Feminism v. Economics

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After considering a NYT article positing that gay unions “shed light” on gender and marriage,   Economic Woman wrote a provocative post, noting:

When economists see a division of labour, they are likely to assume that it is a mutually beneficial arrangement, unless there is evidence to the contrary. When it comes to the division of labour at home – who goes to work, who takes on childcare and housework – feminists are apt to assume that an egalitarian arrangement is preferable.

Most of us are also likely to say that feminism is about choice, including the right to reject or choose traditional gender roles, but that is often the second thought, and it is paired with theories about how women are forced into traditional roles because of the lack of affordable childcare, etc.

These are huge generalizations, obviously, but I think different starting points on the division of labour cause much of the friction between feminists and economists, at least when it comes to policy. If you associate the division of labour with oppression, it’s tough to communicate with someone who believes that it is humanity’s greatest innovation, the path to efficiency and wealth.

And, y’all probably saw this NYT article about the division of labor in the home. In response, Historiann weighs in here, snarking:

… does anyone find it a little weird that this story is a stunning newsflash worthy of several pages in the New York Times Sunday Magazine? … People, this is 2008. Why aren’t you writing urgent stories about the millions of men who are letting their female partners down by shirking housework and child care?

–Ann Bartow

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