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Friday, August 21, 2015

From the archives: "Theories of Patriarchy" by Lindsey German

A Marxist critique of feminist patriarchy theory which I came upon recently:

Interestingly in light of current debates, she attributes the gender pay gap, which was much greater then than it is now, to situational factors resulting from the structure of capitalism, rather than to sex discrimination as many reflexively do today:

We live in a period where more women work in most advanced countries than in any other period in history. The jobs they do differ from men, in that sense the sexual division of labour is as alive as ever. And their pay is far from equal. This is because women still (usually) have their working lives interrupted by childbirth (although much less so than a couple of generations ago) and are still expected to play the major part in caring for the children as well as work.
But the structure of women’s jobs has more to do with the period of capitalist development in which they entered the labour force (the expansion of the service sector in particular) than with any male conspiracy.
Later, she writes:

The myth [of the fulltime housewife] has a number of advantages for capital. It enables them to foist poor wages, conditions and hours on women. It makes women feel that their job is not their ‘real’ work which makes them less likely to organise at work, and more likely to acquiesce to unemployment. It promotes the double burden of waged and housework for women. But it is nonetheless, a myth,
making it not so clear whether she's blaming intentional discrimination by capitalists, or lesser willingness to assert their rights by women workers. The fact that the wage gap has shrunk since this paper was written might be accounted for by women's increased inclination to see career as just as essential as family to their sense of purpose in life. Unfortunately, it's also at least in part because the labor movement has become weaker: it's less that women's real wages have risen, than that men's have fallen.

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