DANG: “Texas wants undocumented workers but only for household chores”

05.03.2011 § Leave a comment

Since we’re on the topic of women’s labor, domestic work, and migration patterns, check this article on feministing.

“A proposed immigration bill in the Texas state House is sure to raise more than a few eyebrows. The bill would make hiring an “unauthorized alien” a crime punishable by up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine, unless that is, they are hired to do household chores.”

Of course, this doesn’t also offer any labor/immigration protections for domestic workers. It’s just creating another weird exploitative grey area in a state that has a whole frightening maquiladora industry anyway.

Interesting to think through this in regards to Domestic Workers United (see website) here in NYC – the bill they got passed last year protecting domestic workers doesn’t cover undocumented domestic workers (in fact this was a huge concession necessary to make the bill pass), and also doesn’t cover people who get paid in cash/”under the table,” which often overlaps with undocumented workers but not always.


Indonesia bans women from being domestic workers in Malaysia: on removing women from the public sphere

27.02.2011 § 1 Comment

Indonesian state responds to abuse of maids by banning people from the job… Wild article, read here on ludmila p

…19 months ago, following horrific reports of beatings, rapes and other abuse of maids by Malaysian employers, Indonesia barred its citizens from taking new jobs as domestic workers here. Since then, help has been in short supply. And Malaysians are not happy.

I mean, imagine them doing this to any other sector? “Car factories are killing 5 people a day, let’s just ban them from increasing the labor force for a while”. The immediate similarity is i guess prostitution “that shit’s dangerous/unsavory lets make it illegal”. It certainly seems like this move on the part of the indonesian state will just bifurcate the Domestic Worker community into above- and under-ground, with all new hires having to sneak around illegally.

Seems that the state’s response to violence in women-dominated fields, is to push the working population in this trade (majority women) out of the publicly recognized labor force. Women are produced in the private sphere and remain immanently tied to it, always potentially roped back out of society, back into the nothingness which is society’s outside.

Anyway in this case there’s the added complexity of it being the Indonesian gov who is banning its own citizens from going to malaysia and becoming maids. The article says the Indonesian and Malaysian governments are “negotiating” over pay and working conditions.

its also interesting that you have what sounds like middle and lower-middle class people in Malaysia being able to afford maids from Indonesia, and not being able to find Malaysians to do the job – which means the cost of labor power is really really low in Indonesia, but not in Malaysia (same relationship here in the US of course, with the US and many countries to the south). This uneven geography of labor power  costs in relation to the trade of female domestic labor is vurry interesting… any good reads out there?


the nothing

Some theories on the abortion conspiracy

26.02.2011 § 3 Comments

(1) Ideological Battle; (2) Control of the Labor Supply; (3) Capital-as-hierarchical-gender-divide

She’s a Marxist recently broke down some of the different positions on “why all the crackdown on reproductive rights?” (full article here: Abortion Banned in Us = Capitalism’s best Interest?). She gives us two possible positions:

(1) First position: This is an ideological fight between the right and centrist social forces within the ruling class. I think this is the most common position within the left (at least that I’ve heard). It assumes that this issue is purely ideological. It assumes that the battle over abortion is at its heart dictated by ideological interests being battled out within the ruling class.

She’sa is right fucking on the money here, critiquing this position, which we’ll call “Ideolgical Battle”, for the vapid suggestion that capital doesn’t really give a fuck one way or the other about what happens to women’s reproductive rights –

I think this position assumes Capital processes (M-C-M) are fundamentally sex/gender/race blind, and thus, Capital acting in its most truest interests is ruthlessly pragmatic and not really hemmed in by ideological interest in any one religion, race, nationality, gender, etc. It wants profit and profit don’t have no gender, race or religion.

She’sa continues to argue for an alternative position,

(2) Second possible position:… different factions of capital have more than just an ideological interest in the outcome of this fight, since the issue [of reproductive rights] critically affects the make-up of the labor force in the U.S. which has an impact on capital here and abroad.

This argument, the “Control of labor pool” argument, that capital is interested in controlling women’s reproduction centrally in order to control the reproduction of labor power, control the labor pool, the reserve army, etc, is an important one. And She’s A Marxist’s intervention, that “concerns about the family, and concerns about gender are not just ideological concerns. They are directly and critically related to the labor needs of capital,” is totally essential and should be tatt’d on the asses of whatever marxists haven’t gotten that yet, but there still seems something more we can say about this.

(3) The nothing offers a third position (in hopes of more to follow): that regardless of what kind of labor pool capital wants (and it is very uncertain whether capital actually moves to produce the kind of labor pool it ‘wants’, or if its even clear what it ‘wants’), capital will constantly be pressing more restrictions and violences on womens bodies whenever it can, because the gender distinction is a constitutive presupposition of capital, and controlling women’s reproduction and perpetrating violence on womens bodies and  is the construction of woman-as-category, is the construction of the gender division.

In other words, capital could give a whatwhat about how many people are in its reserve army (LIKE HELLO THERE ARE WAY TOO MANY RIGHT NOW, SO NOW YOU HAVE EGYPT AND WISCONSIN), it STILL will oppress women. Why? BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT CAPITAL IS. Capital (amongst other things) a new form, a most distilled and systematic form, of patriarchy, which contains as an inherent part, the subordination of women to men. Any attempt to explain attacks on women from capital is to say “capital could just be nice to women, why’s  it being so mean?” But the truth is, it won’t ever be nice to women-as-class.

The reproduction of an increasingly heirarchical gender divide, which is the central cumulative affect of making abortion illegal, is really awesome for capital NOT ONLY IN THAT IT PRODUCES BABIES, but in that THE MORE SERIOUS THE GENDER DIVIDE, THE MORE WOMEN CAN BE EXPLOITED BY CAPITAL, both in the wage-relation, and in unpaid reproductive labor. And capital is FOUNDED on and REPRODUCED BY this hyperexploitation of women, as compared to men.

Silvia Federici has thrown in some chips on the question. In an interesting way, she sets up premises which would move her toward position three, but she seems to throw down position two..

On the positive side, the discovery of reproductive work has made it possible to understand that capitalist production relies on the production of a particular type of worker, and therefore a particular type of family, sexuality, procreation, and thus to redefine the private sphere as a sphere of relations of production and a terrain of anticapitalist struggle. In this context, policies forbidding abortion could be decoded as devices for the regulation of the labor-supply, the collapse of the birth rate and increase in the number of divorces could be read as instances of resistance to the capitalist discipline of work. The personal became political and capital and the state were found to have subsumed our lives and reproduction down to the bedroom

find rest of article over at comrade caring labor

women’s bodies as class battleground: police violence in Puerto Rico

26.02.2011 § Leave a comment

Women reported as first targets for police violence in Puerto Rico

* Thousands of public workers have been laid off and had their union contracts terminated, leading to tens of thousands of people peacefully protesting over the past year. One event turned out over 100,000 peaceful protestors and while in NYC hundreds marched on May Day, in Puerto Rico May Day turned out an estimated 30,000 citizens.

At most events young women are the first to be targeted for police violence. At the University of Puerto Rico, female students, many of whom were beaten, were also sexually harassed, groped and assaulted (touched) by police. Students have been mercilessly beaten, mazed and shot at with rubber bullets. Citizens have accused, which images captured confirm, police of applying torture techniques on immobilized student protesters. In the past two years, there have been several riots at protests in and around the University of Puerto Rico. Many protesters have accused the police of causing the riots, which some videos also seem to confirm.

from aclu report, HERE

education insurgence and lack thereof Wisconsin/NY

18.02.2011 § Leave a comment

wisconsin, cuny, public schools…holy shit stuff is heating up.  What will happen in NYC?  the NP’s and patronage politics seem to be holding back students and workers…in wisconsin, public sector unions (including prison guards) are supporting the walkouts and sick-outs…not so here.  UFT blows goats, PSC too.  So what of education strikes? There is a caucus in UFT that is more militant, and are trying to reform union internally. but they say (?) they’ve had trouble independently mobilizing school teachers.  they are instead trying to reform union and get them to call strikes; they say they do not have enough people at this point to carry out an independent job action.  meanwhile, some of the np left youth groups explicitly won’t work with teachers.  (neither will UFT, for the record).  this is all based in long history of fucked up race politics among UFT etc….

.. thots from june c


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