Parenting is a major preoccupation in law and culture. As a result of efforts of the American women's movement over the past forty years, the legal parent is, for the first time in history, sex-neutral. Our law has abandoned restrictions on women's education, employment, and civic participation that sprang from and reinforced beliefs about the primacy of motherhood as women's best destiny. On the flip side, U.S. law now also generally rejects formal constraints on men's family roles by requiring sex-neutrality of laws regulating custody, adoption, alimony, spousal benefits, and the like. The official de-linking of presumptive parenting roles from a parent's sex is constitutionally enshrined in modern equal protection doctrine, statutory law, and common law. That sex-neutrality is hard won and valuable. It is also, however, woefully incomplete as a form of social change.
Naomi Mezey & Cornelia T. Pillard,
Against the New Maternalism,
Mich. J. Gender & L.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjgl/vol18/iss2/1