It's About Time: Rethinking Fairness and Justice for Women in the Economy
In American households, it is mostly women — as mothers, wives, elder daughters, grandmothers, or domestic workers — who do the work required to maintain and increase the wellbeing of everyone in the home. Their unpaid work, which can include taking care of the young and the old, packing school lunches, preparing meals, and more, is time consuming and has become an added burden for women working outside the home. In this paper, I frame the household as a site of production and describe women’s household labor as feudal, subject to the feudal form of exploitation. Women’s involvement in household labor production overdetermines their participation in the capitalist workforce. Too often the outcome for women working outside the home is an increase in exploitation of both capitalist and feudal forms. Women’s augmented exploitation engages them in class struggle, one that is created and sustained by the time demands of performing both feudal and capitalist work. Women’s vulnerable position in the political economy is precipitated by institutions that involve embedded inequities. I offer potential interventions workplaces or the government can make to remedy the troubles they have created for women.