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Madame Tlank, “The Battle of all* Mothers (or: No Unauthorised Reproduction)”

January 30, 2011 Leave a comment

“The Battle of all* Mothers (or: No Unauthorised Reproduction)”

Madame Tlank

mute vol. 2 no. 9, 2008. [PDF]

Well Jeff, … the fact is that you have the luxury of knowing that you will never ever ever ever EVER be faced with the government bossing you around like a child, simply because you have a parasite living in your body.

– The Law Fairy, Feministing.com

By now people have forgotten what history has proven: that ‘raising’ a child is tantamount to retarding his development. The best way to raise a child is to LAY OFF.

– Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution, 1970

In what follows I wish to consider the effects of recent UK health and social policies on women and their children who are labelled ‘at risk’.[1] Read more…

Factory of Found Clothes, Three Mothers and a Chorus // Три матери и хор

January 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Three Mothers and a Chorus

Factory of Found Clothes, Russia, 2007
33 minutes

The film has the structure of an ancient Greek tragedy. Mothers explain their problems and the chorus which is constructed of the typical social characters is judging her. The film is dedicated to contemporary motherhood.

Categories: child care, film

CLR James, “On the Woman Question: An Orientation”

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment

“On the Woman Question: An Orientation”

CLR James

Source: An SWP discussion held on 3rd September 1951, opened by CLR James. [Link]

A new stage has been reached. We are finished with endless discussions on male chauvinism. We have no more time for individual attacks against individual men who are backward or against individual women who do not want to be “emancipated.” These people will reorient themselves and will be drawn into their own struggles.

Now for the first time we know where we are going. We did not develop accidentally. The ideas explicit in this document are the concrete manifestations of the movement of capitalism and the reaction of the masses of women today. It is this reaction that we shall attempt to concretize in this document. Read more…

Jill Quadagno, “The Politics of Motherhood”

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment

“The Politics of Motherhood”

Jill Quadagno

Chapter Six, The Color of Welfare: How Racism Undermined the War on Poverty, Oxford University Press, 1994.  [PDF]

During the first half of the turbulent sixties, child-care policy remained disengaged from the volatile battles raging over race and rights. Rather, improving child care remained the obscure mission of two federal bureaus, the Women’s Bureau and the Children’s Bureau. Before the decade was over, child care, too, became embroiled in the struggle for racial equality. Child care provided through the War on Poverty’s Headstart program was designed to provide enriching experiences for poor children, which in practice meant black children. Day care provided to welfare mothers to reduce the welfare rolls also disproportionately benefited African Americans.

In seeking to build a right-of-center coalition, Richard Nixon seized upon child care as a program that might accomplish that goal. In his first message to Congress, he promised to provide all young children a “healthful and stimulating development.” [1] The problem was that his welfare reform scheme – the Family Assistance Plan – contained a day-care component. As day-care costs became entangled in the controversy over the FAP, Nixon abandoned his commitment to children.

It wasn’t only the FAP that undermined support for a comprehensive child-care plan. Equally significant was public ambivalence about the escalating numbers of working mothers. If the government embarked on policies that encouraged welfare mothers to work, what implications might such policies have for all families? Federal support for child care was defeated both because of its connection to welfare reform, and thus to one of the most controversial and racially charged issues of the decade, and because of its implied validation of the right of all mothers to work. Read more…

Categories: child care, histories, welfare

Frances Rooney, “SORWUC” [the Service, Office and Retail Workers' Union of Canada]

December 6, 2010 1 comment

“SORWUC”

Frances Rooney

Canadian Woman Studies, Vol 1, No 2, 1978. [PDF]

Women in unions? Yes, Virginia, there are women in unions but … sixty-five per cent of women in the labour force are not unionized. Most unions ignore or discriminate against part-time workers; an elite, removed from the membership, dominates many unions; members often have no direct say in decision-making and it goes without saying that the labour-union movement is overwhelmingly male-oriented and male-dominated.

SORWUC (the Service, Office and Retail Workers’ Union of Canada) is doing something about all those things. The now six-year-old union grew out of the Vancouver Working Women’s Association. Its purpose is to organize workers in retail stores, banks, restaurants, and the other service trades-those predominantly female occupations which have always been ignored by the traditional trade unions. Because SORWUC’S twenty-four founders were tired of insensitive hierarchies and were aware that women need to learn about the workings of unions, they designed the SORWUC constitution specifically to prevent the growth of a highly paid professional bureaucracy.

All important decisions are voted on by the entire membership through referendum ballots mailed to the members’ houses. All officers are elected annually, and there is a limit to the length of time any person may hold office. And all local bargaining units are autonomous: each unit retains control over every aspect of negotiations, and the members of each unit write and negotiate their own contracts.

For the first year after certification by the B.C. Labour Relations Board, SORWUC’S one bargaining unit consisted of the employees of a small legal office. Since 1974, Local 1 has come to represent several social-service agencies, other offices, restaurants, and day-care centres. In addition to the usual provisions concerning job security, promotions, and wages, the SORWUC contracts have included several provisions designed to meet the needs of working people who must also function as members of families and of their communities. These include work weeks as short as 32 hours; full pay for maternity leave; two weeks’ paid paternity leave; an extra hour at lunch-time, paid, once a month to allow women with families to participate in union meetings; protection and prorated benefits for part-time workers; and personal rights clauses prohibiting dress regulations, performance of personal chores for employers, and that most familiar function of the ‘office wife’, getting coffee.

SORWUC is working to evolve policies to improve the quality of the life of working people. One area of study is child care: ‘We want to explore the possibilities of unions having more control of day-care centres and child-care facilities. A union of parents/working people will care for its children as industry/government never will.’ Policy proposals presented to the SORWUC National Convention in February 1978 included free 24-hour child care; centres which the child can reach by her/himself and, when necessary, free transportation for both parent and child; nonsexist, nonracist training for childcare workers and salaries at parity with those of school teachers and the funding of these facilities from corporation profits. Underlying these policy proposals, which contain a statement of the rights of children, is SORWUC’s view that children are part of society and, as such, are the responsibility of society as a whole. Read more…

Genora Johnson Dollinger, “‘This Is the Pressure That They Used’: Genora Dollinger Recalls the Flint Sit-Down Strike”

December 5, 2010 Leave a comment

“‘This Is the Pressure That They Used’: Genora Dollinger Recalls the Flint Sit-Down Strike”

Genora Johnson Dollinger

Oral history courtesy of Sherna Gluck, Feminist History Project.

audio

Strikes affect an entire community, and in the end they need that community’s support to succeed. This is especially true in the case of a sit-down strike like the legendary sit-down strike at  Flint, Michigan, in 1936, when the strikers occupied the GM plants. The  strikers, isolated at first inside the Fisher Body Plant Number One,  needed food; they also needed information and advance warning on what  management might be up to. The Women’s Emergency Brigade, formed during  the Flint strike, proved indispensable to the union effort more than once. Genora Johnson Dollinger helped found the Women’s Emergency Brigade and became one of the strike’s key leaders. In this interview, conducted by historian Sherna Gluck in 1976, Genora Johnson Dollinger described first how the strike affected her family. [History Matters]

Genora Dollinger: During  this period, I was renting an apartment above my mother, on the third floor of the building that my father – or the building I was raised in.  And I had one little boy in school and the other little fellow was only two. Now, I started leaving him downstairs until my father became so anti-union, they’d cut off all of my father’s funds at the bank, all of  his business transactions. That included not only his real estate  building, but also his photograph studio. He had no funds that he could write any checks. He was frozen. And he went down to see them, and they said, “Until you get that communist daughter of yours out of your apartment building, we’re not going to -” This was just pressure, when I stop to think about it. Just his daughter moving out of the building?  This is the pressure that they used. And it was – I remember the banker’s name very well because the son-of-a-beehive was a KKK member with my father through the church minister where I belonged. And so he told him, “You get your daughter out.” And so my father marched home and he said,  “For God’s sake, I’m frozen here. I can’t move in any of my business enterprises, and your nonsense, so you’ll have to move.” And I said, “I’m sorry. I haven’t got time to move,” and who would take care of my kids  anyway. So then he said, well, then he was going to shut the heat and water off, and I said, “You do that, and I’ll issue a statement to the press that their grandfather is-” you know, from their grandchildren,” and call the health department.”

So my mother at this point didn’t dare to defy my father, but she let me know that whatever I thought was right for working people, you know, she would be in agreement. She may not understand, but she understood that I had my reasons.

And what would happen is that – you know, I had two young sisters, remember. One was eight and the other one was twelve. And they would take turns. They would get up and eat breakfast with mother and dad in the morning, and then they would kiss them goodbye and go off to school. One would go to school and the other one would go up the back stairs and stay with my children during the day, and then they would take turns. And that was primarily how my children were being taken care of.

bell hooks, “Feminist Parenting”

November 22, 2010 2 comments

“Feminist Parenting”

bell hooks

Chapter 13, Feminism is for Everybody, South End Press, 2000. [PDF]

Feminist focus on children was a central component of contemporary radical feminist movement. By raising children without sexism women hoped to create a future world where there would be no need for an anti-sexist movement. Initially the focus on children primarily highlighted sexist sex roles and the way in which they were imposed on children from birth on. Feminist attention to children almost always focused on girl children, on attacking sexist biases and promoting alternative images. Now and then feminists would call attention to the need to raise boys in an anti-sexist manner but for the most part the critique of male patriarchy, the insistence that all men had it better than all women, trickled down. The assumption that boys always had more privilege and power than girls fueled feminists prioritizing a focus on girls.

One of the primary difficulties feminist thinkers faced when confronting sexism within families was that more often than not female parents were the transmitters of sexist thinking. Even in households where no adult male parental caregiver was present, women taught and teach children sexist thinking. Ironically, many people assume that any female-headed household is automatically matriarchal. In actuality women who head households in patriarchal society often feel guilty about the absence of a male figure and are hypervigilant about imparting sexist values to children, especially males. In recent times mainstream conservative pundits have responded to a wellspring of violent acts by young males of all classes and races by suggesting that single women cannot possible raise a healthy male child. This is just simply not true. The facts show that some of the most loving and powerful men in our society were raised by single mothers. Again it must be reiterated that most people assume that a woman raising children alone, especially sons, will fail to teach a male child how to become a patriarchal male. This is simply not the case. Read more…

Categories: child care, Feminisms

Contra Costa Times, “Parents anguish over child care cuts” [10/19/2010]

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

“Parents anguish over child care cuts”

Rick Radin, Contra Costa Times [10/19/2010]

[Petition to save Stage 3 childcare and jobs]

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s elimination of a child care subsidy, benefiting 8,000 children in the Bay Area and more than 57,000 statewide, has parents and providers upset and worried.

The loss of the subsidy will cost low-income parents hundreds and perhaps thousands of dollars a month, depending on how many children they have who were covered by the subsidy.

The program, known as CalWORKs Stage 3, gives continuing child care subsidies to parents who have been out of the CalWORKs welfare-to-work program for job training and education for at least two years.

California will end Stage 3 payments Nov. 1, but child care providers haven’t been paid since July 1 because of the delay in settling the state budget. The state has promised that it will make up the back payments.

Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, announced a proposal this week that would go around the governor and restore funding until a new chief executive takes office in January.

Kamilla Wade, 27, holds her newborn son Kai, as she and her daughters Kalani, 6, and Kiara, 9, look out from their Antioch, Calif. home on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010. Wade is receiving stage 3 childcare subsidies for her girls under the state CalWORKS program which has been eliminated beginning Nov. 1. Wade's two daughters together receive $1,200 a month in childcare under the program and her newborn son will require an additional $1,200 a month after she returns to work. (Sherry LaVars/Staff)

Schwarzenegger killed the program in one of several line-item vetoes after completing a budget deal with the Legislature earlier this month. Eliminating the child care subsidy is intended to save the state about $256 million a year.

About 1,700 children in Contra Costa County and 2,200 in Alameda County will lose their subsidies, according to the Contra Costa Childcare Council, the county’s largest child care network.

Elimination of the program will leave parents who rely on help to stay in the work force with few, if any, options, said council Director Kate Ertz-Berger.

It also may cause children to be yanked from providers with whom they are prospering to face an unknown future with lower-cost providers or even less-stable arrangements, Ertz-Berger said.

Alternatively, some parents may choose to quit their jobs to stay home with their children and apply for county welfare, she said.

“The bottom line is families will be devastated,” Ertz-Berger said. “Children will lose the ability to prepare for school.”

Elimination of the program was part of $962 million in cuts the governor made to restore a state “rainy day” fund to a $1.3 billion balance, said H.D. Palmer, deputy director of the state Department of Finance.

About $1.7 billion in other categories of child care subsidies are still available, Palmer said.

“The reserve (fund) was unacceptably low,” he said. “Not to single out child care, but the reserve was not sufficient.” Read more…

Categories: child care, news, welfare

Mariarosa Dalla Costa, “A General Strike”

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

“A General Strike”

Mariarosa Dalla Costa

Originally published in All Work and No Pay: Women, Housework and the Wages Due. Falling Wall Press. [1975]

[Dalla Costa gave the following speech at a 1974 celebration of International Women's Day in Mestre, Italy.]

 

Today the feminist movement in Italy is opening the campaign for Wages for Housework. As you have heard from the songs, as you have seen from the photograph exhibition, as you have read on the placards, the questions we are raising today are many: the barbarous conditions in which we have to face abortion, the sadism we are subjected to in obstetric and gynaecological clinics, our working conditions – in jobs outside the home our conditions are always worse than men’s, and at home we work without wages – the fact that social services either don’t exist or are so bad that we are afraid to let our children use them, and so on.

 

Now at some point people might ask, what is the connection between the campaign we are opening today, the campaign for Wages for Housework, and all these things that we have raised today, that we have exposed and are fighting against? All these things that we have spoken about, that we have made songs about, that we have shown in our exhibitions and films?

 

We believe that the weakness of all women – that weakness that’s behind our being crossed out of all history, that’s behind the fact that when we leave the home we must face the most revolting, underpaid and insecure jobs – this weakness is based on the fact that all of us women, whatever we do, are wearied and exhausted at the very outset by the 13 hours of housework that no-one has ever recognized, that no-one has ever paid for. Read more…

Categories: child care, housework

Layla AbdelRahim, “On Objects, Love, and Objectifications: Children in a Material World”

October 2, 2010 Leave a comment

“On Objects, Love, and Objectifications: Children in a Material World”

Layla AbdelRahim [2002]

This work first appeared as a 15-page paper for a doctoral seminar in education at McGill University, Montreal in October 2002. Claudia Mitchell, our professor, challenged us to reflect on the phenomenology of children’s space. My paper for that course focused on my child’s room. I have since incorporated contrastive and reflective elements from my anthropological observations on childhood and edited the form and the content of the first version to present at the CHILDHOODS 2005 conference in July in Oslo.

Before proceeding further, I would like to clarify what may come off as a categorical condemnation of ALL of society or of ALL of ‘civilised‘ ‘Western’ society. When I apply these terms and categories, I refer to the official and the generally valued aspects of social organisation. It is precisely because I understand that all societies are much more variegated than the official or ‘mainstream’ grammar portrays the various ‘nations’ to be that I criticise the attempt to standardise human experience according to the “official party-line” turning this experience into suffering.

Prologue: on Love

How to love a child, asked Janush Korchak, the Polish pediatrician and pedagogue at the beginning of the 20th century, which perhaps meant how to be Human. Yet, most people find it difficult to conceive what it is to be able to listen to a child, to respect a child, and to be there for a child even when not one’s own, even when one feels it is beyond one’s power. The love in your heart will give you the strength, was Korchak’s message. Day or night, he waited by the bedside of a dying child so that when the child’s eyes opened they would meet the doctor’s and the child would know that s/he was not alone in this world and then death would seem less cold, less frightful, less solitary. During World War II, the Germans condemned to death the group of some 200 Orphans in his charge. The doctor had a chance to stay behind. He said that he would not abandon his children at this difficult moment of their lives. He went with them. They all vanished one foggy dawn. Read more…

Categories: child care

Mary M., “So who needs daycare?”

September 11, 2010 Leave a comment

“So who needs daycare?”

Mary M.

From Chicago Women’s Liberation Union newspaper Womankind [Sept 1973]

Working full-time, it is very difficult to provide adequate care for my children, aged 3 and 5, especially for my five-year-old, who is in kindergarten for half a day.

Both my children have been in daycare centers and I am pleased with their experiences. As a teacher in a daycare center and a visitor of several centers around the city during the past months, I know these are some of the happiest places I’ve been, with children and staff sharing and learning from each other.

In this article, I want to discuss my experiences with childcare and look at how society is dealing with the need for it.

The position of women in our society has much to do with the low priority given to childcare needs, for we are told that a woman’s first responsibility is to stay home and raise the children.

However, when a political or economic situation demands it, such as during World War II when society needed women to work, we are told to get a job, and that society will provide childcare.

Today, the economic reality of many women’s lives is that we must work at a paying job as well as raising our children. We are put in a double bind – we are told that our place is in the home taking care of the children, and yet many of us must work. Read more…

Categories: child care

Child Development Group of Mississippi, “A Letter to you from Tom Levin”

September 3, 2010 Leave a comment

“A Letter to you from Tom Levin”

Child Development Group of Mississippi
Newsletter #3 [1965]

A letter to all those who have made CDGM possible -

Dear friends,

This summer in Mississippi we have built upon the struggles of passed years. We built CDGM upon the ahes of churches where poor people spoke out for equality. We built CDGM upon the bodies of Negro and white workers for the poor who were killed because they would not stay quietly at home to live in peace with injustice. We built CDGM upon the hunger and humiliation of men and women who were not allowed to work at a decent job before they would not give up being free. We built upon hundreds of years of the suffering and courage of mothers and fathers throughout the state of Mississippi who wanted something human and decent for their children and themselves. If we are proud of what we have done we must remember that we could not have schools run by the poor people, schools with black and white working together, if a place in history had not been won for us by brave men and women before this summer – men and women who said loudly and clearly “All Men Must Be Free.” We have a large debt to these brave people of the “Movement.” We can only pay it by never being satisfied until all men in Mississippi have political, social, and economic freedom.  Read more…

Categories: child care, histories, welfare

Every Mother is a Working Mother Network, “Caring Work Counts! Mothers Challenge Advocates & the Poverty Lobby”

September 3, 2010 Leave a comment

“Caring Work Counts! Mothers Challenge Advocates & the Poverty Lobby”

Every Mother is a Working Mother Network

Every Mother is a Working Mother Network (EMWM) campaigns to establish that raising children and caring work is work, and that the time mothers spend raising children, and the economic value of their work be included in our right to welfare and other resources.  We campaign for resources to enable a mother to raise her own children full-time or to also work outside the home. We are a national multiracial grassroots network from different backgrounds and situations. Read more…

BAMN Golden Gate Child Development Center (CDC) occupation

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

UPDATE August 29, 2010, 11:00AM PST:

Parents, Teachers, Students and Community Members Vow to Keep Childhood Development Centers (CDC’s) Open

PRESS CONFERENCE Sunday, Aug. 29, 4:00 pm
Golden Gate Child Development Center (CDC)
6232 Herzog St., near San Pablo + Alcatraz (Oakland)

TAKE ACTION this Tuesday, Aug. 31, 4:30 pm
Golden Gate Child Development Center (CDC)
6232 Herzog St., near San Pablo + Alcatraz (Oakland)

Parents, teachers, students, and community members vow to keep open the Golden Gate and Santa Fe Childhood Development Centers (CDC’s) in Oakland. They are holding a press conference today to announce their intention to mobilize a mass protest and action on Tuesday at 4:30 pm in front of Golden Gate CDC to stop them from being closed.

On Friday, the Oakland Unified School District announced that the two CDC’s in Oakland would close next week, despite finding the money to keep five other centers open that had also been scheduled for closure.

“If they found $2.4 million to keep open five of the schools, then I know they can find the money to keep my son’s school open, too. This whole fight is about the right for every child to an equal, quality, public education. We’re fighting for what Martin Luther King fought for,” said Alonie Butler, Oakland parent and BAMN supporter.

Over the course of the summer, OUSD attempted to close seven centers which run early childhood and before and after school programs for children, sparking a community-wide movement and series of protests, marches, and occupations. That movement kept all the centers open until the end of August. Last Friday, when the District announced its intention to close Golden Gate and Santa Fe CDC’s, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) organized teachers, students, and parents to sit-in and occupy Golden Gate CDC to keep those centers open. Read more…

Categories: child care, news

Ellen Reese, “But Who Will Watch the Children? State and Local Campaigns to Improve Child Care Policies”

August 29, 2010 Leave a comment

“But Who Will Watch the Children? State and Local Campaigns to Improve Child Care Policies”


Ellen Reese

Intimate Labors Conference, UCSB, 2007 [PDF]

Note to readers: This paper is a draft of Chapter 5 from a book manuscript, They Say
Cutback, We Say Fight Back! Welfare Reform Activism in an Era of Retrenchment. This
book focuses on struggles over welfare policies after passage of the 1996 federal welfare
reform act in two states–California and Wisconsin– and the two largest cities in those
states. As I explain in an earlier chapter, the information for this chapter comes from
various sources, including participant observation, interviews with activists,
organizational literature, and media coverage of relevant events.

Although the 1996 welfare reform act largely cut back government assistance to
low-income families, it led to expansions in publicly subsidized child care.1 Putting poor
mothers to work meant that someone else would have to take care of their children. In
1997, an estimated 3.5 million additional children were expected to need subsidized child
care due to the implementation of welfare reform, on top of the 7 million already
receiving it.2 To ease the transition from welfare to work, politicians at all levels invested
to expand and improve the subsidized child care system. Congress authorized more
federal funds for child care for low-income families through the Child Care and
Development Fund and TANF.3 Head Start programs were also expanded.4 President
Clinton’s 1997 White House Conference on Child Care also drew attention to the need to
expand and improve the nation’s child care system and to enhance child care workers’
training and earnings. State legislatures and local governments also increased their
investments in child care to help meet the growing demand for these services.5 By 2002,
33 states were spending more in state and federal funds on child care than on cash
assistance for poor families.6 Despite these increases, subsidized child care programs
were insufficient to meet the demand for them, which was growing as maternal
employment increased and real wages stagnated and declined for most Americans.7 Read more…

Martha A. Ackelsberg, “Organizing Women: First Steps”

August 14, 2010 Leave a comment

“Organizing Women: First Steps”

Martha A. Ackelsberg

excerpt from Free Women of Spain: anarchism and the struggle for the emancipation of women [1991]

Lucia and Mercedes were instrumental in beginning Mujeres Libres in Madrid. Amparo joined them on the editorial board of Mujeres Libres and later became active in Barcelona as the director of Mujeres Libres’ education and training institute, the Casal de la Dona Treballdora. All three were spurred to action by their prior experiences in male-dominated organizations of the anarcho-syndicalist movement. But the groundwork for the organization was also being laid by women around the country, many of whom were virtually unaware of one another’s existence.

In Barcelona, for example, Soledad Estorach, who was active both in her ateneo and in the CNT, had also found existing movement organizations inadequate to engage women workers on equal terms with men.

In Catalona, at least, the dominant position was that men and women should both be involved. But the problem was that the men didn’t know how to get women involved as activists. Both men and most women thought of women in a secondary status. For most men, I think. The ideal situation would be to have a companera who did not oppose their ideas, but whose private life would be more or less like other women. They wanted to be activists twenty-four hours a day-and in that context, of course, it’s impossible to have equality …. Men got so involved that the women were left behind, almost of necessity. Especially, for example, when he would be taken to jail. Then she would have to take care of the children, work to support the family, visit him in jail, etc. That, the companeras were very good at! But for us, that was not enough. That was not activism!!! Read more…

Selma James, “Women, the Unions and Work, Or…What Is Not To Be Done”

August 14, 2010 1 comment

“Women, the Unions and Work, Or…What Is Not To Be Done”

Selma James

Radical America Vol. 7 no. 4-5, 1973. [PDF]


This pamphlet has been published by the Notting Hill (a working-class district in West London -ed.) Womens Liberation Workshop group. It was written by one of our members and presented as a paper at the National Confer­ence of Women at Manchester March 25-26. 1972. While many of us have minor or major disagreements with the paper. we feel that the discussion which it generated at the conference was of such importance to the future of the movement that it should be widely read and the discussion continue.

The demands at the end of the paper aroused most interest at the conference. and were discussed. added to and modi­fied there. But there may have been some misunderstand­ing about their purpose. They are not a statement of what we want. finally. to have. They are not a plan for an ideal society. and a society based on them would not cease to be oppressive. Ultimately the only demand which is not co­optable is the armed population demanding the end of cap­italism. But we feel that at this moment these demands can be a force against what capital wants and for what we want. They are intended to mobilize women both “inside-and “outside-the women’s liberation movement. They could provide a perspective which would affect decisions about local and national struggles. After discussion and modifi­cation they could become integrated and far-reaching goals which the women’s movement could come to stand for. A vote taken on the final day at Manchester decided that the demands would be raised on the first day of the next conference. Many groups are planning local discussions before that time.

April 8, 1972. Read more…

Jacklyn Cock, “Trapped Workers: The Case of Domestic Workers in South Africa”

August 13, 2010 Leave a comment

“Trapped Workers: The Case of Domestic Workers in South Africa”

Jacklyn Cock

excerpt from Patriarchy and Class: African Women in the Home and Workforce, Sharon B. Stichter and Jane L. Parpart, eds. Boulder & London: Westview Press, pp. 205-219, [1988]

In addition to lessening their employer’s sense of social isolation at the cost of exacerbating their own, many domestic servants take considerable responsibility for the care of their employer’s children.

She gets the children up in the morning, gives them their breakfast, walks the youngest to nursery school, has our lunch ready for us when we return.

This responsibility for child care involves one of the central contradictions in the institution of domestic servants. Several servants interviewed stressed that they had to look after two families and neglect their own in the process.

We leave our children early in the morning to look after other women’s families and still they don’t appreciate us.

We have to leave our children and look after our madam’s children. We have not time to look after them when they are sick.

It is black women who suffer most from the neglect of creches by the state. Furthermore, black women generally and domestic servants specifically are most vulnerable to dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy (Cook et al, 1983). One respondent said that the employment of domestic servants explained “why white people’s children don’t grow up criminals. It is not from having everything they need, but having nannies who watch them every minute of the day and instill discipline.” Often the person looking after the servant’s children is a daughter who is kept out of school to do so. This perpetuates a vicious circle of povety, inadequate child care and interrupted education among blacks’ children (especially females) while white children benefit from the attention of two mothers.

Molyneux has emphasized that it is the work of child care which “is of the most benefit to the capitalist state” (Molyneux 1979, p. 25). Child care is expensive if it emphasizes child development rather than custodial care. Therefore in advanced capitalist societies “the only large scale possibility that could bring  about the socialization of child care would be for the state to expand its provision” (CSE 1975, p. 14). But state organized institutions for the reproduction of labor power are financed by state expropriation of surplus value. Thus since the state provision of childcare centers, kindergartens and creches would add to capital’s costs for reproducing the labor force, this would only be likely to occur in a period of rapid capital accumulation and consequent increased productivity. In such a situation capital would gain from releasing women for wage labor, because that would expand the labor force producing surplus value. But in South Africa the availability of cheap, black domestic labor creates this flexibility, and women can easily be incorporated or expelled from the labor force according to the pace of capital accumulation. Hence this is not a demand likely to be made on the state by the white working class.

Patricia Hill Collins, “Work, Family and Black Women’s Oppression”

August 11, 2010 1 comment

“Work, Family and Black Women’s Oppression”
Patricia Hill Collins

Chapter 3, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment, 2000. Second edition.

 

Honey, de white man is the de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find
out. Maybe it’s some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but
we don’t know nothin’ but what we see. So de white man throw down de load and
tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t
tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so
fur as Ah can see. —Zora Neale Hurston, 1937

With these words Nanny, an elderly African-American woman in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, explains Black women’s “place” to her young, impressionable granddaughter. Nanny knows that being treated as “mules uh de world” lies at the heart of Black women’s oppression. Thus, one core theme in U.S. Black feminist thought consists of analyzing Black women’s work, especially Black women’s labor market victimization as “mules.” As dehumanized objects, mules are living machines and can be treated as part of the scenery. Fully human women are less easily exploited. As mill worker Corine Cannon observes, “Your work, and this goes for white people and black, is what you are . . . your work is your life” (Byerly 1986, 156).  Read more…

Categories: child care, histories, race

Bay Citizen, “Child Care Centers Remain Open, for Now” (July 30, 2010)

August 2, 2010 Leave a comment

“Child Care Centers Remain Open, for Now: Oakland parents get a reprieve, but state budget cuts still loom”
Katharine Mieszkowski, SF Bay Citizen [July 30, 2010]

About 700 children from low-income families who attend child care centers operated by the Oakland Unified School District got some good news on Thursday night. Their parents won’t be scrambling to find different child care arrangements by Monday morning.

Seven centers, which were scheduled to shut down, will remain open through the end of August, thanks to $400,000 in federal stimulus money, which the district reallocated at the last minute. The centers, which serve children who are in pre-K through third grade, are threatened by the state budget crisis. Even though a budget hasn’t been finalized, the school district is already feeling the pain.

“We’re not getting any new revenue from the state until the budget is passed, so as a stopgap measure we were going to have to close at least seven sites effective on Monday, August 2nd,” said Troy Flint, a spokesman for the school district. Read more…

Categories: child care, news
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