dual systems (to Justin from Tom)

tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu
Wed Nov 9 13:42:35 MST 1994



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.


>
> "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.
>
> 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?

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.

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


Well, it's late. Goodnight all.

--Justin

GOODNITE, JUSTIN,

TOM
 >





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