I don't really get why this is called "sexual bargaining." When I think of "sexual bargaining," I think of, say, someone offering a sexual favor in return for their partner doing the dishes - something that totally squicks me out. All this just seems like not settling for things you won't be satisfied with.


Are you talking about a relationship or a power struggle? And, no, all relationships do not include power struggles.

A woman's life is not and should not be defined or predetermined by feminist agendas. Life happens and as it happens, you change--your partner changes--your perspectives change--your values change--your relationship changes. Life is fluid and people are not static.

It's awfully easy to come up with formulas to combat some sort of predetermined concept of a relationship wherein it assumed that all men are cavemen-beer drinking-sexist-pigs and women are weak and unable to withstand societal forces that make them procreate like bunnies. But the reality is that it just ain't so. Relationships and those in them are as unique as snowflakes.

Hirshman's "formula" is designed to combat this fictional relationship and is thus pointless since the underlying assumptions are not applicable in the majority of relationships. Accordingly, her conclusions and recommendations are baseless. Not to mention stupid.


Recognizing that our culture assumes children and home are mommy's problem is not the same as painting all men as jerks, Moi.

HF, I don't get your characterizing discussions of childcare as 'reproductive blackmail'. Why turn what should be a negotiation and boundary-setting into some kind of threat?


Mythago--Even assuming that our culture assumes that childcare is the mom's job, this argument--the Hirshman argument--assumes that all men are assholes and could care less about their wives' goals, wants, needs, etc., and I hotly dispute that that's the case.

This entire quote:

"Marry down so that you even out the balance of power. Let the dust pile up rather than taking primary responsibility for having a dust-free house. Do not ever allow your expenses to be calculated such that the child and house care expenses are subtracted from your salary. Remember the value of your salary is not only the actual take-home pay but the fact that this helps keep the balance of power from disfavoring you, and that your work enhances your future earning potential. And reproductive blackmail? Sure! You control whether a baby is conceived or not, so why not insist on negotiating childcare arrangements with your partner before you get pregnant? Above all, think about these things before you find yourself unwittingly in a situation whereby the only sensible move is for you to be the one to take the career hit..."

has an underlying assumption that you have to be on your guard against your husband and protect yourself at all costs. You'd only have to do that if you were married to a complete asshole.

Case closed.


Two assumptions you make that I could see someone quibbling with you about:

(1) It is more desireable and fulfilling to work outside the home than within the home; and

(2) Husbands do not take into account what their wives believe is in their (the wives') best interest. Husbands will only look out for their own satisfaction and fulfillment, and so bargaining is necessary.

>>> But many women seem to give up on career because they found themselves in a situation in which staying home with children seemed to make the most sense [ ... ]

What makes so many women, in your view, come to the conclusion that staying home "makes the most sense"? As opposed to the husband staying home, or something else? Are you assuming the woman by default is earning less outside the home than the man?

p.s. Thank you, Moi, for refusing to falling for the male sterotype. We are not feminist-devised cartoon characters.


Moi-- We posted within a mere minute of each other and made the same point. Great minds, etc, etc...


"But many women seem to give up on career because they found themselves in a situation in which staying home with children seemed to make the most sense or because the pressure was simply overwhelming."

Oh, and I'd meant to address the above quote as well. There's a big difference between women staying at home because it "makes the most sense" as opposed to "giving into the pressure." I beleive that most do it because it makes the most sense, as I discuss in a post at my blog (http://sidebar.blogspot.com/2006/08/so-what-about-men.html):

"And yet, when a parent attempts to work a reduced schedule for a few years, s/he's absolutely penalized for doing so. As a result, professional couples are forced to do a cost/benefits analysis at some point after becoming parents that many times results in the woman stepping off her career track. And one of the main reasons for that is that the man would be penalized even more than the woman if he altered his career path in order to care for the children. Another reason is that the man, as a result of the sexism inherent in our culture, is more likely to be successful (and make more money) in his chosen career than the women, simply by virtue of his sex. So, many couples that are financially able to do so make a mutual decision to have the woman jump ship for a few years."

I agree that society is sexist--and that that affects womens' decisions to stay athome--but I thin it's more due the fiscal realities of a situation resulting from external forces, as discussed above, as opposed to inherent inequality in relationships or asshole husbands.

(246, if quote from HF's post is excluded)


Sexist society does not stop outside the front door of the home. The fact that men and women are affected by sexist assumptions isn't a synonym for 'men are assholes'. HF's paragraph makes just as much sense if we're talking somebody who thinks that men are never deliberately or selfishly sexist, and are only sexist out of cluelessness.


I think negotiating child care is a good idea. You've got to have a plan. Rational people discuss these things before deciding to have children, don't they? Accidents happen, but I'm talking about planned pregnancies.

My mom didn't follow any of Hirshman's advice, and she found herself dumped for a younger woman. She had no education, skills, or experience. It seems obvious to moderately intelligent people that they should not marry assholes, but my mom isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.

So I guess Hirshman's advice is just for those dumb enough to marry assholes. But then are they really smart enough to take the advice? Hmm...


"I think negotiating child care is a good idea."

Childcare doesn't have to be "negotiated" in a relationship of 2 equals. You discuss the issue like rational adults and come to a decision as to how you plan to handle said issue. You make a decision as a unit, not as two adversaries going at it.

And then, after all that planning, you actually have kids and see if the plan that you came up with works for you. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

As I said, life is fluid, people change, priorities change. And with change comes reassessment and change--including childcare plans.

That's what happened in my case and what happened with many of my friends and colleagues. You go from day care to a parent at home--from day care to a nanny--from a nanny to an au pair--from an au pair to relocating near family so that grandma can watch the kids. There's any number of variations in between.

You can "negotiate", discuss, plan (call it what you'd like) all you want, but life happens, and you go with the flow. Things rarely happen just as you plan them to.

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