Author: Kwok, Chi-ying
Title: A study on the relationships between the decision-making of tolerating the spouses' extra-marital affairs and women's oppression
Degree: M.A.
Year: 1996
Subject: Adultery
Husband and wife
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Applied Social Studies
Pages: 1 v. (various pagings) ; 30 cm
Language: English
Abstract: The increasing incidents of extramarital affairs have caused tremendous disruptions on local marriages, families and instability in society. Evidently, the majority of the cases are men involving in the affairs while women, because of financial reason, children's welfare, housing considerations, and the stigma of divorce have tolerated the affairs, by staying in the marriage. The conventional social work approach tends to marginalize the problem into individual weakness or relationship problem without addressing the social origins of the problem and its meanings within the gender issue. Based on the researcher's clinical experience in casework, groupwork, observations and documentary reading, the problem is first re-defined from feminist perspective as a reflection of gender inequality. Women who tolerate the husbands' affairs are perceived as an oppression. Thirteen women whose husbands having affairs for at least more than a year were interviewed by the researcher from June 1995 to November 1995. Twelve of them are clients of Caritas Family Service, Tuen Mun South, while only one client is in Sau Kei Wan Center. After a pilot test, the respondents were divided into three main groups the 'tolerant', the 'separated' and the 'divorced' group based on the informations about the current relationship status of the respondents. Economic status and dependent/independent children are the dimensions of variables that I would like to explore in relation with their decision-making. The sample is confined to a group of middle age and middle-lower working class people. Therefore, no significant differences are found among these three groups with respect to their employment status and presence of dependent/independent children. However, it is overall significant because majority of them cannot earn a survival income. They have to tolerate the affair for more than a year. In terms of work aspiration, a slightly difference is found between the 'divorced' group and the 'tolerant' group. Because of the conception of motherhood, therefore, the 'tolerant' group is found to be more affected by the concept. The period of childhood dependence is prolonged in nowadays because of over emphasis on motherhood. Hence mothers who have children not enter adulthood would have difficulties to leave the marriage. However, there would be a problem for the woman to leave the marriage when she is already at late middle-hood. The findings reveal the structural problem in which women occupy the inferior role. The ideology of housewife and motherhood has marginalized women in family that they act with qualities of nurturance, self-sacrifice, passive and submissive; with no decision-making power in the family. They are bound to tolerate the husbands' affairs. Since the majority of the people do not possess survival power, they are seen to react the problem in a similar way. Notwithstanding this, the NPPs in the 'divorce' group possess stronger personality, work aspiration and ability. They finally decide to leave the marriage. From the findings, we can re-define the problem of tolerating husbands' affairs to women's oppression and the domination of men as a result of patriarchal social structure and ideology.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

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