Tue Jun 12, 2012, 09:51 AM
Whisp (17,191 posts)
Selma James - payment for housework
A life in writing: Selma James
'By demanding payment for housework we attack what is terrible about caring in our capitalist society'
The last time Selma James was interviewed by the Guardian was in 1976, by the feminist columnist Jill Tweedie. At that time, James was a household name – in feminist households at least – and this is how Tweedie began: "To many women in the women's movement, the Wages for Housework campaigners come over like Jehovah's Witnesses … Selma James and her sister enthusiasts … harangue conferences, shout from soapboxes, gesticulate on television, burn with a strange fever … On the street corner they go down well. Within the movement … they set up a high level of irritation. Eyes roll heavenwards, figures slump in seats as yet another campaigner leaps for the platform."
Her campaigning and her writing – the two are indivisible – spring from one central insight: that "housework" (not just vacuuming, but all the work involved in meeting the physical and emotional needs of others, from cradle to grave) is central to the reproduction of humanity, and therefore to capitalism. By focusing on the unwaged, Wages for Housework revolutionises our idea of what work is, and who the working class are. It allows us to see the potential collective power of those who are most isolated and seem powerless: women stuck at home changing nappies. And it goes straight to the heart of a dilemma that still plagues many women: "I started," James says now, "as a housewife refusing housework. As a mother, doing this work that is so central to society, I was locked in and impoverished. But this work is not like other work: we hate it, and we want to do it. By demanding payment for housework we attack what is terrible about caring in our capitalist society, while protecting what is great about it, and what it could be. We refuse housework, because we think everyone should be doing it."
6 replies, 752 views
Selma James - payment for housework (Original post)
|Speck Tater||Jun 2012||#2|
Response to seaglass (Reply #1)
Tue Jun 12, 2012, 12:28 PM
Whisp (17,191 posts)
3. I see it set up like a social security system
of some sort. afterall we are raising the little ones to (hopefully) be good little future investments for the well being of all society.
Response to Whisp (Original post)
Tue Jun 12, 2012, 12:07 PM
Speck Tater (10,618 posts)
2. Don't forget that the husband...
...should also be paid for yard maintenance, plumbing repairs, carpentry, electrical repairs, painting, car repairs, ... etc.
At least those were among the many things I always ended up doing back when my wife was still alive. Seems to me that we BOTH worked hard to keep the household working. And, yes, I DID do my share of diaper-changing, vacuuming, and dish washing too.
Response to Speck Tater (Reply #2)
Tue Jun 12, 2012, 12:37 PM
Whisp (17,191 posts)
4. you sound like you were a good husband and partner
Last edited Tue Jun 12, 2012, 12:38 PM USA/ET - Edit history (1)
I'm sorry that your wife is no longer with you, Speck.
I think the article is pointed more toward the average household where the woman generally still does the larger part of child care and the worrying aobut it and home care for elderly parents (even if working outside the home).
This is what I found to be true during the years when my daughter was young. Of all the couples with children about mytgirl's age that I knew, it was the woman, whether she worked outside the home or not (most did work at outside jobs as well as home), that did the much larger share of child rearing and taking care of the enormous amount of detail involved in that.
Michelle Obama said it best about her time as a mom working in business - when at work you worry about your kids, when at home you worry about your work, it's constant stress. I know Exactly what she means because I lived it. I'm sure there are men in that situation as well but not in my circle of acquaintances and friends. Maybe I should run with a better crowd.