Monday, December 20, 2010
The Wages for Housework Campaign
Thanks to Nate for the links in the past post. One of the ones I really enjoyed was Dorothy Sue Cobble, “‘A Spontaneous Loss of Enthusiasm’: Workplace Feminism and the Transformation of Women’s Service Jobs in the 1970s” which touches on an important feminist workplace campaign that was fought for in the 1970s: The Wages for Housework Campaign. This campign spelling out how housework and other caring work women do outside of the market produces the whole working class, thus the market economy, based on those workers, is built on women’s unwaged work.
American feminist Pat Mainardi pointed out in The Politics of Housework that even if it takes only one hour's work per day to attend to a person's domestic needs (a very low estimate), men who offload this work onto women gain seven hours per week, almost a whole working day. And women lose those hours. Working fathers gain leisure, earning-power, authority, status and choices, while stay-at-home mother had housework. This unfairness was no coincidence: the analysis of the "WfH Campaign", men's privileges existed because women d0 housework.
I think that this is an important campign to study, especially for the IWW. As far as I know, the IWW is one of the only union confederations that have a section for unwaged home-makers (antiquated term, sorry): The Household Service Workers I.U. 680. Of course, this section is inactive at the moment, but would be a amazing base point in developing a feminist unionism. "Wages for Housework" would be key to this union.