Why Feminists Make No Allowance for Women’s Choices

A recent story in the British Daily Telegraph confirms that feminists think they have found a new wage gap in children’s allowances. Echoing several recent studies in the United States and Australia, the UK’s Co-operative Investments Child Trust Fund finds that parents give their sons 10 percent more spending money on average, while asking their daughters to do the lion’s share of the more domestic tasks, such as cooking and cleaning.

The NOW crowd cries foul, declaring a link between the allowance disparity and the wage gap. These studies are offered as proof that women are conditioned from infancy to see their work as less valuable than men’s. Additionally, feminists argue that assigning housework disproportionately to girls sets them up for the famous “second shift” of household duties that their mothers endure. These women continue to barrage us with the same tired strategy.

First, they find a small statistical disparity in the lives of men and women. Next, they cite feminist doctrine and declare that men and women are exactly the same in every respect. Last, they conclude that any statistical gap must be the result of discrimination. As in arguments surrounding the supposed wage gap, this line of reasoning completely ignores circumstances and conditions that arise from the very real and obvious differences between men and women. None of these studies proves that girls are getting paid less for doing the same job, simply because they are female.

If the allowance analysis had studied siblings in the same home and found a large discrepancy, that would be one thing. These studies, however, identify how much pocket money boys and girls have overall, in the national aggregate. Incredibly, some do not even identify where the money is coming from, or whether it is contingent upon chores or outside employment. In fact, more than a third of American households do not tie allowance money to chores of any kind.

It is not as if researchers actually ventured into homes, only to overhear this discussion: “Jimmy, you are a fine strong boy, and as your parents we shall give you only manly chores, and for these you shall be well-compensated. Susie, you are only a girl, and therefore you shall be poorly compensated for any tasks of value that you manage to accomplish.”

One could also imagine a conversation along the lines of: “Well, Susie, your mother and I would love to give you more money for your chores, but Linda Hirshman says that we shouldn’t because housework is not a legitimate choice.”

Linda Hirshman, as we noted in 2006, is the retired Brandeis professor who tracked dozens of highly educated women who married in 1996. Eight years later, of the 30 who had children, only five were working full time and only half were working at all. This disturbed Hirshman, who believes the family allows fewer opportunities for “full human flourishing” and that the expensively educated women “will be leading lesser lives.”

Women’s choices, and their opinion on the matter, do not appear to loom large in her reasoning. Indeed, in her book, Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World, Hirshman tells women not to major in the arts, to follow the money, to marry younger, to have one baby but not two, and so on. That’s a rather pushy command-and-control position for the inventor of something called choice feminism.

Clearly, the feminist movement is calling it quits at the office and heading back into the recesses of the American home, certain that parents are discriminating against their daughters. Too bad that the allowance gap turns out to be every bit as bogus as the wage gap and the glass ceiling. The real gap is between independent women who make their own choices and self-proclaimed feminist leaders who would make those choices for them.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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