(Co-Authored with Sarah Skwire)

Recently, the blogger Amy Glass from ThoughtCatalog posted a piece titled “I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry.”

We are aware that the post is troll bait and an attempt to get hits for the website and explicitly designed to inflame, and we should probably know better.

However, Glass’s post is such an astonishingly good example of what is wrong with the way that we talk about work, and such a good master class in how libertarian feminism can help, that we just can’t resist the urge to respond. (We have, however, resisted the urge to link. If you want to read more than the quotation we’ve pulled here, you’re on your own.)

Among the other risibilities in her piece, Glass says, “Doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business. This word play is holding us back.”

As Sarah noted on Facebook, the claim is simply inaccurate. “Modern medicine IS modern medicine, in large part, because of laundry. Without clean sheets, clean towels, clean linens of all kinds, clean surgical tools, and clean hands, many of you reading this would be dead by now.” But we are aware that not everyone gets as agitated by inaccurate portrayals of medical history as Sarah does.

However, even leaving Lister, Pasteur, Nightingale, Semmelweis, et al. aside, Glass’s comment is an example of some of the dumbest things we do when we talk about work–particularly work done by women. It also provides us an opportunity to talk more about what a libertarian feminism might look like and how it might address issues such as this one.

Important and Impressive are Not Synonyms

Glass has made the classic mistake of confusing impressive work with important work. Garbage collection may well not be impressive. Neither are diaper changing, gutter cleaning, grocery shopping, or any number of other icky, sticky, stinky, slimy and otherwise unpleasant jobs that keep humans healthy, safe, clean, and dry. But if no one is doing those tasks, humans don’t stay healthy, safe, clean, and dry enough to do impressive work–like designing skyscrapers, doing brain surgery, writing novels, and so on.

Scut work isn’t fun. It isn’t glamorous. And it isn’t impressive.

All that means that it is easy to dismiss it as unimportant. But if this winter’s storms and attendant power outages have taught us anything, it is that–without the electricity that allows us to hand our daily scut work over to machines, or without humans willing to take on those jobs in the absence of machines, we would soon be drowning in piles of garbage and poop.

When we compare the value of being a doctor with the value of doing the laundry, it’s also worth remembering the difference between total and marginal utility. It’s true that any specific act of professional medical care is worth more in the market than any specific act of doing the laundry, given the greater scarcity of medical skills. But the question about their relative marginal utility is a different question from whether “having clean laundry” is less valuable than “having professional medical care” as a whole. As Sarah’s Facebook post points out, the answer to that question is more complicated when we look from a total utility perspective. Not only does keeping the sheets and clothing clean in the home do a great deal to prevent disease, modern medicine depends upon hospital employees who keep the bed linens and operating room scrubs clean. Someone has to get the laundry clean, and no matter how much glamour it lacks, those who do it are, in total if not on the margin, just as important as doctors.

When You Forget the Distinction, You Undervalue Certain Types of Work

So Glass is simply wrong in her assessment of what is and isn’t important. But she has also made a fundamental error that feminists of all types have objected to for decades. Impressive work tends to be rewarded with not only more acclaim, but also more money. Work that is only important–and lacks any impressive component–tends to be rewarded with much less money, and often with none. The laborers who washed the sheets in Florence Nightingale’s Crimean hospital were surely paid less than the doctors. But we would be willing to bet they were responsible for saving for lives too.

Feminists have long complained that the work that is traditionally done by women in the household has not been financially compensated. This means it is not counted in GDP. This means it is not “important.” This is, of course, nonsense.

Feminists–again, from all over the political map–have gathered data on how much it would cost to pay someone to do the work traditionally associated with keeping a home. It’s a lot.

We can signal the value of that work by telling some segment of the population (and historically, this has been women) that the work done at home is so important that they must do it and can’t be permitted to seek outside employment.

We can signal it by saying that the work is so important that it must be done by professionals and we should all work outside the home–even if we don’t want to, and even if the jobs we are doing outside the home replicate what we would do at home. (Is dry-cleaning important because we pay to have it done, while laundry is unimportant because we don’t? Is cooking dinner for the family home unimportant, but making an identical meal for strangers who pay for it automatically more important?)

Now We Have to Do Some Laundry

One thing is certain, and it’s a thing that Glass, and many others, elide. The laundry has to get done. You can talk theory all you like. You can praise traditional women’s work or you can denigrate it. You can reclaim it, or do it ironically, or make it a point of masculine pride to take it on, or to never do it. But the laundry has to be done.

What is feminist is not how you feel about it, or write about it, or whether you do it or pay someone else to do it for you. What is feminist (or not) is the set of assumptions you bring with you when you see a big pile of laundry that needs to be washed, and how couples engage in the process of deciding how it’s going to get done.

Every household must answer the same two basic questions: where will our market income come from and how will we engage in household production? Households take resources from the market and combine them with human labor to produce household outputs such as cooked meals, clean clothes, mowed lawns, and cared-for children. For every household, there are a variety of ways to answer these questions. But rather than, as Glass does, dismissing the value of household production and assuming that feminism means that women can only be fulfilled by working in the market, a libertarian feminism might focus on the process rather than the outcome.

Libertarian feminism can start by recognizing that the decisions households make about who will do which kind of work are unavoidably particular to their own context. The complexities of specific careers, the expectations of specific jobs, and the skills of each person, not to mention things like the availability of relatives to help with household production, all suggest that leaving people to make these determinations on their own, in the absence of artificial incentives from policy or strong cultural expectations from any side, is probably the wisest route. Policymakers and the cultural elite are hardly in a position to have the contextual knowledge relevant to such decisions that is possessed by the people in question.

That said, we cannot ignore the reality of the power dynamics of spousal negotiation, in particular. In decades past, when women were far less likely to have meaningful earning potential in the market, they were at a clear disadvantage in the joint decision-making process. That is notably less true today. What feminism and economic growth driven by markets have done, is to offer women options that they did not have before. What is needed for that joint decision-making process to work best is for both parties approach it with at least the potential to either earn market income or to engage in household production sufficiently well to ensure a negotiation among equals. That negotiation will also be less skewed if socio-cultural norms and socialization processes don’t lead either party to assume that, for example, the home is the woman’s job and earning an income is for men only. The absence of such strong gendered expectations along with a sufficient degree of economic independence for both parties helps to validate the particular division of labor a couple negotiates for themselves. And that particular couple’s particular choices, and their happiness with them, are what matter.

It’s About the Process

And this where Glass goes wrong. What a libertarian feminism tells us, in a way consistent with political theorists such as Nozick or Hayek, is that if we wish to appraise the legitimacy of a particular outcome, we should look at the process–not just the end-state. That some women are at home full-time does not mean feminism has failed (or that these women have failed feminism). It does not mean that those women are doing work that is less important than other women’s work. If that particular arrangement is recognized as the best way to solve that particular household’s need for market and household production, and has emerged out of a negotiation that is reasonably equal and absent of powerful cultural expectations, then it is no less feminist than any other arrangement so negotiated. Feminism should be about choice, not about the “one true way.” Choices such as these that are negotiated by intimates, however, are truly legitimate when they are the result of process that involves meaningful consent. We should applaud that consent and the agency to make the choice. We are under no compulsion to love the choices any particular household makes.

Finally, we should also point out that while some of our examples have been heterosexual couples, most of what we said would apply to same-sex ones as well. They too must do the laundry and solve the other basic problems of the household, especially if they wish to raise children. The social expectations might play out differently, but the legitimacy associated with a negotiation process among equals is the same.

Libertarians should celebrate the ways in which markets and our deep belief in equality before the law (a belief shared with the great majority of feminists) have helped provide women with the options they now have. We should equally celebrate the diversity of arrangements that households adopt to accomplish market and household production by recognizing that they are local responses to complex contexts. What’s really important is not the kind of work men and women do, but their ability to solve their own household-specific problems in ways that satisfy all parties. Dictating the “right” way to organize a household is very likely to fail, given that such decisions require the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, not the bludgeon of the policymaker’s hammer or the misguided moral hectoring of the right or the left.

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  • Ellen Young

    Great piece. I love that you went beyond laundry and stay at home mom issues and included garbage pickup and scutwork. We don’t have to look down on somebody because we think our job is better, cleaner, pays more. I’m grateful somebody comes for my garbage. Would rather look down on liars, cheats, fraudsters, and bullies.

    • martinbrock

      Not to mention the fact that the someone coming for your garbage is far more likely to be a man.

      • Ellen Young

        Yeah, it kind of is irrelevant, because the point of my comment is that I appreciated Prof Horwitz’s essay and particularly the implication that we shouldn’t looking down on anybody based on their job. Whether the person has a penis or not wasn’t the point at all.

        • martinbrock

          Horwitz could easily, and more effectively, have made this point without any reference to gender, so I repeat the question.

          • Ellen Young

            It seems you just want to pick a fight based on your own agenda. Not interested.

          • martinbrock

            Asking a question is not picking a fight.

          • Sharon Presley

            That’s the right answer, Ellen, Yes, MB does like to pick fights, especially with women.

          • martinbrock

            Your statement is nonsense, Sharon. I haven’t fought with a female since my older sister used to beat me up when I was a child. You only play the victim in your own drama here.

  • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

    I found my way to the original article. Horwitz/Skwire make excellent points here, but all this was simply unnecessary.

    Glass (who is apparently really someone named Chrissy Stockton) writes: “You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.” Earlier in the article, she mentions “backpacking” as an accomplishment more worthy of praise than having a baby.

    It’s clear that Glass/Stockton simply has a one-dimension idea of what accomplishments are. I agree that having an exceptional professional life or engaging in impressive travel adventures are worthy of praise. Where I differ with Glass/Stockton is that she does not seem to be aware of the fact that emotional accomplishments are also great. Some examples: being a great lover, being a great friend, having exceptional moral clarity, being great under pressure or during emergencies, having exceptional compassion, coping with illness and tragedy with grace and serenity… and, yes, being a great spouse and a great parent.

    Sure, if all you see in being a spouse is housework, then I agree that housework is not much of an accomplishment. But it’s possible to be an exceptional human being while relegating one’s accomplishment to the personal sphere, rather than the professional sphere. Not every form of greatness can be blogged or posted to Facebook.

    • Gabriel

      Feminists looking to try to emulate the apex male instead of just living the good life:

      Under Glass/Stockton’s worldview, the man who accepts a low-responsibility/low-hours job is failing, even if he’s using that time to raise good kids and help his neighbours. It’s all about SUCCESS! (as she defines it).

      • CT

        What I found interesting is that she seems to be under the impression that men don’t find it hard balancing work and family life. I very much doubt she spends too much time with either men or women who have children.

  • Matthew DeCarlo

    I’m all for the process equity you describe, but I still think that looking at the end results of social arrangements provides important information for those who hope to shape the cultural institutions that constrain and enable the kinds of choices you’re talking about.

  • Les Kyle Nearhood

    What is most likely to make a person happy? Having a family And a career (though perhaps a little delayed) or climbing the corporate ladder and living a rat race? She is free to feel superior about her subjective standards and we are free to mock her for it.

    • Sergio Méndez

      She? Who?

      • good_in_theory

        Self confessed troll Amy Glass, I presume.

  • martinbrock

    Feminists have long complained that the work that is traditionally done by women in the household has not been financially compensated. This means it is not counted in GDP.

    The value that women receive in exchange for housework benefiting men often isn’t counted in “women’s wages” either. In fact, it’s often counted as “men’s wages”, since married men tend to work more for wages than their wives while sharing the income.

    One solution to this problem is simply to end joint ownership of property, joint bank accounts, alimony and wealth sharing between romantic partners generally. if a husband wants a bit of the dinner his wife has prepared, he pays her. If she expects payment for sex, she gets that too, or if the wife has the stronger sexual appetite (more often the case than conventional wisdom suggests in my experience), she more often pays.

    Somehow, I never hear feminists advocating this solution. I more often hear feminists denying that women receive anything in exchange for domestic work, particularly with reference to statistic aggregates demonstrating a “gender gap” in income. Of course, these “gender gap” statistics essentially assume that Melinda Gates is destitute, while in reality, she is one of the wealthiest persons on Earth.

    • Seth MacLeod

      The value that women receive in exchange for housework benefiting men often isn’t counted in “women’s wages” either. It’s more nearly counted in “men’s wages”, since married men tend to work more for wages than their wives while sharing the income.

      It is not counted in “men’s wages”. Horwitz and Skwire point out a meaningful distinction between market income and household production.

      One solution to this problem is simply to end joint ownership of property, joint bank accounts and wealth sharing between romantic partners generally. If a husband wants a bit of the dinner his wife has prepared, he pays her a market rate. If she expects payment for sex, she gets that too, or if the wife has the stronger sexual appetite (more often the case than conventional wisdom suggests in my experience), she more often pays.

      Somehow, I never hear feminists advocating this solution, not even the libertarian feminists who might be expected to advocate it. I more often hear feminists denying that women receive anything in exchange for domestic work, particularly with reference to statistical aggregates demonstrating a “gender gap” in income, which often simply record women’s compensation for domestic work on the male side of the ledger.

      Why would anyone advocate that as a “solution” – especially libertarian feminists? It causes more problems than it “solves”. And it doesn’t even address the points that feminists bring up.

      Even analyses disputing this gap tend to emphasize differences in occupational choice, hours worked for wages and the like. They rarely impute income to married women (much less unmarried domestic partners) sharing joint income. Of course, these “gender gap” statistics essentially assume that Melinda Gates is destitute, while in reality, she is one of the wealthiest persons on Earth.

      The point of measuring a wage gap (Slate has a decent and quick article on why the gender pay gap is generally inaccurate http://slate.me/1n8ADVk ) is to measure the wages earned by men and women. They don’t assume that someone like Melinda Gates is destitute. That has nothing to do with what is being measured.

      Really? Why do you think so? Because women earned less income on individual income tax returns, when they were not making joint decisions? Why not compare life expectancy instead? Why all the emphasis on wage earning, other than the fact that women consume wages attributed to men more often than the reverse?

      People focus on wage earning in order to study symptoms of sexism and/or gendered expectations. But until my post, 10 out of 11 uses of the word “wage” came from your post, and none came from the article.

      My mother was the house slave, and my father was the field slave. They had three children. We were the masters. Why would I concoct incredible stories denying this transparently obvious fact? Who would I be fooling, other than myself?

      That’s not nearly as clever as you think it is.

      • martinbrock

        It is not counted in “men’s wages”.

        A married couple is like a corporation owned jointly by husband and wife, and family income is like corporate income, divided between corporate employees and other corporate interests after the corporation receives it, but when a husband earns all of the family’s monetary income as a wage, “gender gap” statistics count all of the income as an individual male’s income, despite the fact that a female partner consumes much of the income. Don’t they? Am I mistaken about that?

        Horwitz and Skwire point out a meaningful distinction between market income and household production.

        Right. I make the same distinction. How is this fact relevant to your first statement?

        Why would anyone advocate that as a “solution” – especially libertarian feminists?

        Because it accounts for female contributions to household production by assigning market prices to them.

        The point of measuring a wage gap (Slate has a decent and quick article on why the gender pay gap is generally inaccurate http://slate.me/1n8ADVk ) is to measure the wages earned by men and women.

        People reporting these measurements have many points.

        They don’t assume that someone like Melinda Gates is destitute.

        If you conclude from the statistic that women consume less than men, you are assuming Melinda Gates destitute. Econometricians understand the difference. I’m not denying that.

        People focus on wage earning in order to study symptoms of sexism and/or gendered expectations.

        Do they? Horwitz doesn’t seem to think so here, not as you might think anyway:

        That’s not nearly as clever as you think it is.

        I didn’t intend it to be clever. It’s respectful of my parents.

        • Seth MacLeod

          Traditional marriage is like a corporation owned jointly by husband and wife, and family income is like corporate income, divided between corporate employees and other corporate interests after the corporation receives it, but when a husband earns all of the family’s monetary income as a wage, “gender gap” statistics count all of the income as an individual male’s income, despite the fact that a female partner consumes much of the income. Don’t they? Am I mistaken about that?

          Your conception of traditional marriage disallows for allowances, which of course would have been necessary for traditional marriage back when married women were legally prohibited from owning property, earning wages, etc. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Married_Women's_Property_Acts_in_the_United_States for more information.

          And what’s with this shift from wage to income? That is not the focus of the gender wage gap – the focus is on wages. So yes, you are mistaken.

          Right. I make the same distinction. How is this fact relevant to your first statement?

          But you don’t make the same distinction, at least not in the part I had quoted. Housework is not “more nearly counted in ‘men’s wages’. It is part of a different sphere entirely. That is why I pointed it out.

          Because it accounts for female (and male) contributions to household production by assigning market prices to them. Gender gap statistics measure these prices and nothing else.

          You forgot to quote the rest of my argument: “It causes more problems than it ‘solves’. And it doesn’t even address the points that feminists bring up.”

          Furthermore, there are many ways to account for household production other than monetary prices. I’ll be clearer: Why should anyone, especially libertarian feminists, advocate for your proposal when it doesn’t address typical feminist points and creates more problems than it “solves”?

          People reporting these measurements have many points. Reports of the measurements are (often deliberately) misleading rather than inaccurate. Women do earn less income (of the sort reported on paycheck stubs and individual income tax returns) than men. That’s not inaccurate. Women also consume more income that they do not “earn”, compared with men.

          To be clear, I’m arguing that a non-wage earning wife does earn what she consumes of the family’s income.

          Um, sure, people use the results of studies differently, but the point of measuring a wage gap is to measure wages. It has nothing to do with the wealth of Melinda Gates or anyone else. It has everything to do with wages.

          If you conclude from the statistic that women consume less than men, you are assuming Melinda Gates destitute. Econometricians understand the difference. I’m not denying that.

          If you conclude from the statistic only that women control less income than men (are at a disadvantage in the joint decision-making process), you still conclude more than the statistic measures.

          Just no. Measuring wages does not include assuming that anyone is destitute. It is entirely about wages. If you want to conclude something, so be it, but that is entirely different from assuming that something in the actual measuring process.

          Do they? Horwitz doesn’t seem to think so here, not as you might expect anyway:

          Did we watch the same video? Because Horwitz just spent nearly the entire time talking about gendered expectations in that video. He even used keywords such as “expectations” and “choices”.

          • martinbrock

            Your conception of traditional marriage …”

            That was an analogy (“like”, not “is”) rather than my conception of traditional marriage. The idea that married women had no property rights a century and more ago is a misconception, but I didn’t intend to address this issue.

            I must shift from wage to income to address a family’s income. A married couple filing a joint income tax return doesn’t have two wages. It has a single, family income.

            You say that I’m mistaken, but I’m not sure you’ve addressed my question. The question involves the definition of “earning” in gender gap statistics. Do these statistics define a married woman’s “earnings” as half of jointly reported income or not? Are you saying that you know the answer to this question?

            But you don’t make the same distinction, at least not in the part I had quoted.

            I do make the same distinction. In what you quote, I refer to “value that women receive in exchange for housework benefiting men”. My whole point is that married women earn family income with the consent of their husbands.

            Housework is not “more nearly counted in ‘men’s wages’. It is part of a different sphere entirely. That is why I pointed it out.

            Where is this sphere? Why doesn’t a joint income tax return account for it? Marital property law in many states entitle each spouse to half of income earned by either spouse during the marriage, absent a prenuptial agreement, so as a legal matter, many women do earn this income. What else are they earning it for?

            Of course, women don’t always earn the lower wage. My sister is a veterinarian and has always earned more of her family’s income. I can have this conversation with her without raising any ire.

            I didn’t forget the rest of your answer. You asked what the “solution” solves, and I answered the question. That it doesn’t solve every other problem you can imagine is not relevant to my point.

            Simply imputing half of marital income to a wife is a simpler solution, but you don’t seem to like this solution either. How can we account for all of women’s income when discussing the relative earnings of men and women? You’re dancing around the question.

            Why should anyone, especially libertarian feminists, advocate for your proposal when it doesn’t address typical feminist points and creates more problems than it “solves”?

            Again, because it quantifies female (and male) contributions to household production in the same way that markets quantify every other contribution to every other mode of production. What are your proposing instead?

            Um, sure, people use the results of studies differently, but the point of measuring a wage gap is to measure wages.

            The point is not remotely so simple. Statistics of this kind are measured and reported for political reasons. Social scientists are not the dispassionate seekers after objective truth that you imagine.

            Measuring wages does not include assuming that anyone is destitute.

            I never anywhere suggest that measuring wages assumes that anyone is destitute. As I say very explicitly, assuming that women consume less than men, based on gender gap statistics, assumes that Melinda Gates is destitute.

            Did we watch the same video?

            Yes. “Gendered expectations” is sufficiently vague to cover women’s choices, but of course, I’m not denying that women make choices. I’m denying that gender gap statistics account accurately for women’s earnings, even after accounting for women’s occupational choices, because these statistics ignore the fact that women earn income through marriage.

          • Seth MacLeod

            That was an analogy (“like”, not “is”) rather than my conception of traditional marriage. The idea that married women had no property rights a century and more ago is a misconception, but I didn’t intend to address this issue.

            Excuse me, but you are making factually incorrect claims that are dealt with in the link I provided. I’ll post TWO links this time:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Married_Women's_Property_Acts_in_the_United_States

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Married_Women%27s_Property_Act_(disambiguation)

            I must shift from wage to income to address a family’s income. A married couple filing a joint income tax return doesn’t have two wages. It has a single, family income.

            You say that I’m mistaken, but I’m not sure you’ve addressed my question. The question involves the definition of “earning” in gender gap statistics. Do these statistics define a married woman’s “earnings” as half of jointly reported income or not? Are you saying that you know the answer to this question?

            Housewives do not earn wages – that is why they are housewives. If you want to assert that a woman can be a housewife and earn wages with another occupation, I could buy into that idea. But that doesn’t change the fact that a housewife does not earn wages in her role as a housewife.

            The family’s income is completely irrelevant to the matter of a gender wage gap. It is simply not what is being measured.

            I do make the same distinction. In what you quote, I refer to “value that women receive in exchange for housework benefiting men”. My whole point is that married women earn family income with the consent of their husbands.

            My goodness…”[M]arried women earn family income with the consent of their husbands.”

            Either you think women should require the permission of their husbands to work – which is an absolutely disgusting idea – or you have an idiosyncratic definition of “family income”.

            I don’t care enough about this conversation to find out what your particular definition of “family income” is, nor do I want to take the time to figure out if you are using it consistently throughout your post.

            Regarding the distinction that Horwitz and Skwire made, the problem is that you claimed: “The value that women receive in exchange for housework benefiting men often isn’t counted in “women’s wages” either. It’s more nearly counted in “men’s wages”, since married men tend to work more for wages than their wives while sharing the income.”

            Your mistake, which I already pointed out, is that market income and household production are being distinguished as separate categories, and that “the value that women receive…” belongs to household production, not market income. In other words, *not* in men’s wages.

            Where is this sphere? Why doesn’t a joint income tax return account for it? Marital property law in many states entitle each spouse to half of income earned by either spouse during the marriage, absent a prenuptial agreement, so as a legal matter, many women do earn this income. What else are they earning it for?

            Of course, women don’t always earn the lower wage. My sister is a veterinarian and has always earned more of her family’s income. I can have this conversation with herwithout raising any ire.

            This is a perfect example of what I just stated above.

            You clearly don’t understand what the wage gap is measuring. You also clearly don’t want to learn what it measures, so I’m not going to pursue this. You’ll either take the time to educate yourself, or you won’t. I’m not going to spend any more energy on this when you don’t put in a good faith effort.

            I didn’t forget the rest of your argument, and I do address the points that feminists bring up. You asked what the “solution” solves, and I answered the question. That it doesn’t solve every other problem you can imagine is not relevant to my point.

            Simply imputing half of marital income to a wife is a simpler solution, but you don’t seem to like this solution either. How can we account for all of women’s income when discussing the relative earnings of men and women? You’re dancing around the question.

            Again, because it quantifies female (and male) contributions to household production in the same way that markets quantify every other contribution to every other mode of production. What are your proposing instead?

            I’ll make it *even clearer*. As Thomas Sowell says, “Compared to what? At what cost?”

            In other words, how does the supposed benefit of your idea outweigh all of the costs of implementing it?

            The point is not remotely so simple. Statistics of this kind are measured and reported for political reasons. Social scientists are not the dispassionate seekers after objective truth that you imagine.

            Which contradicts what I said how?

            I never anywhere suggest that measuring wages assumes that anyone is destitute. As I say very explicitly, assuming that women consume less than men, based on gender gap statistics, assumes that Melinda Gates is destitute.

            I don’t understand why people misrepresent documented statements like this. This is the internet, all anyone has to do is scroll up. From your OP:

            Of course, these “gender gap” statistics essentially assume that Melinda Gates is destitute, while in reality, she is one of the wealthiest persons on Earth.

            Yes. “Gendered expectations” is sufficiently vague to cover women’s choices, but of course, I’m not denying that women make choices. I’m denying that gender gap statistics account accurately for women’s choice of earnings, because these statistics ignore the fact that women choose to earn income through marriage. I’m saying that women earn the income that they are legally entitled to claim as a consequence of being married.

            You demonstrate a lack of understanding as to what gendered expectations refers to. Here is an excellent video by Cathy Reisenwitz where she discusses feminism and libertarianism, and she explains various technical terms such as gendered expectations in a very accessible way http://sexandthestate.com/video-women-and-the-moral-case-for-liberty-sfl-webinar/

            You can have the last word. I don’t want to spend my time posting links that support my points only to you have you completely disregard it, rereading your posts in order to point out how you contradict yourself, etc.

            Good day.

          • martinbrock

            Excuse me, but you are making factually incorrect claims that are dealt with in the link I provided. I’ll post TWO links this time:

            Excluse me, but I’m not. Your links don’t address the fact that, for example, the owner of Dred Scott was a woman married to a celebrated abolitionist who could not free Scott because the woman placed Scott in a trust for her benefit before the marriage. It’s absurd under the circumstances to say that she lost of all of property rights upon the marriage. I could discuss this subject further, but it’s a diversion from the topic.

            Housewives do not earn wages – that is why they are housewives.

            You’re playing semantics now. I explicitly refer above to marital income that a married woman is legally entitled to claim. You simply avoid this point.

            The family’s income is completely irrelevant to the matter of a gender wage gap. It is simply not what is being measured.

            It is relevant to my point precisely because it is not being measured.

            Thanks for the last word.

          • DavidCheatham

            Excluse me, but I’m not. Your links don’t address the fact that, for example, the owner of Dred Scott was a woman (Irene Emerson) married to a celebrated abolitionist (Congressman Calvin Chaffee of Massachussetts) who was not entitled to free Scott because Emerson placed Scott in a trust for her benefit before the marriage.

            Hey, look, it’s martinbrock and his near-pathlogical inability to grasp how married women couldn’t own property, which last time we discussed the issue, he demonstrates to me by citing random marriage vows, which of course hold the full force of law in crazy-land. Now he’s moved on to proving women could own property with *an example of a woman not owning property*.

            Hey, lackwit: Having property in a trust is the *exact definition* of ‘not owning’ it.

            PROPERTY PLACED IN A TRUST IS OWNED BY THAT TRUST. That is how all trusts work. That is the entire premise of a ‘trust’.

            Your example literally proves the *opposite* of what you want it to prove, because *she had to rig up a trust because she couldn’t own things after she got married*.

            What you’re apparently trying to argue is that, while married women *couldn’t* own property, if they were very clever *before* they got married, they could have transferred property they own into a trust and not lost ownership of it upon marriage. Which, uh, no one actually disputed.

            However, before you get too excited, a trust like this wouldn’t *actually* protect the property from their husband if their husband wanted it. It wouldn’t work to create a trust in charge of simply ‘owing things and letting the woman use them or sell them at will’.
            Husbands were allowed to speak for their wife in legal matter, so even if women put property in a trust for their own benefit, their husband could just demand it accrue to his benefit instead. If the wife can use property at will, the husband can. If the wife can take out money, the husband can. If the wife can sell them, the husband can. (Not the ‘selling’ things would make any sense…the wife wouldn’t own the money anyway.)

            Any trust, in that day, that would take orders from a woman would also have to take orders form her husband, which would override the wife’s.
            If Calvin Chaffee had *wanted* a slave, he could have just ordered the trust to make Dredd Scott operate for his benefit.
            Now, a trust can be structured to not take orders from people at all, and there were indeed trusts like that. For example, if a wealthy family only had a daughter, and she was getting married, they might put a house in a trust for her, specifying that she and her family could live there, and on her death the property would be transferred to her children or back to the original family. As *she* couldn’t sell the property, neither could her husband.

            But that’s not really ‘ownership’ in any sense.

          • martinbrock

            Hey, look, it’s martinbrock and his near-pathlogical inability to grasp how married women couldn’t own property, …

            I explicitly state precisely what I mean, and you do not contradict me. You only repeat what I say.

          • DavidCheatham

            Here is my question, in all honesty: When words come out of your mouth, do they register in your brain?

            Yes, wealth women did often hand off property to a male relative before they married. Or put it in a trust they’re in charge of (Which risked having their husband override them.), or even put it in a trust and put a male relative in charge of that trust instead of themselves. (Which did avoid the possibility of being override, because they were not in charge of the trust.)

            Which they did BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT OWN PROPERTY ONCE MARRIED.

            You sit there and explain that sequence of events, and why women did it. Which you think demonstrates…that married women *could* own property.

            You are either the most dishonest person in the universe, or the most stupid person in the universe.

            And, of course, the entire point of this discussion, and the original post, was not really property but about *income*. Hopefully you’re smart enough to realize we won’t fall for the idea that married women could put income in a trust that they earned *after* they were married, which was, of course, the *actual reason* Seth mentioned the ‘lack of property’ at all.
            But I’m not sure you *are* that smart.

            I explicitly state precisely what I mean, and you do not contradict me. You only repeat what I state. What I state is not the opposite of what I state, regardless of your linguistic gymnastics.

            What you stated was ‘The idea that married women had no property rights a century and more ago is a misconception, but I didn’t intend to address this issue.’

            This is completely and utterly incorrect. Married women did *not* have any ‘property rights a century and more ago’. (Well, a century and a half ago. By the 1850s that fact was starting to change, and some state constitutions around that point specifically granted property rights to married women. *That* would have been a valid objection to the original statement, although not much of one.)

            The fact rich women sometimes could use legal fictions to get *around* the lack of rights does not mean they had those rights, and pretending they did have such rights is an idiotic belief you keep bringing up here.

            And considering that I barely pay attention to who is who here from discussion to discussion, and the fact that this isn’t something that really would come up in common discussions, means the fact I noticed you doing this means you’re doing it a *lot*, in your almost pathological need to dismiss the past subjection of women.

          • martinbrock

            The ad hominems only demonstrate the absence of a more cogent reply. I never anywhere, in any discussion, dismiss the past subjection of women. I describe in some detail the rights that Irene Emerson had and exercised, rather than pretending, naively, that she had no rights at all.

          • DavidCheatham

            See, folks? He’s actually clinically insane.
            martin, not a *single* word of what you just said was true. Women did not ‘own property jointly’ with their husband, because, as has been repeatedly explained, women could not own property. Men also did not have to defend their property from the king. (!?) Men did not endow all their wives with all their worldly goods upon marriage (That was the *last* fucking stupid discussion we had, and it is just as wrong now.) Women did not wear ‘the keys to their house’. (In the time you are pretending to talk about, whenever that was, it was pretty damn rare for houses to even *have* locks, so that would be a fairly impossible ‘tradition’.)
            You have literally no evidence that *any* of this is true, and it is totally contrary to *every* historical account.
            Will someone else please step in here? I’m getting a little sick of this nonsensical fuckwit.
            Is there some sort of official way to get a ruling on this factual stupidity, and bar it by TOS? This isn’t some sort of difference of opinion, this is either deliberate lying or *utter* stupidity, and it doesn’t really belong on this site.
            (And, folks, when people talk about sexist libertarians, it is exactly this sort of historic revisionism that they point to.)

          • martinbrock

            You’re mistaken. “Women owned property jointly with their husbands” is a sequence of words with a meaning that I specify above. “Married women couldn’t own property” is more like a sequence of words that you accept as a tenet of faith. Any assertion that seems to contradict it is “wrong” by assumption.

            Of course, common men have defended their property from kings, unless you want to say that a man’s property is always whatever the king says it is. You can say that if you want, but English common law doesn’t say it.

            Far from revising history, I cite historical evidence that particular statements are true, the Declaration of Sentiments, and you simply ignore the citation with brilliant rejoinders like “nonsensical fuckwit”.

            You may have the last word here, and if you want to ask Matt to ban me from the site for fuckwittery, you can do that too. Good like.

          • DavidCheatham

            I feel like I should actually *quote* the Declaration of Sentiments here, before anyone believes martin’s nonsense:

            ‘He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.’

            Right there. In the document *you* are citing. In 1848. Stating women have no right to property. (Granted, this is a *petition* complaining about a law, not a law itself. But the petition was factually correct about women’s property rights.)

            There also is, it must be pointed out, nothing about women carrying keys in it, or that they were masters of their house. The word ‘key’ does not even appear, nor does ‘house’ or ‘home’.

            In fact, there is not a *single kind word* towards men in the entire document. Not one. It is a blanket list of accusations of the misbehavior of men and the oppression of women. (And it’s entirely correct.)
            Asserting that it asserts that men were bound to protect their wives is complete nonsense.

            http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Declaration_of_Sentiments

            The only thing you said that it *actually* mentions are that married woman are sometimes not responsible for their criminal acts, because men are presumed to be their master. So, uh, props for realizing that married women were treated like children in that sense, now if you only grasped the same applies to their ownership of property, and, basically, everything…

          • martinbrock

            The document is polemical. The case of Irene Emerson indicates that “all right in property” is not accurate. I discussed Stanton’s reference to coverture.

            You’re right that she doesn’t the custom of women holding keys to the family home. She doesn’t discuss anything contradicting her thesis that women had no rights, because she is writing a polemic. I don’t say that she discusses the requirement that husbands protect their wives either, but evidence of this standard is as common as water. If you want me to link something, I will.

            Husbands were not masters of their wives. Conflating marriage with slavery is incredible. Stanton wasn’t above this tactic, but it did more to discredit her cause than to advance it, straining her relationship with Frederick Douglass for example.

          • DavidCheatham

            Wow, you just keep making up things, don’t you.

            Let’s address the things I *didn’t* say:

            Firstly, I at no point compared marriage to slavery. In fact, I specifically compared married women to *children*. And the comparison is pretty damn exact…children also didn’t have (and really don’t much now) any legal existence outside their parents, but we do to some extent protect them from mistreatment.

            Secondly, I have at no point suggested men didn’t ‘protect’ their wives, whatever the hell you think that means. (Except they didn’t protect her from the ‘King’, which is total nonsense and a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of, well, everything.)

            I would presume that most men were genuinely fond of their wives and would not wish to see harm come to her, so would ‘protect’ her okay. I’m unclear if you think this is some sort of *legal* obligation, but it wasn’t. (‘While you were out at the pub, your wife was murdered. We hereby fine you five pounds for failure to protect your wife.’)

            Now let’s discuss your total nonsense:

            She doesn’t discuss the custom of women holding keys to the family home, and I don’t attribute this point to her.

            It is a fair point that you do not attribute this to Stanton. In fact, you don’t ever attribute it to *anyone*, because you literally have just made it up.

            Every time you bring this up, I spend an good hour Googling this to try to figure out what you’re talking about. I thought this was some sort of crackpot urban legend you’re referring to, but it’s not even *that*. No one knows what you’re talking about.

            Courts enforced a woman’s right, within marriage, to spend family income without a husband’s consent, and a wife was entitled to consumption commensurate with the family’s income (“her husband’s social status”).

            …are you serious?

            The courts said it was illegal to neglect a wife. Like it’s illegal to neglect a child, or a dog.

            In the circumstances of neglect, *and only in those circumstances*, was it permissible for a wife to spend money without her husband’s approval.

            That isn’t ‘joint ownership of money’. That’s *court-mandated child support*.

            If she was a joint owner, she couldn’t be ‘neglected’ to start with and wouldn’t have had to sue for anything, because she already would have been able to spend her money.

            But it *wasn’t* her money. If you can’t spend it, *it’s not yours*. If you can only spend it after special court dispensation, *it’s not yours*.

  • murali284

    People’s sense of self worth is (perhaps even rightfully?) driven by how much they themselves contribute to society. The fact of the matter is that even if it is erroneous to infer that one’s marginal contribution is not valued at all from the fact that one’s work is unpaid or paid less (because it is home making rather than “labour force participation”), the worry is not about aggregate value, but marginal value.
    Moreover, comprehensive feminism may very well have something to say about which choices women make. There is nothing necessarily wrong with saying that some choices are less feminist than others. Perhaps, given some emergent orders e.g. patriarchal family structures, some sorts of decisions (e.g. withdrawal from highly remunerative work) are more prone to be made under social pressure to conform to norms that leave women financially dependent on their male family members.
    So, there is space for a feminist critique of outcomes. What this does mean is that there is no need to argue that libertarian feminism is fully feminist. After all, there seems to be a coherent feminist critique of particular outcomes.
    The bullet that must be bitten is that feminism, like all comprehensive doctrines has no special claim to be fully implemented via legislation and its full instantiation and expression will only be possible given others’ voluntary perspective. Given reasonable pluralism, this is going to end up with many families voluntarily making unfeminist choices.

    • J-Lib

      In other words (barring harm of some tangible kind– which I realize, is a bit slippery) it just ain’t none of my business, or Glass’, or the government’s, how other people arrange their households. Ever notice how much of our time and energy is spent talking about, and worrying about, stuff that just ain’t our business?

      In the old days, they used to call it “idle gossip.”

      • J-Lib

        Or, perhaps they would have — in some more morally consistent, alternate version of the old days.

  • J-Lib

    Wait, how on earth did the arguably most important job on earth — bearer and shaper of the next generation, stabilizer of home and community, co-commander of society’s littlest platoon* — get reduced to “laundry”?

    Right there, when someone starts arguing that way, I realize I am dealing with, at best, someone with very poor mental hygiene; at worst, a rhetorical fraudster palming off bullshit as reasoned argument, hoping no one notices. She may as well scream out her emotional biases and be done with it.

    Unfortunately, the authors of this piece accepted, and saw fit to engage, Glass’ ludicrous equation /reduction of motherhood to a single, and singularly distasteful and unglamorous, activity. 

    * (i just realized why i really dislike that analogy: the implied militarism.) 

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