dual systems (to Justin from Tom)

Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Fri Nov 11 12:28:20 MST 1994


Tom,

I am increasingly clear that talking with you about feminism is not
productive. Still, this on women's exploitation.

 >
>
> On Tue, 8 Nov 1994 tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu wrote:
>
> Quoting me:
>
> > I was talking about "exploitation" and thought I had argued that women are
> > in a technical sense exploited, i.e. perform forced uncompensated surplus
> > labor (for men).
> >
> > --Justin
> >
> > This is really funny, because before I even got this message, I was just about
> > to leave you this one, responding to this idea.
> >
> > Forced uncompensated surplus labor?!
> >
> > These are all very loaded terms, based upon comparisons with the capitalist
> > system not at all very well thought out.  When you say "forced," I have to
> > pause.  Are you saying that women have the same objective logic to contend
> > with as the "work or immiserate" logic that workers face?  Are you saying that
> > if any woman refuses to do her domestic chores, any and all of their
> > male companions are going to whip them, like slaves?
>
> Well, in many cases their male companions will beat them. But that's not
> the main way in which domestic labor is forced. It's forced in a very
> similar way to the way workers' labor is forced, i.e., because women lack
> independent resources to make it outside exploitative relations. Viz.: the
> single greatest proximate cause of poverty in America is divorce (Susan
> Faludi). Facing poverty as an alternative, women "choose" to stay in
> situations where they perform disproportionate shares of labor for
> nothing. There is also psychological coercion connected with female
> socialization, explored with great sensitivity by a number of feminists,
> including Sandra Lee Bartky (Femininity and Domination).
>
>
> JUSTIN,
> AGAIN, FORGIVE THE CAPS, BUT THIS IS THE ONLY WAY I KNOW HOW TO INDICATE WHAT'S
> MINE AND NOT YOURS.
> THE WHOLE POINT OF MY CRITIQUE IS TO ARGUE THAT MEN ARE NOT INVOLVED IN
> EXPLOITING WOMEN.  IN THE ABOVE, YOU BASICALLY ADMIT a) NOT ALL, AND PERHAPS
> EVEN NOT MANY, MEN BEAT THEIR WIVES TO FORCE THEM TO CHORE B) THE CAPITALIST
> SYSTEM, NOT MEN, PROVIDES THE OBJECTIVE ECONOMIC STRUCTURES WHICH INDUCES
> WOMEN TO CHORE C) THAT THE ONLY THING YOU CAN COME UP WITH THAT IS BASED UPON
> THE PATRIARCHAL SYSTEM ITSELF IS PSYCHOLOGICAL.  I KNOW OF NO MODE OF PRODUCTION
> IN HISTORY THAT RELIES UPON THIS ALONE.
>

I didn't say that patriarchy was a mode of production. I didn't say that
capitalism forces women to stay in situations where they are exploited by
men. I said that lack of resources does. Part of this has to do with the
situation women face as workers. But an extra part of it has to do with
the sexist discrimination women face as women. Anyway, even if women were
forced to stay in situations and do surplus labor for men solely because
of their situation as propertyless members of the ungendered working
class, it would still be men who benefit by the surplus labor and so
exploit women by taking advantage of their weakened position. I do not
have to be the cause of your weakened position to exploit you by taking
advantage of it. (And men are to no small degree the cause of women's
weakened position--I mean men qua men, not just capitalists who happen to
be male.)

>
> >
> > "Uncompensated": well, by this, you are already assuming that men are capitalists.
> > You're assuming that they, rather than the capitalist boss, has the money
> > to pay women to do this unpaid labor.  Yes, of course they're uncompensated.
> > But is that up to the working man?  Is the choice of giving or not giving
> > his companion a paycheck really an option?
>
> It doesn't really matter that in working class families the man doesn't
> pay the woman a wage. Wages for housework is not something I'd advocate
> and certainly making those hypothetical wages depend on male paychecks or
> even two income paychecks would be unjust. The point I was making, which
> you do not deny, is that domestic labor is uncompensated. It isn't paid
> for by anyone. It doesn't get counted in the GNP. Unless you're in the
> service (service wives are entitled to a part of their husband's pay, and
> for all I know the reverse too), you have no legal right, no acknowledged
> claim, to return for the socially necessary domestic labor you do, and
> most of it--statistically, is done by women. This is so regardless of
> whatever informal or customary arrangements some families may make, as below.
>
>
> YES INDEED, IT IS. WE AGREE ON THIS AS WELL.  BUT MY POINT IS THAT MEN ARE
> NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS LACK OF COMPENSATION.  PLEASE STICK TO THE MAIN POINT
> WE'RE ARGUING ABOUT--YOU TEND TO WANDER.

Not relevant to exploitation. The question is not who's responsible but
who benefits. I am not wandering.

> >
> > I know couples--and this is a big tradition in the working class--where the woman
> > immediately takes the weekly paycheck from her husband the worker and
> > regulates expenditures.  So I guess she's "exploiting" herself--rather than
> > the capitalist exploiting them BOTH!
> >
> > "Surplus labor"  This connotes the idea that the man is collecting
> surplus  ve
> > .  That's the very problem I rushed to the E-mail to talk to you about
> > tonight before I finally go to sleep.  Under every form of CLASS exploitation,
> > there is a SOCIAL SURPLUS.  Where is the social surplus here?
>
> The surplus labor is the labor done over and above what a woman would have
> to do for herself (and half of what she would have to do for her kids or
> other dependents). What she has to do to maintain herself and (in a two
> adult house, less in a more-adult house) half of what she has to do for
> dependents, is necessary labor. If she does more it is surplus--not
> necessary for her or her share of the dependents' needs.
>
> ONCE  AGAIN, WE ARE IN AGREEMENT.  ONCE AGAIN, YOU WANDER OFF THE POINT.
> WHEN YOU USE LOADED TERMS LIKE SURPLUS LABOR, YOU CONNOTE SURPLUS VALUE.
> WHERE IS THE SURPLUS VALUE, OR EVEN THE SOCIAL SURPLUS, COLLECTED BY THE MAN?
> HOW CAN WE EVEN ACCUSE MALE WORKERS OF COLLECTING SUCH A SURPLUS, WHEN THEY
> JUST MAKE ENOUGH--EVEN IN A TWO INCOME HOUSEHOLD--TO BREAK EVEN?
>
I do not connote, denote, or refer to surplus value. I refer to surplus
labor in a non-market, so non-value context. Unlike Ann's student, whose
lengthy and somewhat tedious post you applauded a while back, I do not
identify exploitation with the exploitation of wage labor. I agree that
women qua women are not capitalistically exploited in domestic labor. That
does not mean that they are not exploited. After all, as I have said
before, slaves and serfs are exploited, but not capitalistically.

> As I said before I do not think that women's exploitation constitutes them
> as a class, for reasons I have explained. But it does constitute them as
> an exploited group. And in a precise and technical sense of exploitation.
>
> Watch out who you callin' ill thought out, fella. Exploitation, anyway, is
> something I've reflected on. (I even have a paper on Women's Oppression
> and Exploitation, but its still pretty conferency, unlike the couple of
> papers I have forthcoming on Marxian and Roemerian exploitation in Nous
> and Economics and Philosophy, probably next year. This is advertizing, not
> boasting. Well, maybe boasting a little bit. I didn't get tenure, but I
> did get published!)
>
> >
> > Your words raise far more questions than answers.
> >
> Any good words do.
>
> On reflection I don't think we agree that much, except (I hope) that the
> abolition of patriarchy does not require the abolition of men. I mean. I
> hope we agree on that, not that I hope it's true. It's true, but I don't
> have to hope it. I think I know it.
>
>
> WE AGREE THAT MEN ARE NOT A CLASS. THIS IS THE BASICS. WHAT I'M TRYING TO DO IS TO SHOW THAT
> YOUR LANGUAGE LEADS YOU TO OPPOSITE CONCLUSIONS.

No, it does not, since I regard it as a contingent fact that class
divisions lead to exploitation and I do not regard relations of
exploitation as sufficient for class divsions.

>
> THE REST OF YOUR LETTER  IS JUST SCHMOOZING WITH ANN--HEY, ARE YOU TWO-TIMING ME?
> THOUGHT YOU WERE BONDING WITH me!

Ah well. I think I'd rather bond with Ann.

--Justin Schwartz





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