Here’s a great find by Lisa Wade discussing Kathleen Gerson’s book The Unfinished Revolution. She asks people what kind of family arrangements they’d like, and you see that both men and women say they want an egalitarian arrangement. But egalitarianism is hard in a society where expectations and institutions have been shaped around inegalitarian norms for hundreds of years. As Wade says, “many couples find that, once children arrive, it’s impossible for both to do both with equal gusto.”
So what Gerson did is peer beneath what people say their ideal outcome would be to ask what they say their preferred fallback position is. And here you see a stark difference. Men say they want an egalitarian partnership, but if something has to give they want a traditional arrangement where they specialize in market labor and their wife specializes in childrearing and household tasks. Women say that they’d rather be single than be forced into a neotraditional arrangement.