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2022年5月 8日 (日)

Seki Hirono and Feminism (2)

 This article is a continuation of (1). This second part will be a review of the following book.

Dolores Hayden, The Great Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities, 1981, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England

This review was written as a Japanese review of the following Japanese translation of the book.
The English translation of Seki's Japanese text was provided by DeepL.

ドロレス・ハイデン『家事大革命 アメリカの住宅、近隣、都市におけるフェミニスト・デザインの歴史』1985年12月、勁草書房刊、東京


 


The following words are found in p.vii of this book. I reproduce them here because they are interesting.

Away with your man-visions! Women propose to riject them all, and begin to dream  dreams for themselves.
Susan B Anthony, 1871

 

Seki Hirono, "A Genealogy of Material Feminism," 1986.

 Please don't say, "Another feminist book." Few books have raised such important questions about the prospects for change in contemporary society. In this book, American architect Hayden traces the lineage of the indigenous women's liberation movement in the United States, which she calls material feminism, back to the mid-19th century, and describes the full extent of this "lost tradition" in the profiles of its major leaders, including Melusina Peirce and Chalrotto Gilman, as well as in the episodes of unconventional introductions to cooperative housing, public kitchens, and women's work settlements. The book brings to light episodes that have not been previously introduced in Japan, such as cooperative housing, public kitchens, and settlements for women workers. Material feminism, according to the author, was a movement under the influence of Fourier and Owen that pursued socialization of housework, paid housewifery, and housing collectivization, and aimed at expanding women's rights in the home, women's traditional work place, and workers' management of cities and industries through women's self-management and socialization in "women's territory. management of the city and industry.

 The importance of this book, which goes beyond feminism, lies above all in its assertion that "emancipation must be raised as a material issue. A materialism that lacks "spatial imagination" and is indifferent to the city, the living environment, and daily work is a contradiction in terms. Oppression and discrimination are also material issues. This book clearly shows that the prosperity of modern capitalism is inseparable from the imprisonment of housewives/consumer workers in their own single-family homes, deliberately promoted by the political and business world.

 The author states. In the early 1920s, appliance manufacturers took the large appliances originally developed for hotels and restaurants and used by the Cooperative Household Association and miniaturized them for single family use. (More than three-quarters of the AFL-CIO members purchased their homes with long-term loans. State policy was to assist men in owning homes in the suburbs, but for women, they had to go through their husbands to get them." And as a result of the "degeneration of housework" from urban apartment complexes to single-family suburban housing, kitchens were greatly electrified, but "the part of the female domain controlled by the housewife was less than in the early days of industrial capitalism. Capitalism socialized only domestic labor that could be replaced by profitable goods and services, leaving cooking, cleaning, and childcare as the housewife's tasks."

 On the other hand, Hayden notes that "today's feminists have attacked the home but have proposed little or nothing as an alternative philosophy to family life," and that modern feminism, which has abandoned the former material feminist vision of feminist housing by taking for granted the modern single-family home, has become divided from its traditional base, the home. He points out that it has been fractured from its traditional foundations and has had to concede to the right-wing and conservative hymn to the home. This is a view worth listening to.

 However, even in this book, feminism is riddled with paradoxes. As the author acknowledges, there is a contradiction between the theory of the division of household chores between men and women and the paid work of housewives, and the cooperativization of housework does not necessarily lead to the control and exploitation of lower-class women by middle-class women or deepen the antagonism between full-time housewives and career women. But the fact that feminism's demands end up creating such a paradox within the framework of the existing social structure implies that the true task of this movement is to change the rules of civilization through the joint efforts of men and women. In this sense, the legacy of material feminism, which opposed the physical separation of domestic space from public space and the economic separation of the domestic economy from the political economy, and which sought to "expand the family into the world," is likely to play a powerful role in the ideas and strategies of the anti-capitalist transformation movement, especially in our age of deepening confusion in socialist thought. It is precisely in the current confusion of socialist thought that the legacy of material feminism, which opposed the "expansion of the family into the world," is likely to be revived in the ideas and strategies of anti-capitalist movements.

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