The exploitation of the labour of love

Calitz, Vasti (2018-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY: This thesis seeks to establish the wrongfulness of an unequal division of nurturing work between members of heterosexual couples. Nurturing work is the overlapping constellation of housework, care, and emotion work, each of which women do more of than their male partners. I turn to feminist political philosophy (specifically Susan Moller Okin) to show that justice requires, at minimum, that the vulnerability women experience as a result of marriage needs to be mitigated by the state, and that the equal distribution of nurturing work needs to be facilitated by labour law. However, this is not enough to establish whether or not one wrongs one’s partner by allowing her to do more nurturing work. In order to prove this, I rely on Ruth Sample’s work to show that an unequal division of labour constitutes degradation of women in three ways. Firstly, it constitutes taking advantage of an existing injustice by gaining the benefit of receiving more care than one gives because one’s female partner was socialised into giving it. Secondly, an inequality of nurturing work is also an inequality in status accord, and if such inequality is endered, it confirms for oneself and one’s partner, as well as other witnesses, the relative lesser importance (and therefore inferiority) of women. This is also degradation. Thirdly, I argue, using Miranda Fricker and Sandra Bartky, that a gendered distribution of nurturing work contributes to the hermeneutical marginalisation of women, which also constitutes a degradation of women. I thus prove a strong moral obligation to refrain from degrading one’s partner, and therefore a strong moral obligation to not allow one to be taken care of more than one takes care of one’s partner. In the last chapter I show that nurturing work is significant for improving the quality of a relationship, as well as for contributing to one’s human flourishing. I argue this because even if the background conditions are not such that an unequal division of nurturing work would be degradation, there are very good reasons to become good at nurturing work, since it contributes to the flourishing of the individual as well as the relationship.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis poog om te wys dat daar ‘n ongelyke verdeling van koesterende werk is tussen mense in heteroseksuele verhoudings en dat dié ongelyke verdeling onregmatig is. Koesterende werk verwys na ‘n oorvleuelende konstellasie van huiswerk, sorg en emosie-werk. Die tesis argumenteer dat vrouens meer van elkeen van dié werke doen as mans. Ek steun op feministiese politieke filosofie (veral die van Susan Moller Okin) om te wys dat, in terme van basiese geregtigheid, die staat verplig is om die kwesbaarheid te versag wat vrouens ervaar as ‘n gevolg van die huwelik, en verder dat arbeidsreg die gelyke verdeling van koesterende werk moet bevorder. Ek wys verder dat die reg onvoldoende is om te bevestig of jy jou gade skade aandoen deur haar toe te laat om meer koesterende werk as jy te doen. Ek steun in dié verband op die werk van Ruth Sample, aangesien Sample aantoon dat vrouens op drie maniere onderdruk word deur die ongelyke verdeling van koesterende werk. Eerstens, omdat vrouens gesosialiseer is om meer koesterende werk as mans te doen, is die ongelyke verdeling van koesterende werk die verdieping van ‘n bestaande ongeregtigheid. Die ongelyke verdeling van koesterende werk kom tweedens neer op ‘n ongelyke verdeling van status. Die ongelyke verdeling van koesterende werk bevestig as sulks dat vrouens minder belangrik (en dus minderwaardig) is as mans. Dit is ook onderdrukking. Ek argumenteer derdens, met verwysing na Miranda Fricker en Sandra Bartky, dat die ongelyke verdeling van koesterende werk bydra tot die hermeneutiese marginalisering van vrouens, en dat dit ook bydra tot die onderdrukking van vrouens oor die algemeen. Ek ontbloot dus ‘n sterk morele plig om vrouens nie te onderdruk nie, en dan ook ‘n sterk morele plig om nie toe te laat dat mens meer gekoester word deur vrouens as wat mens vrouens koester nie. In die finale hoofstuk dui ek aan dat koesterende werk ‘n wesenlike bydrae kan maak tot die kwaliteit van ‘n verhouding, en ook tot die kwaliteit van ‘n mens se lewe. Dit is belangrik, want selfs as die ongelyke verdeling van koesterende werk nie tot vrouens se onderdrukking gelei het nie, sou daar steeds baie goeie redes wees om goed te word in koesterende werk, aangesien dit bydra tot die ontwikkeling van die individu asook die verhouding.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103706
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