Social breakdown in Britain and Feminism(41 Posts)
I've been reading up on social Breakdown in Britain...and trying to understand the contributing factors. There is little point in denying that things are quite bad....with teens at risk in so many ways and vulnerable members of society being neglected....violence inthe streets and communities which are falling apart...can anyone tell me how they feel women's position in society has been affected by the gradual decline of the traditional community?
Or any thoughts in general?
Sorry it's vague....I come here to get my thoughts crystallised!
[intellectual vampire emticon...with bunny ears]
The thing with the 'traditional community' is that it depended on women's low status and unpaid work, so it's destruction is a Good Thing. That's what's being whined about when people moan about the good old days - that women (and ethnic minorities) no longer Know Their Place and have this pesky idea that they are human beings entitled to autonomy and a living wage.
The main contributing factor to social breakdown is economic inequality and all the factors that have been put in to place to make it harder and harder for those who are born poor to make better lives for themselves.
I think this whole 'social breakdown' thing is a bit of a myth - there was a hell of a lot more street violence, alcohol abuse and horrible communities in Victorian Britain than there are now... and as for vulnerable members of society - hmm. I think they are probably better protected now, as people are more aware of mental health issues, special needs etc. than they have been before. I'm not sure when the 'golden age' when everything was nice and lovely was supposed to be.
But what about things like the rise in bodies being discvered months and even years after the have died? Due to not having an extended network of family or neighbours in the community?
I know things were bad during the VIctorian Era...but things improved in some ways...sanitation, medical care etc.
People constantly went missing and were murdered before now, it wasn't reported as much because it was so common. I think you are idealising this 'extended network of family or neighbours in the community' - abusive families and people existed then too, and they had much more power than they do now due to their being no police force, no social services. Absolutely nothing to stop a man coming home drunk and beating the shit out of his wife and children. Medical care was very, very basic. Have you been watching The Crimson Petal and the White? Quite a good depiction of what life was like for many people in Victorian England.
Any child born with special needs until quite recently (say after WW2) was either put in a horrible home or quietly suffocated One of the queen's uncles was kept entirely out of the public eye for his entire life and they pretended he didn't exist, just because he had epilepsy and some other special needs.
Yes....the dark side of the "Golen Age" was that so many had no power at all...women and children mainly! Then why all this talk of broken communites in the UK? What HAS changed?
Have you ever heard the phrase 'Every age believes itself to be in crisis'?
Can't remember who said it now, but I think it's true. People always look back to a 'golden age', usually 50 or 60 years previous and say everything was so great then and now it's all going to shit - but in general life for most people gets better as time goes on, at least that's been true in the UK.
No....I haven't heard that but it sounds like a pretty astute thought! Interesting that the time scale of the purported Golden Age is the age at which a generation begins to deteriorate....so my Mum is aged 60 and she thinks so much of "what goes on today" is shocking....whilst I am questioning it..trying to work it all out....my niece at 21 is simply living her life...having a good time..
Everyone always looks back on the time of their youth with rose-tinted specs.
Throughout history you find people complaining about the fact that men with less than 500 pounds worth of property can now have the vote, and it's going to be the end of all civilisation, or people reading the Bible in English means that Europe is going to hell etc. etc.
I think with our own time, so much more is reported in the newspapers than it ever was. 80% of stuff you'll find reported today would have been suppressed as being 'too shocking' 50 years ago. E.g. it was considered completely out of order to report ANYTHING remotely scandalous to do with the royal family, or to mention anything sexual. Plus we have things like 24 hour news, and loads of papers, and they have to find something to fill up the pages!
True....about the "too shocking" thing...society was more protected in the past than it is now.
You've comforted me hugely!
I think things are better now than in the 1950s. So many people then were considered undesirable and locked away in institutions for their entire lives.
In the 1950s my grans' next door neighbours' daughter got married to a Catholic boy. My gran had to sneak into the back of the chapel so that she could tell the mother of the bride about her daughter's wedding day. There was no way on this earth that she or any of the family would have attended.
Further down the street a girl my mum's age disappeared for a few months and then came back, never quite the same. It was rumoured (and probably true) that she'd been off to have a baby. It was fairly certain given what came out in later years that the baby's father was also its grandfather.
A nice suburban street in an unexceptional Scottish town. Oh happy days.
I agree with GoldBrass that part of the problem is economic.
After WW11 The government commissioned social researchers and "experts" like Bowlby to tell women that there place was in the home. Moral panic about women having too many freedoms and the fact that men needed work.
Rising standards of living, rising wages and inventions that made domestic life much easier for women. All great. Except for the fact that politicians created this moral panic about women and child rearing.
So in short, from 1945-1970, Britains golden (?) age of high ( male) employment, rising wages, inventions and rising living standards. Grammar schools probably offered route out of poverty or total dependance upon a male to some bright working class girls. Although most womenprobably considered that marriage was the best way to ensure some economic security.
However In real terms living standards and wages have remained stagnant for 30 years. We expected rising wages and living conditions so many women started to work.
The womans movement is not responsible for higher male unemployment, lower working class employment and family break up. Big corperations jumped on the womens lib bandwaggon because they realised they would make twice the proffit with 2 workers for the price of 1.
So broken Britain is a bi-product of capitalism and poor policy making from our politicians and has nothing to do with womens rights. It has far more to do with Tory Government policy and the crushing of the working class industries and the constant greed of banks and large businesses.
I agree with the comments above. Things were much worse in the past, but reporting is much better now and we are more aware. Although, according to the Daily Mail, it is my fault that there is a Broken Britain!
Oh yes i am a Single Parent and I dare to get on with my life, have a career and have two amazing teenage daughters who hopefully won't put up with any rubbish from men either!
Sorry, I've had some vodka, but it feels like its always the womans fault if there's something 'wrong' in society
I think myself and a lot of my friends would prefer it if we didnt have to work full time. I dont at the moment but its very likely I will have to in the future. My friends do as well and I think it makes it harder when you both work full time with children. Unfortunately its what a lot of people have to do nowadays as everything is so expensive.
I dont think its ideal for children and communities for both parents to work full time but lots of people have to.
I think Broken Britain is just a conservative party construct designed to attack anyone having fun.
Agree with what others have said, there has never been a time when everyone lived in a golden age. Every generation has its own issues to deal with. Ours is drugs and pornification IMO. If you're a loon, you'll probably think it's immigration and feminism... depends on which side of the argument you're on. People 40 years ago were worried aobut nuclear war and population explosion (and in some cases immigration and feminism) - but then, Victorians were worried about population explosion and rising crime.
For every generation the one issue that has always, always been a problem to wrestle with and has never gone away and never will while we have capitalism and probably patriarchy, is the distribution of the earth's resources. And for some reason, that's not soemthing each generation of media and wanky politicians get so upset about.
HerBEggs, I would have thought that the economy and the rise in general xenophobia are bigger problems than drugs and porn.
See I don't think there has been a rise in xenophobia. I think we are more tolerant that we used to be.
And the economy has always and will always been an issue...
Whereas the hijacking of the sexuality of the next generation and the constant message to girls and women that only their sexiness and up for it-ness matters, is a big issue which will affect the relationships between the next generation of citizens and affects the safety of women.
And drugs are implicated in so many crimes and lack of productivity and illness and relationship breakdown etc. (I'm talking about mostly legal drugs btw)
But we could choose any number of issues and say these are the ones which matter. I plucked those two out because dealing with them would solve a whole load of stuff short term. But they are symptoms of problems ratehr than causes. Pornification wouldn't happen if we had equality . Drug use wouldn't matter if resources were shared out fairly and people were happy enough not to let their drug use control their lives.
Am being simplistic here ...
What others have said. It's not breaking down, it's changing. I'm the older generation <sobs bitterly> and I miss several aspects of the Britain I grew up in, but it was a Britain that could be ruthlessly cruel to non-conformists especially if they were women.
What about the Magdalen Laundries and the 'caring' society that fed them? What about "No Dogs Or Blacks"? How about the innumerable care homes which are still, to this day, being revealed to have been child abuse factories? I, too, have plenty of tales about horrible things that happened to neighbours and were brushed firmly under the (non-fitted) carpet.
If British society is broken now, it was more broken then.
For an entertaining insight into "how women's position in society has been affected by the gradual decline of the traditional community" you could always get hold of some of the most popular TV shows of my youth:
On The Buses
Till Death Us Do Part
The Benny Hill Show
The Black & White Minstrels
The Liver Birds (this was a feminist breakthrough!)
and Les Dawson's retrospective on Ena Sharples
I think the promotion of the individual as having more value than the community is to blame, and that's been a conscious effort to make us into consumers.
I found this series fascinating and thought provoking:
The Century of the Self
Prunnhilda, you've perfectly summed up the aspects of social change that I regret. However, 'the community' viciously punished those who couldn't/wouldn't/didn't fit in or contribute as the community demanded.
Oh I know. There never was a golden age.
(Promise I'll shut up after this one!) Did you know that physically handicapped children and deprived children were still being classed as "educationally subnormal" in the late 1970s? Warnock Report, 1978.
I'm not really following why you entitled this thread Social Breakdown in Britain and Feminism. What's feminism got to do with social breakdown? Is there a reason you connected the two?
dttanyI don't know....as said in the OP I am a bit of an inellectual vampire...I come here because I learn tonnes....if there was anything to learn about social change I wanted hear it from Feminists. I sppose a better title may have been "Social Breakdown: A Feminist's Point of Veiw"
Thanks for the links Prunnhilda and garlic.....
Actually, though I do feel that xenophobia is on the rise again, and so is woman-hating superstition, things are still getting steadily better. Because I very much doubt that anyone can point out a time or indeed a place with more offered in the way of human rights to women (and gay men, and ethnic and religious minorities) than the present-day developed world. All these 'golden ages' always depended on having a slave class who accepted slave status (usually women).
What woman hating superstition SpringChickenGoldBrass?
The major religions, I believe
Society used to cull its young men ruthlessly through warfare.
We are now living through a different shape society as this has not been done in Europe for over a generation, at a time when the world popoulation has rocketed. I think you can fairly point to changed pressures on society in those terms.
Oh dear garlic is being a Christian completely against feminist ideals? I'm a Christian and have always thought of myself as a Feminist.
I like your point, Edith, so I'm going to pick it up and run with it a little.
A greater proportion of men living in a society might lead to reduced competition amongst females for a mate.
This might free the females up for a wider range of activities, and allow them to channel their competitiveness in other directions.
There might be more competition amongst the males for a mate.
This might result in more male grooming activity and males trying harder to please the females.
Without war to channel male competitiveness, males might seek other outlets.
This might lead to increased civilian violence amongst males.
Received male and female values, which were predicated on a different balance of the sexes, might prove not to be useful for current generations.
This might lead to widespread questioning of gender roles and some insecurity amongst both males and females.
Historically, nature appears to have redressed population imbalances by means of disease or natural disaster if there was insufficient war or famine.
Is this truly the case, or is it just a convenient lie I was taught at school?
SFBB, I know there are plenty of feminist christians, muslems, jews, hindus et al! I'm sure it depends on your interpretation of your scriptures. I'm also sure, though, that all religious fundamentalism is oppressive to women and is on the rise worldwide.
I don't think it's accurate to say that society culled males.
Wars were actually quite few and far between and only a very small number of men participated in them. Even in the 100 years war, it wasn't actually going on for every second of every hour of those 116 years...It was only in the c20 that the industrialised scale of warfare was first seen.
The social breakdown thing is a bit of a myth. Go out on to the streets of Victorian London. you would find women and men addicted to drink. There were openly child sex brothels. Every generation has had people who couldnt' cope. There was no past nirvana of everyone happily coupled off and coping well. Most childern under 5 died. If there is a nirvana it's now where most people are fed and people have benefits that ensure in general they don't die of starvation and people are obliged to stay with a partner who is unbearable to them.
I think a lot of these myths of a golden age have arisen because the people who mythologise them lived through them as members of the privileged classes ie children of the well-off who were pretty sheltered. If you were growing up in a middle class or upper classe family in (for instance) the Victorian era or the 1950s, your life would probably have been fairly lovely (assuming that there wasn't actually a paedophile or a seriously nasty bully in the family, then it would have been hellish as there would have been no escape and you would have been blamed for any abuse you suffered rather than believed and protected) and you would not really have encountered the poor and the desperate apart from at arms' lengt such as being encouraged to put your sweetie money in the poor box at Lent.
Most people have never had much money and never will. Plenty of them are doing better now than in Victorian or Elizabethan or 1950s England. Even the middle class in the 50s still had rationing and most had no servants and no central heating. The fact divorce rates rise is often a great sign of progress and means children and women are happier. It's cultures where women are trapped in marriage for life with no money or power where life is worse. Thus a high divorce rate could be something the state should show off about as a sign of progress.
LOLOL Xenia, I hope you've shared that piece of wisdom with David Cameron.
I agree with you actually. In a way. I don't think it means that women and children are necessarily happier, but I do think it mans their expectaion of being happy, is higher.
I'm in danger of becoming a sycophantic Xenia slimeball! (Or: I heart Xenia.) Don't agree with all your opinions, milady, but I love your awareness of the "mud that grows the flowers".
Drives me nuts that Dickens et al put all that effort into portraying the real desperation of Victorian life, and all we have left is a sanistised image of the flower girl! Still, they effected real change in his time. Maybe more commentators need to get out on the streets today ...
They certainly did. Women went from not even being able to own property ultimately to getting the vote. I am sure Camerons knows lots of friends who have divorced and are happier and indeed his own mother in law I think is in that category and his wife is none the worse for her broken home.
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