Date of this Version
Before women were "opting out" of the workforce (as depicted by the New York Times)' to stay at home with their children, a subset of fathers had already done so. The 2002 Fortune cover story titled Trophy Husbands documented the "dramatic shift afoot" of well-off, educated men leaving paid work in order to tend to the home and kids in support of their powerful wives' careers:3 "Trophy Husbands? Arm candy? Are you kidding? While their fast-track wives go to work, stay-at-home husbands mind the kids. They deserve a trophy for trading places. The article portrayed these men as taking one for the team: hitting a sacrifice fly so that their wives could advance. Nearly one year later, The Opt-Out Revolution, an article in the New York Times Magazine, asked why women-especially well-educated, socioeconomically secure women-were leaving paid work.
"Choice" rhetoric has long distorted the availability of true worklife balance for working mothers. If Trophy Husbands is an accurate indicator, the same holds true for fathers. Williams's work shows that the full panoply of family-related laws-employment, health, childcare, tax, and more-must be reformed to address the needs of all families. And it establishes that some parents do not opt out of paid employment, but are pushed out. Williams recognizes the importance of including men and class in work-family law reform. As part of that effort, it is crucial to recognize that the choice of a father to stay at home might not really be a choice at all.