Meat Market, Laurie Penny
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Laurie Penny

Meat Market

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dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
Only by remembering how to say ‘no’ will the women of the 21st century regain their voice and remember their power. ‘No’ is the most powerful word in a woman’s dialectic arsenal, and it is the one word that our employers, our leaders and, quite often, the men in our lives would do anything to prevent us from saying. No, we will not serve. No, we will not settle for the dirty work, the low-paid work, the unpaid work. No, we will not stay late at the office, look after the kids, sort out the shopping. We refuse to fit the enormity of our passion, our creativity, and our potential into the rigid physical prison laid down for us since we were small children. No. We refuse. We will not buy your clothes and shoes and surgical solutions. No, we will not be beautiful; we will not be good. Most of all, we refuse to be beautiful and good.
If we want to be free, the women of the 21st century need to stop playing the game. We need to end our weary efforts to believe that our bodies are acceptable and
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
Yes, the word of submission, the word of coercion and capitulation. Yes, we will fuck you in gorgeous lingerie and yes, we will make you dinner afterwards. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!
Body orthodoxy is the base code for this language of coercion, fooling women into the belief that by aligning ourselves within the narrow coffin of acceptable female physicality, by taming our bodies, purchasing the commoditised signs of western femininity and performing our sexuality in the most frigid and alienated of ways, we can lead happy, fulfilling lives. This is manifestly a lie. We can tell that this is a lie, because most women in the West are still tired, unfulfilled and unhappy. However much we shop, screw, starve, sweat and apply make-up to conceal the marks of weariness and unhappiness, however perfectly we submit, the astronomically vast majority of women will never win within the rules of the system as it stands. The capitalist vision of female physical perfection is a shallow grave of frigid signs and brutal rules, signifying only sterility and death. If we want to live, we need to remember the language of resistance.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
Popular culture’s insistence on feminine erotic capital is a strategic part of the subsumption of women’s labour, and the solution is collective as well as individual. For women, the personal is political precisely because our bodies are a collective site of material production; it follows that if we want to re-enfranchise ourselves, we must collectively refuse to submit to capitalist body orthodoxy. There is nothing more terrifying to a society built on female purchasing power and unpaid labour than the notion that women might refuse to join the sell. Patriarchal capitalism can put up with a great deal of women’s chatter as long as we refrain from saying the one word nobody wants to hear from women: the word ‘no’.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
We cannot fuck our way to freedom. Sexuality alone, and heterosexuality in particular, is never enough to destabilise complex architectures of money and power. Without political agitation, sex can always be co-opted, calcifying gender revolution into another weary parade of saleable binary stereotypes.
We cannot shop our way to freedom. Even if we eventually manage to buy enough shoes, enough makeup and enough confidence-boosting surgical butchery to justify our place in the labour exchange of female beauty, we will find ourselves marginalised by the very process of physical transformation that promised to liberate us.
And we cannot fight the system on our own. Learning not to despise our own flesh is a political statement, and learning to eat and love and nurture ourselves a vital process for any woman wishing to engage positively with the world of power – but however hard we try to love our bodies, it won’t make us free. The personal is political, but as far as feminism is concerned, the political need not always collapse into the personal.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
Individual women’s anxiety about keeping our own bodies under control is part of the same structure of oppression under whose auspices cultural, physical and sexual violence is done to the bodies of low-status women, poor women, migrant workers, transsexual women, sex workers and every other person living and working at the coalface of the so-called gender war.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
We could refuse to serve, of course. But anyone who has internalised even a solitary crumb of the post-industrial gender fetish knows that a woman’s power of refusal is circumscribed on every level. In the flesh trade of modern production, women’s labour hours, like our bodies, are common property. We all know that when a woman says no, she really means yes.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
Female power of refusal is the single most scary, most horrifying, most insistently phobic thing facing any society, ever. Women could, in theory, refuse to cook and clean and care and keep society running. Women could refuse to fit themselves out in conformity with the patriarchal proclivity not just for staid, acceptable sex, but for social order. Women could refuse that vital work, the bearing of children and the raising of future generations, all of which are keyed in to the domestic gender war. Simply by doing nothing at all, women could bring every Western society to its knees tomorrow. That single fact is intolerably terrifying: women must be stopped at all costs from having that basic human right, the right to say no, the right to lay down our tools and pull on our skirts and say, stop. No more. I will not serve.
The very easiest way to deny someone the basic human right of refusal is to deny their personhood and potential. And the easiest way to deny someone their personhood and potential, in contemporary society as in any ancient slaveowning culture, is not to pay them.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
This strategy is not without its drawbacks. Hardly any of the women questioned were entirely comfortable with the situation, as well they might not be: nearly all cleaners, childminders and nannies are female, and a large proportion are foreign-born, either legal or illegal migrants. Western women’s despair at the very point of asking our male relatives to do their bit, our unwillingness to challenge the system at its root, is such that an entire generation has been willing to simply hand down their oppression to poor, migrant and ethnic minority women.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
We deserve equal pay because it is our right as workers: we do not require it to justify our humanity.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
There are, of course, some occasions when ‘can’t’ really does mean ‘can’t’. And this should give us pause for thought. Why, in a culture which has had universal electrical provision for barely seventy years, do so many men lack the basic practical skills to prevent themselves and their loved ones starving, freezing, sickening, burning or choking to death in their own homes?
Like any bourgeois class, men have been kept ignorant and dependent on a class of labourers with subordinated bodies, and encouraged to see that ignorance and that dependence as empowerment. Boys in the post-war era in particular have been denied even the basic tools of housekeeping, and three generations of young men have now grown up watching their fathers do next to nothing in the home, apart from the sanctioned male activities of lawn maintenance and garden barbecue operation. Keeping men dependent on women to take care of them reinforces the double-headed axe of domestic disenfranchisement, ensuring that post-industrial capitalist homemaking is seen as the only viable option for people who want to live comfortable lives and raise healthy families.
The genius of this strategy has been to persuade men that their learned incompetence in the home is strength, when in fact it is weakness – terrible weakness. That weakness places immeasurable restrictions on the choices of men and boys both within and outside the home.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
What we are facing here is not series of separate household slanging matches but a systemic offensive against women’s rights as workers.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
all that men and boys have to do to avoid chores is dig in their heels and refuse to acknowledge the dirt; sit and moulder in their own accumulating grime; wait out the filth. Eventually, a nearby female will reluctantly roll up her dainty sleeves and wipe up the mess.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
The stereotype of the angel in the home was always a lie: for generations, and particularly since the postwar enforced domesticity of the 1950s, women have reacted to their domestic cages with a rage and resentment that has been at once effortlessly political and unguessably damaging. Given power in the domestic sphere and only there, limited, anxious matriarchies have developed across Western societies, and everyone understands what it means to have an Italian Mother, a Greek Mother, a Jewish Mother, or any other racist variation on the harridan hypothesis. The truth, however, is that the fury of female emotional control in the post-industrial home is the fury of the worker alienated from the means of production and reproduction, a fury deliberately weighted against the cruelty of male political and economic dominance in public society. Thus it is that 21st-century capitalism maintains a structure of gendered labour in which everyone, male or female, is to some extent powerless and to some extent miserable.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
A blunt instrument for undermining gender activism and feminist solidarity is the claim that such assaults on human dignity are ‘cultural’, and therefore sacrosanct. In fact, not only is culture not a trump card in the progressive ideological battle, the isolation of women in the home and the traumatising of the domestic sphere are not unique to Sikh culture, or to ‘Asian’ culture, or to any culture not immediately comprehensible to middle-class white people. On the contrary, they are common throughout Western society, and have been a central narrative fact of the last 350 years of Western history.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
Feminism has amended the old patriarchal deal, but it has not ended it.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
Just as this brutal domestic binary was made concrete, Darwin careered into the ideological landscape, crushing amongst other things the old Judeo-Christian excuses for female domesticity. A new logical basis for housework was needed, and fast. So the ‘hunter-gatherer’ mythos of human prehistoric development as extricated from the Christian imagining of history began to be phrased explicitly as dichotomy: male hunters versus female gatherers. Even the importance to some academic schools of the idea of human society as matriarchal and goddess-worshipping in the Paleolithic era has not diminished the notion that early female ‘gathering’ involved childcare, cooking, sewing and cleaning and, in the case of Wilma Flintstone, wearing stone-cut stilettos and brandishing a mini-mammoth vacuum cleaner: occupations that actually endorse not prehistoric but post-industrial norms of ‘feminine’ behaviour. The separation of the world of work into the superior productive and inferior reproductive, domestic sphere is not inherent to human organisation: it is a new thing. Over the course of centuries, the mechanisms of industrial capitalism and associated urbanisation have narrowed the concept of home to the confines of a house, creating in the process a system of battery pens for forced female labour. No wonder nobody wants to do the dishes any more.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
The divorce of the domestic front from the public world of profit-oriented work and citizenship was reaffirmed by important new legal sanctions: married women were officially forbidden from owning property or making contracts, shutting them out from the world of business, and the 1832 Reform Bill made women’s exclusion from political citizenship explicit for the first time, formally isolating women within the confines of the home.
In her editorial to New Internationalist’s issue on the politics of housework, Debbie Taylor explains that “though domestic work has existed ever since there was a domus in which to do it, the housewife role is a very recent one indeed – and confined to industrialized societies.”20 As sociologist Anne Oakley put it, “other cultures may live in families but they do not necessarily have housewives. They have women, men and children whose labour is woven together like coloured thread in a tapestry, creating home, life and livelihood for the whole family.”21 As it became necessary for domestic work to be shoehorned cheaply into the profit-margins of industrial society, history was rapidly rewritten to ensure the acceptance of housework as woman’s divinely decreed role.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
Capitalism is the essential context for understanding the marginalisation of women’s bodies within the home. It was, after all, industrial capitalism which created and perpetuated the conditions for the degradation of housework and the degradation of women by association.
Historians such as Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall have described how separate spheres for men and women emerged between 1780 and 1850 as the workplace became separated from the home and a private, domestic sphere was created for women, formally and symbolically severing the processes of production and reproduction.18 The simple work of creating and sustaining life does not fit within the profit-oriented, pay-and-target driven capitalist imagining of society, but that work still had to be done, and it had to be done away from the factory floor, which after child labour laws came into force over the first half of the 19th century was officially declared no place for children. Thus, in 1737 over 98 per cent of married women in England worked outside the home, but by 1911 over 90 per cent were employed solely as housewives. Ivan Illich calls this process “the enclosure of women”.19
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
understand why we are so dreadfully messed up when it comes to the entire sphere of life involving necessary care and self-care, it’s vital to comprehend that we are living in a culture that has been traumatised – emotionally, physically, sexually and psychologically traumatised. At the 2009 Compass Conference women’s seminar, speakers from the floor asked why housework is still so undervalued. It is undervalued because we have, slowly but surely, turned home itself into a locus of slavery, suffering and trauma. No wonder men are scared of scrubbing floors. Feminism did not do this.
dannynicolini
dannynicolinije citiraoпрошле године
The feminization of domestic labour makes makes it seem at once trivial and an essential part of female identity. Housework and childcare are not real work, because women do them – and because they are done by women, whose bodies are marginalised to the point of unreality, they are not real work.
In fact, domestic labour is not at all trivial. Without the work that women do for free, every western economy would collapse within days. In the United States, the money that women should in theory be owed for their unpaid caring and domestic work runs to some six times the national defence budget, and the US defence budget is not small.
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