Tender

Tender

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The feminists' mistake

The feminists made a big mistake along the way.

They jumped right into demanding the right to work for money. They could have asked to be paid for the work they were doing already.

Not paid by their husbands, paid by society. Each day I spend with my children, I am contributing an investment into society's future. Whether they are ready to contribute, capable of engaging in the compulsory socio-economic system, depends more on me than any other human.

Further, each hour I spend balancing my family's finances and planning for the future helps keep our social burden low. Every minute I spend keeping a clean kitchen so vermin don't accumulate benefits my neighbours and the planet (providing I use green products). All the countless hours I spend planning and preparing nourishing meals provides society with a healthy set of learners for their barely-adequate education systems, which parents like me prop up with volunteering.

For this, I pay. I pay directly in the difference between our single income and our costs, using investment savings to invest in my ability to do a good job of Managing a Household (instead of in some imaginary retirement). I pay in opportunity costs, the money I'm not making in my profession, which is a substantial loss. I pay for the privilege of doing a job I don't like.

It's not that I don't love my kids, my husband, the moments of joy that sprinkle every day. Those things, I love. But I don't love the rest. The monotonous drudge of doing repetitive labour that results in no long-term creation, but rather, just a churn of the same work again. I don't love being responsible for all the food and nutritional needs of 4 people across all their various tastes and needs, only to be met with groans and pinched noses, or apathy. I don't love doing dishes and laundry in a constant, never-ending churn of wet and dry hands. I don't love the dreaded complaining and fighting that seems to erupt among the children whenever my attention turns away for a few minutes. If this were my job, I would quit.

What we missed, feminists, is that it IS my job. I may not love it, I may pay dearly for the privilege of doing it, I can't quit it, but it is my job. I should damn well be paid to do it. At the very least!

And not by my husband. By Society. By the Government. The work of care, of running a Working Household, benefits society greatly, keeps our social burden low. Doing it well matters to society. Doing it poorly costs society. Society should pay for it to be done well.

We should have asked to be paid. Then asked to be allowed to quit if we wanted.

Now we're stranded in Man's Land where it's cold and harsh and we work twice as hard and get paid half as much when we get paid, which is for only a small portion of the work we do. We're screwed.

But it's not too late. It's not just women's work, anymore. At least not everywhere, for everyone. Men are feeling it, too, now that women have to work because two incomes is what a family is expected to earn, two producers is what a family is expected to provide. All at no cost to society. The cost comes somewhere. It comes from families.

borrowed from http://womeneconomicrights.wordpress.com/
Isn't this whole, big, economic system and governmental orchestration meant to be about helping us all live together in peace, working together to understand the world and improve the overall quality of life for humans? Humans live in family units of various types. These units require maintenance and proper management to allow humans to live together in peace. There is a cost associated with that, and that cost should be born by society as a whole, regardless of who is doing the work.

I wish I could go back in time and convince those early feminists to focus on getting paid before they focused on finding a new job, but what they did, they did in good faith. I can't fault them, exactly. Still, it's time we pay attention to work as a whole - the work of being a human participating fully in the compulsory socio-economic system into which we are born. There is choice, like the choices you get at the hair salon, if you can afford to go to a hair salon. We are born here, and we are expected to stay healthy, be educated, work, live in peace, possibly raise children, contribute to society, grow old gracefully and die, within a defined set of parameters we cannot escape.

The profiteers have convinced government that they don't owe us anything, but they do. They force us to be here with their laws and jails, they force the game on us, and there are minimum overhead costs associated with participation. If we want to live peacefully and have low social burden for most families, families need slack. They need a person with the time to do the job well, without the stress of having to earn in the profiteers' markets. This is the overhead of society. Women were largely doing this work when men were the majority of the profiteers' workforce. Guess who's largely doing this work now? (hint: the more things change, the more they stay the same)

Every company would love to externalize their overhead costs. I'm sure the government has been very happy to operate without the overhead costs of household maintenance. But those costs have been externalized to us, and it prevents us from earning in the profiteers' system, while costing us money every day that we don't. Or, it requires us to participate fully in the profiteers' system, earning and paying others to do the work of our households. Except it's not that simple - there is overhead involved in hiring, managing and paying others, as any company owner will tell you.

A basic income makes a lot of sense from a number of perspectives (see http://biencanada.ca/), but I haven't seen much conversation from the perspective of re-valuing the work of household units, which props up and makes possible all the paid work the profiteers engage. A basic income accounts, somewhat, for the value and costs that are currently hidden in our commerce-heavy GDP. As a society, we fail every day to take proper account of the ROI of all this activity. Accounting for the work of households would be a small but important step to understanding our own systems.

Just a few thoughts to ponder, as I ponder my day...











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