Labour of Love? – Searching for Feminist Answers to the Crisis of Reproduction

When it grew up, capitalism fell in love with unequal gender relations. Their relationship is somehow complicated, but flexible, and all in all it seems to be a strong and long lasting one. Still today production and reproduction are organized along gender categories, the production of economic value has its precondition in mostly unwaged ‘female’ reproductive work. (Without childcare, cleaning, shopping, cooking, sex, emotional support a.o. reproducing labour force, it wouldn’t be there.)

In the last decades many european feminists have thought it would be a key step in emancipation for women* to go to work (in sense of waged jobs). But as we can see now, when this is partly realized, in most cases women* work in the low-paid care sector, an ‘extension’ of housework in commodified form. And still, whichever job they have, domestic work seems to remain their task.
The result is an unmanageable overload. Some economically better-situated women* hire other (often immigrant) women* to do ‘their’ housework or childcare, frequently low-paid and under bad conditions of never-ending working days and personal dependency.
In times of crisis and austerity politics, when ‘welfare’ is out back into private homes, the whole precarious situation aggravates – we can speak of a crisis of reproduction.

What could be strategies concerning gender and work? What kind of struggles are going on in the different countries, what are the experiences or outcomes? How can low-waged care workers, how can unwaged reproductive workers organize? What could ‘working conditions’, ‘union’ or ‘strike’ mean referring to private households? How to relate to the state, should we call for public services or/and organize them on our own? What is the role of feminism in all this?

Therefor it could be inspiring to look back to the 70s’ ‘Wages For Housework’ campaign. We will read and discuss the short text ‘Wages Against Housework’ by Silvia Federici and its implications for today. What has changed, what hasn’t? How to take this discussion and our practices further?

Thursday: 5pm, Megali Panagia
at the Beyond Europe Camp in Greece

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