Feminism, class analysis and the aunties

I first read Sheila Rowbotham’s Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World as a young teenager. It made perfect sense. Women were oppressed and exploited, thanks to their role in reproducing humans. Capitalism had two greedy needs of women: give birth to and rear future workers; take care of existing workers, be they husbands, fathers, brothers, lodgers or complete strangers.

My limited understanding stemmed partly from my two aunts, both named Mary. Bad ‘Bopa Mary’ had me doing housework, while my boy cousin climbed trees. She was ‘training’ me, she claimed – presumably for a life of gender-stereotyped drudgery. She said: “The man is the breadwinner.” Good ‘Auntie Mary Walsh’ was single, child-free, employed, and told me: “A woman’s place is in her union.” Continue reading “Feminism, class analysis and the aunties”