Selma James and the Wages for Housework Campaign

By Shemon Salam in New Beginnings - a Journal of Independent Labour

The purr of the vacuum, babies crying, the flush of the toilet, splattering oil, sizzle of crisp fatty bacon cooking on a hot pan: these are sounds of politically and morally important work. The home is a place where working class struggle unfolds one day at a time. This is exactly the argument of Selma James, the coordinator of the Wages for Housework Campaign and the Global Women’s Strike Campaign. Women working: washing dishes, scrubbing floors, chasing their children, cutting coupons, drinking a quick cup of coffee before they are off to the next task. This whole day is repetitious and can be a monotonous experience that billions of women live day after day. Not surprisingly, we often associate this with words such as “homemaker” or “housewife” but not “worker.” We often fail to see work in the home as a socially important experience connected directly to the lives and struggles of working class people.


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