Work Wives

61 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2013 Last revised: 22 Sep 2015

Laura A. Rosenbury

University of Florida - Levin College of Law

Date Written: September 15, 2013

Abstract

Traditional notions of male and female roles remain tenacious at home and work even in the face of gender-neutral family laws and robust employment discrimination laws. This Article analyzes the challenge of gender tenacity through the lens of the “work wife.” The continued use of the marriage metaphor at work reveals that the dynamics of marriage flow between home and work, creating a feedback loop that inserts gender into both domains in multiple ways. This phenomenon may reinforce gender stereotypes, hindering the potential of law to achieve gender equality. But such gender tenacity need not always lead to subordination. The concept of marriage at work may in fact permit different performances of gender than those found within traditional marriage, providing both women and men with forms of support, connection, and intimacy that escape gender hierarchy without eschewing gender altogether. This Article’s analysis of work wives thus provides a vehicle for envisioning more nuanced legal strategies for gender equality, strategies that do not aspire to gender neutrality or gender blindness but rather focus on the ways gender is constructed in and out of law at home, work, and beyond.

Keywords: gender, work, marriage, employment discrimination, feminist legal theory, law and popular culture

Suggested Citation

Rosenbury, Laura A., Work Wives (September 15, 2013). Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Vol. 36, p. 345, 2013; Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-09-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2340787

Laura A. Rosenbury (Contact Author)

University of Florida - Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States

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