April 25, 2017

Lenin: Capitalism and Female Labor (1913) Lenin: All the oppressed and exploited classes throughout the history of human societies have always been forced (and it is in this that their exploitation consists) to give up to their oppressors, first, their unpaid labour and, second, their women as concubines for the “masters”. Slavery, feudalism and capitalism are identical in this respect. It is only the form of exploitation that changes; the exploitation itself remains. An exhibition of the work of “women exploited at home” has opened in Paris, the “capital of the world”, and the centre of civilisation. Each exhibit has a little tag showing how much the woman working at home receives for making it, and how much she can make per day and per hour on this basis. And what do we find? Not on a single article can a woman working at home earn more than 1.25 francs, i.e., 50 kopeks, whereas the earnings on the vast majority of jobs are very much smaller. Take lampshades. The pay is 4 kopeks per dozen. Or paper bags: 15 kopeks per thousand, with earnings at six kopeks an hour. Here are little toys with ribbons, etc.: 2.5 kopeks an hour. Artificial flowers: two or three kopeks an hour. Ladies’ and gentlemen’s underwear: from two to six kopeks an hour. And so on, without end. Our workers’ associations and trade unions, too, ought to organise an “exhibition” of this kind. It will not yield the colossal profits brought in by the exhibitions, of the bourgeoisie. A display...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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