Third-wave Feminism Defends the Idea of Women as a Servicing Class

Until the work that most women actually do – care work – is recognised, they will not have social citizenship and will remain in a fundamentally inequitable position. Women, as the child-bearing gender, are structurally unable to resolve, by themselves, the intrinsically conflictive juxtaposition between, on the one hand, society’s requirement that individuals engage in income-generating work before their activity is socially recognized and rewarded with full social insurance, and on the other, the inescapable need of all individuals to receive care. The fact that everyone, young, middle-aged and old, requires material and emotional servicing, including of course the care-givers themselves, stubbornly remains a gender-blind spot unrecognized by public policy.

M. Threlfall and C. Cousins, Gendering Spanish Democracy.

Third-wave feminism has dug a hole so deep for itself that it will now never climb out of it. It now proposes that, since everybody needs to be serviced and women are traditionally the serving class, this state of affairs should be codified and promoted on the state level. Why engage in all these complicated and messy efforts to open up the public sphere to women? Let’s instead get the welfare state pay us all a stipend for servicing everybody in sight and just be done with it.

I have been striving for a very long time to find any substance to third-wave feminism. However, enough is enough. I am now forced to conclude that third-wave feminism offers absolutely nothing but an attempt to justify housewifery. Eventually, the goal is to get the welfare state to pay women just for existing under the assumption that being female automatically means that you provide care and service people emotionally by virtue of your gender. Womanhood, thus, becomes a sort of a disability that should be financed by the state by default.

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75 comments on “Third-wave Feminism Defends the Idea of Women as a Servicing Class

  1. “Women, as the child-bearing gender, are structurally unable to resolve, by themselves, the intrinsically conflictive juxtaposition between, on the one hand, society’s requirement that individuals engage in income-generating work before their activity is socially recognized and rewarded with full social insurance, and on the other, the inescapable need of all individuals to receive care.”

    Wow, I can hardly believe that any person who claims to be a feminist can write such gibberish!

    It is one thing to say that society de-values care-giving. We certainly do, just as we de-value teaching, particularly at the middle/high school level, for example. But it is another thing altogether to claim that women are structurally suited to care-giving because of their biology! Utterly unbelievable!

    • I’ve been immersed in this kind of reading since morning (for research purposes) and I;m already at the stage where I want to claw the walls and hang from the chandelier in frustration. The only good news is that I don’t have a chandelier to hang from.

      • This is a terrible quote, but well in line what I always read on a hugely popular kind of “progressive mothers” – blog back home, that totally freaked me out. I really feel like I want to terminate my membership with the female gender when I read things like that.
        What they seem to dream of is making “being a housewife” into a serious and respected profession. If they succeeded, this would make it so much more difficult for other women to justify continue working despite having children. It would discourage women who want to have children from even going to University, because what’s the point, if you will get money for looking after your own offspring? It makes me want to hang from a chandelier too.

  2. Is this third wave feminism, and if so, is it aligned to the notion that our socially identities are not to be rebelled against, but are given and irrefutable? One has no notion of making trouble along the gender lines, one must merely seek to maximize one’s advantage, as one understands it, within the already given order of things?

    It may explain why my making trouble is not so well understood, if I am alone in making it.

    • “One has no notion of making trouble along the gender lines, one must merely seek to maximize one’s advantage, as one understands it, within the already given order of things?”

      - That’s exactly what it’s all about. There isn’t even an attempt to question why women should spend their lives servicing others emotionally and otherwise. As long as women get some sort of a pension from the government for this service, these feminists will not question the whole setup. Ridiculous.

      • A lot of women seem quite happy servicing others’ emotional needs. There seems to be a return to traditionalism, with the idea of the fancy wedding, babies, a docile existence. There is strong resistance to experimenting with qualities that are not traditionally feminine.

        As for myself, I have tried these non-traditional experiments, with mixed results in the public sphere. Privately, I have gained great self-esteem by not being normal.

        My understanding is that much of society has not let up on giving women an emotional role to play. Generally this is a kind of projective identification, in Western Australian society. People get distressed or alienated from anything meaningful, and then they take out their anguish on what they deem to be lower class members of society — women. Many women here seem to accept that punishment as just the way things are. You’ve actually got to be pretty tough to take it — tougher than I, no doubt — or just less perceptive.

      • “A lot of women seem quite happy servicing others’ emotional needs. There seems to be a return to traditionalism, with the idea of the fancy wedding, babies, a docile existence. There is strong resistance to experimenting with qualities that are not traditionally feminine.”

        - I understand this but it is very weird to see 3rd wave feminism identify itself with the goals of such women who are terrified of modernity and want to infantilize themselves and shut women like me out. If the traditionalists and the religious fanatics are joined by feminists in singing the praises of stunted, castrated women, who is left to take my side? These housewives are always fewer and fewer in number, yet the crowds of their defenders are growing.

      • I’ve always been shut out from Western feminism. That’s truly weird for me to experience, but I don’t view myself in a primarily moral way, as a gatekeeper for society’s mores. This means that contemporary feminists don’t understand what I’m getting at. I don’t need to be a moral exemplar in order to have something to say about the state of play in gender. It’s not about pointing fingers to morally condemn ‘the patriarchy”, nor is it about immersion in a martyr complex. I can have fun, and not be perfectly extraordinary in all sorts of ways, and yet still say that when men project their unwanted emotional sensations onto women, they are doing themselves and the women a grave disservice. People need to be whole. Patriarchy therefore needs to be banished.

      • “People need to be whole. Patriarchy therefore needs to be banished.”

        - I agree! This emotional servicing is damaging to absolutely everybody involved. Everybody becomes an invalid. Women are social and professional invalids while men are emotional invalids. This is the only way in which the patriarchy can exist: turning people into cripples. I say, enough already. It’s year 2012 and we are still being given the crap I quoted in the post as the highest advance in gender relations.

      • Well you and I have insight into how it works. Personally I have had to take huge evasive measures to save my mind from the continuous onslaught of patriarchal projections. You know, it’s weird that Western patriarchy relies so heavily on the psychological division of men and women into halves, whereas other societies don’t necessarily require this. There are still, regrettably, different designated roles for men and women, but the heavy heavy emotional onslaught is less prevalent or does not exist at all.

        Western women do get targeted in this way, to be emotional receivers of society’s ills. If you do not realize what is going on when this starts to happen, you will probably either withdraw without deep reflection, due to the astonishing irrationality of it, or you will allow your being to be penetrating in such a way that you start to take on the weird roles allotted to you. That is mental rape — and for some women, it is ongoing.

        But back to your point, and that is, I suppose, that most people can’t see what is going on. They don’t seem to be able to conceptualize the notion of war that happens at an ontological level — that is, a war for one’s being. Most people entertain a fantasy that they simply emerge into reality like the flowers of the fields, exactly defined as they already are. It’s an absurd idea — to assume we are not subject to change, sometimes by malicious forces.

      • The idea is that women who for some mysterious reason choose to do more housework than their male partners will get somehow reimbursed for doing these extra chores “by society “. I can’t explain this bizarre idea any further because its proponents never tried to do so. It has become a commonplace (and the damnation) of 3rd-wave feminism.

  3. “war that happens at an ontological level — that is, a war for one’s being.”

    But that is what it is. And putting it that way always makes me realize that all these contortions I go through in the South here: in childhood, from my mother’s ideas, and in this area, where I did psychotherapy and also work in academia, all of it has to do with efforts to force me into a certain gender role, using any means available including what I would call emotional terrorism.

    • Yes, yes. Thing is, while you are still wounded and looking to heal, people will sense that and apply the solution of pushing you back into what they think is the solution for you: the ideal feminine mode.

      Part of this reaction to you is lizard brain. People do it because they sense vulnerability and they react to that instinctively by pushing you around.

      Another cause for this is false cognition. The symptoms of the problem are viewed as the cause of the problem and vice versa. So problems arising from patriarchy receive a patriarchal solution. Are you suffering from being pressed into a gender role? Perhaps you would suffer less if you stopped resisting?

      Having come across too many people who presented me with such confused thinking, I conclude that most people really don’t understand what it as stake — and don’t want to know.

      • Re Alice Miller — I think that shrink I had, who was a fan, thought that the trauma one had was the trauma of being an adult. I got all this stuff about how I must be “in denial” not to think it was harder than it seemed to be, and so on. That fits the ontological war: you, woman, must be a child!

      • It’s interesting that no matter how you actually present (which is to use the terminology of symptoms), there are those who will find a way to twist it into seeming to be a pathology. What they’re interested in is the norm — but perhaps not really even that. They want a confirmation of their own decisions, reflected through you.

      • “They want a confirmation of their own decisions, reflected through you”

        If this was written in a book I would be pulling out my highlighter :)

    • Emotional terrorism is a very apt term. When people don’t exercise any faculties but the emotional ones, they become so good at emotional manipulation that people who spend time and energy on developing other faculties can never catch up. So it’s easy to terrorize them emotionally.

    • I know, it is an important point. This is a direct result of the application of ideas like those quoted in this post, from what I am able to gather.

      • Interesting tv show on that hypothesis.

        http://vimeo.com/19707588

        Yes, this is provocation and entertainment and not serious science but there are some good points made by the social scientists (in bullion cube form, but….).

        The chief one being that women predominate in the caring professions even (or especially) when they have more choice because more women are more interested in that kind of thing than men are. Individual exceptions exist (like me, a man in a caring profession) but they/we don’t disprove the overall trend.

      • The argument that “they are just more interested in this ” is no argument at all since it explains nothing. People don’t get interested in things or make choices in a vacuum.

      • “People don’t get interested in things or make choices in a vacuum”

        No they don’t. And part of that non-vacuum is for sure culture (and an individual’s upbrining) but that’s only part of it.

        Another part is related to their biological and genetic heritage. And part of the biological, genetic heritage of women (brought to you by evolution!) is having an overall greater interest in human relationships and a lower tolerance for people-free (or people scarce) activities and places than men have.

      • “Another part is related to their biological and genetic heritage. And part of the biological, genetic heritage of women (brought to you by evolution!) is having an overall greater interest in human relationships and a lower tolerance for people-free (or people scarce) activities and places than men have.”

        - Science disagrees with you. As of now, not a single one of the hundreds of studies and research projects has managed to find a single genetic or biological difference between men and women.

      • “Oh, spare us this rot”

        Which part do you consider ‘rot’?

        The idea that culture and individual experience helps shapes people’s interests?

        The idea that selection pressures (related to surviving and reproducing) have produced different preferences for most men and most women in a variety of contexts?

        The idea that those people who are exceptions to the general trend do not represent the majority? But are, in fact, exceptions?

      • “The idea that selection pressures (related to surviving and reproducing) have produced different preferences for most men and most women in a variety of contexts?”

        - Even though Dr. Phil upholds these beliefs, they are not supported by actual science. We have already discussed this at length here. I especially recommend the scholarly studies quoted in the post and in the comments. As you can see from them, there hasn’t been a shred of proof for the theory you advance. Actual scientists laugh at the idea of gender difference rooted in biology.

      • I’ll just add that in the criteria used by Geert Hofstede*, Norway is a ‘feminine’ country (where mens and womens values are closer). This is also marked by overall lower levels of personal ambition. So that might be another explanation for women not rushing to fill traditionally male roles when given the chance.

        Women in more ‘masculine’ countries (like the US) are generally more prone to want to make inways into traditionally male areas.

        *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geert_Hofstede

      • It saddens me that there are still people who still use garbage published on Wikipedia as some sort of proof of something in discussions.

        I already offered some really good scholarly sources on the subject. I higly recommend them to anybody who is still infected with the pop psych vision of gender difference.

      • It is very kind of you to suggest I was hunting around on wikipedia and just posted a link to something I found there.

        Here’s a link to his site as well which gives simplified and abbreviated summaries of the national dimensions of culture.

        http://www.geerthofstede.nl/dimensions-of-national-cultures

        This page includes a list of some of his publications so that you can see that he did not in fact fall off of a turnip truck

        http://www.geerthofstede.nl/geert

      • Human resources, management and mechanical engineering? These are all great fields of human endeavor but they do not qualify one to speak about gender.

        This guy is just a crazy old man who has decided to make idiotic pronouncement in a field he knows nothing about. Listening to what mechanical engineers have to say about gender makes as much sense as letting a plumber drill your teeth.

      • Can you even read? Honestly, you seem to be unable to distinguish between the two following arguments:

        a) there are quantitative differences in the observed behavior of women and men and some of these might have some roots in human evolutionary history.

        b) men and women have 100% completely different brains and all men are strong and smart and all women are emotional and cuddly (and stoopid)

        No matter what I write you insist on answering as if I had written b) (which, for the record, is not my position). Is this an aspy thing? Like not being able to interpret intonation or body language?

      • “there are quantitative differences in the observed behavior of women and men and some of these might have some roots in human evolutionary history.”

        - Name a single such “difference” that is not culture-specific. Of course, you would need data from every single country and every single historic period in the world, so good luck with looking for such information.

        “No matter what I write you insist on answering as if I had written b) ”

        - You probably see some difference between positions a) and b). They are both equally infantile and lack any basis in actual science, however.

        ” Is this an aspy thing? Like not being able to interpret intonation or body language?”

        - No, it’s a science thing. :-) No biological gender difference has been demonstrated by actual scientific research anywhere in the world. Irrespective of what electrical engineers and human resource managers might think. :-) :-)

      • - Science disagrees with you. As of now, not a single one of the hundreds of studies and research projects has managed to find a single genetic or biological difference between men and women.(Clarissa)

        Arent Andropause and Menopause biological differences?

      • “Even though Dr. Phil upholds these beliefs, they are not supported by actual science.”

        Nice line :)

  4. Spain has had one of the lowest birthrates of any country in recent years. This attempt to define women by their maternity is really bizarre in this context.

  5. “As of now, not a single one of the hundreds of studies and research projects has managed to find a single genetic or biological difference between men and women”

    Wait, that means I can get pregnant????? Who knew??? One more thing to worry about….

      • “Please answer this question in what percent of mammals does male shares child rearing equally with female”

        In what percentage of mammals does food get cooked over an oven? A very small percentage of species does this. Did you know whales are mammals, yet they don’t cook their food at all? It’s probably a sign for us humans not not cook our food either. It could be we are going in the wrong direction.

      • ” It’s probably a sign for us humans not not cook our food either. It could be we are going in the wrong direction.”

        - I knew a cat who had kittens every year and ate them all. The ones she didn’t eat, she strangled. And what’s really shocking, there was no arrest, no trial, no conviction. Where is the law enforcement looking?

      • The majority of people are simply passive these days, and it could be that choice feminism reflects this. It’s epitomized by the notion that the modern housewife of today has more than two detergents to choose from, and so should count herself lucky.

        A couple of days ago, I spent some time studying the Youtube videos of Dr Beter Breggin, concerning the ADHD debacle. I concluded from watching these that people don’t understand that a human is a work in progress, not something that springs from its father’s head fully formed. The assumption that we are what we are what we are, and nothing can change that, is at the core of contemporary culture. That’s a bizarre mo-fo to be at the heart of the culture. That’s kind of like saying everyone’s a six-year old. Or that, if they try to do anything other than be “what they are”, they are destroying the fundamental reality of having to be six year’s old.

      • “The majority of people are simply passive these days, and it could be that choice feminism reflects this. It’s epitomized by the notion that the modern housewife of today has more than two detergents to choose from, and so should count herself lucky.”

        - You are so brilliant.

        “I concluded from watching these that people don’t understand that a human is a work in progress, not something that springs from its father’s head fully formed.”

        - Exactly. When you put this belief in doubt, people freak out massively.

        “The assumption that we are what we are what we are, and nothing can change that, is at the core of contemporary culture. That’s a bizarre mo-fo to be at the heart of the culture.”

        - Because this liberates one of all responsibility. Things are the way they are, so why even make an effort?

        “That’s kind of like saying everyone’s a six-year old. Or that, if they try to do anything other than be “what they are”, they are destroying the fundamental reality of having to be six year’s old.”

        - Intellectually, many people are very happy to be stuck at that age. Emotionally, too.

      • Thanks.

        It was very good for me to see Breggin’s stuff, because this is old-fashioned human he espouses. It’s distinctly out of fashion and most people don’t deserve it because they can’t get their motors running long enough to be the slightest bit self-reflective.

        I’ve also noticed that for the most part people don’t even believe their own strange ideas that identity is fixed. They hold that it is fixed for them, the observers and the judges, but not for other people. So they will scream that women have to stay the same and therefore society must necessarily change, to protect the women better. But this is believing in change, on the basis that women cannot change.

        I’m very bothered by this logical inconsistency.

        Humans demean themselves when they defy even basic logic.

      • “It’s distinctly out of fashion and most people don’t deserve it because they can’t get their motors running long enough to be the slightest bit self-reflective.”

        I often wonder if it would help for self reflexiveness to be taught in school. Some many people don’t have a realistic view of themselves.

      • lamestllama: “I often wonder if it would help for self reflexiveness to be taught in school. Some many people don’t have a realistic view of themselves.”

        I’m skeptical that it can be taught in schools, because no matter how anyone might twist and turn to reformulate the meaning of being in school, students are there for passive learning, and you cannot learn passively what you are. You need to learn it experimentally. If kids were able to run around, have adventures, get lost in the forest, break their arms and come back fighting, they would have a realistic view of themselves. As it is, they do not.

      • ” You need to learn it experimentally. If kids were able to run around, have adventures, get lost in the forest, break their arms and come back fighting, they would have a realistic view of themselves. As it is, they do not.”

        True, we don’t let kids get this kind of experience anymore and now they all think they should be the CEO on their first day of work.

    • Who said it was a conspiracy? More importantly, which mammal taught you to use the word conspiracy?

      On a serious note, your argument is boring and intellectually impotent. You are embarrassing yourself when you advance it in public.

  6. My women students say they fantasize about living in the 1950s and being stay at home mothers. They plan careers because it is economically necessary now, but they would prefer not to.

  7. @lamest, they claim to be serious. It would be easier not to have a career and I am quoting. I think also, some not come from any family life and so they want to create one.

    But it is in fashion. They also keep saying it is impossible to change what you are. Musteryou says that idea is at the core of contemporary culture and I would like to hear more on this.

    !!! They also dream of the 1950s, the clothes, the glamor, they say, and the fact that people did not live on credit if they were middle class, they say.

    • Z says: “They also keep saying it is impossible to change what you are. Musteryou says that idea is at the core of contemporary culture and I would like to hear more on this.”

      I think the attitude that is going out of style is the one defined by military mores. That view of ‘human nature’ is that it is raw material, out of which something can be shaped, drawn and/or crystallized. The contemporary view is the opposite one. According to this, we are all born with wonderfully perfect, crystallized identities, that can get damaged along the way through exposure to the elements of the world. According to this outlook, which rarely states its suppositions directly, the idea person is the unborn child. Everything following that is tainted — and gets worse and worse as it gets older.

      The military view is the opposite: everything gets shaped and formed and improved as it gets older. Experience builds character.

      People who go running to a doctor to get pills to combat every little emotion they have are definitely operating in the world on the basis of the first world view.

      Old age is going to be a horrific burden for them, as the should be molding themselves creatively in their youth, rather than seeking palliative care to handle their bumps along the road of life.

      Identity politics is also part of the same, first paradigm. The supposition is we can’t work things out amicably, because we have different and irreconcilable identities, which demarcate our essence. Our hurt defines our true self. We will draw everything into the black hole of our despair.

      The inability to create comes from the passive learning model, and the idea that learning for oneself poses a nebulous danger. If you go outside, your leg might break. If you risk yourself, someone else will take your rightful place in the conformist order. If you ask too many questions, you will become a target for random snipers.

      The military school says: certainly this is so. That is the nature of life, to be random and perplexing. But, after all you only have one life. You may as well form something out of it. Risking nothing means you save nothing, anyway. Death, fragility and destruction are all unavoidable, and no amount of playing it safe or trying to protect the fragile, unborn self, will make any difference to the fact that life leads to our ultimate demise.

      • “According to this, we are all born with wonderfully perfect, crystallized identities, that can get damaged along the way through exposure to the elements of the world. According to this outlook, which rarely states its suppositions directly, the idea person is the unborn child. Everything following that is tainted — and gets worse and worse as it gets older.”

        - This is fascinating stuff. I think you just solved the perennial mystery of why conservatives are so obsessed with fetuses while killing off people very easily through the death penalty and wars.

    • I also prefer the US 1950s fashion style to any other. But that’s the only thing about the whole are that I find acceptable. The rest just stank.

      I don’t know what they find so glamorous, though, about the endless shows about robotic mothers in aprons who chirp about cooking and nothing else whatsoever. Come to think of it, the husbands are also chirpy in the 1950s TV shows. Brrrr.

      • I wonder if is the tv shows they like. They say they like the movies, the rock and roll, and the clothes. They also like the idea of living in an expanding economy. That was the post-WWII boom and they would like to start their adult lives in that situation. They’ve also been convinced, I guess by the tv shows, that the culture was a certain way. They do not know about HUAC and those who idealize Civil Rights do not all realize it started then. They also do not know those housewives were about to start downing Miltown.

  8. Pingback: On the current culture, this comment is fascinating | Mictlantecuhtli

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