marxist feminism

Lisa Rogers eqwq.lrogers at state.ut.us
Fri Feb 23 17:49:49 MST 1996


From: rahul at hagar.ph.utexas.edu (Rahul Mahajan)
>>"Marriage is a legalized form of prostitution."
[snip]
It's clearly a reasonable description of the upper and middle classes
of the time, or of any time before said women started going out to
work on their own. For the majority of women, working women, that was
hardly the case. In fact, in general, although they provide sexual
and other services to their husbands, the transfer of assets is the
other way around. Whatever "surplus" they bring home is appropriated
by their husbands. For them, marriage is more like pimping without
the prostitution than like prostitution itself.
***

I think you've got a good point, and maybe even a better analogy than
you thought.

I propose the analogy that any wage-worker is a 'prostitute', because
nobody can separate the sale of their only commodity * labor-power *
from their own body.

If I could 'sell' my labor-power in a bag, and then go do something
else all day, then it would be more like other commodities.  But no,
I have to _be_ there, in body and mind, whatever the conditions, in
terms of health risk, danger or dehumanization.

That makes Rahul's pimp analogy for an expropriating 'partner' even
more apropos.  I've heard that literal prostitutes who have pimps
often are expected to service their pimps, plus bring home the cash
from their wage-work.

I think that literal prostitution is generally an example of the
effects of capitalism [and some other economic forms as well].  I
mean, when you have no way to live except by selling something, and
nothing to sell but labor-power, and nobody wants to use your
labor-power for anything else...  We all know the drill.

Keep the people desparate enough that they must take _any_ job
possible, or starve.  When people have any/better options available,
they usually don't pick the most disgusting, risky, low-paid kind of
work possible, of course.

I guess Bush was right, there _are_ plenty of jobs available....


I don't know enough about Tracy Quan to know what she would say.

I've heard the argument that professional prostitutes have it better
than many wives in terms of the length of the working day, because
they live alone and are not required to constantly cook, care for and
clean up after other people, i.e. do unwaged work, especially when it
is added to a wage-work day.

[I think this is one example of using marxian ideas to think about
gender relations, marriage and the 'domestic' sphere.]

Lisa




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