[Marxism] Obama Calls for More Responsibility From Black Fathers

Rosa Rot roosaroot at gmail.com
Tue Jun 17 05:46:33 MDT 2008

2008/6/16 Walter Lippmann <walterlx at earthlink.net>:

> Sometimes I get the impression that the feminist criticism of
> the family, which is a good thing to read and think about, is
> sometimes escalated up into a rejection of the institution of
> the family as a whole. That is, the "a woman needs a man like
> a fish needs a bicycle" kind of thinking. Not very helpful
> when you don't have something else with which to replace it,
> as no one I'm aware of in human life at this time really has.

Mhm, I'd say that the "mainstream" feminist critique of the family
concerns the distribution of roles that has been crucial for
capitalism to extract maximum wage labour out of workers -- i.e.,
women doing unpaid, reproductive labour, thereby "producing" the
worker, i.e. man, who is freed from any family/household tasks so he
can maximize working hours sold to the capitalist. This econimic,
material structure is what has been called "family" for a long time,
and I believe that this is the target of mainstream feminist critique.
If you talk about the institution of the "family", I recommend to not
forget that this phenomenon is not ahistorical and not to be separated
from economic circumstances. What feminists criticize in Marxist
theory is precisely the negligence of the gender structure that is
inscribed into class, and the exclusive concern with wage labour
without looking at the unpaid, reproductive labour that make the
former possible in the first place. Even nowadays, where the
percentage of women employed full-time is historically high,
reproductive labour still is seen as mainly the task of women. Often a
"good father" is still seen as one who materially provides for the
family, which boils down to working more than before, while the
parenting job for women is still mainly defined in emotional/caring
terms, which coincides in practice with abstaining from paid work.
Studies have even shown that men with children tend to earn more than
those without, while women with children tend to earn less than those
without children.

I think these issues are important to keep in mind.

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