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Special Issue: Gender Relations, Caring, and Earning: Shifting Discourses, Practices, and Controversies

Issue Editor:
Caryn Medved
Baruch College

Hanna Rosin's 2010 article in The Atlantic titled "The End of Men" and her recently published book by the same name have stirred up a tempest of gender relations commentary and criticism. Ann Marie Slaughter's latest article also in The Atlantic titled, "Why Women Still Can't Have it All" also unleashed the floodgates of gender debate. The level of vitriol has skyrocketed as of late in media and academic debate regarding shifting gender relations in the U.S. Media has declared the arrival of "male decline" by characterizing male workers as woefully unprepared for the new economy. These headlines come on the heels of a "Mancession" (Boushey, 2011) and debates about a possible "Sherecovery" (Covert 2012). Recent books claim women to be the "Richer Sex" (Mundy, 2012) while pictures of stay-at-home fathers don the covers of popular magazines. A tsunami of gender and class criticism from across the political spectrum also engulfed media debates and kitchen table conversations as Marissa Mayer, new mother and recently hired CEO of Yahoo took a two-week maternity leave, eliminated corporate flex-work policies, and built a nursery for her newborn in her office. Are we seeing new constructions of gender relations as men perform more caregiving in the home and women continue to make strides in the workplace? Are we seeing the ascendance of the primary earning wives ruling over their husbands with new economic power? Are "family values" spiraling downward or are new family configurations gaining acceptance? Is the U.S. taking steps backward in gender equality by fueling the discourse of "mommy wars" and anti-feminist messages dominating the blogosphere?

Women now graduate at higher rates than men with undergraduate degrees. Women's real earnings have been rising for decades while real wages for most men have languished or fallen. Yet as historian and author Stephanie Coontz explained in a 2012 New York Times Op Ed,"women's real wages started from a much lower base, artificially held down by discrimination [and despite] their relative improvement, women's average earnings are still lower then men's and women remain more likely to be poor." Point being: never mistake one statistic or headline for the whole story, particular when it comes to gender. Separating fact from fiction in contemporary gender relations requires vigilance, determination, and intellectual flexibility. Clearly meanings, relationships, and structures of gender relations are undergoing yet another series of historic and interrelated shift -- changes inseparable from constructions of race/ethnicity, class and sexuality. What remains unchanged, however, is that gender politics continue to affect how we interpret the forms and consequences of these changes.

This call for papers seeks scholarship that cross-examines the changing discourses and related practices of gender relations with respect to caring and earning in the U.S. Submissions are invited for empirical research, commentaries, and book review essays. Submissions must foreground the various ways that communication, language, and/or social interaction play in constructing, resisting, and transforming masculinities and femininities across the public and private sphere. Submissions might address, but are not limited to, the following issues:

  • Framing of marriage, work and family in public policy debates with respect to gender, race and class

  • Pressures and negotiations of gay and lesbian couples as partners and parents

  • Meanings for "living single" in U.S. society and their relational and political implications

  • Low income single parents' negotiations for affordable childcare and after-school care

  • Identity struggles for well-educated, married African-American stay-at-home mothers

  • Male workers' challenges and experiences with requesting paternity leave

  • Power, choice and negotiation in unconventional childcare and earning marriages

  • Reconstructions of masculinities and femininities in the new economy and virtual work environment

  • Analyses of the past, present and future of the Family Medical Leave Act and its 20th anniversary

Inquiries and manuscripts should be sent via email to:

Caryn E. Medved, Associate Professor, Baruch College, City University of New York


by April 30, 2014. Authors of potential book review essays and commentaries should explore their topic with the editor prior to submission.