|Abstract||In families in the U.S. headed by a man and woman living as husband and wife, men do more paid labor, on the average, and less of the unpaid labor in the home than women do. Husbands earn more income than wives, and are paid at higher rates. Moreover, husbands on the average contribute fewer hours of paid and unpaid labor combined than do their wives. The overall picture is that women's labor force participation has risen steadily for several decades, but married women still have more responsibility for the care of children than husbands, and lesser income-earning potential than their husbands. When marriages fail, as about half of them in the U.S. now do, women overwhelmingly assume physical custody of the children, and men's income increases while women's income plummets after divorce.1 Is the division of benefits and burdens between men and women within families a private matter or an issue of social justice? Feminists assert: the latter.2 On the face of it, the feminist position on this issue is compelling. After all, a social norm stipulates that women ought to take more responsibility than men for childrearing and housework. The norm functions as an ideology that works to benefit men. When husbands and wives make choices that assign more of the traditional women's work to wives, they are often conforming to a social norm, not choosing freely--and the social norm might be changed. If men who marry tend to insist that their wives shall subordinate their career aspirations to their husbands' careers, a young woman anticipating marriage will have less incentive to develop career skills and more incentive to develop skills of attracting a man and to reconcile herself to the status of a subordinate wife who gives priority to housework and..|
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