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Miriam Gonzalez Durantez: legislation to acknowledge domestic work

(26 Posts)
Shedbuilder Sun 24-May-20 21:02:56

Typing this while watching Miriam GD online at the Hay virtual festival making a powerful case for the legal and financial recognition of women's unpaid domestic work. Unashamedly sex-based argument — even mentions chromosomes! Arguing that now we've all been holed up together for weeks and men who weren't previously aware of the burden of housework and childcare will be all too aware of it, we need to consolidate. Lovely, clear feminist argument backed up with statistics.

Shortly her talk will be available for free for 24 hours at

It's event 27. You have to register with your email address and then you can see any of the events free for 24 hours after they are broadcast. After that the videos go into the Hay archive — you pay £10 to obtain access to all of them.

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ScrimpshawTheSecond Sun 24-May-20 22:49:44

Great, thanks for sharing. Will try and watch tomorrow.

PaleBlueMoonlight Sun 24-May-20 23:09:21

Great. I instinctively like her. Hopefully I’ll get to listen tomorrow. Am I clutching at straws that her Lib Dem connections (married to Nick Clegg) might mean that there is some hope for the party?

Yes, probably am clutching at straws.

stumbledin Sun 24-May-20 23:49:35

You mean she wants to relaunch Wages for Housework?!

Shedbuilder Sun 24-May-20 23:58:00

She was very clear what a woman is. If I remember it correctly, she starts the talk by saying that having two XX chromosomes has always been considered bad luck because it means you are a woman and doomed to domestic drudgery. I'm paraphrasing, but it's absolutely clear that she's talking about women as a sex class.

She also made an interesting point that those of us in the west have, in the last couple of months, had a taste of what life is like for a vast number of women around the world. Confined to our homes, expected to take on all the childcare and domestic work, restricted from leaving and without space or time to ourselves. Again, I'm paraphrasing — but it made me think that yes, for women in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and so on, this is their entire lives.

Pity it wasn't her leading the Lib Dems...

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DidoLamenting Mon 25-May-20 00:46:48

Wages for Housework is an utterly ridiculous idea. I've always worked full time apart from 3 months maternity leave. This is a matter for couples to sort out themselves. The idea that my wage should be taxed to provide a stay at home woman with an income is absurd.

DidoLamenting Mon 25-May-20 00:50:00

Confined to our homes, expected to take on all the childcare and domestic work, restricted from leaving and without space or time to ourselves

We are all stuck at home other than key workers. Why are "you expected to take on all the childcare and domestic work"?

If you, general you are incapable of sorting that out with the fathers of your children i don't see why you should expect tax payers to sort it out for you by paying you.

OccasionalKite Mon 25-May-20 01:21:54

Yes, well done again! @DidoLamenting

In your world, it is always women's fault! Funny, that!

FWRLurker Mon 25-May-20 05:13:32

Women and men since before recorded history have always worked. Division of this skilled labor in the past had been generally to put more of the work closer to home with women (and men doing work that required longer time away) due to the childminding by biological necessity needing to be with women.

There’s no logically consistent reason why the latter should be assigned to have much greater economic value than the former. There’s two full time jobs worth of work The work to be done, so someone does it.

Strangerthantruth Mon 25-May-20 08:49:55

Agree with Dido. I don't expect taxpayers to pay me for loading the dishwasher and doing the washing. What about weeding and cutting the grass, do I need paying for it? If I get up in the night to change a nappy do I get double time? Do we want contracts of employment to sign before we leave our parents house, employed by the state to clean my own shit up?

Nuts. If you resent the work of feeding and bathing your baby without other people paying you to do it, don't have a baby.

RumbaswithPumbaas Mon 25-May-20 09:08:10

I’m just not sure how this would work... women (and men) who currently do low-paid cleaning/caring/childcare jobs outside their own home - quietly keeping society functioning - would be put on par with Mrs hinch polishing her own work tops?

The difference is that domestic work doesn’t generate any economic value so where would the money come from?

Would it be like extra tax credits for families that don’t necessarily need it? What about a single parent who works and squeezes in housework at the weekend or gets the kids to pitch in? Could a more well off family use the domestic wages to employ a cleaner so the sahp can go to lunch or the gym?

It’s an insult to the working poor who struggle with 2+ jobs and food banks to make ends meet or carers who get very little access to financial support or respite. Even child carers who do housework for free around their school work. Definitely more deserving cases of payment/extra allowances for domestic work.

I personally think society should be producing men willing to take their share, not expecting women still to do it all for pocket money.

Shedbuilder Mon 25-May-20 09:49:08

This is Feminist Chat, Dido. Coming from a feminist pov based on worldwide statistics that indicate that women do 70% or more of the housework.

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Gronky Mon 25-May-20 12:29:25

Don't we already provide this in the form of tax credits and additional benefits payments for those with children?

Nuts. If you resent the work of feeding and bathing your baby without other people paying you to do it, don't have a baby.

It might have changed since I went to school a few decades ago but it was very heavily impressed upon us how much work goes into raising a child so it shouldn't be a surprise either.

I wonder if the same payments would also apply to parrot owners: they require even more work and attention to take care of than a toddler and could continue to require that for over 50 years. Worse still, all their healthcare has to be privately funded.

This is Feminist Chat, Dido. Coming from a feminist pov based on worldwide statistics that indicate that women do 70% or more of the housework.

Being a feminist doesn't mean that you have to support every effort that might financially benefit certain women. I say certain because I'm single, would I receive more money than a single man or would I get to pay even more taxes to support women with children?

Strangerthantruth Mon 25-May-20 12:45:37

*This is Feminist Chat, Dido. Coming from a feminist pov based on worldwide statistics that indicate that women do 70% or more of the housework.

As a feminist the solution is to even that up not entrench it by making it and economic necessity that women to do it. If women's income becomes dependent on how much housework they do we are all fucked.

ScrimpshawTheSecond Mon 25-May-20 12:45:55

Looking at it from a purely pragmatic viewpoint, the state needs a supply of humans so it needs to fund their production.

Tax credits might be a bit like this, I suppose.

I thought 'wages for housework' was more of a provocation than a campaign that expected to actually be implemented.

stumbledin Mon 25-May-20 14:34:27

Wages for Housework was very much more than a campaign and it is perhaps no surprise that the campaign it then turned into - Global Women's Strike - is active in "sex workers" being unionised etc.. ie accepting that women will end up doing domestic work and sex work so why not unionise it.

" ... The demands for the Wages for Housework used Marxist frameworks to think through the reliance of capitalist economies on exploitative labor practices against certain populations.[2] Mariarosa Dalla Costa and some participants in the Wages for Housework campaign were enmeshed in the intellectual movement operaismo, which developed around factory strikes in Northern Italy in the 1970s. The Wages for Housework Campaign shared with operaismo the idea that fair working conditions including wages are key to the social recognition of labor. Operaismo encouraged workers to act in their direct interests, and engage in factory strikes to demand better conditions. The Wages for Housework campaign applied also shared discussions about the social factory with operaismo; whereby "the whole of society lives as a function of the factory and the factory extends its exclusive domination to the whole of society".[4] The campaign activities included student protests, community workshops, and direct action protest. ... "

Also this article by Selma James who the Guardian think is someone to be respected!

stumbledin Mon 25-May-20 14:39:18

Sorry the quote above is from wikipedia, not the most reliable of sources for feminist politics.

At the time Wages for Housework did have quite a lot of influence there was also the concept that everyone would be working part time (and who knows the coronavirus might make this happen) because they should, whatever their sex, be using the other hours to do the domestic work of raising children, creating homes and local society. ie crossover of hippie lifestyle and marxist poloitics.

ScrimpshawTheSecond Mon 25-May-20 18:10:01

thanks for the link and info.

Pancakestastelikecrepe Mon 25-May-20 19:52:52

She previously worked for the same law firm as my other half. Rumour has it, when Gove and Vine visited them for their first dinner with her and Clegg, during early days of the coalition, she simply presented a selection of take away menus...

Gwynfluff Tue 26-May-20 08:20:18

The difference is that domestic work doesn’t generate any economic value so where would the money come from?

This in itself is where the structural oppression stems from. The domestic work being covered is what enables workers to have time to do jobs that generate wealth - it’s intrinsic to it. In many western capitalist economies, wage stagnation means men and women need to work in paid employment.

This has led to childcare and adult social care being massively bought in, to the extent that they are income generating service industries - but low paid ones as, again, caring is seen as having less economic ‘value’ than other jobs.

Properly funded child and social care would be a start in terms of paying for domestic work. Some countries do it much better than us.

Miriamgonzalezd Tue 26-May-20 17:27:33

Hi @pancakestastelikecrepes, don't know who your other half is, but please say hi from me. Gove and Vine have never - and will never - visit my home! smile

Pancakestastelikecrepe Tue 26-May-20 18:09:09

@Miriam that's even better to hear!

Shedbuilder Wed 27-May-20 10:16:53

Hi Miriam, I'd be really interested to know what your response to all the posters upthread is. I'm old enough to remember the Wages for Housework movement so I was a bit stunned that here, on a feminist board, this issue was swatted away with 'we must teach/ expect men to do more housework' and 'no society could afford this'. What would you say to those posters?

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Al1Langdownthecleghole Fri 29-May-20 08:16:51

Some slightly random thoughts....

If you look at the value of caring and cleaning in commercial terms they tend to be low paid.

As a nurse, I remember the campaigns in the 1980’s for professional parity with teachers. Historically, male-dominated professions were (and sometimes still are) paid better than female dominated professions. I’m also mindful that male dominated professions tend to have more powerful unions.

Conversely, project manager roles, that can be argued to be analogous with wife-work or the mental load of running a house, can be well paid.

Where I think I’m going with this, is that I’m questioning whether the answer isn’t to pay housewives as such, but the value the visible tasks as highly as the invisible ones.

Lamahaha Fri 29-May-20 08:52:23

I like the way Germany does it. If one person stays home to care for children and run the household, they are in a certain tax class that means they pay less tax as a couple. The difference is huge, enough to allow one parent to stay at home full time.
This meant that I was a full time mother for my kids up until my daughter was ten, which is the point when I got income from self-employment.
I never wanted to go back into paid employment once I had children. I was fortunate that I had a skill that allowed me to stay at home and still earn money.

My husband had a far better income that I did so it was clear that I would stay at home -- besides, I wanted to. I had at least three German female friends who earned more than their husband, so the husband did the child-minding and the housework. In all three cases, however, the woman would have preferred to stay home. In all three cases, there was tax relief for the family to the tune of several hundred Euros a month, as well as pension credits.

This to me is only fair.

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