Women are responsible for the vast majority of childcare in contemporary Britain
Women are responsible for childcare for a variety of reasons. Often due to the costs of private childcare, a mother staying at home becomes logical. Many women struggle to find convenient well paid jobs so conclude that it is not worth working. Another reason why the woman is often responsible may be that the family see it as only natural that the woman in the family should take care of the children. “Women are perceived as having the sort of emotional qualities necessary to nurture families and run the home” (Valentine, 2001, pg 65).
Also, maternal instincts are often assumed to grant women with greater ability than men when it comes to childcare. “Eco-feminists… see child-raring as a key experience that teaches women to be more caring and tender” (Rose, 1996, pg. 26). Finally, single mothers are often left with little or no choice than to raise their child alone and rely on childcare benefits provided by the state. “In the UK and North America at least, domestic work (housework and childcare for example) within the heterosexual family has often been assigned to women. (Holloway and Hubbard, 2001, pg 91). For these reasons and many others women are often the sex ‘left holding the baby’.
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This report will look at how this can affect a woman’s use of space, and how the negative side of this can be changed. When a woman has no outside work, her domestic restraints can make her see her home as a prison. Mothers at home with babies crave for interactions with other adults and for time away from their home dwelling. This is where their home is no longer a place of comfort and rest but a place of domestic labour.
Therefore, the structure of the nuclear family can lead to the home becoming a prison. “A key observation here is that the separation of home from work cannot apply when the work of one member of the household occurs in the home place. ” (Holloway and Hubbard, 2001, pg 91). Leading a more domestically influenced life can change the behaviour of a person. Ardener claims “Behaviour and space are mutually dependent” (Rose, 1996, pg 17). Mothers working full or part time often find it hard to find a job that will accommodate their needs.
Those women, who do work, work in low paid jobs within close proximity to their homes. Daily activity patterns are structured by the constraints on mobility presented by the presence of young children and the lack of access to the car. ” (Gregson et al. , 1997, pg 69) In society, we are surrounded by labels. A mother, for example, has the labels such as, mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, aunt, customer, co worker, to name just a few. As we conform to what is expected of us from each of these labels our use of space can alter dramatically. A mother thinks about what is best for her child.
Certain places will automatically become off limits for her as she puts the needs of her child first. For example one place the mother would not go includes smoky public houses. “The employment possibilities, the kinds of unpaid activities undertaken and the daily activities of young women… [With children] are defined within the ‘social constraints’ imposed by the ideology of gender roles” (Gregson et al. , 1997, pg 69) In order to confirm that a woman’s use of space is altered by childcare, mind maps can be produced and analyzed. This technique can show how well a person does or does not know an area.
Certain areas would be in less detail that they view as unsafe to take children, such as subways or public houses. Other areas would be in great detail such as school routes, parks and play areas. A woman involved in childcare’s use of space was first altered during industrialisation, when production moved from the home into factories. The home was no longer a work place for all the family but just for one. “Whereas before, cooking childcare cleaning and so on had been done on a collective basis, the communal style of living broke down and families became emotionally and physically more enclosed or privatized.
The definition of ‘home’ as a place separate from employment devalued the unpaid work done within it, precisely because it was not paid. ” (Valentine, 2001, pg 66). Being a full time carer for your own or someone else’s children can be a lonely experience. Children are unable to hold the intelligent level of conversation that a woman will crave. McDowell, 1999, explains how housework can be in worse conditions than paid work. It is an isolating experience and that it should be recognised for the amount of character and hard work that it requires.
It is even harder for a woman whose family has been out all day at school and work, while she has done the unpaid work of the house, for love, not money. “The very large majority of men work away from their homes and return there for rest and recreation… For Fathers and children alike these hours away from home bring new contacts, recreation such as clubs camps and games, as well as more serious interests. But in general the mother stays at home. ” (Spring Rice, cited in McDowell, 1999, Pg 74) Following the Second World War, the nuclear family took priority in house building. This was in hope of regaining, “The sanctity of family life”. Valentine, 2001, pg 66).
The designers and governments wanted to encourage this style of housing following the war because, “They were concerned about falling birth rates and argued that improved housing would persuade more women to have children and remove the temptation of outside work”. (Valentine, 2001, pg 66). As history tells, it did not work out this way. Women have fought their way to better maternity rights so that child bearing does not mean they do not pursue a career or outside interests. Despite this, the nuclear house is still popular on the market with a rise of single apartments.