The mix cd all work, no pay is a musical assemblage that speaks to unequal labor relationships. Its 20 songs are divided into two sections of 10: “They say it is love” followed by “We say it is unwaged work”. The album cover contains an image from a women’s magazine with its embroidered title. Click to play:
While the love or money involved is very little, the work which awaits us is enormous.
Worldwide, women “spend two to ten times more time on unpaid care work than men”. (OECD Development Centre, 2014). In O Peso do Trabalho Leve (The Weight of Light Work. 1987), Maria Ignez S. Paulilo notes that the categories of “light” and “heavy” farming work in Brazil are gendered: activities performed by women are considered “light labor”, even though, in other contexts, when the same tasks are carried out by men they are perceived as “heavy labor” and, thus, more challenging and valuable to the community. The perception of domestic or care work, generally undertook by women, corroborates this hypothesis. Housework, for example, provides little to no psychological, financial, social, symbolic or affective return, however instrumental in maintaining an apartment or house, raising and educating children, caring for the elderly and sick, structuring the family nucleus, allowing the men to work for wages, etc. — effectively providing the material conditions for society to function. “The capitalist system appropriates various forms of unpaid labor and energy that support the employed workforce and make capitalist exploitation possible. Women’s work is appropriated by capitalism to first give birth to, then feed, clothe and otherwise care for the waged workforce” (Robinson, 2016).
Housework had to be transformed into a natural attribute rather than be recognized as a social contract because from the beginning of capital’s scheme for women this work was destined to be unwaged.
This unequal distribution of caring responsibilities is linked to the prevalent gender roles and said responsibilities are hardly recognized as labor, being otherwise framed as acts of love and, therefore, unpaid. In Brazil, 40 million women work exclusively in the home (Câmara dos Deputados, 2017). According to the economist Hildete Pereira de Melo, if value were inferred to the unpaid reproductive household work, dubbed “the broom GDP”, it may represent an increase of around 10% of the Brazilian GDP, amounting to about 2,5 trillion dollars in 2012. “Under capitalism, every worker is manipulated and exploited and his/her relation to capital is totally mystified” (Federici, 1975) but said mystification is made particularly clear in relation to the labor of women, let alone women of color and/or in poverty. The imbalance in care extends to other positions in society: in the United States, According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 80% of healthcare workers. “First world employers believe immigrant women ‘to be especially gifted as caregivers: they are thought to embody the traditional feminine qualities of nurturance, docility, and eagerness to please’” (Robinson, 2016.
We must admit that capital has been very successful in hiding our work. It has created a true masterpiece at the expense of women.
Invisible and valueless workers perform invisible and valueless tasks, often from a very early age: worldwide, girls from 5 to 9 years spend 30% more time — or 40 million hours more — in domestic activities as well as collecting water and firewood than boys in the same age group. This number increases as the girls get older. From 10 to 14, they spend 50% more time — or 120 million hours more — working a day (UNICEF Brasil, 2016). This “[sets] the stage for unequal burdens later in life but can also limit girls’ outlook and potential while they are still young (…), curtailing their dreams and narrowing their ambitions”.
Housework is already money for capital, capital has made and makes money out of our cooking, smiling, fucking.
Women are not only disproportionately in charge of reproductive work in the home, but also of emotional labor, as “repeated, taxing and under-acknowledged acts of gendered performance” (Hackman, 2015), in nurturing and protecting others, namely male partners, family members and children, but also as employees in customer service, for example, since “female employees seem to have a higher standard of cheerfulness demanded of them” (Hutchinson, 2016). The supposedly biological predispositions are aplenty: women are said to be more empathetic and forgiving, due to their motherly instincts, wired for raising a family, establishing bonds and caring for others — self-fulfilling prophecies women are fed all through life, frequently resulting in one-sided emotional work not only in the familial context but also in the workplace. It is no coincidence that such biologicist claims also often correlate women to the domestic space and the men to the public sphere.
Our faces have become distorted from so much smiling, our feelings have got lost from so much loving.
Such labor relations can be extrapolated towards different domains, such as the Visual Arts. “Apart from domestic and care work—art is the industry with the most unpaid labour around. This labour is largely performed by women” (Steyerl apud Robinson, 2016). Not only as unpaid interns, scholars, curators or even muses, women have historically supported the careers of men artists — sometimes as un-acknowledged co-creators at cost of their own careers, being the very “invisible dark matter that keeps the culture sector going” (Ibid.). The work of women artists is made invisible throughout history in favor of their male counterparts. Techniques perceived as feminine (textile arts, ceramics, etc.) are deemed unimportant in relation to the traditional means of (male) expression. The art scene might appear favorable in the First World, but it is still an upwards climb in most of the globe.
ALL WORK, NO PAY MANIFESTO
THE WORK OF WOMEN IS NOT A NATURAL RESOURCE.
WOMEN ARE NOT NATURALLY PREDISPOSED TO ANY KIND OF WORK BUT RATHER CONVINCED BY CENTURIES OF CULTURAL TRAINING.
WORK SHOULD NOT BE NARROWLY UNDERSTOOD AS EMPLOYMENT. WOMEN ARE EXPECTED TO PERFORM MULTIPLE CATEGORIES OF OVERLAPPING LABOR, FROM A VERY EARLY AGE.
WOMEN ACCUMULATE MULTIPLE WORKING SHIFTS, INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE HOME. SOMETIMES IN SOMEONE ELSE’S HOME. MUCH OF THIS WORK IS UNPAID.
WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO PERFORM FOR FREE THE TASKS MEN PERCEIVE AS UNWORTHY.
WOMEN IN POVERTY, WOMEN OF COLOR AND TRANS WOMEN ARE DISPROPORTIONALLY BURDENED.
THE WORK OF WOMEN SHOULD BE RECOGNIZED AS SUCH, RESPECTED AND SUPPORTED.
Federici, Silvia (1975). Wages Against Housework. https://monoskop.org/images/2/23/Federici_Silvia_Wages_Against_Housework_1975.pdf
OECD Development Centre (2014). Unpaid Care Work: The missing link in the analysis of gender gaps in labour outcomes. https://www.oecd.org/dev/development-gender/Unpaid_care_work.pdf
Paulilo, Maria Ignez S. (1987). O Peso do Trabalho Leve. Ciência Hoje, 28. http://naf.ufsc.br/files/2010/09/OPesodoTrabalhoLeve.pdf.
Robinson, Macushia (2016). Labors of Love: Women`s Labour as the Culture Sector’s Invisible Dark Matter. http://runway.org.au/labours-of-love-womens-labour-as-the-culture-sectors-invisible-dark-matter/
Câmara dos Deputados (2017). Deputadas defendem inclusão no PIB de trabalho doméstico não remunerado, June 8th 2017.
UNICEF Brasil (2016). Meninas passam 160 milhões de horas a mais que meninos fazendo atividades domésticas todos os dias, October 7th 2016. https://www.unicef.org/brazil/pt/media_34479.html
Hackman, Rose (2015). ‘Women are just better at this stuff’: is emotional labor feminism’s next frontier?, November 8th 2015. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/08/women-gender-roles-sexism-emotional-labor-feminism
Hutchinson, Christine. Why Women Are Tired: The Price of Unpaid Emotional Labor, June 4th 2016. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/psyched-in-san-francisco/why-women-are-tired-the-p_b_9619732.html