they learn is not a reflection of their own… So if it isn’t in love that women are lost, it’s in the family. The tension between the interests of the family and the interests of women as individuals has been rising for some two centuries. It is not possible for these interests to be reconciled.’ Taking it Like a Woman, 1984, p201.