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They were thwarted in their educational pursuits and relegated to low-wage jobs even after they’d attained impressive degrees.Unmarried women were viewed with suspicion, while marriage granted women sub-adult status, rendering them dependent on their husbands to allow them access to bank accounts and credit cards.With so many causes and considerations for feminist activists to adjudicate, housework fell by the wayside in the majority of feminist platforms.
The essay was republished national magazines including , there were thousands of letter responses …
A number of people said, ‘How did you ever get him to agree?
Their Wages for Housework movement, they hoped, would promote a political philosophy that promised true liberation for women.
Some feminists felt that domestic labor was, in itself, a mechanism of women’s oppression, with no other purpose but to keep women busy with meaningless, unstimulating labor so they wouldn’t rise up and demand an equal place alongside men.
If women’s labor is an essential yet uncompensated component of the economy, it only stands to reason that women’s liberation might be secured through demanding remuneration for services rendered.
Invigorated by the essay, Federici sent Dalla Costa a letter, and the two struck up a correspondence.
She found it in a 1971 essay by the Italian feminist theorist Mariarosa Dalla Costa titled “Women and the Subversion of the Community.” In the essay, Dalla Costa argues for a wholesale reframing of how we conceive of domestic labor.
Instead of regarding the cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing that can dominate many women’s daily lives as givens, Dalla Costa argues that we should recognize such labors as a much-needed part of the larger capitalist economy.
In her 1970 essay “The Politics of Housework,” Pat Mainardi, a member of the radical feminist group Redstockings, lays out a step-by-step guide to persuade men to do their fair share of “dirty chores” around the house. Many of the tasks that had once consumed a homemaker’s day were transformed by technological innovation.
Mainardi explains that her husband “would stop at nothing to avoid the horrors of housework.” Instead, she writes, he offered her excuses: “I don’t mind sharing the housework, but I don’t do it very well,” and “You’ll have to show me how to do it.” So Mainardi provides a list, a way to train her husband, which also serves as a primer for women to put men to work. Periodically consider who’s actually doing the jobs … It’s the daily grind that gets you down.” Despite the practical advice, a sense of futility pervades the piece. Items once crafted by hand could now be bought off the rack; meals that once required extensive preparation were replaced by processed and prepared foods.