History of Paying Homemakers Disc./Apr&May 97


Query From Yvonne Rasor ynr100@psu.edu 29 April 1997

Hello,
Can anyone point me to the philosophers--if any--who advocated for paying homemakers for their work? Did they write books? I would guess that these philosophies would have their heighth in the 60s and 70s. Did Steinem advocate for paying women for their household labor? Thank you.

>From Teresa Hobby info@spencewood.com 30 april 1997

Try Betty Friedan's _The Feminine Mystique_.

>From Yvonne Klein yklein@total.net 30 april 1997

Selma James, a British socialist-feminist, was a chief proponent of Wages for Housework in the 1970s. I don't have a bibliography.

>From Judith Levine jlevine1@compuserve.com 30 April 1997

The most famous piece about pay for housework was written by Pat Mainardi in about 1969. It may be reprinted in _Notes From the First Year_, or _Notes From the Second Year_, but it's not too hard to find. Gloria Steinem came on board later, but I don't think this was ever a big issue for her.

>From Kathleen Endres Endres%Communication%uakron@polskys.cc.uakron.edu 30 April 1997

Charlotte Perkins-Gilman had some provocative theories with regard to the professionalization--and paying--of housework. Many of her articles in the _Forerunner_ deal with this topic. I'm sure there are many earlier writers, however.

>From Joy Wiltenburg jwiltenburg@compuserve.com 30 April 1997

If you want to take the longer historical view on this you might want to check out some of the "endowment of motherhood" arguments in the early 20th century from feminists like (I think) Ellen Key in Sweden.

>From Candice Dias cdias@emory.edu 30 April 1997

You might want to try Shulamith Firestone's _Dialectic of Sex_ (c.1972), I don't recall if she talks about paying homemakers exactly, but she does make some radical commentary on reproduction and gendered divisions of labour.

>From Marlene LeGates mlgates@capcollege.bc.ca 30 April 1997

I don't know how far back you want to go but in 1868 Melusina Fay Pierce suggested paying housewives a wage. There were many turn-of-the-century proposals for professionalizing housework. See Delores Hayden's book, _The Grand Domestic Revolution_. In Britain in 1910 Lady McLaren proposed wages for housework in her Women's Charter of Rights and Liberties; so did Kathe Schirmacher in Germany. If you want to e-mail me directly, I can give you more specific resources.

>From Barbara Boyink Sears X91sears@wmich.edu 13 May 1997

Have you checked out the work of Gilman, who also wrote such works as -The Yellow Wallpaper_ and _Herland_. She advocated around the turn-of-the-century that people live in housing that would professionalize housework.

>From Teresa Garcia tgarcia@vmsvax.simmons.edu 14 May 1997

Check _Women, Race, and Class_ by Angela Davis. She speaks of the subject you mentioned.

>From Jean Johnson johnsoj@eosc.osshe.edu 14 May 1997

Also see Shirley Burgraaff's new book: _The Feminine Economy and the Economic Man_. She's an economist and offers an innovative possible solution to this problem. See the New York Times Book Review some time last summer or fall for a review.

>From Donna Schuele 75473.1731@compuserve.com 26 May 1997

This is a response to a query some weeks ago about the origins of the notion of paying women for homemaking. The query seemed to assume that this notion was a product of the modern feminist movement. While a number of responses mentioned Charlotte Perkins Gilman's contribution to the idea around the turn-of-the-century, the notion actually has a much longer pedigree, of which Gilman represents something of a culmination, not necessarily a beginning point. The definitive work on this subject is Reva Siegel's article, "Home as Work: The First Woman's Rights Claims Concerning Wives' Household Labor, 1850-1880," 103 _Yale Law Review_1073 (1994).

Actually Siegel's article goes back earlier than 1850, finding the roots of this notion in the community property regime of marital property. Further, in an economy that was only beginning to be wage-based, it is more historically accurate to speak of the notion of "compensating" women for household labor.

In addition, see Mariette Stow, _Probate Confiscation_, originally published in 1878, reprinted by Arno Press, 1974, for a contemporary (and lively) consideration of the issue. An explanation for Stow's theories regarding the compensation of women for homemaking can be found in Schuele, "In Her Own Way: Marietta Stow's Crusade for Probate Law reform Within the Nineteenth-Century Women's Rights Movement," 7 _Yale Journal of Law and Feminism_ 279(1995).


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