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Liberalism, Neutrality, and the Gendered Division of Labor$
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Gina Schouten

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198813071

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198813071.001.0001

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The Political Case for Gender Egalitarianism

The Political Case for Gender Egalitarianism

A Stability Argument

(p.198) 7 The Political Case for Gender Egalitarianism
Liberalism, Neutrality, and the Gendered Division of Labor

Gina Schouten

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that a liberal society cannot remain stable over time if its institutions are structured on the basis of an assumption that one’s sex will dictate the kind of work that one does. Stability in the relevant sense includes a moral dimension, and this chapter shows that moralized stability is threatened by arguing that the institutionalized assumption that sex will dictate the kind of work that one does is an affront to the political value of autonomy. When gender norms and social institutions built upon the assumption of breadwinner/homemaker specialization constitute formidable obstacles to the enactment of gender-egalitarian lifestyles, the citizenship interest in stability will license—and in fact demand—interventions to remove those obstacles. The criterion of reciprocity thus positively calls for gender-egalitarian political interventions under these circumstances. I go on to argue that the circumstances demanding those interventions obtain in the United States today.

Keywords:   stability, citizenship, autonomy, breadwinner/homemaker specialization, gender egalitarianism, gendered division of labor, criterion of reciprocity, neutrality, political intervention, political liberalism

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