March 2011 Archives

DE Question for april 6


Group A should post entries by Monday evening and Groups B and C should post comments by Wednesday at noon. 

In a 200-word post, list and describe a feminist family value that is articulated in the Feminist Family Values Forum. Your entry should address the following: 
  • What makes your family value explicitly feminist? 
  • How does it differ from some of the "traditional" family values? 
  • What definition of "family" does it draw upon?


Mapping the Issue: Work


Check out the mappings from yesterday's class. And here are two that I found especially helpful:

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Media Representations of Women


Was looking around the interwebs and found a really interesting trailer for a documentary that is on the Sundance Circuit right now called "Miss Representation"

check it out:

Newest Miss Representation Trailer (2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection) from on Vimeo.

Miss Representation is an official Sundance selection this year. And Oprah Winfrey's OWN has acquired the rights to the documentary, which it plans to air this fall. OWN is also working with ro*co films to distribute the film to middle schools, high schools and colleges across the United States. In the meantime, you can check out the Miss Representation's official site, where you can find locations for current screenings.

DE March 30

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I found that the La Collectiva was very similar to the program that the lady in the movie was a part of. I think that it is a good idea to be in one of these because it seems like it is very similar to a union. Since, they are a large group they can come together and fight for something such as these bills of rights. Although, after reading the Bill of Rights I thought that it was a little weird that an adequate night of sleep is 5 hours and that there is nothing about an exact amount that they should be paid. For instance, minimum wage, I think that this something that could be misconstrued. They are using the approach that everyone is entitled to basic workers rights like paid sick days, vacation days and other issues. They are using the approach that these domestic workers are not machines; they are human beings and need to be treated like it. They are using social media by using this blog as a source to get their word out and that they have rights. So, when people order their service they can see that they are a group and that they can't take advantage of them. Also, I think that by putting this Bill of Rights in a public place it will help sales. This is because people will feel better if they order workers that are being treated fairly.

Sleep..................a feminist issue



Studies indicate that women do not function well when they don't sleep well and that women are more deprived of sleep than men. It is even shown that women sometimes do this intentionally due to the idea that "getting enough sleep means you must be lazy or less than passionate about your work and your life." Do you think this is a FEMINIST ISSUE?

DE Mar 30


La Colectiva is a group of cleaners who base their business on helping the immigrant community and using environmentally friends cleaning methods. On they website they claim to be using all eco-friendly or green cleaning products, which have variety of benefits. They are employee run which is unique for a cleaning service. This company is based in California and is devoted to improving working conditions and helping women and they environment as they try to make making a living easier for immigrant women.
This website is laid out and presented extremely well. It is very clear and well thought out with cleaver phrases, pictures and clear direction to the different sections to the website. This is a powerful social media tool because a person gains a first impression of a company based on their website. If a person in San Francisco, California simply goolged the phrase "green cleaning" it is quite possible that the Colectiva web site would pop-up. Instantly this company's site gives the impression of being valid and well run. By getting more people interested in their company and the different things they offer they can increase their ability to work and expand.
The fact that this is a "green" company is very appealing to some, especially in California where being "green" is all the rage. When a consumer or a person likely to hire someone to clean their home and when they make a point of making sure the service is using "green" technology, there is the tendency that these consumers are more socially and environmentally considerate. That is to say they would most likely support this kind of company whole-heartedly. All in all this company is appealing to a specific consumer base and using a well put together website to do it.

DE 3/30- fairy godmothers or empowerment


La Colectiva is a house cleaning company with a union style. The women that make up La Colectiva are immigrant women who make a living from domestic labor. La Colectiva is organized labor. They call themselves a "worker-run cleaning collective"; demonstrating that the foundation of these domestic workers' organization is made solely of the women who belong to it instead of a traditional company with a hierarchy of laborers and employers. A couple of their primary goals are to empower immigrants and connect them with jobs as well.

From what I saw, there are a few main strategies being used to respond to current problems with domestic labor. One is their use of linguistics. Quite a few of the wording that they used on the site as well as the slogans caught my eye. A few quotations from the site are, "So you can get the peace of mind... (Homepage)." They also state that hiring La Colectiva will let you know, "you are providing a dignified and living wage (Homepage)." Both of these quotes accomplish relatively the same thing. They present an opportunity to the prospective customer to do something good as they are the, "Keepers of Your Sanity (Resources)." I think these quotes are an example of a smart strategy because what I see is a respectful message. There is no, 'you owe us'. Instead, they appeal to customers with a simple explanation of who they are, what they do, prices, and why they do it.

What I found interesting, was the emphasis on a business arrangement. On the resources page, it says that they work towards communication between workers and, "the people who hire them." Even this sentence has the effect of evening the playing field. Focusing on communication is necessary to resolve domestic labor issues. The website also posts a sample agreement so that prospective customers can see exactly what they would be agreeing to. This is in contrast to an individual not given the chance to communicate. Also, overall, the website works to advertise their work, not themselves. Cheap labor, especially among immigrants, as we discussed in class, often has the effect of placing a value on bodies. Laborers are often seen as bodies that are expendable. La Colectiva, on the other hand, markets their cleaning as well as their knowledge of green cleaning products. The group and their work are represented as a whole who are politely and simply stating their rights and abilities.

The website is a great example of using social media. The site is beautifully done, incorporating solid, simple design layout, filled with solid, simple information. There are links that are not overwhelming that are offered to answer more questions as well as allow for a reputable image. There are a number of slogans, which stick, are simple, and easily spread. They discuss their business, their rights, affiliations, and goals all in one place. It is inevitable to see it all as it is all mixed up in a way that does not scream hidden agenda.

One thing I did have an issue with was some of their slogans. One being you can call us, "Your Fairy Godmothers." A lot of the other sayings I thought were great, but this, along with, "If cleanliness is next to godliness then La Colective are angels (About Us)." I think the reason this bothers me is that at first I thought a lot of these were giving a new image, a different way for them to represent themselves. But later, what does a fairy godmother represent? Magical? Make-believe? Out of the picture? While obviously angels is a bit different, at the same time, that phrase; doesn't it then say that we're angels because of how well we clean? Only further pressing in an identity I feel they are trying to escape. I know this is pushing it a bit, just a thought of mine.

DE 3/30 - La Colectiva

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While perusing around the La Colectiva site, a few questions came to mind. My initial questions all stem from the opening quote in the Bill of Rights section, "They must support themselves in a country that doesn't speak their language," found here. If they must support themselves here, then they must not be able to support themselves at home. This would suggest that the system of globalized capitalism holds enough power to draw workers away from their families, and in favor of international work in unequal conditions.

Have we ever fully dropped our emotional attitudes and ideologies that allow for these kinds of working conditions? Historically, there has been a procession of sorts as to which designated minority group is treated in a dehumanized manner. Of course, there has been introduction of new racial categories over time. Notice how hispanics were formerly white! Originally, dehumanizing ideologies and attitudes were a result of direct force being applied to foreigners, with no incentive for the worker. Now, the United States economy is powerful enough to creative incentive without threat of violence.

However, it still remains that there are foreigners doing the domestic work, living with us, but being treated as if they are in a different realm of society that is not afforded the same conditions as ours. La Colectiva is an opportunity for international domestic workers to unite under a single cause, and collectively give themselves the same working conditions as any other job type may have. Apparently, this type of designation for domestic workers requires union action -- as opposed to the passively received rights under OSHA (in other employment sectors). It seems to me that this points to something that is inconsistent and problematic in our perception of domestic work and who is doing it, which can and should be corrected.

DE for March 30: Group B


La Colectiva is a collective of Latina women who are currently doing domestic work while simultaneously fighting for their rights as domestic workers. By forming a collective with structure and goals, they are securing work in conditions that are more desirable for them while also having a way to find work that is steady and reliable. And they are even managing to do all this while fighting to change legislation for better protections in their workplaces.

They are approaching change through many different avenues. La Colectiva actively changes current working conditions through using environmentally friendly cleaning products, having a decent wage rate, creating a dignified voice to speak through (the organization itself), and having a community of workers for support. They also look to the future in the Bill of Rights for domestic workers that is posted on their site, which outlines a hope for guarantees for the things they are trying to provide their members, as well as even more rights, including overtime pay, compensation, sick days, and many other things that most workers in other fields take for granted.

Day Eighteen: March 28


Today's discussion includes the film, Maid in America, and the following readings:


We will spend a lot of time discussing the film and then moving into the readings. We will continue discussing the readings/websites on Wednesday. 

  • Who are the women in this film? TELMA, JUDITH, EVA
  • What are their stories? Key issues? 
Critical Engagement: 
Issue One: the American Dream
  • What is the American Dream? 
  • What sort of values does the "american dream" promote/perpetuate? neoliberalism choice
  • What are some problems with the vision of the American Dream from a feminist perspective?
  • What important questions aren't posed/explored when we don't critically interrogate the American Dream?
  • How does the film challenge and/or reinforce the ideology of an American Dream?
Issue Two: 
"Rights as Workers in this Country and as human beings around the World"
Issue Three: Ethical and Political Evaluation
  • How can/should/do we ethically evaluate this issue? 
  • How should we frame our ethical and political reflection? 
  • Which questions should we pose? Which ones should we try to answer?
Issue Four: Resistance and Agency
  • Hondagneu-Sotelo argues for reform and working within the system--not to abolish but to upgrade the occupation--in order to transform domestic work (210). What are some strategies she describes?
  • Do the reforms she proposes come at the expense of revolutionary/radical/visionary change? Do her reforms merely serve to work within and reinforce the system or to do something else? 
  • What types of resistance and agency are the women in the film expressing/performing? 
  • Are these women resistant or merely reinforcing ideologies about the American Dream/Worker? (How) can we imagine them as neither victims or uncritical success stories?
  • What is the value of organizing? Making others critically aware?
How can we compare/contrast the movie, Maid In America, with La Colectiva's video:

Comunicando Poder y Esperanza from la colectiva on Vimeo.

Hardship and Hope


Maid in America was a very eye opening film. I had never thought about domestic workers in the U.S. as a feminist issue, but it really is. After seeing how painful it was for Judith to be away from her daughters, while taking care of someone else, and also being pregnant, it became clear how unique this situation is to a woman. It really reminded me of apartheid South Africa when black women would travel long distances to be nannies to white families, sometimes having to live near the house instead of their own home, and they were more mothers to someone else's children than their own. It is so frustrating to see that, but at the same time, the three women in the video were so hopeful. Eva is determined to be an accountant, what she studied, Judith wants to return to the U.S. with her daughters and Thelma is thankful for the family she is working for because she says they do treat her like family (she is basically the mother).
I feel compelled to really look more into this after seeing this movie. I didn't think I would be this interested in feminism in labor, but this topic really makes me want to do something.

DE Group B


La Colectiva is an organization that is worker-run, helps immigrant women on a social, political, and economic level, and connects them to jobs. This organization empowers immigrant women and helps them to do safe, dignified, fair work by training them and working together with other women in similar situations. La Colectiva is fighting for Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, which would give them protection in their jobs, which workers in other fields currently have. They want rights in overtime pay, safety and health in the work place, worker compensation and so on and so forth. The women that make up this organization are active members of society, and take part in marches and protests against the unfair working conditions domestic workers are currently facing. Araceli Iniguez is one woman mentioned on the La Colectiva website that is an active member of the community fighting for domestic worker rights. She explains that La Colectiva not only trained her how to do her work correctly, but it also increased her knowledge of domestic work and how it is represented at a local, national, and international level. La Colectiva also gives immigrant domestic workers opportunities to become active in the fight for social justice. Many women attend hearings, participate in marches and protests, and do anything they can to further their knowledge of the laws and the rights they should be entitled to. I think that this organization is a huge stride in beginning the path towards social justice for these women. This organization not only teaches these women how to do their work correctly and take pride in it, it also teaches them how to take pride in themselves and their worth. This website helps tell a story that many immigrant women are a part of right now, and women facing the hardships expressed on this website will have, at the very least, a sense that they are not alone and there are people fighting to better their situation. La Colectiva is using social media to educate people on what their goals are. This website is open for everyone, so it can lead to more and more people becoming active in the fight for worker rights for these women. Getting the message out there will help gain more attention and ultimately more people will be aware of what is going on, which will hopefully spark radical change for domestic workers. I think that the information and statistics on some of the links will be very helpful in showing people from all over the truth about what domestic workers go through and what they leave behind in order to support their families. Knowledge is a very important entity to gain in the fight for domestic worker rights and La Colectiva is educating people from all over.

DE for march 30

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In the direct engagement for this week, members from Group B should do the following: 

Read through the website for La Colectiva (make sure to click on many of the different links and pages--on the left hand side: read their bill of rights, listen to the profiles in strength and dignity on the gallery page)

Now write some responses to these questions: What is La Colectiva? What strategies/tactics are they using to respond to the problems with domestic labor? How are they using social media/blogs to achieve their goals?

Group B should post their entries by Monday evening. Groups C and D should post comments by Wednesday at noon.  

False Class Consciousness


Maid in America

Although it has become in vogue to deny the existence of rich and poor and to proclaim us all "middle class", class divisions are real and the gap between rich and poor in the United States is growing at an alarming rate. Being born into a particular class, racial/ethnic group, and sex has repercussions that affect every aspect of a person's livelihood. Unfortunately this reality is masked by the illusions created by the neo-liberal idea of individuality, which supposedly allows citizens to become workers who have the potential to produce 'income' and achieve social mobility.
I believe an integral part of this documentary has been the mapping of inequality in the distribution of economic opportunity for workers/maids. One of the most difficult tasks at hand is the deconstruction of the idea that "Everyone has capital, namely his/her physical and mental capacities, everybody can invest in that and develop it." I believe there are several mechanisms that allow for the creation of such falsehood in connection with several functions of the state in the continues oppression of the potential creation of the proletariats class-consciousness. The idea that every worker in the U.S has the potential to make enough money as long as they work hard enough is a myth that is continuously perpetuated by neoliberal ideologies. One of the Maids goes in details talking about learning English, receiving her diploma as an accountant, and then finally being able to make enough money for a different lifestyle. This shows that as a worker you are simply seen as a commodity.
It is interesting to see that in a time of economic crisis, people 'blame' these crises not on capital but on the federal state, which is supposed to resolve or at least soften these crises. People with 'false consciousness' do not have the ability to see that the 'real' problem is the logic of capital and their relationship to the production of capital. This inability to see the problem with the overall system is once again rooted in the initial education of the citizens, which is controlled by the state. With this combination of state intervention and ideological control, the bourgeoisie is able to create neo-liberal descriptions of the worker that are untrue. The worker is not an enterprise that has full agency over his/her production of 'income'. This is clearly shown by the situations of most Mexican Maids that are forced to work in the U.S in order to provide a living for their households.

One of the most interesting parts in discussion that this documentary brought to light was that of remittances. It is incredible detrimental to these stories to show the importance of the sustainability of permanent jobs for most Immigrant who have family ties to their native country due to financial responsibilities. It has been estimated that Mexicans living in the United States sent a record $23.1 billion back home in 2006, putting remittances third after oil and maquiladora exports as a foreign-exchange generator for Mexico . This made me wonder how many women struggle on a day-to-day basis trying to support their families back home.

In your overall critique, there might be a shallow engagement with the issue of Global politics at times during the documentary. I wish the documentary would have talked a little more about the reasons why Mexican women have moved away from their country to find a job?

DE Entry Group C Maid in America


This might be a weird concern, but what are these women eating?

Domestic work is hard labour: scrubbing, brushing, mopping, wiping, vacuuming, et cetera. They probably do a lot of walking as well. Judith had a bicycle. I would have expected the women in the video to be pretty fit.

Are they allowed to prepare meals in their employer's home on breaks? When Telma prepares food for Mickey, can she also eat the food she made? Does she have to have separate meals?

Do these women not have access to grocery stores with a cheap produce section? Do they not have enough money to buy fresh fruit and vegetables frequently?

How much private time do they have? Do they have adequate lunch breaks? Do they feel pressured to cut into their break time to get the work done?

In one scene, one of the domestic workers was drinking something greenish from a mug and tearing off chunks of bread for her breakfast. I would like to know what she was drinking. What is their grocery list like?

These women apparently had health care benefits because of their ownership of a business. As the video stated, most of the domestic workers do not have this luxury. When domestic workers have health problems, what do they do?

How many quality prenatal checkups did Eva have? How much did she have to pay for? How much did the state help her? Did she have access to healthy food while she was pregnant?

Maybe someone will see my post and think I'm being unfair and judging women because of their weight. Frankly, I wonder how much control they have over their health, and how low wages and benefits affect their ability to be healthy.

Most full time workers get health benefits of some sort because it is a less expensive way for an employer to compensate its employees. I wonder if the domestic workers' lack of health care benefits has anything to do with how their labour is valued/undervalued by society and by those who employ them.

Maid in America


When watching the film, Maid in America, the woman's story who seemed particularly problematic/ conscious-raising was Thelma's. She was the woman who worked for the black family. I understand that families have a lot going on and some need assistance with keeping the house clean, cooking, helping with homework, possibly bringing a child to and from school, etc. This family in particular had Thelma there for all parts of the day. I did not catch if she may have possibly even lived with them. It was also interesting that the couple even brought up their own histories which involved slavery and domestic work. The father seemed to see this work as a means to an end for Thelma. What is Thelma getting out of this relationship; what great ending is in her future? The father also mentioned that anyone who is a part of your family like Thelma is there's should be paid as much as the family could possibly afford. If i recall, at the end of the movie Thelma was dreaming of earning ten dollars an hour. To me that is not nearly enough money for the amount of work that she does for the family (cook, clean , help with homework, assist at family gatherings, drop off and pick of child from school, tuck the child in for bed, etc.). It also was very sad to me that the family's son had been around Thelma so much that he began calling her mommy. This shows the amount of time Thelma spends in their home. Does Thelma get private time away from their home? How often does she come in contact with her own family? Does she get vacation time and/or benefits? I still am not exactly sure if the use of domestic workers is something that is reasonable/fair. Under what circumstances is this kind of work okay and what type of pay/benefits/vacation should be a set minimum standard for these domestic workers?

stop domestic worker abuse.jpg

DE Group C


Before watching Maid in America, I was extremely skeptical. I didn't really have an opinion on the whole issue of domestic houseworkers, especially those that are undocumented workers. I thought that if you were an undocumented worker you were somehow here illegally, taking jobs from Americans. I'm so glad this film changed my initial perceptions.

Although it was extremely brief and just scratched the surface of these women's lives, it definitely opened up the audience to their world. It was amazing to me these houseworkers were thankful to make on average, about $5 an hour! I couldn't believe they were living in conditions in other countries where $5 was considered a lot of money!

It deeply saddened me to know that these women were working in U.S. homes to send money back to their homes, and at the same time they were missing extremely significant events! For example, Judith missed her daughters growing up and Eva missed her grandmothers funeral. All of this for the sake of money? It seems so backwards that money is literally what these women's lives revolve around. Yes, they were treated politely (in this film) and paid "so much money," but they didn't legally have any actual rights or benefits. Granted, they aren't U.S. citizens, one was in a co-op of women who paid taxes to our government! The system seems a little messed up to me if these workers are here legally, and even paying taxes they aren't required, and they have no legal rights, no actual insurance coverage, etc. It was disturbing when Judith said to come back into the United States again would be risking her life! What kind of place is this? These women may not be United States citizens, but they are performing a service to us. We aren't doing them any favors by employing them at $5 an hour, which is below our legal minimum wage. Basically, we're ripping desperate families off, and then acting martyrs for "letting" them work here.

Basically, by the end of this film, I was outraged at the way in which our government conducts its policies against undocumented workers. It all seems so selfish. These people are only trying to better their lives, and we're doing nothing to help them, with all of our riches. Isn't it a feminist issue to help assist these women in equal rights while they're in the U.S? Aren't we responsible for protecting them from living in constant abuse, fear, or danger? I believe it is also a feminist issue to work with these poor, third world countries to help these women make it on their own, without the backbreaking, underpaid labor they're performing in the U.S.

DE Group C: Maid in America


Initially, my thoughts at the end of Maid in America was of compassion for the rough lives that these women were enduring in order to send money back to their families or to pursue the American Dream. The movie portrayed that America seemed like a place where these Mexican women could get away from the tough conditions in Mexico and start a new, improved life.

After interpreting the film further, I would imagine that it scratched the surface of the arduous journeys that not only women, but all Mexican and Central American immigrants endure when they flee to the U.S. The working conditions that Judith and Telma endured seem to be one of the more favorable situations for Mexican female workers. They made friends and were treated very politely by their employers. I would have liked to observe the scenario of abuse and disrespect that they represented in the play to depict the situations that are highly likely to happen in the U.S. with Mexican workers. Or maybe a Mexican worker that works in construction in hazardous situations and does not get paid up to minimum wage. The U.S. is aware that the situation out there; it is even present in the media. Telma's story reminded me of the movie with Jim Carrey, Fun with Dick and Jane, where the son has a full-time nanny and he speaks Spanish because he spends more time with her than his parents. On Arrested Development, there are several episodes where the high-class, egocentric mother checks the Mexican maid's purse to see if she stole after her shift was over. On the Real Housewives of New York, there are scenes where "countess" speaks to a Spanish-speaking nanny named Rosa. We all know the extent to which Mexican workers can be abused because the other option would send them to the harsh conditions in their native country. I feel the movie does a great job depicting a few issues that these women endure, but we all know it could be much worse.

DE March 23rd- Maid In America


Watching "Maid in America" made me question the narratives that were presented relating to resources for domestic worker rights (as seen in the stories of Eva and Judith), and the narrative around family and emotional labor that was portrayed as a part of Telma's story. In many ways I came away from the film feeling that the stories of these women were portrayed through narratives that I suspect may be the exception to the rule for many domestic workers.
The film did an excellent job of addressing the trials of family separation for all three women, the struggle for citizenship, and over-qualification that goes with having education and work experience remain unrecognized for workers like Eva. However, I wondered if the stories of these three women were common experiences for domestic workers.
Within the film, both Eva and Judith were a part of support systems dedicated to workers rights and further support for domestic workers. Because of the presence of these stories, I was struck by the ways in which having such support systems becomes vitally important as an undocumented worker. Such organizations serve not only as a community support systems but also a source of education around what one's rights are as a worker within the United States particularly with status outside of documented citizenship.
While I do not recall Telma's story including outside community support, Telma consistently drew on the nature of her stability as a worker within a household in which she appeared to feel comfortable. Telma made reference to her employment as resting on Mikey's dependency on her as his nanny. However, even within this dependency she seemed pretty confident that until Mikey became more independent she would continue to be employed as a worker for a household that treated her well.
With the presence of organizations working on the behalf of women such as Eva and Judith, and with the experience of job stability and trust that Telma described in her experience as a domestic worker, I came away from "Maid In America" wondering if these stories were at all idealistic. My concerns about the films idealism rest in a question of how often domestic workers actually are able to utilize outside support or experience work which they consider to be stable and respectful. Is this a common experience, or does this film present a narrative of three strong independent women who were able to meet the challenges they were presented with? Who's voices weren't heard within this film? Does the fact that these workers were accessed for documentary filming create a biased set of narratives around domestic work?

Maid in America


I was shocked to see that in L.A. alone there are nearly 100,000 domestic workers. I think it is great that this documentary brings light to this subject because it is a hidden issue for various reasons. For one, many of the domestic workers in the U.S. are undocumented workers so it is difficult for a domestic worker to turn to the government for protection.

One question that came to mind during the beginning of the film--why did any of these workers move to the U.S in the first place? They receive no benefits, low wages, and at times mistreatment from employers. It then became all too clear that moving to the United States for work is, in a sense, a lesser of two evils. One can work in the U.S. as a domestic worker and make money to live, but work like a dog and become estranged from their children. OR they can be with their children back home and live in squalor with no money. For example, Judith, a woman who had been separated from her family as she worked in the U.S., hadn't seen her children in 3 years. As the cameras followed Judith back home for the first time in years I understood why someone would want to leave those conditions. Judith explains that for her family to live back in their country she must send them money for food and rent every 15 days.

Another one of the women in the film worked for an older lady and a few things the employer said raised some questions for me. The employer, old lady, says she is friends with her domestic worker and that they mutually care for one another. Of course it's natural for a human being to form connections with someone after repeated contact, but at what point can you expect these aspects be expected in a work relationship. I can only assume that the initial job description did not include "friendship." To me, this is an example of what we were talking about on Monday--emotional labor.

Additionally, this same employer went on to say, "everyone needs help, it's essential." The first thing I thought was who helps the domestic worker? It seems that all of these domestic workers are doing physically/emotionally/mentally draining work, yet they are receiving low wages and no benefits.

DE for march 23 (due march 25)


This DE is for Group C. Please post your direct engagement by Friday (3.25) evening. Groups A and D should post comments by Sunday (3.27) evening.

In your direct engagement, critically reflect on the film we are watching in class on Wednesday: Maid in America. How does this film encourage your feminist curiosity? What questions, topics for discussion does it raise for you? In reflecting on and engaging with the film, make sure to draw upon specific examples from the film. Your reflection should be about 250-300 words. 

Screen shot 2011-03-22 at 12.20.36 PM.png

Want some examples of xtranormal videos?


Here are two recent examples of xtranormal videos:

1. So you want to get a PhD in the humanities?

2. And a final statement on feminist pedagogy from two students in my feminist pedagogies class:

New York Domestic Worker Discusses Job Protections


Day Seventeen: March 21


I will not be in class on Wednesday. You will be watching the film, Maid in America. The diablog question for the week is related to the film. I will post more details soon. 

Discuss: This is a feminist issue because...: Is being sexy just all a part of the job?

What are the different forms of labor that workers need to do in various gendered professions? What about emotional labor?

Some important information:

  1. Final Group Project assignments
  2. Revised Due Dates
  3. Some thoughts about your papers
Reading Discussion: 
  • What is the care industry? Global care chain? How does this global care chain create relationships between women and across nations?
  • What kind of labor is domestic labor? How is it different from other forms of labor? 
  • What is the role of love/care in this labor? How is love a resource?
  • What do you think of Hochschild's need to develop a global sense of ethics?
  • How can we think about Hochschild's arguments in relation to Latoya Peterson's (editor of Racialicious): "Don't You Just Love Your [insert ethnicity here] Nanny?"
Want to read more? Check out what I wrote about the Nanny Problem and Alice from the Brady Bunch: The Trouble with Alice

Some thoughts on State of the Issue papers


I just finished reading your state of the issue papers for reproductive rights. All in all, I enjoyed reading them and think many of you did a great job. As you write your next ones (or, for those of you who didn't write on reproductive rights, your first ones), here are some things to remember:

Purpose of the assignment: 

One key purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of at least three different feminist perspectives on this issue. This means that your three different ways of framing the issue should all be from feminist perspectives. These perspectives do not have to be completely opposed to each other; they just need to offer different perspectives (that sometimes come into conflict with each other). 

Contrary to the official title of this course, "point/counterpoint," I have not set this class up to be about binary oppositions: either/or; for/against; feminist/anti-feminist. Instead, I designed this class to be about disrupting/troubling/complicating the purpose of debate; it is not about winning a battle or coming to a consensus, but about keeping open feminist curiosity. The issues we are examining don't involve two clear, easily definable sides, but a wide range of complicated issues. How is curiosity shut down when we pick sides? What important questions get left unexplored, what voices aren't heard? To that end, I picked readings that try to demonstrate the complexity of the issue within feminism and show that there are no easy (re)solutions to the contentious feminist issues. Your state of the issue papers should demonstrate the complexity of these issues, as opposed to breaking it down into binaries of for/against (or a.for, b. against, and c. in-between).

The emphasis should not be on your opinion, but on demonstrating an understanding of the complexity of the issue for feminists, based on our readings

The different feminist perspectives that you discuss should be taken directly from our readings and films. One other goal of this paper is to demonstrate that you have read and can engage with our course readings, so make sure that your articulation of the different perspectives is based on articles/authors that we read. 

Have a clear introduction and conclusion

In your introduction you should clearly describe what you plan to do in the brief paper and which positions you will discuss. You should also identify the authors/reading that you will be using to represent those different positions/perspectives. In your conclusion you should sum up the issue and offeri your own thoughts on what is to be done.


I couldn't help but think of this class recently over break. I am back home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and I find myself among friends just talking and hanging out. My friend, Megan, proceeds to tell us that at work today her manager said that her t-shirt and jeans attire was not sexy enough. Her male manager then went on to say, "you need to look as sexy as possible at work." The males in the room, including Megan's boyfriend, justified the manager's comment by saying it provided Megan with more tips.


Since when is "being sexy" a prerequisite to serving food and beverages?
Are male servers required to look sexy?
Are places like Hooters detrimental to views of women?
How does this type of mentality affect the views of women?
How does this affect the treatment women in this type of work place?

DE Question 1


In reading Toronto, she claims that feminists should feel responsible for the "nanny problem" if they themselves have a nanny. I thought her three main points were very strong. Her main points were
1) An institutional setting of a household is a different setting than the market (the market being day cares, child care with multiple children, etc.)
2) Relationships within household are more immediate and intimate than in a market and 3) Quality of relationships are measured by quality of work, so part of the work of domestic service is to nurture and maintain care of relationships.

Going off of the first point, household settings are more so the householder's territory. Things need to be done their way and because domestic caretakers are the owner's employees, they are the ones to say where the line should be drawn. If there is a nanny expected to raise the employer's children a certain way, they better assimilate otherwise their job could be on the line. Toronto also brings up a good point that because domestic service takes place in a private home, it's often not regarded as employment. This may be the reason why child care work pays pretty poorly and is looked at as low prestige, as Toronto states. The second point marks on the fine line between professionalism and getting too involved. Some employers were shocked to think their child care workers were only doing their job for the money. This attitude creates high expectations for child care workers to play the correct motherly role on top of household care which is their primary duty. Not only are they expected to do what the mother or father should do when they are off at work, but they are expected to be the parents as well. This also ties along with Toronto's third point saying that the domestic service worker should nurture and maintain care of relationships with the employer and the family members. Feminists could be held responsible for this "nanny problem" in part because they are advertising that women should be heavily into their careers, doing what they want to do. Some are out there making the bacon, but a possible issue is that they are not raising their kids if they choose to have kids. They are saying goodbye to the motherly role as they dive head first into their careers. Not to say that they shouldn't, but child care is something that they must look at deeply if they are going to choose a strenuous career and choose to have children in my opinion.

Tronto speaks of a "charge" as usually the child being cared for by the domestic worker, or another member of the family. Syfer's essay talks about her longing for a wife. She plays with society's expectations and definition of a wife. There is satire in her essay. The description of a "wife" given by Syfer almost makes a wife seem disposable. Who would want to be a wife if the definition was the one given by Syfer? I think that is sort of the point she was trying to make.

Ehrenreich knows what it's like to do household care first hand. Her and Tronto both make points about the rise of the two-career household and notice the shift in who is doing the housework today. Ehrenreich, different from Tronto, points out that the women of the house are still doing 2/3 of what needs to be done, it's the cleaning that is really getting to be too much. American's are helping feed this problem because they are giving jobs to others to clean their house, clean up what they don't have time to. The biggest problem with this that I think Ehrenreich and Tronto both talk about is the fact that this work has no prestige, it is seen as slum work by some or many in America. The other issue that they all bring up is our definition of a "wife" and our gender roles that are still so cemented in our societal norms.

Who undocumented worker?


Starting this past Monday and for a few weeks after break, we are discussing housework, nannies, and invisible labor. Central to our discussion are the many women and men who perform the invisible labor that have enabled some feminists to "solve" the housework crisis. A lot of these women and men are undocumented workers. So, who are...undocumented workers?

One way to get at this question is to explore the term "undocumented worker." Why should we use this term instead of the many others that are articulated within the popular media? In her entry, "Stop saying 'illegal'," the Feminist Texican provides a compelling discussion of why "undocumented worker" should be used instead of "alien," "illegal alien," "illegal immigrant," "illegal," "immigrant," and "undocumented immigrant." Her post includes this video by Rinku Sen:

Another way to get at the question of "who are...undocumented workers," is to read about/listen to/watch the stories of undocumented domestic workers (like nannies or maids or gardeners). On Wednesday March 23, we will watch the film, Maid in America about 3 undocumented domestic workers, living and working in the L.A. area. Check out the resource page on the film's website for more information. Here is the film description:

Housekeeper. Nanny. Maid. Surrogate mother. Such are the many roles of las dom├ęsticas--undocumented workers who came to America in search of a better life and found themselves scrubbing toilets and setting tables, working long hours for little pay in private homes.

Most have no health insurance, no driver license, no pension and no recourse when it comes to employment injustices. They cook meals they could never afford, clean houses they could only dream of owning and care for strangers' children when their own children are thousands of miles away. Deportation is a constant fear. And still they come to the United States by the thousands in hopes of a better life for themselves and their families.

MAID IN AMERICA is an intimate, eye-opening look at the lives of las dom├ęsticas, as seen through the eyes of Eva, Telma and Judith: three Latina immigrants, each with a very different story, who work as nannies and housekeepers in Los Angeles, California. Filmmakers Anayansi Prado and Kevin Leadingham followed their subjects for several years, and their cameras caught some of the most intimate moments of these women's lives, both on and off the job.

A third way to get at this question, is to think about how it gets represented in the popular media. Here is just one example from Jezebel that discusses nanny trends, documented/undocumented domestic workers, and labor abuses in the domestic workplace: "Don't You Just Love Your [Insert Ethnicity] Nanny?" This article also provides some great links for more information on the issue of nannies and other undocumented domestic workers.

Finally, you can also check out the Drop the I-Word Campaign and their "I stories" like I Am...a mother or I Am....determined, over at Color Lines.

Suzanne Koepplinger, Director, MN Indian Women's Resource Center
"Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Minnesota's Native Communities"
4pm, Room 1314 Social Sciences
Free and Open to the Public

Join the Human Rights Program and the University of Minnesota's Women's Center tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8, as they explore the often ignored issue of commercial sexual exploitation of women and young girls in Minnesota's Native communities with distinguished guest speaker, Suzanne Koepplinger. Ms. Koepplinger, M.A., has been the Executive Director of the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center since December of 2003, a non-profit social and educational services organization committed to the holistic growth and development of American Indian women and their families. Director Koepplinger has a strong background in international project development, communications, domestic violence, community organizing and fundraising. The discussion will take place from 4:00-6:00PM in Room 1314 Social Sciences at the University of Minnesota, West Bank.

DE Question 2 ( Group D)


The nanny/domestic worker dilemma exposes the ways in which feminism still has a long way to go. As we discussed in class capitalism and patriarchy are one in the same in separable entities that advantage few and oppress many. Know matter where we fall in society benefit off of the labor of others. From the clothes we buy to the food we eat, are we ready to give up these convinces? Where is the line? Ehrenreich writes: "Housework, as radical feminist once proposed, defines a human relationship and, when unequally divided among the social groups reinforces preexisting inequalities" (102). It would be seems like an easy answer to put housework in the hands of companies. The Home owner never needs to know or care about the working conditions of those employed to clean their homes. Women who wished to be free from the labor of the home passed on that responsibility to woman on the margins who do not have as many options. I agree with Ehrenreich that the feminist left the "project unfinished". But I'm not sure the moral implications. On the flip side, low paid service industries like nannies/ and maid services do afford migrant women with some opportunities they may not have otherwise had. I think that we need to learn to see, respect, and pay a fair wage to those who are employed in domestic work. I also think that we need to teach children the value of others, and in the work that they do. We are taught no to look, not see question what or who's expense is our ease. Daily we teach our children not to see others. Children learn though media, education and home that to clean up after other is to fail. Children whether or not they grow up with maids understand the concept. They are cleaned up after in one way or another. As a mother it is my job to teach my children the value of others and of work. I have worked as a maid; it was a stepping stone to where I am today. I take pride in that.

DE! Question One


The issue of responsibility is big in American life today; scapegoats and blame games are being played in the political arena as I type, two examples: the funding for national health care and Planned Parenthood. Whose fault is it that some people are rich and some are poor? Whose responsibility is it to fund education? Whose job is it to decide how much education costs in the first place? Is education the reason or the fix for homelessness? These are all questions of responsibility, but the bottom line is that they are just questions--not answers. Concerning the welfare of nannies and housekeepers, who's to say that people can't choose to clean on their own (because who in their right mind would choose to do that...right)? Why can't people choose to monopolize on the things that other people choose not to do themselves? We all sell ourselves in some way to make a living, don't we? We are all prostitutes. Maybe the issue is better stated as an issue of awareness of the fact that, "Almost everything we buy is a product of some other person's suffering, and miserably underpaid labor" (Ehrenrich 51). Is it human nature to shy away from hard physical labor and lean towards intellectual labor (hence college)? And if that is so, then why do people degrade those choosing a physical vocation when they reach the pinnacle of their intellectual careers?

The constructed gender roles in the home seem to be the root cause of a new problem "that cannot be named," women who work full time jobs, take full time care of their children and their home with little to no help from their spouses (Friedan). The nanny, housekeeper, or maid seems to stand in this chasm picking up the slack for one or both partners, essentially as the ideal "wife." With awareness, and not only awareness but also a name or names for the problem at hand, people might be able to delve into the socio/economics of happiness and responsibility while stepping outside themselves, and evaluating how they divvy out value in a world that seems to devalue physical labor involved in the very things that make the rich's livelihoods run more smoothly (waiters and waitresses, janitors, maids, taxi drivers, stewardesses, cashiers, migrant workers, farmers, field hands...). The world would not run so well without them.

"Mother's Little Helper"

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This is not an entry of substance. The Friedan reading just reminded me of this song. Enjoy!

The Moral Complexities of Domestic Work


In response to Question 2:

The questions posed here, and brought forth by Ehrenreich and Tronto, delve into some very sticky and contestable areas of morals and ethics. The issue of domestic work is indeed fraught with moral consequences/implications and the feminist movement has seemingly struggled to seriously challenge these employment practices based on their moral outcomes. Tronto makes it clear that domestic work isn't really seen as work; it's something that one is supposed to enjoy. She even cites some employers yearning to imagine their nannies as not just working for the money; that there might be some emotional payoff for them in being part of a child's upbringing. These employers clearly fail to notice the alarming rate at which domestic workers are leaving their own children with a family member or neighbor in order to care for someone else's child(ren), often in another country. A feminist/social justice critique is desperately needed here, as argued by Ehrenreich and Tronto. Children are learning the imbalance of power and value among the domestic worker and their employers in the household as a natural part of the world, thereby ensuring their continued perpetuation in greater society.

Of course, it's complicated for a social movement to take a stance on a moral issue because of the possibility of alienating so many of its alliances in one fell swoop. This one however, as argued by Tronto, is a direct result of the feminist movement in the 60s and 70s and must be addressed due to its far-reaching and harmful effects. I would argue here (I think in partial alliance with Friedan) that part of the problem is that no one is talking about the problem and addressing it directly. Tronto and Ehrenreich speak to this need and with greater visibility of critiques like theirs, domestic work will become more valued, reasonable, and equitable for all parties involved.

DE for 03/07: Answer to Q1


Both Joan C. Tronto and Barbara Ehrenreich discuss the role of paid domestic work in relation to the Feminist Movement, and its unintended consequences. Tronto focuses on paid domestic workers who take care of children, while Ehrenreich focuses on domestic workers who clean the house. In both instances, the workers are primarily female, immigrants, and (often) poorly paid. Tronto and Ehrenreich argue that, while the labor reform (i.e. getting women out of the house and into the workplace) has benefitted upper-middle/upper class women, it is the women of the lower classes who are still being exploited as domestic workers. Ehrenreich states that, not only does hiring domestic workers often take advantage of poor, immigrant women, but it does not help the Feminist Movement as a whole, because men are still not expected to take responsibility for keeping the house clean and the children looked after. Rather than reversing traditional roles, in which the man stays home and the woman works, a couple will simply hire women to do these things for them, and men get excused from domestic work. Therefore, one may argue that feminists are responsible for the "nanny problem" that gets discussed in Tronto's essay, but perhaps this is simply because women are not demanding that their partner (in a heterosexual relationship) take on his share of the housework/childcare. According to Ehrenreich, "there is no reason to expect that men will voluntarily take on a greater share of the burden, and much of the need for help arises from their abdication." (100)
As Judy Syfer's essay, "I Want a Wife," demonstrates, wives take on an enormous amount of work and responsibility within the home, (whether she does or does not have a job/career.) Whether it is organizing play dates for the children, doing the laundry, picking up socks, making appointments, women are still left with many duties simply because their partners will not help.
In my own heterosexual relationship, my partner and I take turns completing certain cleaning tasks, and often times he does more of the cleaning than I do. However, I know of many heterosexual couples who do not follow along these same lines. Usually, it is the female partner who must take care of most of the cleaning and planning, because the male partner won't bother. How can we as women shift more domestic responsibilities onto our partners?

Day Fifteen: March 7

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  • Blog folders are NOT due on Wednesday. I will return them to you after break and you will not need to hand them in again until the end of the semester (May 4)

Today we begin our discussion of Work, Labor and Liberation.

Betty Friedan, the housewife and the drudgery of housework 

Historical (white) Feminist Equation: 

WORK = Empowerment, Freedom, Equality (Acceptance in the man's world?)

HOUSEWORK = Drudgery, Degrading, Oppressive (trapped in "women's" world?)

A "classic" idea within modern mainstream/popular feminism is that women have been oppressed within the household, that they have not been able to explore the "working/career" sides of themselves, and that they have been trapped into doing the drudgery of childcare and housework. The goal, then, has been to liberate the woman, allowing her to pursue the career that she was forced to give up, allowing her to work and therefore be free and empowered to live the life she has always wanted. 

Betty Friedan: The Feminine Mystique 

Written in 1963; huge text for feminism, founder of NOW; "mother" of second wave feminism...she was a reporter who interviewed housewives and picked up on the "problem that has no name." So, in the 50s/60s, according to the popular feminist narrative, women were miserable as housewives, having traded in the possibility of a career for feminine fulfillment in the home. So, feminism was aimed at empowering women to move into the workforce and having careers. 

Some key themes:

  • sense of dissatisfaction: Is this all?
  • limited roles, only as wives and mothers, not workers
  • relies on/reinforces "femininity" and the MRS degree (remember The Pill?)
  • pinnacle: the Suburban Housewife
  • trapped in the house, trapped in domestic routine which fragments her life and leaves no time for her own pursuits
  • a yearning for something more

2 Questions that shape our exploration of this feminist issue: 

Which women are/aren't included in this description? 

What important discussions get foreclosed when we frame the problem of labor and housework in this way?

But, before getting to those questions, let's return to the "problem": Housework and being a housewife involve demeaning and devalued labor which contributes to the oppression of women (which "women"? who "counts" as a woman?). At the conclusion of the brief excerpt we read, Friedan writes: 

We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: "I want something more than my husband and my children and my home" (203).

What is "the politics of housework"? What kind of work is housework?


when we talked about housework, we were really talking, yet again, about power. Housework was not degrading because it was manual labor, as Friedan thought, but because it was embedded in degrading relationships and inevitably served to reinforce them. To make a mess that another person will have to deal with--the dropped socks, the toothpaste sprayed on the bathroom mirror, the dirty dishes left from a late-night snack--is to exert domination in one of its more silent and intimate forms. One person's arrogance--or indifference, or hurry--becomes another person's occasion for toil. And when the person who is cleaned up after is consistently male, while the person who cleans up is consistently female, you have a formula for reproducing male domination from one generation to the next (88). 

Solution One: Increase efficiency, make life and labor easier through new inventions and products


Reactions to this clip? How is housework described? What problems do household jobs pose? What solutions does this film offer? 

Solution TwoWages for Housework

Wages for Housework Flyers 1975: The mission of the Brooklyn-based New York Wages for Housework Committee was embedded in an economic critique of how American capitalism affected women. The Committee demanded that women have autonomy over their sexual capacities and power over their experience as houseworkers or workers of a "second shift" in the home. While housework was physical work, since it was not wage-labor, it was unrecognized as employment in a capitalistic system. Housework was not only unrecognized, it also fundamentally supported how workers would earn their wages. One campaign poster read, "We have all sweated while you have grown rich. Now we want back the wealth we have produced." This campaign importantly connected economic independence with social power and freedoms and demanded that houseworkers be granted social, sexual and economic autonomy regardless of their position within or without the formal workforce.

Here's a more recent attempt to discuss wages for housework.

Solution Three: More equitable distribution of labor 

Solution Four: Women become Superwomen who can effortlessly take care of everything and make cleaning look easy, sexy and fun!

Solution Five: Get your own wife 

Syfer, "I want a wife"

Enhrenreich, Barbara. "Maid to Order" and hiring other women to do housework

  • shift the problem as one for other women
  • not value domestic work as work, but continue to devalue it and make it invisible (not a feminist issue any longer--93)

On Wednesday, we will delve even deeper into why and how domestic labor is a feminist issue with our discussion of Joan Tronto's "The Nanny Problem." Here's a two final passages from Ehrenreich that I would like us to think about:

What we risk as domestic work is taken over by immigrant workers is reproducing, within our own homes, the global inequalities that so painfully divide our world.

However we resolve the issue in our individual homes, the moral challenge is, put simply, to make work visible again: not only the scrubbing and vacuuming, but all the hoeing, stacking, hammering, drilling, bending, and lifting that goes into creating and maintaining a livable habitat....The feminists of my generation (1960s and 70s) tried to bring some of it into the light of day, but, like busy professional women fleeing the house in the morning, they left the project unfinished, the debate unbroken off in mid-sentence, the noble intentions unfulfilled. Sooner or later, someone else will have to finish the job (103). 

DE In response to Question One....


...the use of nannies allows upper middle-class women and men to benefit from feminist changes without having to surrender the privilege of the traditional patriarchal family. The hired household worker is an employee, but she is mainly treated as if she were a wife (Joan Tronto, 47).

How are feminist responsible for the "nanny problem"? What do you think of Tronto's charge in relation to Judy Syfer's essay? What connections can you draw between Tronto's claim and the essay by Ehrenreich?

Feminists are responsible for the "nanny problem" by conceding ground in what Ehrenreich labeled as the 'chore wars' of the 1970's and 80's. That is, even after feminists established how cleaning and household chores configured into a framework of power, the effort to subvert the dominant role men had in expecting their wives to do the housework had limited success. Some husbands started taking on housework or more of it than before, but the majority of cleaning and chores were still performed by wives.

The division of labor in the household remained unequal and was never truly resolved but rather slowly faded into the background over a period of time. The system was still broken and instead got recreated--as Ehrenreich explains, "women gained a little ground, but overall, and after a few strategic concessions, men won [the chore wars]. Enter then, the cleaning lady as dea ex machina, restoring tranquility as well as order to the home," (89). The entrance of a maid into the space of a household reproduces the same models of dominance over again, but instead of a wife being placed in the role of subservience, it's now the maid. Though maids are paid, the very nature of their employment is one that a person wouldn't choose for themselves if given other abilities and opportunities.

The framework of power can't be supplemented by maids earnings because, "even better wages and working conditions won't erase the hierarchy between an employer and his or her domestic help, since the help is usually there only because the employer has 'something better' to do with her time...the obvious implication [being] that the cleaning person herself has nothing better to do with her time," (Ehrenreich 102). Wives, like maids, were often deemed as having nothing better to do than housework since it wasn't considered a job so much as a responsibility of a wife; maids are employees but their labor isn't being viewed as something necessary for them so much as a natural job they'd occupy since they lacked "something better" to do with their time. The same assumptions that placed women in the submissive and degrading role of being expected to clean up after their husbands gets reworked through the maid rather than a husband and wife both equally dividing the household labor. Now both the husband and wife are free from the responsibility of taking care of the household and instead settle the work on someone else's shoulders.

Syfer's piece also strongly correlates to Tronto's claims by imagining the responsibilities and tasks a wife performs as well as the privilege that a husband would afford from having a wife. In particular, these descriptions of a "wife" strongly correlate to duties and qualities tied to a maid: "I want a wife who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after my children, a wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it... If, by chance, I find another person more suitable as a wife than the wife I already have, I want the liberty to replace my present wife with another one," (Syfer). A maid can in many respects become a wife or rather be viewed as one in how their duties are arranged around picking up after others, tending to the maintenance and cleanliness of clothes, and arranging things in the precise manner that the husband or employer wishes.

A wife is also understood by Syfer as being expendable. If a husband can justifiable get a divorce and look for a wife that would be more "suitable" so too can a maid be fired and a new one hired that would be better able to meet a specific standards that an employer, like a husband, would have. Maids occupy a similar capacity that wives do/did even with a status as an employee because their labor is still devalued, taken for granted, gendered, and deemed replaceable.

Who is...Betty Friedan?


Next week we are reading an excerpt from Betty Friedan's feminist classic, The Feminine Mystique. But, who is Betty Friedan? For more information on her, check out this interview from PBS, or skim The Feminine Mystique via, or read this great obituary (she died in 2006) by Katha Pollitt, or watch this early youtube clip from 1964:

While often referred to "the mother of second wave feminism," Betty Friedan's beliefs about who should and shouldn't be included within feminism created a lot of division in the movement. Last week in class Jackson mentioned Friedan's homophobia. Here's some more about her labeling of lesbians as the lavender menace.

A new book about Betty Friedan and The Feminine Mystique was just published in January. Here's a review of it: Why the Women's Movement Needed The Feminine Mystique

DE Question for march 9

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In your evaluations, some of you indicated that the Saturday evening deadline was a little difficult. So, this week I have decided to shift back the deadline. Instead of posting entries by Saturday and comments by Monday, group D should post their entries by Monday evening and groups A and B should post their comments by Wednesday at noon

Pick one of the following questions:

Question One:

...the use of nannies allows upper middle-class women and men to benefit from feminist changes without having to surrender the privilege of the traditional patriarchal family. The hired household worker is an employee, but she is mainly treated as if she were a wife (Joan Tronto, 47).

How are feminist responsible for the "nanny problem"? What do you think of Tronto's charge in relation to Judy Syfer's essay? What connections can you draw between Tronto's claim and the essay by Ehrenreich?

Question Two:

...what kind of moral education does one learn from being in a household in which one adult is so clearly subordinate to others (Tronto, 40)?

To be cleaned up after is to achieve a certain magical weightlessness and immateriality....A servant economy may provide opportunities, however, limited, for poor and immigrant women. But it also breeds callousness and solipsism in the served, and it does so all the more effectively when the service is performed close up and routinely in the place where they live and reproduce. ...The moral challenge is, put simply, to make work visible again (Ehrenreich, 102-103).

Why should the nanny/domestic workers problem be important for feminists? Why is this a feminist issue? What sort of moral education should children be receiving? What contributions can/should feminists make towards that moral education? Why is the moral challenge to make work visible again? What other moral challenges do housework/the nanny problem create?

Question Three:

In her essay, Ehrenreich discusses "the politics of housework." What does she mean by this term and how does she, and some of the other authors we are reading for this week, understand this idea of housework as political? What do they mean by politics?

This is a feminist or exlpoitation


I ran across this article on MSNBC. Northwestern Sex Toy Demo Questioned
A human sexuality professor held optional presentation after class. The female demonstrator was not a student or a member of the university. Your thoughts?


This is a Feminist Issue Because... Trans* Readings


So in class on Monday, I mentioned that none of our readings were trans* inclusive, and Sara said that I should look into some resources for the class. I know that the unit on reproductive rights/justice is ending, but I found some things to take a look at and consider, even as we move into other units. Trans* inclusive language is important throughout all of feminism, not just this one topic.

A blog post by MidwestGenderqueer about gender-inclusive language and spaces in the women's rights movement

An essay by Dean Spade, an Assistant Professor at Seattle University School of Law, on gender-inclusive language in general

NOW saying a few words on the Transgender day of Remembrance (includes some discussion of gender-inclusive language)

Some posts from the blog Cuntastic discussing different Queer and Trans* topics in relation to reproductive issues

Note: I wasn't really sure what to put this under, so I just stuck it under "This is a feminist Issue Because..." kind of arbitrarily, kind of because it actually is a feminist issue.

Day Thirteen: March 2

Reminder about Readings for Next Week:


march 7 Liberation from Housework?


  • Friedan, Betty. "The Problem That Has No Name" 
  • Syfers, Judy. "Why I Want a Wife"

  • Ehrenreich, Barbara.  Excerpt from "Maid to Order"
  • Bose, Christine E. "The Interconnections of Paid and Unpaid Domestic Work"

march 9 The Nanny Problem


  • Tronto, Joan. "The Nanny Problem" 
Here are two "this is a feminist issue because..." posts that relate to the issue of work: labor and liberation:

HPV and men, a feminist issue...


I found this article, Half of men may have HPV, study shows ,from MSNBC on February 28th. The article discusses the distribution of the Gardasil shot to boys/men as well. What do you think?

Thumbnail image for hpv wordle cloud.jpg