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Final Draft - Asuri Divya Asuri Dr Parrenas Sociology-220 1...

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Asuri Divya Asuri Dr. Parrenas Sociology-220 1 November 2010 The Family in a Changing Society Unconventional Yet Conventional? Especially in the 21 st century, the word ‘family’ can be defined in a multitude of ways. The meaning of ‘family’ can range from married to unmarried to single, heterosexual to homosexual, interracial, and even transgender couples. Not only do various types of relationships define what a family may be, but also the various types of nurturing children. It is fairly common to see families with adopted children or even children born from a surrogate mother. With the aid of in vetro fertilization, adoption agencies, and egg and sperm agencies, children no longer have to be biologically related to their parents. Due to the significant advancement of technology, it has become possible for children to be nurtured by parents that live elsewhere. The progression of the ‘family’ has definitely transitioned from the traditional family, one consisting of the head of the household and main source of income husband, the housekeeping and obedient wife, and their biological children. Not only have the definitions of the ‘family’ changed, but so have the gender roles that were once so prominently defined in the traditional family. Though the definitions of family and gender roles within the family have significantly expanded, it is evident that Western society still prefers to abide by the classifications and roles resembling that of the ‘traditional family.’ Despite the increased frequency to procure children through various alternative ways, families that go through these procedures still choose to set up a family that mimics the characteristics of an ideal traditional family. In her article about the commodification of genes, Rene Almeling, profoundly analyzes the value of gender even within egg agencies and sperm banks, reflecting the traditional gender roles that society ultimately supports. Through her
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Asuri research she found that “eggs are a scarce resource compared to sperm, and thus women’s donation of eggs will be more highly valued than men’s donation of sperm”, showing that from the start of the process, a gender division is already formed. (Almeling 323). She also found that both egg agencies and sperm banks only accept donors that follow a certain characteristic, which is also heavily segregated by gender. Egg agencies typically look for women that want to donate and value the “emotional reward [over]…financial motivations,” motherly or those who are “highly educated and physical attractive” (Almeling 326-328). These egg agencies believe that women with more “altruistic” motives tend to be more motherly and nurturing, characteristics
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