Pursuing equality within patriarchal colonial and capitalist economies is a known problem for inclusive feminisms: especially those in the business of deconstructing the binary logics of gender, queering sexualities and pursuing anti-colonial and intersectional justice. And yet, liberal notions of equality remain important to many feminisms. Moreover, and arguably rightly so, inequality within patriarchal colonial capitalism remains a key measure of injustice, and a concept guiding the struggle to end oppression.
Enter the novel coronavirus.
COVID-19 is starkly revealing all the underlying social issues and staggering inequalities of the current system. One aspect that was already well documented, but is coming to the fore with a new kind of clarity, is the endurance of ongoing gender inequality and the persistence of gendered divisions of labour. For those who have houses that contain children, mothers are doing even more work than before. Op-eds are springing up all over the place, doubling down on gendered binaries and telling stories of how women are struggling to do all their work—childcare, housework and waged work—at the same time. Coronavirus is therefore deemed to be exacerbating inequality.
This is obviously a problem, but what’s the solution? The mainstream discussion is proceeding with a logic underpinned by the idea that feminist success or liberation equals equality in waged work and gendered self-determination through the wage. This session is dedicated to talking through this issue—the way equality (or not) relates to COVID-19—and to bring the concerns of COMPOSTING to bear on the topic. The reason for placing this discussion within the context of COMPOSTING is thus not only to talk through the many gendered contours of the current pandemic and its fallout, but also to think about how we might conceptualise earthy justice in the rebuild and a just transition for all kinds of work (housework included) as part of a response to both the coronavirus pandemic and environmental crisis. We will be reading a couple of these op-eds alongside Andrea Dworkin’s renounciation of equality; recommended readings are already along the road to processing this same problem.
LEAD COMPOSTER: Jennifer Hamilton
WHEN: 10-11.30 AEDST (GMT+11), Wednesday 6th May, 2020
Dworkin, Andrea. “Renouncing Sexual ‘Equality'” from Our Blood: Prophecies and Discourses on Sexual Politics (Perigee: New York: 1976): 10-14
Lewis, Helen. “Coronavirus is a Disaster for Feminism” The Atlantic March 19, 2020
Kitchener, Caroline. “Women academics seem to be submitting fewer papers during coronavirus. ‘Never seen anything like it,’ says one editor.” accessed 27th April from https://www.thelily.com/women-academics-seem-to-be-submitting-fewer-papers-during-coronavirus-never-seen-anything-like-it-says-one-editor/ (and via a thread https://twitter.com/CAKitchener/status/1254021029489491968)
IMAGE: “Equality” quilt by Hollis Chatelain. Painted, free motion machine quilted with 350 quotes about women, Houston International Quilt show. Nov. 2019. Image by PINKE https://www.flickr.com/photos/8113246@N02/49014680968 Flickr – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/
The Quilter Artist’s website is: https://www.hollisart.com/gallery-1/2019/11/4/equality