Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Feminizing the Proletariat

Here is an excellent post on why women are the proletariat, not a special interest group, nor a minority . Nor is womens work in the social factory valued anymore than it is in the home.

Women's work is real work
My recent starting of a job in childcare has got me thinking just how underappreciated and unappreciated childcare work really is. What it all comes down to though, is that childcare has always been the primary responsibility of women. And, as belonging to women, has so been made to be inadequate. Unimportant. Less skilled. Lower. Certainly paid lower on the pay scale of things. But most importantly, deemed of a lower status because it is women’s work - it is not “real” work.

What is mistakenly called the feminization of poverty is in reality the proletarianization of womens work and of women as workers.

The social factory is the extension of womens work in the home and the extension of homework. The fact is as I have posted here before, but it is important to reiteriate, womens work, women workers are seen as and extension of being homeworkers. Home work includes child and elder care. It is not the natural function of women as individuals in society prior to capitalism.

In pre capitalist societies it takes a village to raise a child or care for its elders. It is a social function of the whole community. With the advent of capitalism and the creation of modern urban society a new family unit of the bourgoise was created; the nuclear family. What was once the family unit of the upper classes is now the generalized family unit in modern capitalist society. It is perfect for the needs of capitalism, which is producers no longer working from their homes as artisans, but working as wage slaves and unwaged slaves capable of consuming the goods of fordist production.

Housework and Care of Young Children

Throughout the world women continue to bear primary responsibility for childcare and house-work. This unpaid work remains economically invisible, but creates a foundation for all other economic, political and social life.

At the same time, pregnancy and care for young children impede women’s opportunities for employment. Women today increasingly lack the traditional support of the extended family, in which other family members participated in childcare and children helped with agricultural and domestic chores. Childcare is often a heavy burden on women who work outside the home to support the family. Poverty greatly exacerbates the problem.

The World’s Largest Workplace: Social Reproduction and Wages for Housework

Women's house work - How it should be rewarded?

For a year and a half we have been running in foundation "Taking care of the world" a campaign "DONE-PAID or women's housework - how to reward it". We can see the results of ignoring women's rights: violence against them, poverty, too small participation in public life. We point out the structural cause of these problems: no payment for housework done by women for ages.

Women's economic rights are ignored all over the world. This problem is so difficult that it seems almost impossible to solve it in existing system. But Poland has good tradition in starting changes in what seemed impossible (for instance social movement Solidarność and its leader Lech Wałęsa). Now it is time to take the next step.

In our opinion the key to the problem called "equality" is women's money. A fight for equality hasn't ended yet. First we fought out a right to education, then to work outside home, next electoral rights. Now it's time to fight for our economic rights. It's time to work on new way of thinking and new solutions.

Only when women become financially independent, not by taking on additional responsibilities but by achieving recognition for their housework, such shameful acts as violence against women can be eliminated. Only then social and political activation of women, so desired by international institutions, will be possible. Because without dealing with causes we can't deal with effects.


It is given to families with children and childless persons between the age of 18 and 29. It consists of two parts: one - for running the home, and another - for children who live in that house. Its amount depends on the size of a household, costs of its keeping and family income.

The extension of womens work into the workplace in jobs such as daycare workers, teachers and nurses leads to it being undervalued and underpaid. And today in Canada the vast majority of women are working.

Not as professionals, eg. lawyers, politicians, doctors, CEO's, etc. but a low paid workers in the service and retail sectors a sector that is not unionized and pays minimum wages or just above. Again the role of women workers in the service industry is an extension of their role at home as the hostess.

When the Conservatives attacked the Liberal daycare funding for the provinces often they focused on the fact that monies were being used to boost the pay for daycare workers, as if this was some sort of waste of money. In fact you can't talk about having daycare spaces for children without the workers to maintain the relationship with those children. Which is exactly the problem with private daycares and the baba as babysitter situations, they often do not have enough workers per child.

And its not just that women earn less than men but that their jobs are undervalued. This is clear in the report issued this morning on the SARS epidemic in Ontario. That workers, mainly women, were injured on the job because their work is not considered as hazardous as mens.

The commissioner lambasted Ontario for its failure to adequately protect the doctors, nurses and other hospital employees in their place of work, noting of all the people who contracted SARS in the province, 72 per cent were infected in a health-care setting, including 169 health-care workers. Two nurses and one doctor died.

''Hospitals are dangerous workplaces, like mines and factories, yet they lack the basic safety culture and workplacesafety systems that have become expected and accepted for many years in Ontario mines and factories and in British Columbia's hospitals,'' Campbell wrote.

''This was a system failure,'' Campbell wrote. ''The lack of preparation against infectious disease, the decline of public health, the failure of systems that should protect nurses and paramedics and others from infection at work - all these declines and failures went on through three successive governments of different political stripes.

The fact this report shows that several years after the SARS outbreak Ontario still has not protected its healthcare workers.

In the same way other working women have experienced the failure of succesive governments and their policemen to protect them from being terrorized and murdered on the streets of our cities by lust murderers. Their work being an extension of the womens role in the bedroom.

Along with sexism racism is the undercurrent in the failure of the State and its cops to do anything about the mass murder in Canada of sex trade workers. Because many sex trade workers are aboriginal women and girls they suffer a modernized form of colonial occupation and domination, that it is ok to rape and abuse them, as has happened in their own communities by the very policemen supposedly there to protect them.

It all comes back to the home. The oppression of women in the home is written on the face of our very uncivil civil society. Only when the proletariat refuses to continue to do housework at home or its extension in capitalist society, the General(ized) Strike, will the exploitation and oppression of women cease.





Women Workers

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