Gender equality in child support policy: Fathers’ rhetoric of ‘fairness’ in a parliamentary inquiry

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Child support payments extend separated fathers’ male breadwinning role across households, likely fuelling fathers’ perceptions of ‘unfairness’. By examining fathers’ written submissions to an Australian inquiry, we examine fathers’ claims of unfairness, which were expressed in terms of gender inequality. Here, we show how fathers adopted a gender equality discourse that left intact the existing gender order. Through expectations for equal treatment, men claimed the child support system would produce equality of outcomes, namely eliminating the redistributive need for child support payments. In doing so, fathers’ qualified support for gender equality advantaged men as payers while further entrenching gender inequity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-187
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society
Issue number1
Early online date8 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

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© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • child support; feminist policy analysis; gender equality; gender equity; male breadwinner model; separated fathers

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