Feminism, Work, and Identifying with Something

Lately, I’ve been circling a lot around a general anger with the social ordering of labour, and specifically, the point I made a few weeks ago about the pressure to identify with one’s work and take satisfaction with the work itself as reward enough, rather than expecting, say, fair wages and a decent standard of living. This gets another layer of complications when you look at it from a feminist angle. On the one hand, I’m all for reducing the kinds of discriminatory practices and assumptions that have led to the perpetuation of the pay gap, the shortage of women in positions of authority/power, and the continued reverse imbalance in unpaid, unappreciated home labour. But on the other, the emphasis remains primarily on either increasing the opportunities for women to have the kinds of positions that are worth identifying with in the labour market, or on finding a way to shift the discourse so that genuine appreciation and fulfillment – but not necessarily economic security – can be seen in care work that is often gendered as female.

A lot of non-white feminists, womanists, or other gender-based activists do a better job of examining the question of capitalism and inequality as a whole, rather than “just” the gendered components. I don’t say that to dismiss the gendered components, but as Rania Khalek pointed out in the #solidarityisforwhitewomen conversation (quoted in a lot of places, like here), talking about the pay gap without looking at the fact that white women categorically outrank men from several racialized groups is a myopic view. And maybe that’s why women of colour recognize the layers of problems that are far deeper than the old boy’s club.

From both a feminist and a personal perspective, I feel more and more like I’m playing the game even though I know the house always wins. The feminist version just means I’m using different tools to play it.

I’ve been blogging in a very off-the-cuff kind of way, trying to get something going just to have something to write about and see what sticks, but I think there are sets of themes here that deserve some more time and real energy in unpacking. This means I definitely have to leave it until after I’ve had my coffee.

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