Victoria Robinson and Angela Meah (2002) ''For Better or
Worse?': Heterosexuality Reinvented'
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Received: 18/2/2002 Accepted: 29/8/2002 Published: 31/8/2002
I believe that one of the biggest difficulties our mothers have is our husbands do not realise we ever need any leisure time. My life for many years consisted of being penned in a kitchen 9 feet square, every fourteen months a baby ... So many of our men think we should not go out until the children are grown up. We do not want to be neglecting the home but we do feel we like a little look around the shops, or if we go to the Clinic we can just have a few minutes ...It isn't the men are unkind. It is the old idea we should always be at home (Spring Rice, 1939:94).
'A lot of it's to do with women going out to work and having money to be independent and they've got the family at home and pay someone else to look after the family, and they go into situations of temptation, and that's why marriages break up, so it's all down to money' (Focus Group 3).
I've done it ever since we've been married and I can honestly say that it has never bothered me … 'cos he does a job and I haven't had a job, I mean I do a bit of voluntary now, but I never had a job, so therefore I've never asked him to actually. He does the decorating and he'll do the gardening, but I don't expect him to cook a meal when he comes in' (Focus Group 1).Her view was also echoed by both older and younger women within the group, who cited female friends who were pleased to leave their paid work when supported financially by a male partner.
Anne: I wanted to work because I enjoyed my job. So therefore it made my marriage better because frankly I was a misery when I wasn't working.These participants in Focus Group 3 also emphasise the importance of career to women now, an opportunity they had been denied.
Emily: I think you're a more interesting person, you're not orientated all the around the children. You've got more to talk about, you can come home and, wider interests all round (Focus Group 3).
Joyce: There were a lot more crowds, tennis clubs and all sorts of things. And you mixed with a great variety (of people)
Edna: Again, you're coming back to the type of, I don't like to call it station, Joyce, like many of them here, went to grammar school and you met a type of person who had either the ability to have interests, or the money and the background, and they tended to want to do those things. Now, you can only speak from that area, can't you? You can't say whether that would be the same if you hadn't the money (Focus Group 3).
AM: What does equality mean to you?
Ada: I would have thought it might be mental.
AM: Sort of an intellectual thing?
Ada: Yes, yes.
AM: Someone said to me that it also meant someone that would share their morals and values.
Ada: Yes, yes, it might have that as well. But you wouldn't want someone that couldn't put two words together, would you?
(Focus Group 6).
I think it's hard for women any road today because you can't, you can't do anything right, there's always something, oh, judging you, pressurizing you and it's just like a big boiling pot really that everybody jumps into it, and you've just got to scramble to get back out, really.
We had one girl in the WAAF, …and she was a very, very nice girl, she was lovely girl. And she got on with this (guy/guard) …and he invited her to his home for the weekend to meet his family and then when his parents were out, he persuaded her to have sex with, and it was the first time she'd ever been with anybody, didn't want to, but then she gave in and she became pregnant. And she had to go into a mother and baby home to have this baby, and then have it adopted …And I've often wondered how she went on. She was a lovely girl, you see, she brought shame on her family (Focus Group 6).
I think in long term relationships, it can get confusing… All these feelings, …there's comfort and closeness, … And trying to think is that love in there as well? And how big is it in there, how big is it, these other feelings? I don't know, I found it complicated. …There wasn't something obvious I could look in my head, …And say "Ding, there's the answer!" ' (Focus Group 2).
Phil: Yeah, equal, equality means, yeah, that they're [.] willing to negotiate and willing to [( )]
Andy: [(I think it's about finding)] common ground as well.
Ian: Common ground.
Phil: Especially if the common ground moves and they're willing to go with it.
Phil: They're willing to be open to,
Andy: They're willing to go with the flow.
Andy: That they're willing to, rather than sticking to breadwinner…
…he said to us both, "I want to ask you a question. Can you bear to see that same face at the breakfast table for the next 50 years? If the answer is yes, go ahead, if the answer is no, don't do it". I never thought of that, but mine didn't last 50 years and I feel cheated. …I felt that I'd been promised 50 years and I never got it.
They see so much on television now, and a lot of people, they believe what they see, …As real life, (as) what goes on. And then they get the impression that everybody's hoppin' in and out of bed with one another. …A lot of people, a lot of people seem to believe what they see on the television, they don't think that they're actors acting and that someone's written it, and written it to spice it up and get the ratings up on the television and all that.
2Furthermore, it should be noted that the concepts of marriage, family and heterosexuality are often conflated both theoretically and by those people we have interviewed for this research. We acknowledge this and indeed, are interested in how these categories are seen to be linked theoretically.
3The following is a guide to the nature and composition of the groups:
4All names are pseudonyms.
5( ) Indicate an inaudible or uncertain reading.
6[ ] Indicate an overlap between speakers. Where there are stops within [ ] brackets, these indicate a pause or hesitation.
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