Fanciful economics, however, isn’t feminist utopia’s biggest obstacle. It’s women—actual individual women who have their own plans and dreams for their lives—who really doom feminist visions such as Bapat’s.
Bapat, who carefully mentions both “men and women” receiving payments for caring for their own dependents, nevertheless assumes that this system would encourage more men to participate in childrearing. In fact they have to, otherwise she’d have to acknowledge that her system would dramatically undermine other central feminist goals, such as increasing women’s power and prestige in the world of corporate and political affairs. Bapat’s feminist sisters dream of women holding (at least) 50 percent of all corporate board positions and elected offices, and their policies’ aim is often to make it easier for women to succeed at work.
In the countries where such government-sponsored policies have been implemented, however, they have often backfired when measured in these feminist terms. Western Europe, for example, is often held up as a model for their state-provided family-leave policies and childcare subsidies; many European countries even provide a version of Bapat’s direct cash payments to parents for taking care of their own children. Yet asober examination of the results of these programs reveals that they have impeded women’s economic advancement, making it more likely that women will earn less and hold fewer leadership positions in the business world.
The insurmountable problem for those who dream of a feminist utopia is that most women simply don’t seem to share the feminists’ obsession with economic power, and often prefer spending their time and talents at home, even when their work there offers no monetary reward.