PHIL 242 - On Women and the Economy
HARTMANN’S MAIN QUESTION
- How does the fight against poverty and exploitation fit together with the fight against sexism?
- (Compare current debates about how to address poverty/inequality and other social issues.)
- Atraditional left-wing answer: The main force hurting women is poverty and need—if we build
a fairer society with rewarding work for everyone, women will naturally be in a better situation.
- Economic questions in a broad sense:
- Who does what kind of work? How do people’s basic needs get met?
- How does money (and value) pass from one person to another?
- One understanding of capitalism:Alot of people (say 99%) work very hard and barely get
enough to meet their needs
- meanwhile, their work greatly benefits the very few.
HARTMANN’S CRITICISM OF RADICAL FEMINISM
- “The dialectic of sex as radical feminists present it projects male and female characteristics as
they appear in the present back into all of history.”
- To understand women’s situation in the modern world, you have to understand how it fits into
- The oppression of women in our society takes the form it does because of the ways
women’s work serves capital.
‘WOMEN’S WORK’IN SERVICE OF CAPITALISM
- The system only works if people produce the materials needed to meet everyone’s needs
- but those must also be prepared and maintained...and there must be a way to reproduce the
work force (i.e. to give birth and raise babies).
- All of this requires real work, connected to the economy. The sexual division of labour
determines how this work is done.
- Conclusion: You must understand capitalism to understand how sexism works in capitalist
societies, and vice versa.
WOMEN’S WORK IN SERVICE OF CAPITALISM, CONTINUED
- “Hierarchies ‘work’at least in part because they create vested interests in the status quo. Those
at the higher levels can ‘buy off’those at the lower levels by offering them power over those
still loser. In the hierarchy of patriarchy, all men whatever their rank in the patriarchy, are
bought off by being able to control at least some women.”
DO THESE CONNECTIONS MEAN THEREARE ECONOMIC SOLUTIONS TO SEXISM?
- Introduce women into the workforce:
- this will keep them from suffering from poverty? - free them to choose what kinds of family arrangements they want?
- free them from cleaning, cooking, childrearing??
- Make sure people get paid for cleaning, cooking, and childrearing?
EVEN THOUGH THEY REINFORCE EACH OTHER, CAPITALISM AND PATRIARCHY
ALSO SOMETIMES CONFLICT
- Women working exclusively in the home may be in the interests of the patriarchy whereas their
joining the workforce may be in the interests of capitalism.
MANLINESS AND CAPITALISM
- In societies like ours, men are (or are imagined to