Infrastructure “of a country, society, or organization,” according to the Collins Dictionary, “consists of the basic facilities … which enable it to function.” I’ve inserted an ellipsis in place of the clause “such as transportation, communications, power supplies, and buildings.” That is the hard physical infrastructure that seemingly everyone agrees is what infrastructure “really” means.
But let’s take at face value that infrastructure are those facilities that are essential for everyone to do their jobs. It makes sense that men with wives at home to take on the 16-hour-a-day care responsibilities involved in raising children, supporting aged parents or otherwise tending to the sick, those with disabilities and the vulnerable would need roads and bridges to grease the wheels of commerce and allow them access to their desks and deals. But let’s imagine — it’s not that hard — a scenario in which those same men didn’t have wives at home and yet still wanted to reproduce, or ensure that their own parents received love and support in their final years. In that case, they too might just find that care facilities were themselves just as “essential” to their ability to do paid work.
That is exactly what the men in Congress concluded when the government was actively recruiting women into factories to produce the equipment and weapons needed to fight World War II.
A devastating new critique in the Washington University Law Review has spelled out how federal law punishes older couples for being married. It’s...