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Enemies, allies or citizens? The subject positions of men in the making of birth leave for fathers in Israel

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Gender equality-oriented policy-making adopts a complex attitude toward the role of fathers. While some branches of the legislative branches see the potential in engaging fathers in the household for promoting gender equality, others see the risk in men appropriating women’s few sources of power. In this article, the subject positions given to men in the legislative process of the birth leave for fathers programme in Israel are examined. I show how, in accordance with this division, fathers are given two subject positions – that of the enemy and that of the ally. However, policy-makers fail to put fathers in the role of citizens, seeing them as entitled to rights based on their own status. This situation mirrors the citizenship of Israeli women, who are, in turn, limited to their motherhood. While the claim that fathers are not seen as citizens, and that their rights are not protected enough, might sound absurd, I claim that such a position is required in order to promote a radical change in the division of labour within the household.
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Keywords: family policy; fatherhood; parental leave

Affiliations: Ashkelon Academic College, Ashkelon, Israel

Appeared or available online: May 30, 2019

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