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How, when and why the family originated cannot be determined for sure but social scientists have provided intelligent speculation on features of early family life based on the lives of primates, tools and home sites of prehistoric humans, and family iife of hunting and gathering communities.10
The definition of family as "a married couple or other group of adult kinfolk who cooperate economically and in the upbringing of children, and all or most of whom are in a common dwelling" includes various forms of kin-based households."
Other features that marked the early family included those that favored gender equality, on the one hand, and those that helped paved the way for gender subordination, on the other. The former included the social recognition of marriage as a long-term relationship between individual men and women with the possibility of divorce or separation; and the initial ascription or understanding of paternity as social rather than biological.
1. The Sexual Division of Labor, Men's Tools and Women's Tools
Hunting and fishing are an overwhelmingly male preoccupation while women gather or forage. Women are responsible for children, shelter and the attendant tasks of cooking, processing and food storages. They are also skilled in household crafts such as basketry, leather work, making skin or bark clothing and pottery. Men engage in warfare although interband conflict is uncommon.
This sexual division of labor is elaborated with the emergence
of the pairing marriage and the family-household. The development of hunting gives rise to specialized tasks of cooking, clothing preparation from bark and animal skins, and building of shelters.
and the protracted stages of pregnancy and child care. Practical necessity and survival dictated that men hunt and pregnant women (and later, women generally) stay at home and do housework, along with child care. But this division of labor was complementary and cooperative, not hierarchical or reflecting a dominant-subordinate paradigm.^
Still the fact that men exercised some degree of authority over women in the household is observable/'Some writers cite the differential development of men's and women's tools as one probable cause of this. Men engaged in hunting which required aggressive and potentially death-dealing tools such as the spear and bow-and-arrow. Their tools likewise served to fend off predators or an attacking band or tribe. Women foraged and later developed horticulture which essentially meant nurturing life from the earth and the domestication of animals. Their tools, such as the hoe, were life-giving.12
The "separate but equal" gender division of labor was not inherently discriminatory but the fact that women undertook tasks identified with the household and men were responsible for war, hunting and government gave men the edge. Thus men enjoyed relatively greater status and authority over the women in their families, even in matrilineal societies with descent traced through the female line.
A closer look at hunting and gathering societies in modern times provides some clues to patterns of family existing before the ascendancy of agrarian modes of production and larger households. There is relative egalitarianism of social life with resources communally owned, tools and personal possessions freely shared, leadership based on intelligence, bravery and wisdom, and a division of labor based on sex and age. The household is the main economic unit with men, women and children dividing the labor and enjoying the produce in common.
Social organization is based on the family and, later, the band. With increased food productivity from the domestication of plants and animals, tribes emerge encompassing several thousand people organized into kin groups. Greater development of productive forces gives rise to centralized political leadership expressed in the chief domain.
The spheres of male and female labor may have been separated but relationships were relatively egalitarian. Maintenance of the family and the early human community was based on a partnership between women and men.
Much of the foregoing holds true for the baranganic or village-based communities in pre-colonial Philippines. Land is communally owned, leadership is based on courage and intelligence, not wealth, and there is a non-rigid sexual division of labor. The family-household is the main social and economic unit but with the elaboration of social structures, tribes develop and centralized political leadership provides the basis for social stratification.
The destructive potential in men's tools helped invest in them greater power in the family and community. Yet one feature of hunting societies is cited to explain latent male dominance: the fact that hunting tends to be a group or social activity among men vis-a-vis the more individuated work of women. Such collective character of hunting and defense and its aggregation of power in men is a plausible explanation for greater male dominance in the spheres of leadership and key public rituals.14
The spheres of male and female labor may have been separate but relationships were relatively egalitarian. Maintenance of the family and the early human community was based on a partnership between men and women.
The precolonial Filipina's status may be adduced from historical records and from the situation of women in non-Christian tribal minorities. In precolonial times the existing sexual division of labor was not overly-rigid. Although not the norm, men were known to undertake housework and child care. Women enjoyed certain civil, property and political rights. They were known to engage in trade and farming and could pass on property to their
2. Gender Subordination and Class Society
Humankind's increased productivity that generated surplus wealth has been key to understanding the long and complex historical process through which certain strata, and later, classes, exercised economic and political dominance in society with control over the means of production.15 this process exploited and accentuated existing non-hierarchical gender differentiation;
eventually transforming and rigidifying it into a system of economic and social relationships that subordinated the female sex.
Two other developments were crucial in this supercession of female by male modes of production — advances in metallurgical crafts (relative to women's crafts whic,h did not use metals) and the supplanting of female horticulture by large-scale agricultural production, increased wealth in herds, crafts and agricultural produce reinforced the dynamic that shifted a more communal mode of production to a more private ownership of the means of production.
How was this achieved, given the existence, if not predominance, of matrilineal descent in early human communities?,
The world historical overthrow of mother right (according to Engels) was not achieved in one apocalyptic moment but must have encompassed various interlinked developments over a prolonged period of time. The following discusses the significance of patrilocality and patrilineal descent.
Patriiocality meant a man's choice of family base upon marriage which usually implied that a couple joined the man's family. Matrilocality meant a wife's choice of family base, usually her family. Within the context of matrilineal descent, this system meant a woman contributing her productive and reproductive labor to a family-household or clan composed of brothers and sisters traced through the female line. Matrilineal descent diffused power, wealth and authority because it rested on collateral (and more horizontal) blood lines as opposed to patrilineal descent which unequivocally .established the line from father to son to grandson and so on. This vertical line of relationship tended to concentrate power and authority and had a greater capacity to nurture the emerging impulse for concentrated and more private claim to increased wealth in herds, crafts and agricultural produce. Matrilocality eventually yielded to patrilocality, and unilineal patrilineality prevailed over the more diffuse matrilineal line of descent.16
Maternal altruism and the devaluation of female labor account for the lower regard for women and their needs within the household. Wives and mothers are expected to be self-sacrificing for children and spouses. On the other hand, since the work women do at home is taken for granted and not considered significant in the same manner as men's work, the paid work they do outside the home is viewed as less important and thus draws in lower wages.
This inequality within the domestic sphere is the cause of household conflicts as in quarrels over money (the lack of it, the husband's vices such as gambling and drinking which drain the family's resources), and over time (men's separate activities that keep or exempt them from household chores and child care.)2
'There can be no long-term resolution of domestic conflicts without equality within the family-household and the economic and emotional independence of women; economic independence so women need not remain within a bad relationship for fear of going hungry and without shelter and emotional independence so that women do not simply live through, in and for men.
3. Man as Head of Household
The paradigm of a male breadwinner on whom a wife and children depend for support logically presupposes that a male or husband is head of the household. This is a bare statement of asymmetrical relations based on gender and age that obtain within a household. The belief that children should be "seen and not heard" still holds true in many Filipino households. The common dependency of women and children is reflected in their common categorization (as in the erstwhile Bureau of Women and Minors renamed Bureau of Women and Young Workers).
The notion of man the breadwinner is drawn from the concept of "man the hunter" of prehistoric times. Both allocate to the male the more active role of providing food and economic sustenance for the family and community, a role which carries over into the sphere of decision-making and politics.
This belief did not reflect the whole of reality then, nor does it now. Early human communities survived and sustained themselves as much through food gathering or foraging as through hunting. Since hunting meant expeditions over far distances that lasted long periods, it was the fruits and berries women gathered that fed communities on a more regular basis. Horticulture and
animal domestication are believed to have originated with women. During the period of agricultural economies, women and children were integrated into the household that produced for both consumption and exchange. Ths existing sexual division of labor did
not necessarily mean inequality for everyone's labor was regarded as necessary and significant.
The onset of industrial capitalism meant the breaking up of this integral unit. Large-scale production required the concentration of male workers in factories. What emerged wi-th capitalist production was a male wage worker and a household maintained by female labor which served to daily replenish or reproduce male labor. Production was effectively separated from consumption with a family or household dependent on the male's wage to provide the necessities of food, clothing and shelter.
In the past two decades women have increasingly entered the work force, spurred as much by changes in global capitalism as by the erosion of wages and living standards that make a second income necessary for family and household survival. Nearly one-third of the formal labor force is female and the subsistence informal sector of the economy is predominantly female. More and more family-households depend as much on male as on female incomes. The paradigm of a male-headed household with man as
sole or primary breadwinner is neither empirically nor conceptually valid.
4. Multiple Roles and the Double Burden
The corollary to man as breadwinner is woman as housewife. Under the conjugal contract a husband provides economic support and some services at home while a wife delivers a whole range of domestic services with few limits on her time and energy. Women suffer' a number of inequities under such relationship, one being the unequal valuation of wage work and domestic labor. Another is that even as women move from home to the productive sphere of wage work or production for exchange there is no comparable movement of men into domestic work to ease female labor there. Thus women shoulder a double burden.
Woman as housewife is as much a myth as man is head of household. Most lower class women are hardly fulltime housewives, occupied as they are with activities to augment household income, e.g., poultry, pig-raising, petty sales, trading, vending. Housework is only part of the labor undertaken daily by urban and rural poor and working class women.
Most women play four roles on the average: housekeeper, wife to her husband, mother to her children, and worker for pay or domestic consumption. Since the first role is regarded as primary by culture and tradition and the last role is an economic necessity, little time and energy are left for the roles of wife and mother. It has been observed that with the birth of offspring, couples focus the relationship on their children (addressing each other as 'Papa" and "Mama" or Inay and Itay) rather than on each other. Communication and dialogue suffer and the marriage deteriorates, held together only or largely by the bond of children.
Lacking social or private support systems, a workingwoman (especially a working mother) is unable to complete equally with men for jobs, pay and promotions. Domestic labor is directly related to work absenteeism and to lack of training that disqualify her from better jobs and better pay. Juggling the demands of home and work, she cannot excel at either. She is caught in this vise until the children are grown up by which time it may be too late to make up for lost ground in terms of training, seniority and skills required.
The intersection of class and gender creates in many Filipinas a conservatism that serves to prop up the status quo. The gendering process assigns to women the task of safeguarding home and hearth and, by extension, the social order. This conservatism is reinforced by the fact that women workers do not have the relative luxury of time for union or community involvement that enables male counterparts to broaden their horizons and develop political awareness.
Younger women are facing hard choices of marriage or schooling, marriage or work, work or family, husband or union. Choosing one, the other, or both comes at a high price — the double burden or foregoing marriage or motherhood. These are painful choices women are forced to make for so long as family-household means that they subordinate their growth and development to the needs of husband and children.