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Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in America [book]

May 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in America

Evelyn Nakano Glenn

2010. PDF

 

excerpt:

This book is about the ideological and material foundations of the care crisis. It is grounded in the premise that the often untenable strains to which family caregivers are subject and the parlous situation of paid caregivers are closely intertwined and need to be examined together. The main thesis of the book is that the social organization of care has been rooted in diverse forms of coercion that have induced women to assume responsibility for caring for family members and that have tracked poor, racial minority, and immigrant women into positions entailing caring for others. The forms of coercion have varied in degree, directness, and explicitness but nonetheless have served to constrain and direct women’s choices; the net consequence of restricted choice has been to keep caring labor “cheap,” that is, free (in the case of family care labor) or low waged (in the case of paid care labor). Read more…

Evelyn Nakano Glenn, “Racial Ethnic Women’s Labor: The Intersection of Race, Gender and Class Oppression”

February 13, 2011 1 comment

“Racial Ethnic Women’s Labor: The Intersection of Race, Gender and Class Oppression”

Evelyn Nakano Glenn

Review of Radical Political Economics Vol 17(3):86-108, 1985. [PDF]

INTRODUCTION

The failure of the feminist movement to address the concerns of Black, Hispanic and Asian-American women is currently engendering widespread discussion in white women’s organizations. Paralleling this discussion is a growing interest among racial ethnic women [1] in articulating aspects of their experiences that have been ignored in feminist analyses of women’s oppression (e.g. oral histories by Sterling 1979; Elessar, MacKenzie and Tixier y Vigil 1980; Kim 1983; and social and historical studies by Dill 1979; Mirande and Enriquez 1979; Davis 1981; Hooks 1981; Jones 1984). [2]

As an initial corrective, racial ethnic scholars have begun research on racial ethnic women in relation to employment, the family and the ethnic community, both historically and contemporarily (e.g. Acosta-Belen 1979; Mora and Del Castillo 1980; Melville 1980; Rodgers-Rose 1980; Tsuchida 1982). The most interesting of these studies describe the social world and day-to-day struggles of racial ethnic women, making visible what has up to now been invisible in the social sciences and humanities. These concrete data constitute the first step toward understanding the effects of race and gender oppression in the lives of racial ethnic women. Read more…

Louie Traikovski, “The Housewives’ Wages Debate in the 1920s”

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

“The Housewives’ Wages Debate in the 1920s”

Louie Traikovski

Journal of Australian Studies, No. 78, 2003 [PDF]

The topic of housewives’ wages has received almost no Australian historical consideration. Dorothy Campbell’s fleeting reference is an extremely rare exception. [1] This article provides a much-needed historical examination of a neglected topic. Such examination shows that progressive and conservative arguments were mounted on both sides of the debate over housewives’ wages in Australia in the 1920s. Both sides of the debate are also found to have sometimes pursued contradictory aims. Furthermore, this article contests sociologist Ann Oakley’s claim that support for housewives’ wages always has conservative ends. [2]

The closest a housewife’s wage came to being awarded in 1920s Australia was in 1921, when the matter was debated in the Western Australian parliament. [3] This debate continued throughout the decade in the press, where arguments over financial remuneration for a housewife’s domestic labour focused on the value of woman’s domestic work and woman’s place in marriage. The press both reflected and shaped the debate. It fulfilled the former role by reporting statements by key public figures on the issue. It fulfilled the latter role through publishing the opinion of staff columnists and citizen letter writers on the topic. Read more…

Categories: histories, housework

Sheila Fitzpatrick, “The Wives’ Movement”

January 23, 2011 1 comment

“The Wives’ Movement”

Sheila Fitzpatrick

From Chapter Six, Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s, 1999. [PDF]

“Wives” were an almost unrecognized entity in the first decade and a half after the revolution. An emancipated woman did not define herself by her status vis-à-vis her husband but by her work and activity outside the home. Educated revolutionary women despised housework and tended to consider the upbringing of children as a community rather than family responsibility. For a woman to concern herself primarily with home and family was “bourgeois.”

Although housewives had the vote, they often seemed to be treated as second-class citizens. “Sometimes I thought that we housewives were not even considered human,” one woman complained. Another wrote:

In all my documents it says: housewife. It has been ten years since I graduated from high school and got married, and here I am still putting it down as my meaningful “occupation.” During the elections to the soviets I, a healthy young woman, was sitting together with the old people and retired invalids. I suppose that’s fair. I am “unorganized population.” [62] Read more…

Categories: histories, housework

Lara Vapnek, “Desires for Distance: White Working-Class Women’s Rejection of Domestic Service in the late 19th-century United States”

January 19, 2011 1 comment

“Desires for Distance: White Working-Class Women’s Rejection of Domestic Service in the late 19th-century United States”

Lara Vapnek, St. John’s University [PDF]

This paper examines several moments when the intimacy entailed in domestic service became a political issue. The first, and most sustained series of examples comes from post-Civil War Boston, where native-born, white working-class women characterized domestic service as an unacceptable compromise of their independence as American citizens. Female leaders of the post-Civil War labor reform movement such as Jennie Collins and Aurora Phelps developed this rejection into a broader critique of class relations. Their metaphors of “wage slavery” invite us to consider how gender, racial, and ethnic identities were constituted through the performance (or non-performance) of paid domestic labor. The second part of this paper considers how these issues played out during the remainder of the nineteenth century in working-class women’s continued associations of service and slavery, and in growing anxieties about ethnic and racial mixing in middle-class households. Together, the various pieces of this essay suggest how the category of intimate labor might reframe our understanding of the history of paid domestic labor in the United States. Read more…

David Roediger, “‘Slaving like a Nigger': Irish Jobs and Irish Whiteness”

January 15, 2011 Leave a comment

“‘Slaving like a Nigger': Irish Jobs and Irish Whiteness”

David Roediger

From Chapter 7, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class, 1991. [PDF]

In 1856, Henry C. Brokmeyer, then a wage-earning immigrant German molder in St. Louis, wrote in his diary a question posed about one of his German-American friends: ‘”Why doesn’t he learn . . . a trade; and he wouldn’t have to slave like a nigger? ‘ Brokmeyer, who was to become not only independent of wage work but eventually lieutenant governor of Missouri, had picked up a pattern of usage common in American English since the 1830s. [61] Not only was nigger work synonymous with hard, drudging labor but to nigger it meant ‘to do hard work’, or ‘to slave’. ‘White niggers’ were white workers in arduous unskilled jobs or in subservient positions. [62]

But not all European immigrants had the same prospects to ‘learn a trade’, let alone to acquire independence from ‘slaving like a nigger’, by owning a workshop or a farm. English and Scandinavian immigrants were especially likely to achieve such mobility, while the Irish and Germans faced most directly the question of how and whether their labor was different from ‘slaving like a nigger’. But the Irish confronted the question much more starkly. Both before and after the famine, they were far more likely than the Germans to be without skills. The famine Irish infrequently achieved rural land ownership. Within large cities Irish-American males were skilled workers perhaps half as often as German-Americans, and were unskilled at least twice as often. Although frontier cities, perhaps attracting Irish migrants with more resources and choices, showed less difference between Irish and German occupational patterns, the Irish stayed at the bottom of white society. [63] Read more…

Categories: histories, housework, race

Maria Mies, “Colonization and Housewifization”

December 29, 2010 Leave a comment

“Colonization and Housewifization”

Maria Mies

Chapter Three, Patriarchy and Capital Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour, 1986. [PDF]

The Dialectics of ‘Progress and Retrogression’

On the basis of the foregoing analysis, it is possible to formulate a tentative thesis which will guide my further discussion.

The historical development of the division of labour in general, and the sexual division of labour in particular, was/is not an evolutionary and peaceful process, based on the ever-progressing development of productive forces (mainly technology) and specialization, but a violent one by which first certain categories of men, later certain peoples, were able mainly by virtue of arms and warfare to establish an exploitative relationship between themselves and women, and other peoples and classes.

Within such a predatory mode of production, which is intrinsically patriarchal, warfare and conquest become the most ‘productive’ modes of production. The quick accumulation of material wealth – not based on regular subsistence work in one’s own community, but on looting and robbery – facilitates the faster development of technology in those societies which are based on conquest and warfare. This technological development, however, again is not oriented principally towards the satisfaction of subsistence needs of the community as a whole, but towards further warfare, conquest and accumulation. The development of arms and transport technology has been a driving force for technological innovation in all patriarchal societies, but particularly in the modem capitalist European one which has conquered and subjected the whole world since the fifteenth century. The concept of ‘progress’ which emerged in this particular patriarchal civilization is historically unthinkable without the one-sided development of the technology of warfare and conquest. All subsistence technology (for conservation and production of food, clothes and shelter, etc.) henceforth appears to be ‘backward’ in comparison to the ‘wonders’ of the modern technology of warfare and conquest (navigation, the compass, gunpowder, etc.). Read more…

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