“it departs radically from a conception of separate spheres that characterizes them not only by gender but by social space. While the nineteenth-century formulation of the term mapped a distinction of public/private onto the gendered realms of activity, this twentieth-century reworking of the model takes its terms much more at face value by constituting both genders’ activities in the public realm of institutionalized regulation”. (Garnett, 1999, p.116)
Hence, from the evidence gathered from the working of BABS and LABBS, we can infer that women enjoy more freedom and higher status both within and without the institution of family than was previously the case. But one should detest from drawing broad generalizations based on this evidence alone. For example, it is true that British women, being citizens of an advanced economic and industrial nation, have gained advantages over their counterparts in other nations. But it would be misleading to believe that the attitudes of British men have changed at all in the last half century, when compared to how men in other cultures view the role of women. For example, it is true that
“Middle Eastern women are beaten for wearing un-Islamic clothing; Afghan women are abused and disenfranchised with or without the Taliban; Pakistani women are suffering domestic violence, including acid attacks and so-called ‘honour crimes’. If conventional discourse is to be believed, the front line in the ongoing struggle for universal women’s rights lies in the world’s poorest, most patriarchal and least democratic nations” (Walker, 2005, p.32).
It is then argued that in countries like Britain, where the standard of democracy is high and citizen enfranchisement is advanced, women do not generally undergo discrimination, violence and abuse that their less privileged counterparts suffer. But scrutinized properly, it seems that the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and the rights won as a result of it, has given a sense of complacency and a misplaced sense of satisfaction to women (Allan & Crow, 2001, p.23). The truth is less rosy than this as indicated by Amnesty International reports. Of all the advanced nations, the UK, the USA and Japan are striking examples of misconceptions about women’s liberation. For example, according to an Amnesty International report,
“abuses of women’s rights in the developed world are occasionally reported fully and accurately–as in Amnesty UK’s campaigns on domestic violence–but in general they are portrayed as isolated incidents and contrasted with widespread repression in the developing world…whereas in truth, they demonstrate that abuses in developed and developing countries are linked” (Walker, 2005, p.32)
This brings us to a key reason that has thwarted greater progress for women’s station in family during the last fifty years, namely deeply rooted sexual anxieties and insecurities of men. As scholars Werner Kierski and Christopher Blazina point out, one of the core reasons for the continuation of a subordinate role for women are men’s psychological fears of the opposite sex. What has been termed Fear of the Feminine (FOF) has been studied for close to two centuries now. But it was psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud who articulated clearly and at length some of these fear (the fear of men losing power over women expressed as ‘castration fear’). Later psychologists such as Horney refined and expanded this conception to account for men’s “dread of women and how this fear left men’s sense of masculinity on unstable ground” (Kierski & Blazina, 2009, p.156). Carl Gustav Jung is said to have emphasized the importance of the feminine in his definitions of healthy and unhealthy masculinity. Further, FOF is also observed on a more socio-cultural level, affecting the roles of both genders. The phenomenon is said to emerge from entrenched patriarchal social models and/or fears of feminine underlying the origins of misogyny. Moreover,
“Pielow (1998) refers to the feminine qualities living deep within the psyches of men as demonic forces. O’Neil et al (1986) widely used Gender Role Conflict Scale (GRCS) is theoretical built upon the FOF, men’s gender roles being derived in large part by the avoidance of those thoughts and behaviours seen as unmanly and connected to women. Nietzsche expressed his FOF clearly in his classic work, Thus Spoke Zarathrustra, by letting an old women offer the following advice to a man: “You go to women? Do not forget the whip!” (Kierski & Blazina, 2009, p.158)