I wrote a pamphlet for the Fabian Society in 2000, arguing for reform of the private school system, based on the assumption that it was impossible to abolish them (I still think it unlikely, and am quite curious what will end up in the manifesto). If you feel like reading it, here it is.

*I have done some edits on September 24th, thanks to some input by Tim Waligore and Brian Carey, whom I thank.

There is no need to point out to the readers of this blog that the debate between gender critical feminists (henceforth GCFs) and the supporters of strong transgender rights* is both as lively and, unfortunately, as toxic as ever.

I have long been sitting on the fence with respect to this issue, for very obvious reasons of self-preservation – apart from organizing a small workshop on the topic last May, whose primary aim was to bring people together hoping that a genuine debate might ensue, rather than taking a stand.

I still have no plan to leave the fence properly (let alone for the fact that I am no expert, to say the least!), but let’s say that this post is a timid attempt to take a peek at what happens if I climb down from it and take a few steps. The aim is to very tentatively make three points which, to my knowledge, do not feature in the debate as it is currently unfolding -  although the first two are actually fairly long-standing insights within the feminist literature more broadly, beyond the gender identity debate narrowly construed. And by the way: I am very happy to be corrected if this is not the case and these points are actually being made in the current debate! So – bracing myself – here we go. [click to continue…]

Congratulations to Gina, whose book Liberalism, Neutrality, and the Gendered Division of Labor was published early in the summer (but I waited to say anything till fall, when I thought people would be more receptive).[1]

Here’s a very rough account of what the book’s about: Women and men do unequal amounts of domestic and caring labor, and this inequality contributes to unequal outcomes between men and women in their careers. This is the ‘gendered division of labor’. But are the inequalities, or the processes generating them, unjust? And, if so, should the government act to change anything?

Here’s the problem: No laws enforce the gendered division of labor; and while women face some discrimination in the labor market, most of the gendered division of labor seems to be explained, immediately, by people’s choices which are, in turn, responsive to influential social norms. We – liberals who believe in democracy and freedom – presume that people should be free to act on their own judgments, and are uneasy about government intervention that would attempt to change the social norms. This commitment is captured by the popular idea that, for the most part, the government should stay out of people’s personal lives – and that appears to include things like how members of a household decide to divide up the time doing the dishes, looking after a child, or caring for an ailing parent.

[click to continue…]