There's been another big kerfuffle about Linda Hirschman - an American philosopher who I called capitalist radical feminism last time round. She's defended herself, and in doing so says "I said that the tasks of housekeeping and child rearing were not worthy of the full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings."
This pisses me off on so many levels and I'm not going to dignify most of them with a response. But in this world there is shit that needs to be cleaned, food that needs to be provided, clothes that need to be sewn. Every single thing in your house was made by people, and most of it involves repetitive work that is not enough for the full-time and talents of any human being.
I believe that we should each do a bit of that work. We should each do some of the repetitive work that is required to make and maintain things, and we should certainly all do some of the incredibly varied and important work that is required to make and care for people.* I believe that we should all do our share these forms of work, and that if we did we would also all have the opportunity to develop our skills, interests and passions, and that wouldn't be limited to a few.
For me, part of changing that is make sure the work that has traditionally done by women, the work of reproduction is recognised and respected not just with words but with resources. So I'm going to talk about a motherhood wage. I'll start with South America. Article 88 of the Venezualan constitution says
The State guarantees equality and equity between men and women in the exercise of their right to work. The State recognizes work in the home as an economic activity that creates added values and produces social welfare and wealth. Housewives are entitled to Social Security.**Hugo Chavez has just increased the resources Venezuala provide to single mothers, and other women who do caring work (via Super Baby Mama). I think this is an important, feminist, step in the right direction.
New Zealand came reasonably close to introducing a motherhood wage in the early 1970s. A motherhood wage was one of the central demands of the early women's liberation movement. When the Kirk government came in they thought they'd give it a go, but the amount they offered was so low that they were basically laughed at and they backed away.
There are all sorts of problems with demanding a parenting wage under our capitalism. Unless wages were paid as part of a package that also included free child-care it would make returning to other forms of work really financially difficult and any money offered would be a complete pittance compared to what the work actually required.
But I believe that raising children should not be treated as a hobby. People who are raising children are doing incredibly important work, they shouldn't have to do it in isolation, and they should be provided resources, just like the people who do other important work in society - like advertising executives.
* I have a friend who believes that after we over-throw capitalism all the work will be done by robots, and all we'll have to do is watch the robots every so often. I replied that he's ignoring all the work that involves caring for people and so would not be able to be done by robots (so he doesn't do that any more) - other friends threaten to form a robot liberation front - this is what happens when Marxists and Anarchists argue.
** Thanks to Ampersand for explaining to me how awful America's social security system is. Social democracy may have some serious flaws, but the united states definately missed out on all the good bits.