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Copy of Wages for Housework

Questions to ponder whilst you read…

  • Were the debates on domestic labour effective in responding to the ‘realities’ of women’s lives?
  • What problems might feminists have with the wages for housework campaign?
  • What parallels and differences can you identify between these debates and discussions of domesticity in the nineteenth-century?
  • Should feminists employ cleaners?

Preparatory Activity

Keep a diary this week of all the time you have spent doing reproductive labour.

Core Reading

Mariarosa Dalla Costa & S. James, The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community (1973) available at 15 (Winter 2012) [online open access] - Ateeqa, Emily

Silvia Federici, ‘Wages Against Housework’ (1974) available at 15 (Winter 2012) [online open access] Megan, Charlie

Sarah Stoller, 'Forging a Politics of Care: Theorising Household Work in the British Women's Liberation Movement', History Workshop Journal (Spring, 2018), volume 85. [a historical examinations of this debate] Harprit, Tamyla

Further Reading

Victoria Bazin, 'Red Rag Magazine, Feminist Economics and the Domestic Labour Pains of Liberation', Women: a Cultural Review 32:3-4 (2021), 295-317 [another historical examination of the debate]

Various writings on housework in M. Rowe (ed.), Spare Rib Reader: 100 Issues of Women’s Liberation (1982)

Kaluzynska,. ‘Wiping the Floor with Theory: A Survey of Writing on Housework.’ Feminist Review 6 (1980), 27-54 [Useful overview of the debates in Britain,pay attention to the cartoons too!]

Anne Oakley, Housewife (1974) [Chapter 9. ‘Breaking the Circle’]

Barbara Ehrenreich, ‘Maid to Order’, [provides useful overview of 1970s debates and links them to issues today]

B. Ehrenreich, Global Women: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy (2004)

K. Weeks, The Problem with Work (2012), pp.113-136

Article on housework in R. Baxandall & L. Gordon (ed.s) Dear Sisters: Dispatches from the Women’s Liberation Movement (2000) [US perspective]

Angela Y. Davis, ‘The Approaching Obsolescence of Housework: A Working-Class Perspective’, in Women, Race and Class (1981) [From the US perspective, offering an important Black feminist critique]