Unpaid Labour or Overpaid Laziness: Why Housework in Your Own House Isn’t Really Work

“The reason that men do less housework than women is because, quite simply, they are less easily offended by any given level of mess.”

‘AngryHarry’, ‘Housework

“Stay at home mothers provide services to themselves and to their families, not to a marketplace of customers. Just as you do not ‘deserve’ a salary for cooking your own breakfast, nor does a parent who prepares a meal.”

Wendy McElroy, ‘Mother’s ‘Work’ Doesn’t Warrant Paycheck[1]

“Women make a big point that they do more of the house-cleaning than we do. But they define what’s clean enough. How come you never hear a man complaining that his wife doesn’t do her fair share of polishing the chrome on the Camaro?”

Jack Kammer, ‘If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make the Rules[2]

“A person performs housework in their own home, not in the expectation of receiving remuneration for doing so, but rather because of the intrinsic benefits that such work confers on they themselves – namely the opportunity to live in a cleaner, tidier, more pleasant environment. In short, a woman no more deserves a salary in return for cleaning her own home than she does for wiping her own ass after she has taken a shit!”

The conventional wisdom, as dictated to us by the feminists and the mainstream media, is that men do not do their fair share of housework. On the contrary, according to the feminist orthodoxy, not only do men not pull their weight in the home, but they also unfairly benefit from the housework performed by their spouses.

Women, on the other hand, are cruelly exploited. This is because, so we are repeatedly told, they perform housework for their husband’s benefit yet, unlike paid work outside the home, they do not receive any salary in recompense for the housework they perform, nor for the care they provide for their children.

Curiously, this conventional wisdom is, in large part, taken at face value even by some of the more incisive critics of the feminist orthodoxy. For example, in Warren Farrell, his contribution to ‘Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men: A Debate’ [which I have reviewed here] writes:

The average woman does work almost seventeen hours more per week inside the home, but the Journal of Economic literature reported that the average man works over twenty hours more per week outside the home. In addition, the average man commutes two hours more per week than the average woman. Counting all aspects of work then, the average man works five hours more per week than the average woman.”[3]

Similarly, Men’s Rights blogger, radio host and newspaper columnist Glenn Sacks, writes:

“A 2002 University of Michigan Institute for Social Research survey found that women do 11 more hours of housework a week than men but men work 14 hours a week more than women. According to the BLS, men’s total time at leisure,sleeping, doing personal care activities, or socializing is a statistically meaningless 1% higher than women’s.”

Moreover, Farrell identifies 54 categories of work around the house that are typically performed by husbands rather than wives but which are largely ignored by both feminists and the ‘housework studies’ they have pioneered, including among other arduous activities, those forms of work around the house that are:

Most likely to break an arm leg or neck or to crack a skull (e.g. climbing ladders)… most likely to trigger heart attacks (e.g. shovelling snow)… [and] most likely to cause lower back problems and hernia operations (e.g. moving furniture, hanging heavy pictures)[4]

As Glenn Sacks observes, “even these [time budget] studies understate men’s contributions because they only count the hours devoted to a task without measuring the physical strain and/or danger associated with it” – and men perform the most dangerous work both inside and outside the home.

These are certainly valid critiques of the phoney statistics (‘data rape’ or ‘Ms.-Information’) routinely trafficked by feminists and uncritically regurgitated by the mainstream media. However, in performing this calculation, Farrell and Sacks implicitly take as given a core feminist assumption – namely, that housework done in one’s own home and childcare for one’s own children is of fundamentally the same type as and hence comparable to the sort of work for which one expects to demand remuneration.

In other words, in adding up the number of additional hours women work in the home and comparing this to the number of additional hours men work outside the home, Farrell  and Sacks implicitly accept that this is to compare like with like.

I shall argue that this assumption is in error.

In fact, I shall go further. I shall show that almost every part of the conventional wisdom regarding women’s so-called ‘unpaid labour’ in the home is mistaken. Housework performed by wives is not, as the feminist wisdom has it, ‘unpaid labour’. On the contrary, far from being unpaid, I argue that it is, in fact, overpaid – and, for housewives married to wealthy men, often prodigiously so.

More importantly, I shall argue that housework, when it is performed in one’s own home, and childcare, when it is performed in respect of one’s own children, are not the sort of activities for which one ought to be entitled to demand remuneration in the first place.

Indeed, a strong case can be made that housework and childcare of this type ought not properly to be considered ‘work’ at all – at least in the ordinary sense in which this word is typically used. On the contrary, it is more analogous to a hobby or leisure pursuit. Certainly, it is no more to be considered as ‘work’ (and no more deserving of a salary) than are activities such as washing behind one’s ears in the shower or making model aeroplanes in one’s spare time.

Thus, I argue that housework performed by married women in their own homes and childcare performed in respect of their own children represents, not so much, as feminists would have it, ‘unpaid labour’, as it does overpaid laziness.

Why Housework in Your Own House Isn’t Work

Let me first make clear that, in arguing that housework performed in your own house is of a fundamentally different type and hence incomparable to paid work outside the home, I am not talking about the nature of the activity that constitutes the work itself. There is nothing about housework that means it cannot be of such a type that it is deserving of remuneration.

Indeed, housework and childcare often are often done in return for a salary – namely, when they are done either outside the home, or, more often, inside someone else’s home, typically by housekeepers, maids, child-minders and babysitters (although even here the salary is relatively low, reflecting the safe, unskilled and undemanding nature of the work involved).

Certainly, compared to many forms of paid work outside the home, housework is easy, safe, agreeable and stress-free. After all, housework generally involves safe, unskilled labour of the sort that, when it is performed outside one’s home, is only modestly remunerated in the job market. It requires neither the skill or expertise of professional occupations, nor does it entail the physical exertion or danger of manual labour occupations, such as coal mining, soldiering or construction work.

Moreover, unlike someone working outside the home, a housewife performs housework in the safety, comfort and security of her own home and there is no employer, supervisor or manager constantly looking over her shoulder, telling her what work to do, how to do it or when it must be done by.[5]

However, these points have already been made by others. Indeed, as early as 1915, the author, poet and essayist G.K. Chesterton wrote in a largely forgotten essay, with characteristic wit and perceptiveness:

“They [the feminists] say eternally… that the ordinary woman is always a drudge. And what, in the name of the Nine Gods, is the ordinary man? These people seem to think that the ordinary man is a Cabinet Minister… Dukes, perhaps, are not drudges; but, then, neither are Duchesses. The Ladies and Gentlemen of the Smart Set are quite free for the higher culture, which consists chiefly of motoring and Bridge. But the ordinary man who typifies and constitutes the millions that make up our civilisation is no more free for the higher culture than his wife is. Indeed, he is not so free.
Of the two sexes the woman is in the more powerful position. For the average woman is at the head of something with which she can do as she likes; the average man has to obey orders and do nothing else. He has to put one dull brick on another dull brick,and do nothing else; he has to add one dull figure to another dull figure, and do nothing else. The woman’s world is a small one, perhaps, but she can alter it. The woman can tell the tradesman with whom she deals some realistic things about himself. The clerk who does this to the manager generally gets the sack,or shall we say (to avoid the vulgarism), finds himself free for higher culture. Above all… the woman does work which is in some small degree creative and individual. She can put the flowers or the furniture in fancy arrangements of her own. I fear the bricklayer cannot put the bricks in fancy arrangements of his own, without disaster to himself and others. If the woman is only putting a patch into a carpet, she can choose the thing with regard to colour.I fear it would not do for the office boy dispatching a parcel to choose his stamps with a view to colour; to prefer the tender mauve of the sixpenny to the crude scarlet of the penny stamp. A woman cooking may not always cook artistically; still she can cook artistically. She can introduce a personal and imperceptible alteration into the composition of a soup. The clerk is not encouraged to introduce a personal and imperceptible alteration into the figures in a ledger.”[6]

Although the points made by Chesterton remain valid, the point I intend to make is different from and more fundamental than those raised by the likes of G.K.Chesterton, Warren Farrell and Glenn Sacks. Not only is housework easy work, I contend, but, when performed in one’s own home, there is reason for questioning whether it ought to be classified as work at all.

To discover the reason why housework of the sort performed by housewives and other women in their own homes is not of the sort for which one is entitled to demand a remuneration one must look, not to the nature of the so-called ‘work’ performed, but rather to where it is performed, in respect of whose property and for whose benefit?

As previously noted, individuals who are employed as housekeepers, maids, child-minders and babysitters and who perform, in someone else’s home, work that is otherwise often identical to that performed by housewives in their own homes are perfectly entitled to demand a salary in return for what they do – albeit typically a rather low salary, reflecting the menial, safe, undemanding and unskilled nature of work involved. And, of course, unless they are themselves relatives of the homeowners[7], they almost invariably do demand and receive a salary in return for performing housework.

However, what is superficially the same activity is often regarded as work in some circumstances, but as a hobby or leisure-pursuit in another. Mark Twain recognised as much at the conclusion of a celebrated sequence from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer when he observed the paradox whereby:

Constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement [and] there are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign”.[8]

I contend that housework done in one’s own home is clearly of a very different nature from the work performed by a housekeeper in someone else’s home. A person performs housework in their own home, not in the expectation of receiving remuneration for doing so, but rather because of the intrinsic benefits that such work confers on themselves – namely the opportunity to live in a cleaner, tidier, more pleasant environment.

An analogy is provided by acts of personal hygiene. Whereas housework involves cleaning your own home, acts of personal hygiene involve cleaning, not your own home, but rather your own body.

All of us perform such acts of personal hygiene on a daily basis – showering, brushing our teeth, combing our hair, cleaning behind our ears etc. (or at last I hope we do!) – but no one has yet been audacious enough to demand a salary in return for brushing their teeth or washing their hair (although feminists have sometimes come close when they have been known to protest the extra time expended by women on such activities as applying make-up.[9]

However, acts of personal hygiene are also, like housework, sometimes performed in return for wages – namely, when they are done in respect of somebody else’s body rather than one’s own. Carers and nurses, therefore, are entitled to demand a salary when they perform acts of personal hygiene in respect of the bodies of other people who have been rendered incapable of performing these acts for themselves by illness or disability.[10]

In the same way that only a person who performs acts of personal hygiene in respect of someone else’s body expects a salary in compensation, only those who do housework in someone else’s house are legitimately entitled to demand payment for having done so.

“A person is only entitled to demand payment for work that he or she performs to improve the condition of an thing where the thing in question (be it a home, a car or a human body) is possessed and enjoyed by someone other than the person performing the work”

In case this distinction remains unclear, I will provide a second analogy – hobbies. As a general rule, people do not expect to be paid for working on their hobbies. They engage in them, not for money, but either because they enjoy the activity itself, or they enjoy the end-result of the activity[11].

For example, a man who owns a classic car may spend hours working on it and doing repairs. The work he does may be identical to that performed in return for a salary by a professional mechanic.

However, the classic car enthusiast does not think to demand a wage in return for this toil. He does it because, even if he does not enjoy the work itself, he enjoys its end-result – in this case the improved condition of prized automobile.

Again, the key distinguishing feature the unpaid classic car enthusiast from the paid mechanic is his ownership and possession of the object on which he is working. In other words, in the same way the housewife lives in and owns an interest in the home where she performs her housework, the classic car enthusiast likewise drives and owns the classic car which he devotes hours to polishing and repairing. Both therefore directly benefit from the work performed and are therefore not deserving of a salary.

Yet, while women frequently complain that their husbands do not do enough housework, few men with a hobby of working on their classic car at weekends have the audacity to claim that their wife does not do her fair share. As Jack Kammer demands in one of the quotations with which I begin this post: “How come you never hear a man complaining that his wife doesn’t do her fair share of polishing the chrome on the Camaro?

This allows us to tentatively formulate a general rule for determining what type of work is deserving of a salary, namely: A person is only entitled to demand payment for work that he or she performs to improve the condition of an thing where the thing in question (be it a home, a car or a human body) is possessed and enjoyed by someone other than the person performing the work!

In short, a woman no more deserves a salary in return for cleaning her own home than she does for wiping her own ass after she has taken a shit![12]

Who Benefits From Housework?

Of course, there is an obvious rejoinder to the foregoing argument. Housework, it can be argued, is done, not solely for the benefit of women themselves, but also for the benefit of their husbands and their children who also occupy their homes. Indeed, feminists have sometimes gone further and implied that husbands are the sole beneficiary of housework performed by wives, as when they describe wives as the mere ‘slaves’ or ‘domestic servants’ of their husbands.

Although the feminist assumption that housework is done solely for the benefit of husbands is surely implausible, the more moderate contention, namely that husbands, wives and offspring all benefit from housework performed by any one of them, seems, at first glance, superficially appealing.

“If women do housework half for themselves and half for their husbands, then only half of it should count as ‘work’ for the purposes of calculating how many hours each sex on average works. To include that portion of housework that they perform for themselves as ‘work’ would make no more sense than including the time they spend similarly brushing their teeth, blowing their noses or taking baths!”

After all, a husband typically lives in the same home as his wife, uses the same bathroom and even shares the same bed. If she makes her bed, therefore, she is obliged, inadvertently or not, to make his at the same time… ditto if she intends to clean her bathroom. Thus, even the most bitter and vindictive of wives would be surely hard-pressed to perform housework in such a way as to benefit only herself, even assuming she had a mind too. Conversely, a wife who, in accordance with feminist doctrine, intends to do housework only for the benefit of her husband would be hard-pressed not to inadvertently benefit herself.

Perhaps, it might then seem, a reasonable assumption is that housework performed by a wife (or a husband) benefits husband and wife approximately equally.

[For the sake of simplicity, I shall ignore for the moment any ostensible benefit to offspring. This issue shall be dealt with later in a later section, Why Childcare for Your Own Children Isn’t Work Either (see below). Let’s just assume, for the moment, that the couple in question are without children.]

Interestingly, even this superficially appealing assumption (namely that housework benefits husband and wife equally) renders the figures quoted earlier by Warren Farrell and Glenn Sacks misleading. After all, if women do housework half for themselves and half for their husbands, then only half of it should count as ‘work’ for the purposes of calculating how many hours each sex on average works. To include that portion of housework that they perform for themselves as ‘work’ would make no more sense than including the time they spend similarly brushing their teeth, blowing their noses or taking baths!

Moreover, we must remember that a large proportion of people are single and, while housework performed by a husband or wife may benefit the whole family, there is surely no question that nobody benefits from housework performed by a single person living alone other than the person themselves. No one can claim that a single man living by himself is not pulling his weight with regard to housework simply because he does not do as much housework as the single woman living by herself in the house or apartment next door!

Yet the figures cited by Farrell in the passages quoted above seem to count housework done by single people as hours spent working in the same way that they treat housework done by married or cohabiting couples!

Yet single women do, indeed, perform more housework than single men. This is perhaps no surprise. Indeed, the untidy and supposedly unhygienic conditions that many single men, especially students, chose to live in is widely remarked upon and is a common topic of popular misandric humour.

According to data cited by Professor of Law, Kingsley Browne, in his excellent Biology at Work: Rethinking Sex Equality [which I have reviewed here], unmarried women do approximately a third more housework than unmarried men.[13] Similarly, Catherine Hakim, citing a different study, reports that, “single women spend 50% more time on domestic work than single men, an average of three hours a day instead of just two”.[14] On the other hand, as recently as the 1960s, single women were found to do as much as three times as many hours of housework as single men.[15]

Yet the greater level of housework performed by single women as compared to single men is also pertinent for another more important reason – namely, it suggests that women, whether married or single, do housework primarily for the benefit, not of their husbands, but rather for themselves.

After all, if single women living alone do more housework than single men living in the same circumstances, they can hardly be doing so for the benefit of their husband or male cohabitant for the simple reason that they have no husband or male cohabitant who could conceivably benefit. Since they are living by themselves, the only people who could conceivably benefit are they themselves.

This suggests that the reason that married women do more housework than married men is not because they are exploited or coerced into doing housework by evil, exploitative, freeloading husbands. Rather, it simply suggests that women, whether single or married, simply value housework as more important than men do or else dislike doing it less.

Perhaps, as Angry Harry proposes in one of the quotations with which I have opened this discussion:

“The reason that men do less housework than women is because, quite simply, they are less easily offended by any given level of mess”.

Indeed, women may even enjoy some forms of housework. For example, Browne reports “on the strong interest inventory, some of the largest sex differences are found on such tasks as cooking, sewing, and ‘home economics’.[16] At any rate, there is certainly no question of exploitation or coercion.

Thus, citing data showing that single women spend fifty percent more time doing housework than do single men, Catherine Hakim concludes that this implies that, “one third or more of the time spent on housework by women consists of optional extras, in effect consumption”.[17] Thus, far from representing work, it is a form of leisure pursuit, analogous to a hobby.

As Kingsley Browne observes:

Much of the literature comparing men’s and women’s contributions to household work starts from the unstated assumptions that men and women equally value the fruits of household labor and that men and women find such labor equally distasteful… [Yet] if men and women cared equally about housework being performed, one would expect that men and women would perform equal amounts of housework before marriage and that when marriage terminates through divorce or spousal death, equality would be restored.”[18]

“Unmarried women do a third more housework than unmarried men. Yet no one can claim that a single man living by himself is not pulling his weight with regard to housework simply because he does not do as much housework as the single woman living in the house next door. Moreover, if unmarried single women living alone do more housework than unmarried single men living in the same circumstances, this suggests that the reason that married women do more housework than married men is not that they are exploited or coerced into doing housework by exploitative, freeloading husbands. Instead, it suggests that women, whether single or married, do more housework than men simply value housework as more important than do men or else dislike doing it less.”

Indeed, if, as feminists often suggest, married women do housework only or at least primarily for the benefit of their husbands, then single women, with no husband to benefit, would presumably do no housework at all. At any rate, they would certainly do far less housework than single men would do, as the latter would presumably be obliged to do for themselves all the housework that they otherwise demand be performed their wives. However, as we have seen, the precise opposite of this is the case.

Therefore, from a husband’s perspective, his wife may already be doing more housework than he regards as strictly necessary, so any extra work he might contribute would be wholly superfluous. As Hakim acknowledges, “one explanation for the reluctance of husbands to help with domestic work is the suspicion that there might be no need for it”.[19]

Indeed, men seem to gain little appreciable benefit from getting married. On the contrary, the data shows that married men end up doing, on average, almost as much housework as they did when they were single. As Browne puts it, “men’s housework hours are relatively constant across various marital statuses and living arrangements”.[20] To be more precise, married men on average do only about one hour less housework than they did when they were single.[21]

Thus, it appears men gain little tangible benefit by getting married – on average just an hour less time spent doing housework. Yet precisely because they now have a family to support, married men often work longer hours outside the home to provide for their wife and children, so it is doubtful this meagre benefit (an hour less housework per week) actually translates into a single minute more free time to themselves. On the contrary, they probably have far less free time overall.

At any rate, this meagre benefit (one hour less time spent doing household chores) is insufficient to compensate for the financial support married men are expected – and legally obligated – to provide for their wives. Moreover, men are legally obliged to continue to provide such financial support, in the form of alimony and maintenance, even after the relationship has dissolved and the couple separated – but, of course, ex-wives are not similarly legally obligated to go around to her ex-husband’s place and help tidy up for him!

As Browne concludes:

The husband [who refuses to do more housework] is not saying, ‘Now that I have a wife, I don’t have to do housework,’ but rather something more like ‘Now that I have a wife, I shouldn’t have to do more housework than I did when I was single’”.[22]

Certainly the feminist contention that married men receive a huge benefit from having a wife to do domestic chores in their place which facilitates their higher level of achievement in the world of work is exposed as a nonsense.

In short, it appears that men and women simply have different priorities and, for men, housework comes lower down on the list. As economist Jennifer Roback candidly admits:

“When I want my husband to do ‘his half’ of household chores, what I really want is for him to do half of everything on my list of important things. But he has his own list. He values some things that I do not. He does not value all the things that I do.”[23]

Similarly, Men’s Rights Activist Jack Kammer, in If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make All the Rules, observes:

“Women make a big point that they do more of the house-cleaning than we do. But they define what’s clean enough. How come you never hear a man complaining that his wife doesn’t do her fair share of polishing the chrome on the Camaro?”[24]

Although we have all been brainwashed to believe that doing housework is somehow a more selfless and worthwhile activity than is ‘polishing the chrome on one’s sports car’ and other characteristically male chores and hobbies, there is no real non-sexist reason why we must accept this conclusion.

In fact, the observation that women do housework primarily for their own benefit rather than that of their husbands should come as little surprise. Indeed, one has only to look at the typical decoration of a marital home to see that this is the case.

Anecdotally, the décor of the average conjugal home is designed more to appeal to the typical woman’s taste rather than that the typical man. As Esther Vilar observes in The Manipulated Man (which I have reviewed here), “Most men… in fact prefer the plain and functional[25] and have “no need of lace curtains or rubber plants in the living room”.[26]

Yet, Vilar continues:

Men… every day find themselves more deeply entangled in the undergrowth of superfluous ornamentation and all kinds of embellishments. In their living rooms the porcelain cats, barstools, glass-topped tables, candelabra, and silk cushions pile up; in their bedrooms the walls are papered with floral patterns; in their cabinets a dozen different kinds of glasses are lined up; and if they look for a place to put their razors in the bathroom, all the shelves are filled with the thousand creams and cosmetics of their artfully made-up wives.[27]

Men do not prefer living in such an environment. They consider it a cost, not a benefit, of marriage. If men liked this style of decoration, then, when still living alone, they would decorate their bachelor pads in a similar fashion. But they do not. To put the matter bluntly, men have better taste.

Add to this alien and exotic décor the fact that the husband usually spends far less time in the home he and his wife ostensibly share precisely because he is typically out working extra hours to keep up mortgage repayments on that home, and, as often as not, bankroll his wife’s indolent but extravagant lifestyle; and the fact that it is the husband who is far more likely to lose the right to reside in that same home in the event of a separation or divorce, and it becomes all too clear that, as Vilar herself observes, “man is, in fact, a homeless creature, moving constantly between office and house”.[28]

As Warren Farrell writes in The Myth of Male Power (which I have reviewed here), although “from a woman’s perspective, a man’s home is his castle; from a man’s perspective, a woman’s home is his mortgage”.[29]

In a very real sense, then, a married man’s home is not his own!

Why Childcare for Your Own Children Isn’t Work Either

“Women choose to have children. They make this choice voluntarily – presumably because they anticipate enjoying spending time with their children. Deciding to have children is therefore best classed as a leisure pursuit rather than as form of work analogous to paid employment. It is analogous to the decision one makes to buy a pet, or invest in a classic car to renovate.”

If housework in your own house isn’t really work, then what about childcare for your own children? Surely, it cannot be denied that this is properly to be classified as ‘work’ and hence deserving of remuneration?

After all, I have argued that women do housework, not for the benefit of their husbands, but rather primarily for themselves, because they value living in a cleaner and prettier environment more than men do. Surely I cannot make the same case in respect of childcare. After all, almost by definition, childcare is done, not for the benefit of yourself, but rather for the child. It is therefore surely an altruistic act demanded of remuneration and encouragement. Moreover, if women do more childcare than men, surely this is unfair.

There are two main points to be made in response to this argument. Firstly, it is not altogether clear that women do provide more childcare than men – only that the care they provide is of a different type. In general, women provide more direct care – i.e. hands-on time with their children. In contrast, fathers are more often responsible for providing financially for their children – including by providing financially for the child’s mother precisely so as to enable her to provide more direct care (e.g. by giving up work or cutting down on her hours).

“If women did not enjoy the time they spend with their children, then they would presumably choose not to have children in the first place. The wide availability of contraception, abortions and other forms of birth control in western societies makes this choice effectively available to all women. Indeed, even after having given birth, they still retain the option of giving the child up for adoption.”

As Warren Farrell has observed, the male tragedy is that their manner of caring their children (i.e. working enough hours to financially provide for them) actually keeps them away from their children and denies them the opportunity to receive love from their children in return.

Moreover, men’s form of providing for their children is compulsory, whereas women’s is strictly a matter of choice. Women are at liberty to renounce any obligation to care for their children either by deciding not to have children in the first place or by giving the children up for adoption. In contrast, men are legally obliged to financially support their children, and often the child’s mother, through an ongoing obligation to pay maintenance and alimony for so long as the mother maintains custody.

This obligation is ongoing, and continues, not only in the event of separation or divorce, but even if there was never any form of long-term relationship in the beginning – and even if the father had no desire to have children in the first place. After all, it is, so we are told, ‘a woman’s choice’ whether to have an abortion. Yet men, although denied any say over the decision whether to abort a foetus, are nevertheless legally obligated to pay child support for the next eighteen or so years.

This observation leads to the third and most important reason women cannot legitimately complain of the time and effort they expend caring for their children – namely women choose to have children! They make this choice voluntarily – presumably because they anticipate enjoying spending time with their children.

Deciding to have children is therefore best classed as a leisure pursuit rather than a form of work analogous to paid employment. It is analogous, instead, to the decision one makes to buy a pet, or invest in a classic car to renovate. Certainly, one might say that caring for a pet or renovating a classic car in one’s spare time involves ‘work’ in at least some senses of this word. However, such activities are also unambiguously hobbies and not the sort of thing for which one is entitled to demand a salary.

As Kingsley Browne puts it in Biology at Work: Rethinking Sex Equality (which I have reviewed here):

The opportunity to perform this ‘unpaid labor’ [i.e. childcare] is precisely what causes so many women to withdraw, in whole or in part, from the labor force upon the birth of a child, and these activities are widely perceived as part of the joys of parenthood.[30]

If women did not enjoy the time they spend with their children, then they would presumably choose not to have children in the first place. The wide availability of contraception, abortions and other forms of birth control in western societies makes this choice effectively available to all women.

Indeed, even after having given birth, if they then discover that caring for a child was not all they expected it to be, they still retain the option of giving the child up for adoption. If they give the child up for adoption while he or she is still in early infancy, there is a large waiting list of well-to-do middle-class parents, carefully vetted by adoption agencies for suitability as parents, only too willing to provide a loving environment for unwanted infants.

It is therefore clear that, far from representing an arduous travail unwillingly foisted upon them, women choose to have children and then care for them because doing so is something they positively enjoy. On reflection, this is not altogether surprising. After all, in doing have children and then devote time and effort to caring for them, they are performing what is, in Darwinian terms, the primary, if not sole, purpose of their life and existence.

Although women like to portray the care they provide for their offspring as a supremely selfless act, from a Darwinian perspective, caring for one’s children is arguably not ‘altruistic’ at all in the strict biological sense.[31] On the contrary, it reflects the interests of, if not a selfish person, then at least the “selfish genes” within them, concerned to ensure the passage of the genetic material they encode into the next generation.

As Steve Moxon observes in The Woman Racket:

Having children is the natural, but perfectly selfish desire of most women. In important ways this corresponds to the desire in men – equally natural, but perfectly selfish – to have sex with an endless stream of different partners. Societies try to stop the latter, but [through the welfare system] now not only allow the former, but encourage it through payment extracted from others: mainly men [i.e. taxes and child maintenance]… It makes less sense than it would to pay men to visit prostitutes to further their corresponding natural inclinations. Nobody in their right mind would suggest such a thing, of course; but the social implications would be incomparably more benign than subsidising women to have children.[32]

Interestingly, maternal care for offspring is universal throughout mammalian order. Indeed, the very word “mammal” is derived from the name of the mammary glands, which represent the key vehicle of this care in most mammals. In contrast, paternal care is the rare exception rather than the rule even in mammals. Moreover, even in those few cases where it does occur, it is invariably of a lesser magnitude than the care provided by mothers. One reason is probably the inevitable uncertainty regarding the true paternity of any putative offspring. A father can never be sure that he is indeed ensuring the passage of his “selfish genes” into the next generation, or those of another man instead.

Neither is deciding to have children an altruistic act – either in the biological or the ordinary sense. On the contrary, in this modern environmentally aware age, it is surely an act of supreme selfishness.

Rather than sanctimoniously recycling plastic bags and other such largely ineffective and wholly inefficient means of ‘doing their bit to help the environment’, women would do better to simply have more abortions, use more contraception and thereby have fewer children. Better yet, they could do something genuinely altruistic in the true biological sense by getting themselves sterilized.

Strictly speaking, in giving birth, a mother may not increase her own carbon footprint by all that much, but, in bringing a whole new person into the world with a life expectancy of over seventy years, she instead adds an entirely new person complete with a ‘carbon footprint’, and capacity to wreak environmental damage, all of their own.

Indeed, quite apart from the environmental damage wrought by reproduction, the costs to society are immense. As pioneering ecologist and environmentalist Garrett Hardin observed:

A medical abortion, particularly in the early stages, costs only a fraction as much as a medically supported childbirth—not to mention the costs of education and other social services to the child for 18 years. So: when a woman elects to have a child, she is committing the community to something like $100,000 in expenses for the bearing and rearing of that child. Is it wise to extend individual rights that far?[33]

At any rate, the proper response to any woman who complains of the hard work involved in raising a child or who protests that being a mother is a ‘full-time job’, is to ask her why, in that case, she chose to have children in the first place? Why didn’t she have an abortion? And, if raising a child is such hard and unrewarding work, why, in that case, doesn’t she give it up for adoption? Given the variety of options available to them, women have no right whatever to complain of the supposed burdens of motherhood.

What About Childcare by Men?

Interestingly, whereas women choose voluntarily to have children, and thus voluntarily assume whatever childcare this decision entails, the same cannot be said of men. Whereas women have the opportunity to choose not to have children, men are systematically denied this choice.

Firstly, as I have already observed, men are denied any say in the decision whether to abort a foetus – yet they are nevertheless still legally obliged to pay maintenance to financially support the raising of the resulting offspring for the next eighteen years.[34]

One man whose ex-girlfriend had lied to him both about being infertile and about being on the pill but had subsequently become pregnant and intended to carry the baby to term and sue the father for child maintenance even sought to assert his reproductive rights in the US courts. Although the case (Dubay v. Wells) involved the assertion of rights directly analogous to those guaranteed to women by the ruling in Roe v Wade, and involved fundamental reproductive rights of the sort ostensibly guaranteed, and declared ‘universal’ and ‘inalienable’ (and other empty words), not only by the US Constitution, but also by virtually all modern human rights declarations (and other such worthless scraps of paper), the case was predictably unsuccessful.

Conversely in those cases where the respective positions of the prospective mother and father were the opposite of those in Dubay v. Wells, namely where the (presumed) father sought to prevent his wife, girlfriend or other sexual partner from aborting their joint offspring, the courts have also invariably sided with the mother, both in the US[35] and other jurisdictions such as the UK.[36] Indeed, even laws merely requiring the notification of the husband or presumed father that his partner intends to abort his unborn child have been struck down as unconstitutional.[37]

Not only are men denied any say over the decision whether to abort a foetus, their other options are also restricted. There is, for example, still no Male Pill.

Similarly, the decision to put a child out for adoption is, in practice, the preserve of the mother. Although theoretically the father should be notified of a decision by the mother to put the child up for adoption, in practice the mother can withhold information as to the father’s identity and may never even inform the father of the child’s conception and birth. In contrast, a father is virtually never able to put a child up for adoption without the mother’s knowledge.

Thus, although so-called reproductive rights are usually regarded as “human rights”, and hence as fundamental, universal, inalienable in nature (whatever these empty words mean), and are indeed included as such in one form or another in most international human rights treaties and declarations (and other worthless scraps of paper), they appear to be, in practice, the exclusive preserve of only the female half the human population.

[This is true also in respect of various other human rights, such as the right to life, the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their sex and the right not to be free from forced labour and enslavement.[38]]

Other forms of contraception (e.g. condoms) involve some level of mutual cooperation. However, even here, women’s bargaining power is clearly greater, given both the greater strength of the male sex drive[39] and the fact that a woman can always insist that she is already on the Pill and that further contraception is unnecessary, with any further protests by the male partner taking on the implication that the woman is either lying or is diseased (hardly the sort of suggestion one can politely make to a person with whom one is attempting to initiate relations of a highly intimate nature, especially given that its concomitant implication of promiscuity, which is especially stigmatised among women).

Among married and cohabiting couples, one might hope that the decision to have, or not have, children is a joint one. However, married or unmarried, the woman remains, in law, the ultimate arbitrator[40]. Thus, even where there exists ostensible agreement, one is led to suspect that, given the imbalanced bargaining positions of the parties, the husband’s acquiescence may be often granted only under duress.

This leads to a surprising conclusion: Whereas mothers have no legitimate grounds to complain about or demand remuneration for the effort expended in caring for their own children because the decision to do have children is generally one they have made voluntarily, the same cannot be said of fathers. The latter, lacking basic reproductive rights, are often forced into fatherhood against their wishes and through no fault or decision of their own.

Yet, as we have seen, men often provide as much as, if not more, care for their children than do women. The only difference is the form this care takes.

For men, then, perhaps parental care, whether in the form of direct care, or financial provisioning, is work and deserving of remuneration – at least where they are forced into fatherhood unwillingly. Certainly, the legal obligation that they financially provide for offspring despite being denied the choice whether to have offspring in the first place is unwarranted and unfair.

Is Housework in Your Own House ‘Unpaid’ or ‘Overpaid’?

According to the feminists, housework performed by women in their own homes is deserving of a salary but this salary is unfairly denied to women. We have seen that the first part of this claim – namely that performing housework in your own house is deserving of a salary – is mistaken. However, what about the second part – namely the claim that housework is indeed currently unpaid? Is this claim also mistaken?

If the feminists are right on this second point (namely, that housework is unpaid), then there is nothing for men to complain about. All that is necessary is to oppose any attempt by feminists to rectify this perceived injustice by imposing a salary for homemakers, perhaps provided by the taxpayer as some feminists have demanded.

Unfortunately, however, this is not the case. In reality, housework and childcare performed by wives and mothers is already remunerated. In fact, far from being ‘unpaid’, as the feminists contend, it is already decidedly overpaid.[41]

How, then, is housework and childcare performed by wives and mothers paid? Certainly, wives and mothers do not receive a salary in the ordinary sense. They do, however, receive money which can be conceptualized as payment for any housework or childcare they take it upon themselves to perform. This money comes almost exclusively from men – primarily husbands, ex-husbands and other males – but, in last resort, the taxpayer (also disproportionately male) may also contribute.

Certainly, single women do not generally receive any payment for housework they perform in their own homes[42] – and this is surely rightly so because, living alone, the only person who can conceivably benefit from housework they perform is they themselves. However, the same is not true of married or cohabiting women, who are typically paid prodigiously for any housework they take it upon themselves to undertake.

Most married or cohabiting women receive a portion of their husband’s salary in addition to their own. This can be conceptualized as payment in return for any housework that they perform. As Warren Farrell has observed:

A married man’s income is not for him, it is for the family. If he earns three-quarters of the income, he pays three-quarters of the bills. Sometimes more. ‘His’ income becomes their home and garden, their cars and car insurance and mostly her doctor and therapist bills. Their combined income is about seven times more likely to be spent on her personal items… than his.[43]

This reflects perhaps the fundamental fallacy of feminism – namely the assumption that, because men earn more money than women, this necessarily means that they have more money than women too and are wealthier.

The fallacy is obvious and elementary. It ranks as equal in wealth an unemployed homeless man living on the streets with the indolent wife of a millionaire tycoon. Neither earns any money for themselves – therefore, so the logic goes, each must be equally well-off.

Thus, it is true that, as the feminists often contend, men on average earn more money than women. This is unsurprising given that men work, on average, longer hours, under more dangerous and unpleasant working environments and fora greater proportion of their adult lives among countless other sacrifices which men endure in return for higher pay.[44]

[See Warren Farrell’s Why Men Earn More (which I have reviewed here) and Kingsley Browne’s Biology at Work: Rethinking Sex Equality (which I have reviewed here).]

However, this does not mean men are financially better off or wealthier – because a large proportion of the money earned by men is actually spent by or on their girlfriends, wives and ex-wives.

Thus, market researchers have long recognised that women dominate most areas of consumer spending. Bernice Kanner, in her book Pocketbook Power: How to Reach the Hearts and Minds of Today’s Most Coveted Consumer – Women, cites data that, in contemporary America, women make approximately 88% of retail purchases.[45] Similarly, Marti Barletta reports in another book in the same sub-genre, Marketing to Women: How to understand reach and increase your share of the world’s largest market segment, that women are responsible for about 80% of household spending.[46]

Indeed, it could be said that the entire process of human courtship is predicated on the redistribution of wealth from men to women – from the social obligation for the man to pay for dinner and drinks on the first date to the legal obligation that he continue to financially support his ex-wife and her offspring for anything up to several decades after he has belatedly rid himself of her.

[A review of the evidence confirming women’s similarly disproportionate control of most areas of consumer spending in the UK in the early 1990s is provided by David Thomas in his excellent 1993 anti-feminist polemic, Not Guilty: The Case in Defence of Men.]

Housework is therefore certainly not unpaid. However, having said all this, it must be conceded that there are problems with viewing the money redistributed from husbands and partners to their wives, spouses and significant others as payment for housework performed by the latter (quite apart from the fact that housework in one’s own home is, as we have seen, not deserving of a salary in the first place).

Firstly, the money he pays her is rarely conditional on the fact that she actually perform any housework, let alone on the quality of the housework she does perform. Whereas the expectation that a wife perform housework is, at best, purely a social one (and, in this post-feminist age perhaps not even that), men are legally obligated to financially provide for and support their wives. Moreover, they are legally obligated to do so even if their wife performs no housework at all, and even if her children are taken from her by the social services due to neglect or ill-treatment. Yet there is no legal obligation that a wife actually perform any housework at all

Indeed, one of the many perversities and inequities of divorce law in countries such as the UK is that it is precisely those women who typically perform the least housework who are rewarded most handsomely for their trouble – namely those wives whose husbands are so wealthy enough that they can afford housekeepers, nannies and other domestic servants such that their wives have little if anything left to do for themselves.

Secondly, thanks to alimony and maintenance requirements, ex-husbands are often legally obliged to continue to financially provide for their ex-wives even long after they have separated from one another. However, after separation, any housework she performs in herhome is surely of no benefit to him living as he does in an entirely different place.

In short, after divorce, although he is still legally obligated to financially support her, she is unlikely to come around to his place to help him tidy up.

Indeed, the need to compensate homemakers for the housework they perform is one of the justifications cited by the courts to justify the redistribution of wealth from men to women that typically accompanies divorce. However, I am not aware of a single case where the courts have made even the most cursory enquiry into the quality of the housework a wife has performed – nor even whether she actually performed any in the first place.

Yet the courts have decreed that during divorce proceedings the indolent spouse must be compensated for their lost earnings and possible promotions during the period of their economic inactivity.[47] Yet surely one ought not to be compensated for the luxury of leading a life of leisure.

The assumption underlying this policy is that staying at home, living off the money earned by your spouse, spending time with your children and shopping is somehow less rewarding than continuing to going to the office day after day. If working were really as rewarding as all that then they wouldn’t have to pay people to do it in the first place!

The result is a reversal of the usual societal incentives that reward hard work and penalise indolence and exploitation.[48] In truth, surely it is the spouse who continues going to work to support his family who is making the real sacrifice. In contrast, the indolent wife, far from making a sacrifice, is living a wholly exploitative and parasitic existence analogous to that of a pimp.

Is Caring for Your own Children ‘Unpaid’ or ‘Overpaid’?

While wives and ex-wives typically receive recompense for the housework they perform from their husbands, ex-husbands and partners, mothers also receive payments for the childcare they perform even if they are single and were never married to the child’s father. These payments come in two forms:

1) Child maintenance payments;
2) Welfare payments.

The obligation on the biological father to pay maintenance for his offspring is imposed despite the fact that, as we have seen, the biological father is denied any say over whether he wished to be a father in the first place.

Similarly the obligation on the taxpayer to support single mothers and their offspring is imposed despite the fact that taxpayers and the state are similarly denied any say over the decision whether to abort the child or carry it to term.

In both cases, it is, in practice, overwhelmingly men who end up footing the bill and women who end up benefiting.

In the case of maintenance, the men in question are usual fathers, who are obliged to pay maintenance despite being denied both the decision whether to have children in the first place and, in many cases, access to and custody of their children due to discrimination by the family courts.[49] (In some cases though non-biological fathers – victims of so-called ‘paternity fraud’ – are also obliged to pay maintenance for the rearing of children who are, in truth, no biological relation to them, and are then, in many jurisdictions, denied any legal remedy despite being the victims of theft on a grand scale.)

In the case of welfare payments to single women, it is still mostly men who end up footing the bill. The reason for this is that it is men who pay most of the taxes. The reason men pay most of the taxes is because they earn most of the money and the reason they earn most of the money is because they work longer hours, for a greater proportion of their lives and in more dangerous and arduous occupations than do women.[50]

This latter arrangement (welfare payments to single mothers) is an example of what Warren Farrell describes in The Myth of Male Power (which I have reviewed here) as “Government as a Substitute Husband”.[51] Instead of being financially supported by a husband, single mothers instead look to the government to play the role of husband.

As historian Martin Van Creveld observes:

On the face of it, a husband, a charitable institution and a modern welfare state are entirely different. In fact, although the details differ, the principle is the same. All are designed partly – and some would say primarily – to transfer resources from men… to women.[52]

In short, if a suitable man cannot be found on whom to foist the obligation to financially support an indolent woman and her offspring, or if the man in question is so poverty-stricken that he cannot adequately perform this role by himself, the government inevitably steps in to rescue her like a knight in shining armour (or, in other words, a sucker).

As in the case of child maintenance paid by fathers, it is ultimately mostly men – in this case taxpayers – who end up paying. And again, as in the case of child maintenance payments paid by fathers, the men in question (i.e. taxpayers) are denied any say over whether the child ought to have been born in the first place.

Although it is fine for the government to forcibly expropriate men’s hard-earned income, whether in the form of child maintenance obligations or of taxes, any suggestion that the government could instead force women to have abortions if they lack the means to raise a child on their own or, better yet, compulsorily sterilize them or introduce a “parental licencing scheme” (such as that proposed by behavioural geneticist David Lykken) is dismissed as tantamount to fascism.

However, there is, once again, a problem with viewing child maintenance and welfare payments to single mothers as recompense for the childcare these women perform – namely the payments are not in any way dependent on the quality of childcare performed.

There is no legal obligation that a mother provide even a minimal criterion of satisfactory care for her children. For example, she is not penalized in any way for smoking or drinking when she is pregnant, feeding her offspring nothing but junk food, or failing to help them with reading and homework. Nor is the level of maintenance or welfare which she is entitled to demand reduced for these culpable acts and omissions.

Only where the level of neglect or mistreatment is so severe that it amounts to a criminal offence are children usually removed from their mothers by the social services. In some rare cases, the father may even be given custody instead. However, the courts are reluctant to take this step and this generally occurs only in the most extreme cases of abuse and neglect and women are far more likely to be awarded custody rights than are fathers.[53]

This is despite the fact that, contrary to popular opinion as fostered by the misandric mainstream media, government statistics consistently demonstrate that women are more likely to abuse children than are men,[54] and mothers are more likely to abuse their own offspring than are fathers.[55]

Indeed, although extreme and draconian measures are adopted to ensure that non-resident fathers pay child support (including, under English law, “imprisonment, driving disqualification, removal of travel authorisation… and even a curfew order”[56]) there are essentially no procedures to ensure that the money in question, on being received, is actually spent on the child. On the contrary, according to a leading student textbook on family law in the UK, “the sums can be used by the mother to ‘pay herself’ and the mother is not required to account for how the money is spent”.[57]

In short, although the British courts pay frequent lip service to the best interests of the child as their ostensible guiding principle, this is in truth a mere fig-leaf to disguise the real intention of the courts – namely to serve, not the best interests of children, but rather the interests, or more precisely, the desires, of women.

Children are, in truth, little more tools for women to extract more money from men. In this respect, as Esther Vilar memorably observed, they serve a function analogous to the hostages taken by kidnappers in the expectation of extracting ransom money from the father.[58]

Conclusion

I have entitled this post ‘Unpaid Labour or Overpaid Laziness: Why Housework in Your Own House Isn’t Really Work’.

In fact, whether housework is properly to be considered work is ultimately a mere semantic dispute, turning on the arbitrary definition accorded to the word ‘work’. Certainly, housework in one’s own house can be regarded as qualifying as ‘work’, according to some definitions of this word. However, the effort expended in pursuit of one’s hobby of building model aeroplanes or renovating a classic car you own can also satisfy these definitions. So can ‘working on’ improving your golf game.

Perhaps even washing behind one’s ears in the shower can qualify as ‘work’ according to some meanings of this term. It is, after all, surely an “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result”, as required by the primary definition provided by the Oxford English dictionary (the “result” in question being cleaner ears) and, although the mental and physical effort is rather minimal, this is also true of many other activities widely regarded as constituting ‘work’, not least housework itself.

The substantive point, however, is that none of these activities is of such a type that it appropriate or legitimate for a person to demand recompense or remuneration in return for their performance. Each is an activity undertaken by a person voluntarily for their own benefit because of the intrinsic rewards of either the activity itself or its end-result.

The only recompense you are entitled to expect in return for cleaning your own home is the opportunity to live in a cleaner home – just as the only recompense you deserve for cleaning behind your ears in the shower is cleaner ears and the only recompense for wiping your ass after taking a shit is a cleaner ass.

Similarly, the only recompense a person deserves for caring for their children is the joy they receive by virtue of spending time with them and perhaps the hope that they will be happier, better-adjusted and more successful as a result.

These are rewards of themselves and are, after all, the reason why people choose to engage in these activities in the first place.

_________________

Endnotes

[1] McElroy, Wendy, (2006) ‘Mother’s ‘Work’ Doesn’t Warrant Paycheck’, Fox News, May 09, 2006

[2] Jack Kammer, 2002 ‘If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make the Rules: at p79

[3] Farrell, W., Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men: A Debate [which I have reviewed here] at p62; Farrell presents a similar comparison in his seminal The Myth of Male Power (which I have reviewed here) which is also reproduced in Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say, where he treats the subject of housework in greater depth. Corroborating this claim, Catherine Hakim, in Key Issues in Women’s Work (p50), reports:

“Adding together market work, domestic and childcare work, the evidence for the 1970s onwards is that wives and women generally do fewer total hours than husbands and men generally… From the 1970s onward, wives without paid employment had the shortest total work hours… By the start of the 21st century, even in families with a child under five years, spouses in employment contributed roughly equal work hours (paid and unpaid) in most modern societies. On average, full-time mothers had a lower total workload than fathers with full-time jobs.”

More recently, writing in Prospect magazine (an article entitled ‘Who Works Harder’), Hakim has revised this conclusion only slightly, claiming that:

The key finding [of ‘time budget studies’] is that when all forms of work are added together, men and women do exactly the same total hours of productive activity: just under eight hours a day. As expected, men do substantially more hours of paid work, while women’s time is divided fairly evenly between paid and unpaid work.

[4] Farrell, W., Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men: A Debate [which I have reviewed here]: at p66.

[5] A husband hardly qualifies. As we will see, men care little about the décor of their homes. At most, they might expect a half-decent meal to be ready soon after they have returned from a hard day’s work.

[6] G.K. Chesterton (1915) “All Things Considered”.

[7] For example, relatives such as grandmothers may sometimes perform activities such as childminding pro gratis because they are related to the children concerned. This is analogous to the childminding performed by mothers, and therefore, I argue, not necessarily deserving of a salary, as discussed later in my essay.

[8] The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Twain’s own theory, as expressed in this famous passage, is that, “work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do”. However, this is inadequate because it fails to explain precisely what is meant by “obliged to do”. Strictly speaking, one can argue that even a slave is not obliged to work. It is just that, if they do not, they will be whipped or killed. Similarly, any man can choose not to work, but if he does he is likely to slip into destitution. (A woman, on the other hand, can choose not to work and avoid destitution by the simpler expedient of marrying a man and then living off of his income.)

[9] In reality, the extra time women expend attending to their physical appearance is also already amply remunerated in the form of the greater willingness of men to provide for and financially support women whom they perceive as attractive. This, of course, is the reason why women engage in such activities in the first place.

[10] As in respect of housework, such acts may be done without expectation of payment when they are performed in respect of close relatives.

[11] For example, I expect that most people whose hobby is playing golf do so because they enjoy the activity itself, rather than because they wish to win tournaments. On the other hand, I suspect that a man whose hobby is doing repairs on his classic car does so, not because he enjoys the activity itself, but rather because he enjoys the improved condition of his classic car that results from the repairs. Similarly, I suspect that people of both sexes do housework, not because they actually enjoy doing it, but rather because they prefer to live in the cleaner and more visually appealing environment that results, though, as we will see, the extent to which they prefer such an environment differs by sex.

[12] Those of a puritanical disposition who dislike the deliberate crudeness of my chosen analogy are welcome to substitute “brushing her own teeth” or “washing behind her own ears in the bath” or any number of other acts of personal hygiene which we all perform on a regular basis as a replacement for my chosen analogy. Indeed, the very number and variety of such acts, and the preposterousness of demanding a salary in return for each and every one of them, is the essence of my point.

[13] Biology at Work by Kingsley Browne (which I have reviewed here). Browne relies on data provided by South SJ and Spitze G (1994) Housework in Marital and Nonmarital Households American Sociological Review 59: 327-347.

[14] Hakim, C, 2004 Key Issues in Woman’s Work: Female Diversity and the Polarisation of Women’s Employment: at p48.

[15] Hakim, C, 2004 Key Issues in Women’s Work: at p48.

[16] Browne, K., 2002 Biology at Work (which I have reviewed here): p170.

[17] Hakim, C, 2004 Key Issues in Women’s Work: at p48.

[18] Browne, K., 2002 Biology at Work (which I have reviewed here): p169.

[19] Hakim, C 2004 Key Issues in Women’s Work: at p47.

[20] Browne, K., 2002 Biology at Work (which I have reviewed here): p169.

[21] South SJ and Spitze G (1994) Housework in Marital and Nonmarital Households American Sociological Review 59: 327-347.

[22] Browne, K., 2002 Biology at Work (which I have reviewed here): p169-70.

[23] Roback J. 1993 Beyond Equality Georgetown Law Journal 82: 121-133 (Quoted in Biology at Work (reviewed here): at p170).

[24] Jack Kammer, in If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make All the Rules: p79.

[25] Vilar, E. The Manipulated Man (which I have reviewed here): p44.

[26] Vilar, E. The Manipulated Man (which I have reviewed here): p55.

[27] Vilar, E. The Manipulated Man (which I have reviewed here): p44.

[28] Vilar, E. The Manipulated Man (which I have reviewed here): p44.

[29] Farrell, W. The Myth of Male Power (which I have reviewed here).

[30] Browne, K., 2002 Biology at Work (which I have reviewed here): p171.

[31] Ultimately this is a purely semantic dispute, depending on the definition one ascribes to the work ‘altruism’. Most biologists define ‘altruism’ as behaviour that enhances the fitness of another organism at a cost to one’s own fitness. On this definition, parental care is indeed altruistic. Adopting the terminology of Richard Alexander in The Biology of Moral Systems (p140-1), we might say that it is ‘genotypically selfish’ but ‘phenotypically altruistic’.

[32] Moxon, S (2008) The Woman Racket Exeter: Imprint Academic: p246-7.

[33] Hardin, G, (1997) Open Letter to American Civil Liberties Union – quoted in Vaclac Smil, Obituary for Garrett Hardin American Scientist (2004) 92(1):8.

[34] To my knowledge, this fundamental inequity was first pointed to by Herb Goldberg in his 1975 men’s rights classic, The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of Masculine Privilege, when he observed:

Now, the woman retains the ultimate legal right to decide on all matters of childbirth. If she becomes accidentally or unexpectedly pregnant and wants to have the baby he cannot say ‘no’ and demand an abortion. In spite of this lack of decision, he still retains legal responsibility financially and legally. On the other hand, if the father wants the baby and the mother and the woman wants to have an abortion, he again cannot enforce his will, even if he agrees to assume full responsibility for the child. I propose that any couple intending to have a child sign a contract formalizing this mutual desire. In the absence of such a contract the male must be given the prerogative of demanding an abortion unless he is released from any legal or financial responsibility if the child insists she wants the child despite his request to terminate the pregnancy. Otherwise whenever birth control measures fail, the father becomes a potential victim because he is legally responsible without having made the decision to have a child. It is I believe a form of discrimination for the male to be held responsible for an unplanned child while the woman is permitted to decide whether or not she wishes to have the baby.

More recently, this issue, and Goldberg’s proposed solution, has attracted belated attention from mainstream legal scholars (see, for example, Kapp M. (1982) Father’s (Lack of) Right and Responsibilities in the Abortion Decision: An Examination of Legal-Ethical Implications. Ohio Northern University Law Review, 9,369-383; McCulley MG (1988). The male abortion: the putative father’s right to terminate his interests in and obligations to the unborn child Journal of Law and Policy 7 (1): 1-55), albeit to little avail.

[35] Danforth v Planned Parenthood 428 U.S. 52 (1976); Planned Parenthood v Casey 505 U.S. 833 (1992)

[36] E.g. in the UK: Paton v. Trustees of British Pregnancy Advisory Service Trustees [1978] QB 276; C v S [1988] QB 135)

[37] Planned Parenthood v Casey 505 U.S. 833 (1992)

[38] See for example the decision is Rostker v Goldberg, where the US Supreme Court remarkably managed to violate or endanger every single one of these ostensibly universal human rights with just one ruling.

[39] Baumeister, RF, Catanese, KR, and Vohs, KD (2001) Is There a Gender Difference in Strength of Sex Drive? Theoretical Views, Conceptual Distinctions, and a Review of Relevant Evidence Personality and Social Psychology Review 5(3): 242–273.

[40] In Danforth v Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood v Casey, the US Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional state laws under which a husband’s consent was required before an abortion could be carried out. Indeed, as noted above, in Casey even a requirement that a husband be merely notified that his wife was undergoing the procedure was struck down.

[41] Indeed, given that, as we have seen, no payment whatsoever is warranted or deserved, any level of payment would represent overpayment. However, in the case of the housework and childcare performed by wives, the level of overpayment is often inordinate and extortionate.

[42] However, as we will see, single mothers do usually receive a salary, from either the child’s absent father and/or the state.

[43] Farrell, W., Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say

[44] See Farrell, W. Why Men Earn More (which I have reviewed here) and Browne K Biology at Work: Rethinking Sex Equality(which I have reviewed here).

[45] Kanner, B., Pocketbook Power: How to Reach the Hearts and Minds of Today’s Most Coveted Consumer – Women: p5.

[46] Barletta, M., Marketing to Women: How to understand reach and increase your share of the world’s largest market segment: p6.

[47] For example, in the UK, in the leading case of Miller v Miller, Baroness Hale referred to the need to compensate the non-economically active spouse for what she referred to as “relationship-generated disadvantage”, on the basis that the wife in this case had “given up what would very probably have been a lucrative and successful career”.

[48] A report by the Cheltenham Group observes, “the usual rules in our society, that if you study hard work hard and so on, you will be financially rewarded, are entirely reversed by divorce” and “the man who has applied himself and contributed to our society will be penalised for his endeavours, while the woman who has done little will be rewarded” with the result that “those men who have supported their wives and families during married life are the very men asked to make the greatest contribution after” (‘Marriage and Fatherhood: Important Information for Young Men’ 1998).

[49] In The Second Sexism, David Benatar reports “in the United States, fathers gain sole custody of children in about 10% of cases and women in nearly three-quarters” and “in cases of conflicting requests for physical custody, mothers requests for custody were granted twice as often as fathers”, while “in 90% of cases where there was an uncontested request for maternal physical custody of the children the mother was awarded this custody”, whereas this was granted “in only 75% of cases in which there was an uncontested request for paternal physical custody” (p50). Although the Supreme Court declared in 1979 that discrimination against men in custody disputes was unconstitutional, the courts and legislatures easily evaded this proscription by favouring instead the so-called ‘primary caregiver’ (The Privileged Sex: p177), a clear case of indirect discrimination, given that ‘primary caregivers’ are overwhelmingly female.

[50] See Farrell, W. Why Men Earn More (which I have reviewed here) and Browne K Biology at Work: Rethinking Sex Equality(which I have reviewed here).

[51] This forms the title of Part 3 of Farrell’s Men’s Rights classic, The Myth of Male Power (which I have reviewed here)

[52] Van Creveld, M. (2013) The Privileged Sex: p137.

[53] In The Second Sexism, David Benatar reports “in the United States, fathers gain sole custody of children in about 10% of cases and women in nearly three-quarters” and “in cases of conflicting requests for physical custody, mothers requests for custody were granted twice as often as fathers”, while “in 90% of cases where there was an uncontested request for maternal physical custody of the children the mother was awarded this custody”, whereas this was granted “in only 75% of cases in which there was an uncontested request for paternal physical custody” (p50). Although the Supreme Court declared in 1979 that discrimination against men in custody disputes was unconstitutional, the courts and legislatures easily evaded this proscription by favouring instead the so-called ‘primary caregiver’ (The Privileged Sex: p177), a clear case of indirect discrimination, given that ‘primary caregivers’ are overwhelmingly female.

[54] According to data provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s factsheet “Child Maltreatment: Facts at a Glance – 2014”, 54% of the perpetrators of child maltreatment are women and only 45% are men. This may be somewhat misleading, however, in so far as it simply reflects the fact that women, on average, spend more time with children than do men.

[55] The report “Child Maltreatment – 2012” issued by the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that nearly two-fifths Child Maltreatment 2012 (36.6%) of victims were maltreated by their mother acting alone. One-fifth (18.7%) of victims were maltreated by their father acting alone (p21-22). As for those forms of abuse so severe as to result in death (and therefore least likely to go undetected), the same report continues, a child’s mother acting alone perpetrated 27.1 percent, both parents were responsible for one-fifth (21.2%), and a father acting alone perpetrated 17.1 percent of child fatalities(p53). Again, these statistics may simply reflect the fact that mothers generally spend more time with their children than do men (not least due to discriminatory child custody awards: see above).

[56] Family Law: Fourth Edition (Pearson: Longman 2009) by Jonathan Herring: at p201.

[57] Family Law: Fourth Edition (Pearson: Longman 2009) by Jonathan Herring: at p204.

[58] Chapter 17 of Vilar’s The Manipulated Man (which I have reviewed here) is entitled ‘Children as Hostages’ and introduces this analogy and theme.

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