“Just Do It! Bodies and Images of Women in the New Division of Labor”
“Representation needs to be contextualized from several points. The representation of texts and images does not reflect the world as a mirror, mere translation of its sources, but is rather remodeled, coded in rhetorical terms. (…) Representation may be understood as a visible formal ‘articulation’ of social order “.
Griselda Pollock, Vision and Difference, 1994
WORK> NON WORK: REDEFINITIONS FROM FEMINISM
“What do you do? What is your occupation?” Although every day we all reply quite easily to this apparently simple question, if we stop and carefully think what is our interlocutor demanding, we conclude that, in fact, what he/she really wants to know is the job we have or the activity or activities we make for a living and does not expect us at all to enumerate the wide range of actions, relations and productions that we unfold throughout the day.
Defining work and its limits in abstract terms at the present time, where the times and locations of production became blurred and extended, is not an easy task. However, experiencing its consequences on our bodies seems to be less complicated, especially if we consider a definition of work that goes beyond the economistic view (whether neoclassical or Marxist) and, especially, if we understand our sustainment of a daily life and our daily incorporation of personalities and social actions as spaces and (re)productive efforts. Everything that tires, that occupies, that disciplines and stresses our body, but also everything that constructs it, that takes care of it, that gives it pleasure and maintains it, is work. Read more…
“The Battle of all* Mothers (or: No Unauthorised Reproduction)”
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’. Read more…
“The Housewives’ Wages Debate in the 1920s”
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.  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. 
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.  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…
“Creating a Caring Society“
Evelyn Nakano Glenn
Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 29, No. 1, Utopian Visions: Engaged Sociologies for the 21st Century (Jan., 2000), pp. 84-94 [PDF]
Why is it important to achieve a society that values caring and caring relationships? The answer might appear obvious: It seems inherent in the definition of a good society that those who cannot care for themselves are cared for; that those who can care for themselves can trust that, should they become dependent, they will be cared for; and that people will be supported in their efforts to care for those they care about. But even more is at stake. Currently we are caught in a nasty circle. To the extent that caring is devalued, invisible, underpaid, and penalized, it is relegated to those who lack economic, political, and social power and status. And to the extent that those who engage in caring are drawn disproportionately from among disadvantaged groups (women, people of color, and immigrants), their activity-that of caring-is further degraded. In short, the devaluing of caring contributes to the marginalization, exploitation, and dependency of care givers. Conversely, valuing and recognizing caring would raise the status and rewards of those who engage in it and also increase the incentives for other groups to engage in caring. Thus, a society that values care and caring relationships would be not only nicer and kinder, but also more egalitarian and just. Read more…
“The Wives’ Movement”
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.”  Read more…
Three Mothers and a Chorus
Factory of Found Clothes, Russia, 2007
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.
Precarious Lives, 43 min, 2008.
A film by Joanne Richardson and Andreea Carnu (RO/USA).
An experimental documentary mixing archival footage of female labour over the past century with 10 portraits of Romanian women working in different jobs and in different countries today. The film seeks to challenge the dominant discourse about precarity (and about the precariat as the new proletariat) and the fact that it ignores differences based on gender, limited mobility, and the first and third worlds of Europe.
1. dependence on chance circumstances beyond control, inability to plan one’s life
2. living without material or psychological security, stability and predictability
3. the widespread condition of flexible, intermittent, short-term and part-time work that characterizes post-Fordist capitalism?”(quote from the beginning of the film)
“As a noun, precarity does not exist. It is an adjective, modifying subjects, changing through circumstance. To understand what it means to be precarious, we must invert the theory, taking our own lives as a point of departure. To walk the streets that bring us together, and the routes that sometimes divide us. And while walking, to ask questions” (quote from the ending of the film)