FEMINISM AND EX ANTE HOUSEWORK STANDARDS. Matt interprets data adduced by Jessica and finds more evidence for my assertion that the typical arrangement of housework in households occupied by heterosexual couples reflects unjust gender balances combined with actually different ex ante standards of cleanliness/tidiness (which are related to said inequalities, of course, but a feminist analysis doesn't require any specific ex ante level of domestic work beyond what is necessary for sanitation, cooking, childrearing, etc.) With all due respect to the great Marcotte and Waring I continue to disagree with the implied solution of creating equality within domestic work norms that are an unholy marriage of 1) patriarchy, 2) the related assumption of one partner devoted full-time to domestic work, and 3) general cultural assumptions that unstructured leisure time is somehow immoral. Instead I think that it makes more sense to try to achieve equality within a more rational allocation of priorities that doesn't take 50s-bourgeois standards of tedious domestic busywork as a given. An additional advantage of my idea is that I think gender equality will be much more viable if the total work is reduced. To once again borrow from Jacob Levy the idea that "[t]he only non-sexist equilibrium is for both partners to converge on the preferences that got inculcated in women by societies that had one partner be a full-time housekeeper, sometimes with additional paid help" is plainly erroneous, and assuming such standards on average puts women in an exceptionally weak bargaining position -- in which gross inequalities are inevitable. The underlying differences don't justify the inequality, but they do make clear that trying to equalize at an anachronistically high level of domestic work is a bad feminist strategy.

--Scott Lemieux

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