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Each of these chapters contains a case study of a couple from the relevant country. Each includes a description of the everyday life of the couple with respect to the division of housework and childcare, a recounting of the history of their relationship and how it became equal, a discussion of how they balance paid work and family, and an analysis of the factors that facilitate their equality. Those factors include their conviction in gender equality, their rejection of essentialist beliefs, their familism, and their socialization in their families of origin. By showing how and why they undo gender, these couples provide lessons on how equality at home can be achieved.
Chapter 2 reviews the extant theory and research on domestic labor including scholarship on relative resources, time availability, gender ideology, national context, and doing gender. It then argues that all of these theories are inadequate to explain how some couples are able to achieve equality, and proposes instead to examine the everyday interactions by which couples undo gender.
The concluding chapter describes the equal sharers as nonconformists, resisters of gendered norms, and recounts the social criticism that their lifestyle can evoke. The chapter identifies factors across diverse cultures that enable this resistance. They include couples’ conscious adoption of egalitarian principles and insistence that they be put into practice, which often entails women’s sense of entitlement to equality, and their ongoing communication with their partners. In addition, anti-essentialist beliefs, familism, and anti-materialism underwrite their equality. Lessons from their families of origin, whose lives they either imitate or reject also encourage their resistance to gendered norms. Finally, the chapter enumerates the rewards equal sharing provides for men, women, marriage/partnership, and children.
This introductory chapter describes how Creating Equality at Home differs from other books/articles on the division of domestic labor. It reviews the major changes in the public sphere that are decreasing the gender gap in legal, political, and social rights favoring men, but documents that in the private sphere of the home, everywhere on earth, on average, women still do a disproportionate share of domestic labor. Nonetheless, the chapter highlights that there are gender resisters today around the world who equally share domestic labor, even in countries that are not friendly to gender equality. Equality in domestic labor is important because it undermines the gender system that disadvantages women, and because it enables the development of key human capacities in both men and women. The chapter introduces the in-depth study of 25 couples in 22 countries around the world. It lays out the organization of each chapter, including the description of couples’ everyday lives, the history of their relationship, and an analysis of the factors that facilitate their equality. It also states the organization of the book, designed to draw attention to the cross-cultural similarities in the creation of equally sharing families.
This chapter describes the ways in which couples undo gender by resisting the mandate for men to prioritize paid work while women prioritize care. In contrast, in diverse cultures couples created equality when men forged an unconventional relation to paid work (e.g., working part-time or passing up promotions that interfere with family life), when they took on stereotypically maternal care tasks (e.g., diapering and comforting), when women freely shared the “maternal” role, when they insisted that their jobs/careers were as important as their partners’, and when couples shared housework.
Creating Equality at Home tells the fascinating stories of 25 couples around the world whose everyday decisions about sharing the housework and childcare - from who cooks the food, washes the dishes, and helps with homework, to who cuts back on paid work - all add up to a gender revolution. From North and South America to Europe, Asia, and Australia, these couples tell a story of similarity despite vast cultural differences. By rejecting the prescription that men's identities are determined by paid work and women's by motherhood, the couples show that men can put family first and are as capable of nurturing as women, and that women can pursue careers as seriously as their husbands do - bringing profound rewards for men, women, marriage, and children. Working couples with children will discover that equality is possible and exists right now.
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