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tv   Reel America Women in the Family of Man - 1971  CSPAN  March 29, 2021 1:15pm-1:46pm EDT

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of the university of michigan. >> this is university of michigan television. we nights this month, we're every weekend documenting america's story, funding for american history tv comes from these companies that support c-span3 as a public service. women in the family of man is a 1971 university of michigan broadcast that begins with a historical sketch of various times in society. the program moves to a studio substitution with a social work
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professor, and a electricer khur and philosophy. this is one of a ten-part series entitled "women and girls." >> -- it's sort of like a therapy to me. >> i don't know what commune is. is it a big family living in one house, is that what it is? i know in albuquerque they had communes. i don't know. i don't believe in non-marriage, people not married living together. ♪ ♪
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>> girls and women, images and realities. the university of michigan television center presents, a series of programs on the nature and potential of american women. your host is lyn mattoon at the department of philosophy at university of michigan. today's program, "women in the family of man" explores how women function in a variety of lifestyles. >> today the role of american women is being seriously re-evaluated. at the same time, the traditional family, the small grouping of father, mother, children is being questioned and challenged. signs of this are that the
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divorce rate is rising, many couples are choosing to live together without marriage. attitudes towards homosexuality are changing and communes or extended families are springing up everywhere and attracting a great following. young people in america seem to be saying no to suburbia. that reject the middle-class family and want to be something larger than this. to be in a group which understands the way to live, not just how to work, make money and accumulate property. sociologists explain this as modern technology and affluence. women, liberated by appliances no longer spend hours on domestic chores that they once did. new developments in birth control ensure smaller families and women have more time to themselves. also, their children are increasingly active outside the family sphere. the more time and energy on
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their hands, women take a more dominant part in public life. they go to school longer, and more than 40% of the adult women in the united states hold paying jobs. a new image has begun to emerge of what families are and what women can be within and outside on their own. in other societies past and present we find many alternative ideas of how people can live together. today in our program, we're going to explore several of these different lifestyles. in doing so, i think we'll gain a new perspective on the american family and, in particular, on the american woman. first, we'll look at examples of various living arrangements and discuss some of these alternatives with my three guests, an anthropologist, a sociologist and historian. later we'll visit the midwest commune and hear what people think about the new lifestyles. first let's look at living arrangements in several different cultures. >> the traditional family consists of a man, his wife and their children.
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they share their lives together forming a strict, intimate living unit typical in many societies. the larger family, the tribe, the community, the country is a group with a shared identity or interest. people function in both the biological family and in the society. the interesting thing is that they have found so many different ways to live and work together. perhaps the most basic human relationship is that of a man and a woman. in almost every society, their alliance is formalized by marriage, though marriage customs vary widely. one alternate lifestyle which is now growing increasingly popular in the united states is that of the unmarried couple. this girl and boy live together because they want to. their arrangement has not been legally recognized by marriage. with modern contraceptives, unmarried couples can live together without the fear of unplanned children. perhaps one of the greatest advantages found in unmarried
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relationships is freedom. the couple is free in that they can separate whenever they want to without paying for divorce. free relationships may be convenient for couples alone, but children create additional responsibilities. different families and societies have handled the upbringing of children in many distinct ways. let's look at the example of modern sweden. during the last two decades, the swedish family has been asked by the government to adapt so that men and women can share equally in public and private life. the government has promoted legislation to build communities in which it will be easier for both men and women to raise their children and work outside the home. however, recent studies suggest that the swedish family is not as emancipated as people often think. despite changes in education, boys still tend to go into certain fields and girls into others following the traditional male-female role concepts. women earn less and most occupations are still divided according to sex.
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in the soviet union, the family has been more fully socialized and revised than in sweden. since the 1920s, 80 to 90% of the women have been active in the labor force. many of them in arduous, untypically feminine fields such as medicine, agriculture and mining. the family has had to adapt to the government's policy that everyone must work. in many families, however, traditional sex roles are maintained at home even though the men and women may both have spent the day at the factory. some men seem to want to help at home but conceal the fact, not wanting to have it known that they have anything to do with woman's work. in a number of different societies throughout history, the basic family has consisted of a mother and her children with the father absent or not assuming an ongoing relationship in the family. during the days of slavery in the united states the family grouping that prevailed was that of mother and children, since
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men and women were sold separately and there was no such thing as official marriage among slaves. thus, until the time of the civil war almost every black child born in this country was born out of wedlock. many slave couples lived together as loyally as they could under slavery, but they were relatively free to separate at any time. since the civil war, american black women have tended to go to school longer and find better work opportunities than black men. a majority of black women have married men that are less well educated and often less favorably employed than they are. this naturally has created a different balance of power from the typical male dominated white family. women were of central importance in the society of many american
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indian tribes. villages made up of groups of families functioned as tightly organized entities, rather like communes in many cases. in tribes such as the iroquois and the pueblo, the power structure was matrilineal. the would would could put her husband out of her dwelling whenever she wanted to and he would have to go home to his mother. the dominant male figure was a woman's oldest brother. harvested crops became her property after she turned in a share to the tribe. women were thus a real force,
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she felt that the second coming of christ had taken place in her. in their religious practices, the shakers sang and marched in formations, the men and women always separate from each other. farming was the shakers' main support. they shared all property communally as people did in many of the utopian experiments of the 19th century. they developed a simple utilitarian style of crafts and architecture. the shakers worked with their hands, considering all work valuable no matter how menial. compared to neighboring independent farmers and laborers in the cities, the shakers lived well and worked short hours. the shaker life was one of discipline. a man and a woman could not even hang their coats on pegs next to each other. on the other hand, the idea of celibacy was attractive to many especially women who wanted to live and not participate in marriage.
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the communes of modern israel, men and women worked while their children are cared for and educated in a separate group. the rigorous lifestyle was chosen out of necessity, the need to make a new nation strong quickly. they represented a great change from the traditional patriarchal family unit. women were to be emancipated from the yolk of domestic service. there is marriage, but the woman does not take the name of her husband. at the same time, husbands assume no new obligations for their wives since the entire kibbutz is responsible for all its members. birth control is strictly directed by the commune, reflecting exactly what it think it could afford. children are raised by special nurses an teachers, but they spend part of each day and weekends with their parents.
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they sleep separately from their parents in dormitories. they eat, go to school and grow up with many other children. the kibbutz seem have not been a total success with women, 88% of women found themselves right back in service roles. many would prefer to be housewives doing domestic work on a smaller scale. some feel their maternal rights have been denied. most women would like to be able to spend more time with their children. still, from an economic standpoint, the kibbutz lifestyle has been a success for israel. the smaller family has been redefined, but the greater family has benefited. modern communes in the united states are many and varied in their attempts to solve the basic problems of providing food, shelter and companionship. some are small, others large. they can be found in cities and
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in the country. sometimes they are short experiments. others last indefinitely. some communes try to be self-sufficient. others make products to sell outside. some have community ownership of property. others are hardly organized at all. many have failed from lack of common purpose and commitment. whatever the setup, communes tend to help people rediscover the essentials of life. shelter is found, food is gathered and prepared, songs are sung and experiences are shared. the family has expanded in size, but it is still people together trying to enjoy living. >> here with me today to discuss these various life possibilities are dick english, assistant professor in the school of social work at the university of michigan, carol crumbly, phd candidate in anthropology at the university of wisconsin and kitty sklar, lecturer in history at the university of michigan. these various possibilities for
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family life and the role of women, do you think we can do without the family, or what kinds of options are there? you lived in israel. does the kibbutz offer a valid alternative to the family? >> i think it's one of the more successful that have been tried certainly in this century. some of the difficulties i think that are involved are the same ones we run into in terms of the commune or the community in the united states. in particularly in terms of the roles of women. women oftentimes end up as nurses and as elementary school teachers, even in the kibbutz, despite the fact that there's a division of labor and women go into the fields as well. >> the kibbutz was never designed to do very much for women. it was designed to do something for society.
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it seems to me, without really thinking what are the needs of women and how can we design our society around those needs, that you're not really going to get a situation that's significantly better for women. >> one of the ideas, though, was to do away with class differentiation. if you're going to do that, you have to do away with the kinds of things which are instituted in a class system. there are certain role models that people follow and women get shoved into those roles. the kibbutz is a valid effort, but there's a long period of history that they're having to overcome, i think. >> carol, there's been a good deal of searching and desire in america, particularly among the young for other forms of family life and relationships between men and women. what are your views on
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transplanting something like a kibbutz to america? >> well, i think a lot of the aspects of the kibbutz, for example, child care centers, day-care centers and this sort of thing could be very nicely worked into american life if enough people of varied social status, class and status, were involved in those things. i think we can't leave it in the laps of lower-class women, lower-class individuals to form their own daycare center and middle-class women be left at home to take care of things. >> who makes the decisions? >> that's a very good question. i think it's one that a lot of people in communes are asking. i think it's an important one because you have to look at educational styles, the way you teach children. >> yet, you know, carol, the thing i always think about is that certain family groups, like black families, for example and other ethnic and racial groups
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have made opportunities for child care, for example, grandparents who assumed a major responsibility. babysitting is unknown, for example, to many low-income persons, black and white. in other words, there are viable alternatives. >> resurrect the extended family as being one? >> i certainly think so. i think so. it takes on a different kind of function, if you will. that is, can take on a different function than in the past where it's been rather restricted, authoritarian, limiting in terms of the mobility for individual's geographic as well as social mobility. >> do you think black women are better suited possibly to respond to the new possibilities in society? >> i don't know that they're in better than white women. those are two different histories in this country. that would make a difference.
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>> let me be clear on what you're suggesting. to resurrect the extended family seems to be suggestive. you introduce a greater variety of roles in the family, rather than simply the husband and wife sharing the burden. you have grandparents, with their own sphere of operation and so on. you have an elaborate role system. >> i think so. in fact, i this i that's what happens now, that we, in fact, rely more upon extended kin than we're led to believe. we think of the nuclear family, the mother, father and children, being isolated, removed from other kin, not visiting frequently and so on. but at the same time, there's a good deal of evidence to suggest that there is more visiting among kin, sharing on institutionalized days, for example, a birthday, wedding anniversary, grandparents providing gifts for the children and so on. a good deal of sharing takes place. >> still not dealing with the basic problem which is having people who can take care of children around all the time. the kibbutz solves that problem and i think the commune does, too. even the newer planned communities, the new architect's designs are making an attempt to
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create an environment where older people, middle-aged people, younger people with children, unmarried people, could all live together in fairly close proximity. >> carol, that's not why it spread. that's not really why it spread. the advocacy for child care centers has been pretty much led by middle-class white women, and they've attempted to get universities to take on these types of functions. they've tried to get public institutions to take on those kind of functions, employment organizations and so on. yet, at the same time these organizations have not been able to respond to those demands effectively. here are we asking for the creation of new organizations? are we asking that old organizations, organizations formed for other purposes to
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take on these new functions? i would rather start with something we have. we do have a basic family unit, and can't we use that family unit in some new ways? it has changed, that is the family has changed a good deal over the years. >> you prefer to opt back to the family unit rather transcend the family unit, either in the sense of the kibbutz or commune which is a spontaneous collection of -- >> i guess i would ask for a variety of forms for different people, is what i'm really after, and that perhaps communal living is inappropriate for similar groups. it seems to be more opiate for the young and not the older or middle-age people. i wouldn't advocate it for those groups. yet, certain ethnic and racial groups would find it highly inappropriate to use some of the new forms developing in america. >> i think we're certainly at the dead-end of suburbia, nuclear family trap. it may be we're defining it as a trap when we're quite free to
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walk out. i think we will be discovering in the next ten years how free they are and can walk out with their own feet. >> walk out where? >> walk out to whatever the society can provide in the way of alternatives. as dick is suggesting, this is a thing certainly in a pluralistic society we'd want to promote, alternatives which we have mentioned some here, we can anticipate more innovation in the future. i guess different ways -- for instance, one of the alternatives we haven't mentioned yet is the decision not to have a family. this seems to me among the young people i know, a very viable alternative. that is, they're just not considering having children. this is something that is now possible for them. they don't have to plan for an eventual child which they at this point decided not to have. >> as much as i'm interested in changing roles of women, my
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particular interest is changes in status and class within society. that's exactly my situation. i don't intent to have a family, and i find myself having difficulty coming to grips with the same problems that middle class or lower class or any particular group of women come in contact with in terms of childrearing. what we need to do is draw more people who are facing this same sorts of problems into the solution of that problem. >> the options -- indeed, not getting married is also another thing that can be considered. it's certainly an option now. it's not exactly a viable one really. >> we can sit here and say that, yet at the same time there are so many forces in society that
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would tend to prohibit, if you will, or inhibit, if you will, women not getting married. there aren't the supports in society for the single woman, if you will, to say nothing of the single man. there are forces on the man as well. >> that's always been a peculiarly american trait, to limit the space in which women exist to a marital relationship, limit the roles they play to the roles of mother and wife. i think women are now finding that they are taking in their own hands whatever social instruments they have and clearing space for themselves and saying, i am occupying this space. i'm neither a mother or wife, i'm a human being. that seems to be very much the kind of thing that society is now tolerating because it is in a lot of changes, a lot of things in flux, and women are seizing this space perhaps while nobody is looking. i do think that it is more and more going to be a conscious decision rather than something that is in the slow process of social change as more and more
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people are making a personal decision and this gathers to the social movement. >> the personal decision is always countered by the societal reaction which in some cases is very strong. this is what a lot of people who are living in communities or communes or in an unmarried situation are running into again and again, that the society is always resistant to those kinds of breaking out on the part of any individual, much less women. >> it's very threatening, especially in a time of great change to have innovation right across the street from you. it is very, very uncomfortable to be living next to a commune if you feel those people are somehow not only in a different lifestyle, but this symbolizing a lot of other things, a lot of other differences which you can verbalize. >> what about the commune? it's curious we have sort of an individualistic society. people do tend to group now that
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the family is in a grouping, i think. hasn't been as strong as we would like to think it. the communes are sort of a spontaneous group, grouping perhaps because of like interest rather than -- i don't know what happens. is this the viable alternative? >> some communes i know are grouping themselves around a principle such as shared labor with no sexual distinction as to who washes dishes and who mows the lawns. >> how was that decided? >> that was decided very specifically and before the commune was formed. our group of people is dedicated to the following principle, that labor will be shared regardless of sex, relegation for specific tasks. >> you mean they swap tasks? >> no. they just -- whoever was around did what needed to be done. they didn't make a big deal about reversing things. this seems to be one way of forming a commune. that is, you have people that are interested in pursuing a certain principle.
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>> is that something that appeals to you? >> very much. >> are you saying that communal life comes into being out of some utilitarian need, that people want to group together? >> this is one possibility. definitely. >> the thing that bothers me about that is my impression awful communes has been one in which people have wanted to express a certain value position about life as it's commonly believed in america today. >> it's generally -- i think historically they're generally based on philosophical beliefs or religious, which would be in many senses the same thing. >> i know of a community, not a commune, and the distinction is based on the fact that there's more privacy in this particular one in the sense that they had planned individual houses which began along the lines of an educational experiment. >> thank you for being with us.
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i have to cut you off, dick, carol and trudy. we can hear what other people think about the new lifestyle. >> people here are living in a culture, in a completely different way and they want to spread that life all over the planet, you know, they want to change all the negative things that go on in society, and that's loosely what keeps us together. >> a commune, where people gather and it's like a different
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religion. anybody that gets a little too close together, all of a sudden animosities start to raise, and this is why i think living alone is a great thing, but i have a philosophy that is a great thing, and i think everything in moderation, don't give up anything. >> i would like to have a home of my own. >> i think marriage is changing, the idea that this is marriage for life, it's just not that way anymore. if they are not married they should not live together. >> i don't think there's ever going to be a big change in the family structure, it will remain with a husband and wife relationship with children until they are able to support themselves and go on. >> i don't think people want to be married anymore, they want to live together, i would. because i have been married twice now and i am only 24.
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>> i have never thought about that, to tell you the truth. >> there's an ethnic way of living that is what got me, but this new lifestyle, this younger generation of living, i think it's a real thing and i think they are going to set a new kind of lifestyle in this country. >> well, everybody makes their own life. what the heck? they can't find two peas in a pod alike, can you? >> this program was recorded in the ann arbor television studios at the university of michigan. ♪♪
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weeknights this month we are featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c-span 3. tonight a night of oral histories with korean war veterans. the korean war ended with an armistice agreement in 1953. we start with karl house as he recounts his part at the landing, a victory that turned the tide early in the war, and he talks about the battle of chosen reservoir where he was captured and details the conditions and the legacy foundation conducted this interview in louisville, kentucky. watch tonight starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern. although women nurses cared for soldiers as early as the


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