The Mythology Surrounding “Women’s Unpaid Labor”

“Unpaid work” refers to work that is done without direct monetary compensation. The concept can be used to discuss a range of productive activities performed outside of the labour market (e.g., volunteering), but typically it’s used to refer to tasks of household maintenance (like housework and childcare) and specifically the fact that women on average take on a larger share of these tasks than men. For example, the Wikipedia page “unpaid work” is almost entirely about this gendered division of labour.

Gender differences in paid and unpaid work are real. What’s less clearly grounded in reality is the common story about unpaid labour that portrays this gendered division of labour as an injustice against women. This view, which can be found in mainstream and influential publications, tends to come back to three main themes:

  1. Women don’t get compensated for their labour like men do.
  2. Women work more than men. Men aren’t pulling their weight.
  3. Unpaid labour obligations keep women out of the (paid) labour market.

While there are entirely legitimate reasons for either gender to be skeptical of gendered divisions of labour, especially when people are pressured into them by gender roles, these particular themes range from incomplete or misleading to just wrong.

(Length: 3,100 words.)

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Men’s Issues Reading List (Book Recommendations)

If your exposure to men’s issues comes from online resources then you might be surprised to find out that there is actually a pretty strong body of offline literature too. The first two books work well as an overview or introduction to men’s issues (one is more philosophical and the other more personal, so they complement each other well). The other books cover other relevant topics (specific men’s issues, gender roles, feminism, etc.) in more detail.

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Comprehensive Research on Discrimination Against Men in Finland

This is a chapter-by-chapter summary of Discrimination Against Men: Appearance and Causes in the Context of a Modern Welfare State, a 2009 doctoral dissertation by Pasi Malmi (University of Lapland) that provides an impressively detailed and balanced investigation of discrimination against men in Finland (the theory and results actually give almost as much detail on discrimination against women, although men will be the focus here).

Chapters 5 to 8 are the most important. Chapter 5 explains six biases that cause gender discrimination, chapter 6 delineates the patriarchal and matriarchal subsystems of Finnish society, chapter 7 examines the various discourses that justify discrimination against men, and chapter 8 analyzes a database of gender discrimination complaints made to the Finnish gender equality ombudsman, a third of which were made by men.

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“The Future is Female”: The Bleak Outlook for Male Employment and Education

There are disturbing trends of male underachievement in employment and education that, if left to continue, will leave men in a very bad place. Economist Larry Summers estimates that by 2050, more than 1 in 3 men aged 25-54 will be out of work in America (compared to 1 in 10 in the 1970s). The BBC reports that current trends in Britain suggest that a girl born in 2016 will be 75% more likely to go to university than a boy. Hillary Clinton might just be right when she said that “the future is female”.

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Sexual Double Standards for Men? Player, Virgin, Creep, Objectifier (also: Male Nudity and Male Homosexuality)

We treat male and female sexuality differently. The most well-known example of that is the slut double standard for women (casual sex is seen as degrading and disgraceful for them to an extent that it isn’t for men), but we also have some important sexual double standards for men. The first and second (player and virgin) involve having or not having sex, while the third and fourth (creep and objectifier) are about expressing sexual desire. The fifth (“male nudity is funny, not sexy”) is a difference in how we tend to see men’s and women’s bodies. The sixth is “male homosexuality is uniquely offensive”.

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Justice System Discrimination and the Myth That Sexism Against Men Isn’t “Institutional”

The typical method of dismissing sexism against men is to say it isn’t “institutional”. This usually means claiming that prejudice and discrimination against men occur as isolated events by individuals, without backing of institutional power, and with limited ability to do harm. A clear counterexample is that the criminal justice system is more severe on men than on women in numerous ways, including likelihood of arrest, chance of pretrial detention, bail amount, and chance and length of jail-time. And many are calling for even more special concern and treatment for women in the justice system.

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