"The Approaching Obsolescence of Housework: A Working-Class Perspective"
by Abaki Beck
In this essay, Angela Y. Davis explores the concept of “housework” within the broader discussion of feminism and women’s liberation and capitalist critique. She notes that in pre-capitalist societies (citing examples in colonial America and in the Masai people in Tanzania), “domestic” work, such as preparing food, medical care, and making clothes, were part of the economy and necessary for the survival of the community. With industrialization changing this work however, women - particularly middle and upper class white women - became associated with weakness and domesticity because they labored, unpaid, in the home at the service of their families - not the entire communities. Davis argues that black women on the other hand, did not face these assumptions of “weakness” because they labored equally to black men (historically as slaves and later as working class people). Black women, thus, have the “double burden” of performing this unpaid domestic labor as well as working outside of the household. Davis argues that black communities survival was dependent on the strength of their women as more than simply “domestic workers.” Davis also argues that for liberation to occur, we must radically restructure how housework is completed, and that it should in fact be socialized. She notes that some socialist countries provide basic income. She goes even further by arguing that cleaning, childcare, etc., should be industrialized and subsidized by the government to empower women; that paying them for domestic work or having husbands share the burden is not enough for liberation.
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