What is Reproductive Labor?
According to Evelyn Nakano Glenn in the book “Feminist Frontiers” (2001), reproductive labor includes the activities of “purchasing household goods, preparing and serving food, laundering and preparing clothing, maintaining furnishing and appliances, socializing children, providing care and emotional support for adults and maintaining kin and community ties”. It, in a great sense, refers to unpaid household labor.
Relationship to Reproductive Labor
Women are varied in their interaction with this practice however the dominant ideology is that women of color are best suited for service. Glenn proposes that “not all women have the same relationship to reproductive labor; it is not a universal female experience”. She presents the idea of race and gender being interlocked and how they affect the way of life and thinking of women.
However, as relates to reproductive labor, I find that my experience is no longer relational along the lines of categories like male/female, Anglo/African American of which I am the latter of both categories. Historically, such a combination is skewed more to the taking a dominant role in reproductive labor, both as paid and unpaid work. However these days, we have been able to carve out a niche for ourselves and gain more opportunity. This is mainly due to the “women transcending the limitations of their work by focusing on longer term goals, such as their children’s future” (p.67).
What parts of Reproductive Labor do you do for yourself and/or for others?
For myself and others, I participate in reproductive labor by doing grocery shopping, preparing, cooking and serving food, doing the laundry and providing care and emotional support for my family. I am also involved in volunteer efforts as a way of maintaining community ties.
What parts are done for you?
The maintenance of furnishing and appliance is typically done for me.
What parts are provided for you via the marketplace?
Laundry services, childcare and, sometimes, the preparation of food are provided by the marketplace.
Bottom of Form
Top of Form
Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. “From Servitude to Service Work…”. Feminist Frontiers. Laurel Richardson,
Verta Taylor, Nancy Whittier. p. 57-73. Boston. McGraw-Hill . 2001. Electronic.