Paycheck Feminism

Karen Kornbluh, long a hero of mine, has written an article for the current issue of Ms. Magazine. She notes the 50% workforce participation rate for women, and hails this moment as a critical opportunity to update our infrastructure, i.e. employment benefits, child care accessibility, income tax policy, and the Social Security system. Just as households and families need the mother’s income to survive, so the economy needs women and their labor to thrive. Her thoughtful and practical blueprint, which she terms “Paycheck Feminism“, encourages specific policy changes, many of which NAMC and MOTHERS have promoted for a long time. One special paragraph, however, drew me back to it again and again, for its insight into the uneasy relationship between compensated labor and unpaid carework in women’s lives.

“The challenge that lies ahead will be to upend Americans’ outdated assumptions about what constitutes “important” work. The system of rewarding only paid work with government benefits may seem gender-netural, and even good policy, but it’s not. It penalizes women who work, and harms families. We must recognize that unpaid caretaking is equally important, not just on a moral level, but also in terms of investing in our nation’s intellectual capital. In addition, we need to stop treating as second-class citizens the women and men who work in lower-paying jobs, who have to change jobs, or who must work flexible hours.”

She’s sure got that right.

Click here to read the article.

About Valerie Young

Valerie Young is a public policy analyst who focuses on the economic status of mothers and other family caregivers. She promotes social justice by arming mothers with information and a healthy dose of outrage. She is the Advocacy Coordinator at the National Association of Mothers' Centers, and is a reporter for The Shriver Report and contributor to Brain/Child Magazine. Follow her blog, Your (Wo)Man in Washington, on Twitter @WomanInDC and on Facebook as Valerie Young and Your (Wo)Man in Washington.
  • goodreason

    I remember when Clinton reorganized welfare, and forced even mothers of babies and preschool children to dump their kids in substandard day care in order to "qualify" for government benefits. That was the most sexist thing I have ever seen a president do. What she is doing as a mother IS work–and a hell of a lot more important than having her sweep the streets. But no, a mother doesn't "work." How those children are raised doesn't "matter."