Reproductive Labor

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In a globalized capitalist society, the most relevant translation of a commodity’s value is into money. Commodities aren’t only possessions like cosmetics and La-Z Boys, they are food, land, knowledge, identity, humans. Anything and everything that is valued for the needs and desires of humans is a commodity. A human is commodified as soon as they, or their labor can be bought, and everyone and everything is up for sale. This is because capitalism facilitates humans’ “[dispossession] of access to their own means of production--raw materials as well as instruments of production” (Burawoy, 1979, p. 23). “Direct producers [human laborers] have no alternative but to sell their capacity to labor--their labor power--to the capitalist in return for a wage, which they then turn into the means of existence,” …show more content…

Another is the reproductive labor of women. Personal productive and reproductive labor is labor applied to looking after one’s well being (cleanliness, health), and personal provisioning--essentially an extension of the workday in that wages earned are transformed into resource commodities like food, clothing, housing, etc. A more literal form of reproductive labor is that of women: carrying and birthing of children. In the preface to her book Caliban and the Witch, synthesizing other femenists’ opinions, Silvia Federici wrote the “exploitation of women has played a central role in the process of capitalist accumulation, insofar as women have been the producers and reproducers of the most essential capitalist economy: labor-power” (2009, preface). Homemaking and raising children are necessary labors involved in the capitalist economy. Both are exploited in the U.S.’s capitalist society “as a natural resource or personal service, while [the U.S.’s corporate economy] profit[s] from the wageless condition of the labor involved (Federici, 2009,

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