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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
On May 22nd the “Transnational Mobitour” for the G7 summit 2015 came to Dresden.
One person of e*vibes prepared a short input about “Coloniality and Gender”.
Here you can read it.
Coloniality and Gender
Coloniality is not equivalent to colonialism. Coloniality is the continuity of colonial forms of domination after the end of colonial administrations, produced by colonial cultures and structures in the modern/colonial capitalist world-system. Since Coloniality has never ended, we still live under the colonial matrix of power, described by Quijano. Within it, all power relationships like for example race, gender, religion, geographic origin and class are related. They organize the world division of labour in a multiple power hierarchic complex. As the same way that social understanding of “gender” was used by capitalist society to unpay women care and reproductive work; the ideas of race and cultural, spiritual and intellectual “inferiority” of the colonized people were also used as justification for their exploitation, servitude and slavery by the colonial structure.
But what has Coloniality to do with Gender?
It is important to remember that not all colonized civilizations were patriarchal and, when they were, their patriarchal forms of dealing with gender were not the same as the Judeo-Christian Patriarchy introduced by european colonization. Those societies had to adapt to a new form of hierarchy of gender coming from the oppressors and they were then ruled by it. The colonized people and cultures are usually described by traits historically related to “femininity” as naive, not intelligent, illogical, sentimental, natural, incapable and passive, while the colonizers are described by features historically related to “masculinity”, until today. That prejudices leads to the infantilization and inferiozation of people from colonial regions to be a common situation until today.
In Latin America, per example, the ethnical formation of the actual Latin American people was based on rape and forced marriage, as well as religious conversion of millions of native women since white European women were not available at the first phases of colonization process. These women were forced to deal with a complete different form of gender relationship and concepts of families. The miscegenation of Latin American people is also a result of the rape of millions of black enslaved women. Those native and black women were also seen as inferior to white European women and were hypersexualized, objectified and then completely excluded from history. Contrary to pre-European patriarchies, where all women were inferior to all men, in the new colonial power matrix some women (of European origin) have a higher status and access to resources than some men (of non-European origin), while the colored women occupied the most inferior level in society. And this situation has not changed until today. Gender issues were also used as an excuse for colonial projects. Spivak described this as “white men saving colored women from colored men”. It is until today that gender issues are used as an excuse for military and colonial, occidental projects.
Decolonization is still needed and an inseparable part of the struggle against capitalism and patriarchy. Paraphrasing Grossfoegel: The mythology of the “decolonization of the world” obscures the continuities between the colonial past and current global colonial/racial hierarchies and contributes to the invisibility of “coloniality” today as well as its relationship to other forms of hierarchies as patriarchy and capitalism inside the world matrix of power.
Reply from Feminist Fightback London: After we had wished them a successful action on May 19th, this answer fluttered into our letterbox:
We were very happy to receive your letter in solidarity with our action. The pro-choice action in Stratford, London against “Helpers of God’s Precious Infants” on Sat 9th of May 2015 was vibrant and loud. Feminist protestors –both from Feminist Fightback and other allies that came for the action- blocked the anti-choice religious group as they tried to march from a church to the abortion clinic. The action took place outside the church –with the intention of not interfering nearby the abortion clinic- and attracted passer-bys who stopped and engaged with us. The group ranged from women to children to male allies around colourful handcrafted banners. We made noise with pots and pans, whistles and the stereo that was playing punk songs as well as feminist classics. There was a brilliant moment where we sang along to Aretha Franklin’s Respect, summed up why we were there: RESPECT women’s choices! The feminist presence managed to delay the anti-choice group for over two hours until we were pushed back by the police (who escorted the procession), though the anti-choice demonstration only had ten minutes in front of the clinic. A great achievement!
We would also wish to express our solidarity with your action on the 1st of June in Annaberg-Buchholz in Germany. It is great to make connections with and be inspired by comrades working on similar issues elsewhere. Attempts by religious groups to make regressive demands in terms of reproductive rights and harassing women against making choices regarding their own bodies, are merely the last desperate acts of a dilapidated dogma. We will continue to engage in action to stand against fundamentalist religious attempts to control and dictate women’s lives. We very much appreciate engaging in on-going conversations with comrades around the world on this issue!
We look forward to hearing about your experience and in combining efforts to overcome the challenges to our reproductive rights!
Information to the protest will be found here.