Soviet-Empire.com U.S.S.R. and communism historical discussion.
[ Active ]
[ Login ]
Log-in to remove these advertisements.

Wages for Housework

POST REPLY
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 4764
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Forum Commissar
Post 02 Sep 2014, 08:57
The following is only an excerpt from a long interview with Silvia Federini, an American feminist thinker. There, she argues that domestic labor is defined by capitalism, is crucial for capitalism, and therefore should not be seen as a pre-modern remnant, but as a social relation which is part of the class struggle.

From there, you get the validation of her campaign of Wages for Housework.

Here it is:

In 1972 I had read an article published by an Italian feminist, Maria Dalla Costa, The Power of Women and the Subversion of Community. In that article, Dalla Costa presented an analysis of housework that immediately resolved many questions I had for myself. Against the whole presentation of housework in radical and liberal literature, she stated that housework, domestic work and the whole complex of activities by which our whole lives are reproduced, is actually work that is essential to the capitalist organization of labor. It produces not just the meals and clean clothes, but reproduces the workforce and therefore is in a sense the most productive work in capitalism. Without this work, no other forms of production could take place.

That argument made an immense impression on me, and in the summer of 1972 I traveled to Italy to meet Dalla Costa and I became involved in the foundation of the International Feminist Collective, which launched the Campaign for Wages for Housework. Wages for housework was really the practical translation of that analysis, which basically saw the devaluation that housework has suffered in capitalism and its invisibility of work as the product of the fact that housework has been unwaged.

At the time the Wages for Housework campaign was very unpopular among many feminists, who accused us of wanting to institutionalize women in the home. But one function of the campaign was to make housework visible, to redefine in the public consciousness what this work is. We wanted to show that it’s essential, pivotal work and not a personal service to men and their children. The demand also had an important economic dimension in that we saw how many women were forced into dependence of men because of the unwaged nature of this work. Power relations were embedded in this work, because women for example could not leave an abusive relationship because of their dependent situation.

This wagelessness, this unwaged condition, followed women wherever they would go, even when they took a job outside the home. We saw that the pattern of women spending their lifetimes working for no forms of remuneration was certainly at the roots of the conditions they would meet when they would work outside the home: they are lower paid, and most of the occupations women would find were just extensions of housework.

We never saw the demand as an endpoint, but we saw it as a leveler to change the power relationship between women and men, and women and capital. It involved a whole analysis of the wage: What is the wage? It took us way beyond Marx.

For Marx, the wage hides the unpaid labor that workers perform but what Marx does not see is how the wage has been used to organize hierarchies that divide labor, beginning with gender as well as racial hierarchies.

We saw wages for housework as basically destabilizing and undermining an unjust, unequal social-sexual division of labor. In a sense, it performed the same function that the revolt against slavery had performed. We used to say that there’s an important difference between the struggle of the slave for wage labor and the struggle of the worker for higher pay. It dismantles a whole social architecture that has been extremely powerful in keeping people divided and expecting an immense amount of unpaid labor.

This was the goal and the rationale for the campaign, which as I said was opposed by many sections of the women’s movement. But I’ve noticed a change in recent times, and I think your question reflects this, there’s a new interest that I think has to do with the fact that thirty years later the grand illusion that the women’s movement had about the emancipating power of working for wages outside the home has very much declined.

(...)

it was very clear for us that wages for housework was at the same time wages against housework. Women who have revolted against housework have suffered from an immense guilt. They’ve never seen themselves as workers in struggle. Neither have family members or their communities seen them as workers in struggle when they’ve wanted to refuse these duties, instead they’ve been seen as bad women. That’s how much its been naturalized. You’re not seen as a worker, you’re just seen as fulfilling your natural destiny as a woman. Wages for housework for us was cutting that umbilical chord between us and housework.

The whole thing can be read here:

http://marxismocritico.com/2014/02/24/t ... atriarchy/

where she also discusses the subjugation of women as part of the original accumulative process of capital.
Image

"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Forum Rules
Soviet cogitations: 1128
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
Party Member
Post 02 Sep 2014, 18:51
Of course this makes perfect sense as a worker who comes home to a clean house with a meal cooked for them and a comfortable bed is going to be more refreshed and thus productive at work the next day than if they came home to a slum. However, many argue that the worker is paid enough to support himself and his family as part of the necessary means of subsistence (i.e. his wage).

Marx wrote:
A certain mass of necessaries must be consumed by a man to grow up and maintain his life. But the man, like the machine, will wear out, and must be replaced by another man. Beside the mass of necessaries required for his own maintenance, he wants another amount of necessaries to bring up a certain quota of children that are to replace him on the labour market and to perpetuate the race of labourers.


This doesn't quite answer the question (certainly not within the feminist theory discussed), but it does show that the worker (assumed to be a man) is paid more in his minimum wage than is enough to support himself with the rest aimed at supporting his family ('raise his children' in this instance). In this way, private companies do contribute towards housekeeping "wages" in an indirect way (and a patriarchal way since the male worker determines how much his female wife will get in housekeeping money).
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 237
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 08 Oct 2014, 06:41
Why pay wages for domestic work instead of starting communism right now at your home ?

Why not divide the work with your wife so as to everyone share the burden of housekeeping ?

What kind of socialist ideals are you going to impress into your children if they perceive that right at home there is a class of workers and a class of masters ?
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 14444
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 08 Oct 2014, 07:52
Because socialism isn't a lifestyle.
Image
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 237
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 08 Oct 2014, 08:09
Omg ! You told me news !

Its not a lifestyle, but iirc you can start right now what can be already be replaced. What prevents a male marxist from supporting his wife and putting into practice that ?

Its not a lifestyle in the sense of avoiding consumerism (as if we had a choice) or living in a segregated society. But sharing labour inside house is not segregating yourself from the real world. Is something pretty doable right now, under our own conditions and era. Its a matter or conscienciousness, not of lifestyle (as if marxism was a lifestyle).

We dont apply socialism right now because we cant. But i reiterate, what i am proposing can be done.
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 14444
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 08 Oct 2014, 09:05
Not even kind of like socialism though. You're describing Christian life if anything.
Image
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 5137
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2007, 06:31
Embalmed
Post 08 Oct 2014, 15:45
Dagoth Ur wrote:
Because socialism isn't a lifestyle.


I usually agree with this, but two like-minded leftists in a relationship, I don't see why this shouldn't happen.

It's not really like lifestyle-ism such as when conservatives ask us why we don't immediately start handing out or possessions and property, or something.
Image
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 1078
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Sep 2013, 03:08
Ideology: Trotskyism
Party Member
Post 08 Oct 2014, 15:49
I wouldn't want to turn a relationship into a business contract. The two should help each-other, the help itself should be the "wage."

So, yeah, I'd agree. It's not socialist at all, so I wouldn't specify that leftists should do it. It's just being a good, healthy couple in modern society.
[+-]
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 1277
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 29 Sep 2011, 13:51
Party Member
Post 08 Oct 2014, 16:48
Even though socialism isn't a lifestyle per se, I do believe there are certain limitations to which a person must follow in order to call himself a communist. I for example don't believe a person can drive around in a Lamborghini while wearing a $25,000 diamond and platinum Rolex watch and still call himself a communist.

And so I do believe a person's communist ideals affects his lifestyle to a limited extent. I certainly base some of my actions on my ideals.
Image


My laws shall act more pleasure than command,
And with my prick I'll govern all the land.
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 237
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 08 Oct 2014, 18:24
Quote:
Not even kind of like socialism though. You're describing Christian life if anything.


I fail to se how placing men at the kitchen might be "christian" in the sense of historical christianity.

And i fail to se what are the real material conditions that preclude men housework. Even if i am not the best cooker around, i can wash my clothes (its a damm machine that does that for me, i dont need to trully wash it as if we where in the previous century).

Overall, usually both sides of the relationship work, so why one should burden the task of housekeeping alone ?

The only obstacle for this is machism. Pretty simple.
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 4764
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Forum Commissar
Post 16 Dec 2014, 11:00
AldoBrasil wrote:
Why pay wages for domestic work instead of starting communism right now at your home ?

Why not divide the work with your wife so as to everyone share the burden of housekeeping ?

What kind of socialist ideals are you going to impress into your children if they perceive that right at home there is a class of workers and a class of masters ?


Dagoth Ur wrote:
Because socialism isn't a lifestyle.


Oh, man. This is such a good reply. But the replies that follow kind of take away from the impact and what, to me, it seems to imply.

"Why, labour laws?, what are you talking about? I always treat my workers friendly, give them more comfort and more pay than what they expect".

That may be true or not, but that's not they point. You can exploit then legally, can take advantage of them. Even though each one is "free" and owns, one, labour-power, and, the other, means of production, and "willfully" enter a transaction that is for mutual benefit, we know who can take advantage of this (and does, as a class). Communists know this whole thing is a sham.

Still, we (socialists, I mean), still struggle within this framework, and still support demands for better labor conditions, for limits or restraints on what kinds of contracts may be "freely" agreed upon (for example, they must have a minimum wage, have certain working conditions and may not exceed a certain number of hours, to name a few examples), and so much more. This doesn't mean that we BELIEVE that any such agreement can ever be fair or legitimate, we want to end wage slavery altogether, that's basic and a given.

Knowing that wage-slavery is unacceptable doesn't prevent you from entering the struggle in favor of better wages or terms. To state otheriwse is to be ultra.
---------

Now, then: to the topic at hand.

When these female thinkers began proposing these wages for housework, they weren't expecting FAIR pay; they weren't advocating for women to be relegated to the kitchen, once their demands were met. They are calling attention to a social function which is overlooked and which is dominantly handed over to women with little to no payment or reward. The work itself, the sense of fullfillment proper to any labour, is presented as the only reward for it.

Saying that since we're so progressive and sophisticated, we don't need these restraints, these wages, is like the argument of the so sophisticated and progressive employer who is offended at being told to abide by labor laws. If what they say is true, they shouldn't fear them. These calls for housework wages are not for us oh-so-above-it-all-socialist, they are for the rest of the disgusting, unfair world we live in.

Sheesh, we can talk Marxist theory all day, talk about surplus labour and where it comes from and what is needed or not. We can agree that housework is not productive....

But... we need roads for workers to get for their destination, and that is socially agreed upon and paid by everyone (taxes)... we need need health, education, and other social needs and those are to a degree agreed upon and provided to some extent (taxes, again).

Well, we also nead a clean space to live, dishes where they can put food upon, clothes they can wear more than once: all those things are assumed as given, yet they have a cost. Why no agreement on this? why no tax on this? Wages for housework are not a productive income like working at a factory; it would be a kind of tax. What's wrong with that? Why is it OK for a road worker, or a doctor, or a teacher to ask for a wage, but not a housewife? Because she gets taken for granted? Because society? Because I'm good to by girlfriend and wash the dishes?

Just like in our struggle for higher wages, we KNOW we dont' believe in wages; It doesn't stop us.That's so basic. Picketing a rally for higher minimum wage isn't questioned. Yet this is. It's disheartening.
Image

"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Forum Rules
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 237
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 19 Dec 2014, 22:20
Quote:
"Why, labour laws?, what are you talking about? I always treat my workers friendly, give them more comfort and more pay than what they expect".


You are saying that asking people to share the burden of housework is equivalent to asking capitalists to pay better salaries etc. But, theres a completely different relationship here. A capitalist might very well love his proletariat etc. But its not implied in that relationship that capitalist and proletariat engange in a personal relationship. A married couple is a different matter. Supposedly its a relationship based on love. What might happen is that the behaviour of men is constrained by the examples and what he learned about what is to be a man. Thats ok. But conditions are changing raplidly. The inclusion of women into the workforce demands a new way to relate to your partner. This is what i am implying here. Its a lifestyle change, yes, but its not a lifestyle change for the sake of a lifestyle change. Its a need, a cultural change that is happening right now, regarless of what you and me think about.

Paying for women to stay at home and work the household labour is retrograde. This is not progressive. Men and Woman (and homosexual couples etc) must share the housework and the responsability on raising children.

At my country we have the concept of family salary. It was created under the Getúlio Vargas' government. The idea was to pay for the raising of children (as if it was a social task). Its almost in disuse right now, the value paid is small and has almost no effect on the incomme of families.

You might very well create a bonus for raising children, but this might have an negative impact on the population growth of some countries (like Brazil, China and India). This might have a positive impact in countries where the growth of population is negative, like Russia, where there are problems to replace the workforce. But this is not a policy to change the women status in society, its a policy to manage population growth.

Woman status in our society (occident) was changed right in the momment that women went to the factories during world war two. No bonus, taxes, ideology, culture etc has more profound impact on human behaviour than the change in material circunstances can have. Culture follows suit and adapt to the new circunstances, not the other way around.

So, if my idea is ideology, its just the acceptance of a material circunstance that i cannot change, neither want to change. Embrace it, and adapt.
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 4764
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Forum Commissar
Post 20 Dec 2014, 07:03
Well, first, an apology. I was very much drunk when posting my last reply, so I may have been more flippant than usual. I actually had to go back and read what I wrote in order to understand your objections. All that said, it's a matter of form, not substance. I agree with what I wrote, I'm just not sure I expressed myself correctly.

What is being argued in the first post, is to capaign for the establishment of wages for housework, to call attention to its socially necessary character and how it is ideologically "naturalized" so that it is not seen as productive, as worth paying for.

What you said is that instead of this, we should establish communism in our household by sharing chores. This is what I criticized by comparing it to a capitalist being against labour laws by painting himself as compassionate. I say that that is not the point. He may be a kind person and treat his workers well, but there's the possibility others might not, and THAT is what should be regulated.

Saying that we should stop stop opressing women is akin to saying that we need to set up cooperatives to stop wage-slavery. It's not our own conversion that which is at stake, it's society as a whole, which dominantly uses wage slavery and which is still to a large degree excessively oppressive towards women.

Of course, be progressive in the household, and of course, set up cooperatives if you can, these are good things that show that other ways of arranging society are possible. This doesn't stop being in favor of legal restraints or measures which aid against oppression (and, obviously, it doesn't mean that said legal measures are your sole horizon for action).

Now, as to the measure itself:
You seem to say that bourgeois ideology chips away at any extraeconomic inequalities. It gets rid of atavisms such as racism, sexism, xenophobia and the rest. That it's only a matter of time before the subjugation of women ends as they are fully incorporated into the workforce, just like minorities have gained legal equality through liberalism. A lot has been said about this. I'm skeptical as to whether we'll really have even formal, liberal "equality". As long as these divisions suit capital, they'll persist, to a larger or smaller degree. Lenin said that socialism is actually the system which will fully realize this liberal goal, as a previous step towards the building of true equality.

Still, what you say maybe true or not, that we have to embrace and adapt and watch as how prejudices wither away. I still say that measures that seek to accelerate this, such as racial quotas, are to be supported by us. Wages for housework seems like one such measure.

That it seeks to perpetuate women in the home? Aside from the fact that it is doubtful that this tax would ever be implemented (it's more a campaign strategy, a call to attention). It seems to forget the very large number of women who are trapped in their house because of economic dependency on a man. She works but is denied pay, or she works but gets less money for it, and thus, she has to put up with abuse from her partner, who is also her boss.

In a divorce, even if it's under separate assets, the money the man makes during the time they are married has to be shared, because she was worked for it as well, but assuming the social cost that is running the household. This is the same logic. Saying that this would perpetuate women in the home is like saying welfare perpetuates unemployment.

To repeat the original argument:
Quote:
At the time the Wages for Housework campaign was very unpopular among many feminists, who accused us of wanting to institutionalize women in the home. But one function of the campaign was to make housework visible, to redefine in the public consciousness what this work is. We wanted to show that it’s essential, pivotal work and not a personal service to men and their children. The demand also had an important economic dimension in that we saw how many women were forced into dependence of men because of the unwaged nature of this work. Power relations were embedded in this work, because women for example could not leave an abusive relationship because of their dependent situation.
Image

"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Forum Rules
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 237
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 20 Dec 2014, 16:42
You want to highlight the existence of housework by putting a price on it. If something has a price, then it "exists" in the capitalist sense.

What i ask is how this would be organized ?

Would the housework salary be attached to the husbands salary ? If true, would not this become simply an extension of the male work ?

I fail to see how this would help fighting machism...

But, on a side note, here in Brazil we have something called Bolsa Familia. Its an aid provided by the federal government. You receive it if you meet a certain criteria set. I have nothing against this kind of policy.

Would that housework salary come as such kind of state policy ?

I am against such move. Women who only work at home will become a rare sight in the near future. They are being replaced by women who do work outside. The structure of machism is being supplanted by this.

If the woman has purchase power, so that she is necessary part of the household incomme, her position vis a vis the male partner is empowered. By the sole fact that she can survive alone, if needed be, she can decide to engage or not engage in a relationship. The subservient model of the past, where only men held the economical power at home, did not allow women to exercise simple rights like divorce - because she couldnot afford it. That was one of the roots of machism.

You might very well stabilish your housework salary as a stop-gap measure. But this is a measure destined to obsolescence. A proper salary, a real one, works much more in favour of the feminist cause than those public policies.
lev
[+-]
Soviet cogitations: 256
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 02 Jan 2016, 14:43
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 11 Mar 2016, 03:37
Try to compute the productivity of the household and the whole Soviet economy if house workers except those in Stalin's entourage are assigned to work in the collective farm or factories and dictate to the 'lazy bourgeoisie bums' to do the house work themselves. Socialism tends to be more productive, doesn't it? How can a house help be productive? Washing dishes and clothes can be done by house owners themselves. The sons and daughters of my trade union boss do the house cleaning themselves and they turned out to be productive professionals not relying on maids or houseboys to do the job. Their house boys are given sidelines to organize trade unions. Imagine how productive they are.
Alternative Display:
Mobile view
More Forums: The History Forum. The UK Politics Forum.
© 2000- Soviet-Empire.com. Privacy.