Politics, Philosophy and Economics:1470594-15600830 (forthcoming)

Gina Schouten
Harvard University
Despite women’s increased labor force participation, household divisions of labor remain highly unequal. Properly implemented, gender egalitarian political interventions such as work time regulation, dependent care provisions, and family leave initiatives can induce families to share work more equally than they currently do. But do these interventions constitute legitimate uses of political power? In this article, I defend the political legitimacy of these interventions. Using the conception of citizenship at the heart of political liberalism, I argue that citizens would accept political interventions aimed at protecting the ‘genuinely available option’ to enact gender egalitarian lifestyles. More strongly still, I argue that under certain circumstances, citizens would insist on the enactment of political interventions to protect this option. According to political liberalism’s constraints on legitimacy, this insistence renders these interventions not only legitimate but positively mandatory. It is legitimate for a state to exercise power to preserve the genuinely available option to enact a gender egalitarian lifestyle, and under certain circumstances, it is illegitimate for a state to fail to do so.
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DOI 10.1177/1470594X15600830
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