top of page

A Mother's Manifesto (Part 1)

A beginning into a lifetime of work of breaking boundaries, pushing the gender narrative, and fighting for equal rights for all in a male-dominated world. This work is incredibly close to my heart, this work is devoted to my mother, her mother, and her mother before her. This work is devoted to my sisters and all sisters alike. This work is devoted to my children Kylie, Hanna, and Addison and their children, my future grandchildren. This work is devoted to all children of the world and the next generations to come so that one day they can know a world without gender, racial, cultural and classist oppression and they can be the product of a healing planet from the time of patriarchal reign. This work is devoted to cultural sovereignty and solidarity of all to heal our communities from the systemic violence and oppression of the under-represented, undervalued peoples of the world. I wrote this Manifesto for my final GSWS, Gender, Justice, and Resistance 201 project where I received 95% towards my final grade of 94.04%. A special thanks to my teacher Norah Bowman for all of her passionate conversations, teachings and guidance.




A Mother's Manifesto: part 1, discusses the importance of women's work and the value of this role within our communities that patriarchal and capitalist constructs have unwoven through structures of oppression. This is the beginning of, understanding the larger picture as to why we need to heal this un-idealistic view of gender narratives that create inequality between women and men, and the importance to place children above all. This is the beginning of unpacking gender issues, sexism, rape culture and toxic masculinity, racism, classism, environmental issues, and cultural conformity created by patriarchal capitalist colonization. A Mother's Manifesto: part 1, begins to explore mothers' work" and the importance of solidarity within the family unit too dismantle oppressing constructs in society to create harmony and equality by means of inclusion feminism.



 


GSWS 215

April. 01, 2022

A Mothers Manifesto



“Women are born free, but in the patriarchal society, they remain in chains. They are considered as wives, daughters sister and were always looked at as inferior human beings. Women are not safe and free as men, and they have to live in a male-do-dominated system.

From ancient times, men occupied superior status and, women are considered less than a man and their primary duty are to bear children and take care of their families. They have to live according to their husband’s choice.” (Meghwal 3)







Full Circle



I became pregnant at 19 years old. I never truly understood the placement of women in societies confined box until the day my first daughter was born. The day she was born my identity, my role in society, my career, and my education all came to an unbelievable halt as I humbly submerged into mother, wife, caregiver, and domestic worker. Life, for my partner didn’t halt, or have a similar effect after becoming a parent the same way mine did. He continued down his chosen career path as the main provider, and I counted myself lucky to be able to stay home, raise my daughter and put my career and education on the backburner to do so. When I became pregnant with my second, I applied for low-income part-time jobs that discriminated against my swelling belly, and I was unable to secure a job that would have allowed me to make sense of the racking bills of childcare costs, so again, I submerged into my home, my caretaker role, and held off on a pursuit of any career. Feeling an incredible lack of failure to contribute financially, I decided to go to school part-time and continue to seek out education in hopes to one day achieving a career. A career of work within the economic means of production, to be valued in a society that holds no value in social reproduction or “women’s work” in the home. As my belly grew and I balanced the role of student, mother, and domestic homemaker I felt empowered to create the life I aspired to have outside of my familial role. It was my daughter and her growing sister inside of my womb that inspired me to push myself to great lengths in pursuit to achieve it all.


This endeavor did not come without sacrifices. Sacrifices to my health from extreme burnout from the demands of being a mother, a student, and a homemaker, it took a toll on my mental health and I felt lost, exhausted, and spread too thin. I pushed myself to great lengths to attain an education, to prove to my girls that you don’t have to choose between motherhood and career. To be clear, becoming a mother, and spending time at home with my babies is something I will never regret or resent, they are my pride and joy, and being their mom brings me happiness daily, but also… it is a ton of fucking work! And this type of work doesn’t go without judgment from all angles of society, and sexes. There is such stigma and expectation placed on women to get married, have children, stay at home with their children, but also work and achieve a successful career, to shatter those glass ceilings, be a boss babe, contribute financially, but also be the primary caretaker of the household duties and tasks, it is exhausting! Here I am 6 years later, with three children, three daughters to be specific, and still in pursuit of crushing these stereotypes to attain my degree, for them, to show them that being a woman in todays society does not mean you have to settle, choose, or conform. Landing me here, with great privilege, with this paper, a Manifesto on Social Reproduction. My life and education seem to have come full circle with this paper that finds empirical evidence of the oppression of women in domestic and childrearing responsibilities due to capitalist, sexist, classist, and patriarchal social structures. That in fact, the value of Social Reproduction within society and the invisible “work of women” is a structural component within Capitalism to oppress women making them second-class citizens subservient to establishing the divide between sexes. This division of social conditioning creates the gender wage gap, the underrepresentation of women in political sector high ranking cooperate positions, the continual misogyny and sexism embedded in culture, and the role of social reproduction being “emasculating” to men’s egos and primarily “women’s work”. This manifesto is a life’s work of questioning the gender narrative, of raising the next generation of females and males to see the value in “women’s work” and bring equality to the domestic sanction of the family’s role of production, reproduction, and gender equity within society.

-Angela, mother, sister, daughter… worthy!


 

*This manifesto uses an emphasis on “women’s work” in quotations, as the term “women” is loosely used as it is non-inclusive to the non-binary, trans, lesbian female expression of mothers, caregivers, and household workers in the unpaid Social Reproduction field who are apart of this oppression of work within production of life.

I also acknowledge homosexual men raising children in a society that undervalues this work and the lack of solitude in parental responsibilities in society. Although men are not as discriminated as women, trans, non-binary, lesbian within the workplace, I would also like to acknowledge that discrimination of being queer in any gender is also prevalent in misogynistic masculine dominated public sector of work.




 



Gender Roles

The gender wage gap is still very much prevalent today, even as more women join the workforce, and attain educational degrees. Chimamanda Adichie states in her Ted Talk We Should All Be Feminists that “52% of the world’s population is female yet most of the world’s positions, power, and prestige are occupied by men” (Chimamanda 7:24). She emphasizes that the world is vastly different today than ever before in history, historically speaking, the favored trait in leadership roles were physical strength.

These traits are more commonly seen as characteristics of men. Whereas now, in a remarkably advanced society, we see creativity, intelligence and innovation are more valued characteristics of successful leadership roles (Chimamanda 8:26). These characteristics are-or you would think are-non-binary traits. Yet it is not the case that we see women, trans, or non-binary genders in these leadership roles, but still, as always in history white cis men hold positions of power. Chimamanda concludes that “we have evolved but our ideas of gender have not evolved” (Chimamanda 8:26). Today the language of gender becomes more diverse and complex as the LGBTQ community carve out a brightly colored space for themselves in a black and white world that pushes back with laws, borders, and violence. In the more binary movement of Feminism, feminists throughout history have received this same pushback from the patriarchal worldview that looks down upon uprooting the capitalist structure built on misogyny, sexism, and female gender roles. Even within the feminist movements there has been racist, classist prejudices that looked to step on the backs of those underprivileged in hopes to clamber that one percent to the top in the name of “lean in” female empowerment. Similarly, as the intersectional feminists recognize race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and legal status as an interlocking system of oppression (Emejulu 63) I implore an idea of identity politics that feminism can generate solidarity transnationally through inclusion of all affected by oppression. I implore an ideology of Inclusion Feminism where intersectional feminism meets identity politics and includes men in support of feminism. Men willing to question the gender binaries, willing to end the cycle of male violence, power, and dominance over women. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly I implore a type of Inclusion Feminism that brings to the forefront of division, the children’s well-being , and the next generations to come to be free from gender constraints historically set in place to divide humanity. To come back to the inspirational words of Chimamanda’s speech, she says “we must raise our daughters differently, our sons differently, we do such a disservice to boys placing them in a small, hard, cage of masculinity. Afraid of fear, weakness, and vulnerability and mask their true selves leaving them with weak egos. And we do a much greater disservice to girls, teaching them to cater to the egos of men; we teach girls to shrink, to become small, to have ambition-but not too much, to be successful but not too successful. Do not emasculate a man! ” (Chimamanda 11:18). She questions, "why should a women’s success be a threat to a man's? (Chimamanda 13:39) So, I question within these disservices an idea of inclusion, of priority, of dismantling a world of division and come together on common ground as human beings to change the fate for our children and the next generations. To rid of gender stereotypes that undervalue women, non-binary and minorities, and eradicate toxic masculinity for the good of all.



 

Mother's, A Work of Devotion


Mothers, the women raising the children of the world, today are entering occupational work in large numbers, shifting gender stereotypes outside of the domestic restraints of value within the role of solely social reproduction. Women who work in public sector positions are more likely to work in part-time positions due to parental and domestic responsibilities, whereas men with children are less likely to do so (Del Boca). Within society, a women’s participation in the workplace is not taken as seriously as a man and it is a fact that the gender employment gap widens substantially when one takes into account the presence of children (Del Boca 17) for women, and not their male counterparts.

It is worth mentioning the “family wage gap” between women as well. This wage gap between women sees an increase in compensation and responsibilities to those without children compared to those with children. Due to a mother’s responsibility as being the main caregiver to her children, she is seen as risky to employers, she will receive jobs with fewer responsibilities, and easily replaceable jobs (Boca et al. 136) since women with children may be absent for periods of time for maternity leave, sick children, or any other demands of being a parent. This “family-wage gap” is not a thing between men with or without children, just to be clear. Yet, social reproduction responsibility predominantly falls on women in the majority of societies across the globe, even as women take to public work. How will working women ever achieve the same level of respect that men do in the workplace if their work in the home is not even considered valuable work? Culture has inscribed women as the caregivers and domestic workers of civilization subservient to men who are better equipped for working within the money economy. Women are more nurturing, gentler, kinder, and better equipped to raise tiny humans, and my all-time favourite, “better at housework”… men are stronger, aggressive, harder workers, tough, not equipped for raising tiny humans or claim to be “bad at housework”. Yet we know that women are also capable of aggression the same way that men are capable of being kind and gentle. We know that when women achieve an income more than their male counterpart, men are capable of being the main caregiver of the children and home although this is not a common practice. We know that women are hard workers because they have been the main responsible caretakers of the entirety of civilization sustaining life in the biological sense and sustaining our capacity to work-or what Marx called our “labor power” (Aruzza et al. 21) for generations. All while increasing their participation in the workplace outside of their homes. Yet women still experience sexism, violence, and discrimination from men, this remains unchanged and “persists despite changes in occupations, division of labor... salary improvements and access to managerial positions” (Gimenez 50). Where did the value of being a mother, or a homemaker, a woman go? Why has a culture made “women’s work” invisible, second class, in a patriarchal society for the dominant man!?


Discrimination of women is, and always will be here no matter how many glass ceilings are shattered. Capitalist constraints that undervalue the importance of the individual production unit of fthe amily (Benston 5) denotes the social necessity of production of household labor including childcare because in a society based on commodity it is not seen as “real work” outside of trade and the market (Benston 3). Until we, as a collective start to re-evaluate our relationship to the importance of social reproduction, the production of family as a unit, and the working hours necessary for sustenance of humanity we will never gain the respect, we as caregivers and homemakers deserve. “There will never be economic empowerment for women as long as they are still doing majority of childcare and domestic work as well as working long hours outside of the home. This will not change unless men are prepared to not only share tasks at home but to give up some of their power and their entrenched views about men and paid work (Fárová 113). We know that “culture doesn’t make people, people make culture” (Chimamanda 9:55) and we live in a culture where the entity of work production creates within itself unproportionate equality for “women’s work” and in turn sexism and classism infiltrate women’s public sector positions. Giménez speaks on Marxist-feminist theory, to explain why there is an important role played within division of male and female genders. She states that it obscures the real powerlessness of working-class men under capitalist conditions by making these production units bearable, by giving men the illusion of power and superiority over women, when in reality both men and women work under conditions of alienated labor and classist restraints based on socioeconomic placement in society (Giménez 49). She also states that sexism cuts across classes, meaning that women, or non-binary gender identifying individuals in all classes, or of any ethnicity, still experience gender oppression based on this model of sexism and sexist ideologies (Giménez 43).


 


Re-evaluating Solidarity

Women are the backbone of humanity; women create and maintain life itself within society. They raise children, they take up “female-friendly” job positions (Boca et al. 26) in child education, healthcare, and clerical work that raise other people’s children, and tend to human needs. The gender oppression of women, is an oppression built on the foundation of capitalism that only values paid work in market or within the money economy, and undervalues low-income jobs, or social reproduction, which are equally as important and necessary to the creation of economic growth and maintenance of society. To quote the words of Margaret Benston, “in a society in which money determines value, women are a group who work outside of the money economy. Their work is not worth money, is therefore valueless, and is therefore not even real work. And women themselves, who do this valueless work, can hardly be worth as much as men, who work for money” (Benston 4). We cannot continue to allow social reproduction to be valueless work. This work is vitally important for raising consciously minded, healthy, and happy children to make up the next generations, and we owe it to our children to rid gender-oppressive narratives and burdens. This work does not have to be the work solely of women but in partnership of fathers, with a shared value for this type of work being important and not simply “women’s work” but a mode of productional work, as we see that the family resembles an entire production unit. And yes! It is hard work! Men can support gender equality and learn the history of struggle that comes from non-dominant groups'perspectives. By educating themselves, and one another, they can end the vicious cycle of gendered violence, discrimination, and toxic masculinity.


I call to action ALL women, lesbians, trans, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, life makers and partakers to rise up in solitude to denote the male patriarch and capitalist social constructs that undermine the placement and VALUE in a women’s life’s work.




“I need feminism because my mother gave up her dreams for a family” (Crossley 24)

“Collective identity is the “shared definition of a group that derives from members’ common interest, experiences, and solidarity” and it is critical in creating cohesion and momentum in a social movement” (Crossley 92).







Works Cited

Alison Dahl Crossley. Finding Feminism: Millennial Activists and the Unfinished Gender Revolution. NYU Press, 2017. EBSCOhost, https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e000bna&AN=1367255&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Benston, Margaret. “The Political Economy of Women’s Liberation.” Monthly Review, vol. 71, no. 4, Sept. 2019, p. 1. EBSCOhost, https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsinc&AN=edsinc.A598290367&site=eds-live&scope=site.

“We should all be feminists”. Chimamanda Nigozi Adichie. TedxEuston. YouTube, 12 Apr. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc.

Del Boca, Daniela, et al. Women at Work : An Economic Perspective. Oxford University Press, 2005. EBSCOhost, https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat09041a&AN=oclc.oai.folio.org.fs00001067.1d957341.5695.4bd4.baf2.27a80a069536&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Emejulu, Akwugo. “Feminism for the 99%: Towards a Populist Feminism? Can Feminism for the 99% Succeed as a New Kind of Populism?” Soundings, no. 66, June 2017, p. 63. EBSCOhost, https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsglr&AN=edsglr.A502652119&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Martha E. Giménez. Marx, Women, and Capitalist Social Reproduction : Marxist-Feminist Essays. Brill, 2019. EBSCOhost, https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e900xww&AN=1924011&site=eds-live&scope=site

Meghwal, Sumitra. “Women’s Identity in Patriarchal Society: A Case Study of Mother of 1084.” Language in India, vol. 17, no. 8, Aug. 2017, pp. 269–74. EBSCOhost, https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=124843246&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Monteagudo, Graciela. “Women Reclaim the Commons: A Conversation with Silvia Federici: Feminist Labor Theorist Silvia Federici on the Need to Challenge Capitalist Economics and Social Relations through ‘Commoning’—and How It Informs Current Debates around Women’s Access to Health and Reproductive Care.” NACLA Report on the Americas, vol. 51, no. 3, Sept. 2019, pp. 256–61. EBSCOhost, https://doi.org/10.1080/10714839.2019.1650505.

Nina Fárová. “Bez Mužů to Nepůjde (Recenze Knihy van Der Gaag, Nikki. 2014. Feminism and Men. London: Zed Books).” Gender a Výzkum, vol. 16, no. 1, July 2015, pp. 89–92. EBSCOhost, https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsdoj&AN=edsdoj.5984a355a9364f6e96c0de6daf8eaa7a&site=eds-live&scope=site.


Teachers notes:

Angie, This ia such a powerful work of writing. Including your own story is meaningful, as you show your development as a feminist and how your manifesto is linked to daily experiences of women and parents and children. I also appreciate the balance between research and polemic passionate writing - well done, and I hope you are happy with it too.

22 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Commentaires


Ka-noo Wellness
bottom of page