Capitalism Requires Sexism, Patriarchy, & The Unpaid Domestic Labor of Women. Here's How We Fix That.
All labor deserves payment, even that which does not create profit.
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The family is the basis of free markets - Ben Shapiro
What does the natural family model offer to society? The family unit is beneficial not only for the child but for the community and the nation as a whole… More importantly, the natural family clearly utilizes the designs God has given to each gender, with specific roles for mothers and fathers and the God-given skills necessary to carry out those roles. - The Family Foundation
As illustrated by the quotes above, Conservatives and Capitalists love the nuclear family. To them, if every American lived like a 1950s advert, society would be utopic. Much of this adoration for the heterosexual, White family can be attributed to conservative religious doctrine, in which the patriarch is the master of both his children and his wife. The disastrous consequences of this ideology can be seen in the divorce proceedings of Conservative pundit Steven Crowder, whose ex-wife recently released camera footage of him emotionally abusing her. (Crowder also bemoaned Texas’s divorce laws, which allow his wife to leave him without his permission.)
Observing these beliefs from an objective view, we can see how religious-backed patriarchy wasn’t just what was written down in the sacred texts of the Abrahamic religions, but the means of maintaining order in primitive societies. Like many other religious laws, patriarchy was considered “God’s will” as a means of keeping society functioning. For example, setting a bathroom too close to camp would result in sickness, so the Bible decreed excrement must be buried far from camp (Deuteronomy 23:12-14). Some animals, such as bears, lions, and rats carried disease or were dangerous to hunt, so they were deemed “unclean” and forbidden to be eaten, while easily-killable goats and cows were deemed fair game (Leviticus 11:7). And of course, humanity needed to reproduce, so homosexuality was banned and punishable by death (Leviticus 18:22).
Through this objective lens, we can see that the religious justification for a patriarchal family structure is not just “the will of God,” but the product of what was deemed necessary for the continuation of society. Generally the stronger sex, males were charged with the physical labor of farming, fighting, and building, while women raised children and carried out domestic labor. Of course, there were exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, this family pattern existed throughout historic societies.
And while much of the Conservative establishment carries the sexist legacy of archaic religions into their worldview, spiritual beliefs are not the only motivation for their continued support of the traditional family structure of a dominant husband and submissive wife. A significant portion of the Right’s sexism comes from a place of necessity, as Capitalist society requires unpaid domestic labor, which has historically been assigned to women.
Capitalism & Domestic Labor
In 1817, Welsh labor rights activist Robert Owen coined the slogan, “8 hours labor, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours rest,” a succinct way of advocating for the 8-hour workday in place today. Noticeably absent from this 8-8-8 formula is time allotted for workers to do the unpaid labor needed to survive, such as buying food, folding laundry, raising their children, etc., etc. These vital tasks are omitted because they were assumed to be taken on by the wives and daughters of male workers, who would do this labor for free so that their husbands and fathers could work for a wage to ensure the family’s survival.
Without the behind-the-scenes work of obedient housewives and dutiful daughters, the entire Capitalist system would collapse. Workers would come home to empty cupboards, unkempt children, and a home in disrepair. Anyone who has ever been a homemaker will tell you it’s a full-time job, especially without the assistance of modern dishwashers and laundry machines.
Absent the unpaid domestic labor provided by women, working men would have to sacrifice their recreation and rest time, undermining their capacity to spend 8 hours creating the profits that uphold the Capitalist system. And while things have changed in the 21st century, Capitalism’s dependence on unpaid labor remains.
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