Communizing Care in The Left Hand Of Darkness

Aren Aizura is an Assistant Professor in Gender, the following is from a reflection on Ursula Le Guin’s book The Left Hand of Darkness. The reflection around care labor and it’s value in society is a good thing to meditate on.

arrangement where men work outside the home and women perform reproductive labor: the work of childbearing, child rearing, house work, buying and making food, and maintaining social ties is central to the social fabric (Glenn 1992, 1). Because this labor mainly takes place outside the “labor market,” it is often invisible within traditional economic models. But as Marxist feminists have pointed out, many Marxist, socialist, and anarchist visions of how to reform or destroy capitalism also assume that reproductive labor is external to the conflict between the labor and capital 

a version of liberal feminism demanded and largely won white middle-class women’s re-entry into the workplace in the global north. At the same time in the global north and in elite outposts of the global south, caring labor was outsourced to paid domestic workers: nannies, housekeepers, and maids—often women of color and immigrants—whose domestic labor was (and still is) devalued as “unskilled” and thus accrued very low wages. 

“Lean in!” logic of Sheryl Sandberg—and the reality, which is that most of us still devalue care work, and the surplus of women’s unpaid and unacknowledged labor has merely been redistributed along different racial and class-based lines. 

“We need to articulate the real class situation of persons who are not merely raceless, sexless workers, but for whom racial and sexual oppression are significant determinants in their working/economic lives” (Combahee River Collective 2000, 268). 

vulnerability itself, the need for care, is basic, endless, and real. We need to embrace vulnerability and its differential logics if we are to survive these times.





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