Recommended reading

Not all new writing, just writing which came across my Twitter feed.

Charlotte Graham-McLay: What I Learned About Writing From the Women Inside New Zealand’s Prisons (VICE)

We were reticent rather than the overconfidence I was worried about, but the women hosting us knew what to do about it. They must be practiced at that, on visiting days, smoothing over the awkwardness with warmth and small talk. The woman next to me asked what I did, and told me she’d dreamed of being a photojournalist as a girl. She told me I should go to war zones and I didn’t like to say I didn’t want to. Later, we talked about mental healthcare in prisons, a subject I’d held forth on in newsrooms and at dinner parties previously, but this time I just listened.

Sarah Jaffe: The Factory in the Family: The radical vision of Wages for Housework (The Nation)

To demand wages was to acknowledge that housework—i.e., the unwaged labor done by women in the home—was work. But it was also a demand, as Federici and others repeatedly stressed, to end the essentialized notions of gender that underlay why women did housework in the first place, and thus amounted to nothing less than a way to subvert capitalism itself. By refusing this work, the Wages for Housework activists argued, women could help see to “the destruction of every class relation, with the end of bosses, with the end of the workers, of the home and of the factory and thus the end of male workers too.”

In a moment when women’s protests and talk of class struggle are both resurgent, the intersectional analysis that Wages for Housework put forth (years before Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term) is more relevant than ever. It noted that to ignore women’s wageless work is also to ignore that of so many others, from the slaves who built the United States to those who still labor basically unwaged in prisons: “In capitalism,” as the Wages for Housework committee members wrote in 1974, “white supremacy and patriarchy are the supremacy and patriarchy of the wage.”

Kevin McKenna: Why are we still so scared of crusading women who speak the truth? (The Guardian)

The deeds of Scotland’s working-class heroes have largely been written out of the approved histories of the nation that our children are permitted to read. Until very recently, a Scottish child could travel into adulthood unhindered by an ounce of knowledge about the story of Scotland and certainly about any of the women who have helped shape our destiny.

John Harris: Adapt or die: a new breed of trade union can save the fossils of old (The Guardian)

I have spoken endlessly to trade unionists who want to give serious thought to how to do things differently: one idea that often comes up is of a lifetime individual membership that could be instantly reconfigured as people move into work, then out, and then in again, allowing them to make the most of different kinds of collective representation and personal benefits.

But such things are still more the subject of tentative conversations after office hours than anything more meaningful. Is this perhaps because the women, young workers and people of colour who tend to work in the more precarious parts of the economy are too often locked out of many of the big unions’ upper tiers?

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