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Women, food and care

Women, food and care

By Esther Vivas

Food at home is often still female territory. This is demonstrated by the latest 2009-2010 Time Use Survey from the National Institute of Statistics: in Spain, 80% of women cook at home, compared to 46% of men. And when they enter the kitchen, they spend more time, 1 hour 44 minutes a day compared to 55 minutes for them. Likewise, women take on organizational tasks to a greater extent (preparing meals, anticipating food purchases ...), while men support, when they do, in the execution.

Some "food" tasks that are situated in, what feminist economics calls, "care work", those tasks that do not count for the market but are essential for life: raising, feeding, managing the home, cook, take care of those who need it (young, sick, elderly), comfort, accompany. These are jobs with no economic value for capital, "free", which are not considered work, and consequently undervalued, despite being equivalent to 53% of the GDP of the Spanish State.

Sacrificed and self-sacrificing

Some occupations that patriarchy grants to the female gender, which by "nature" has to assume these functions. The woman mother, wife, daughter, abnegated, self-sacrificing, altruistic grandmother, who if she does not fulfill this duty, bears the burden, the guilt, of being a "bad mother", "bad wife", "bad daughter" Grandma". Thus, throughout history, women have been developing these care tasks, based on their gender role. The sphere of "productive" work, in this way, is the domain of masculinity, while work considered "unproductive", at home and unpaid, is the property of women. A clear hierarchy is established between first-class jobs and second-class "jobs." By imposing on us certain tasks, valued and not valued, visible and invisible, depending on our sex.

Food, cooking at home, going to buy food, small gardens for self-consumption are part of these care work, which are not valued or seen, but which are essential. Perhaps for this reason, we do not appreciate what or how or who produces what we eat: we think that the less we spend on food, the better; We believe that cooking is a waste of time; We opted for fast-food, "good-pretty-cheap" and fast food; we associate being a peasant with "being from the people" and ignorant. Our care, it seems, does not matter. And we end up delegating to the market, who, finally, does business with these rights.

However, all these jobs are vital. What would become of us without eating? Without a healthy and healthy diet? Without whom would he cultivate the land? Without cooking? Or, what would we do if no one helped us when we were sick? Without whom will we take care of children? Without support from elders? No washed clothes? No clean houses? Without affection or affection? We would be nothing. The ‘iceberg economy’


This invisible work is what, ultimately, sustains the profit of capital. The metaphor of the "iceberg economy", coined by feminist economics, makes it white on black. The capitalist economy works like an iceberg, where we only see the tip of the iceberg, a small part, that of the productive, market economy, paid work, associated with the masculine. But most of the block remains "hidden", under the water. It is about the reproductive economy, life, care, associated with the feminine. Without it, the market would not function, because no one would sustain it. An example, how to maintain unlivable work days and incompatible with personal and family life, without anyone to take care of maintaining the house, preparing food, fetching the little ones from school, taking care of the elderly dependents? For some to be able to work "in upper case", others have to do it "in lower case".

Taking the metaphor of the "iceberg economy" and from an environmental perspective, we also see how nature is part of this invisible sustenance that keeps capital afloat. Without sun or land or water or air there is no life. The wealth of a few, and the fetish of infinite growth, is sustained by the systematic exploitation of natural resources. Returning to what it feeds us, without these resources and without seeds, plants or insects, there is no food. Capitalist industrial agriculture advances, generating hunger, de-peasantization, climate change ..., from the indiscriminate abuse of these goods. Some win, most of us lose.

What to do? It's about, as feminist economists say, putting life at the center. Make visible, value and share such care work, and nature. Make the invisible visible, show the hidden part of the "iceberg". Assess these tasks as essential, recognize those who perform them and give them the place they deserve. And, finally, share them, be co-responsible. Life and livelihood belongs to everyone ... and everyone. Food, too.Ecoportal.net


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