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We still haven't understood anything about care work

And the controversies surrounding the strike call by Non Una Di Meno prove it

We still haven't understood anything about care work And the controversies surrounding the strike call by Non Una Di Meno prove it

Today March 8th marks the International Day for Women's Rights. To honor the political origins and advocacy of this date, Non Una Di Meno (a feminist and transfeminist movement born in 2016) has organized a nationwide strike, announced and communicated through a call to action and an article on their website, excerpts of which have also been shared on the collective's official Instagram page. Some of the demands have been misunderstood, even debated on social media with polemic tones by other women. At the core, it seems, is a lack of basic understanding of care work, of what it entails, and how much mental and physical space it occupies for women, which is often taken for granted whether they bear the burden entirely or almost entirely. Let's try to clarify.

Non Una Di Meno's Words for the March 8th Strike

"Striking on March 8th means transforming the power of November 25th into a halt in production and reproduction, crossing through the places where patriarchal violence is exercised every day: in homes and workplaces, schools and universities, supermarkets and consumer places, streets and squares, in every aspect of society. Because if we stop, the world stops!" This is how NUDM's call to strike begins. The point here is simple: the strike doesn't stop at work but extends to other areas of life where women are required to do additional, unrecognized, and unrewarded work, simply taken for granted. Similar to Ebenezer Scrooge with Christmas, this initiative appears threatening as a ghost of the future society and asks, both us and itself: what would happen if women stopped? If they relinquished control of everything they do every day, if they didn't pick up the kids from school during lunch break, if they didn't answer the phone when husbands, partners, fathers, and brothers called from the supermarket, confused, if they didn't lift a finger when they returned home and expected dinner on the table and a sparkling clean bathroom, when they didn't help with the kids.

The Care Strike

Obviously, the strike is a very delicate issue, and not all women can afford to participate. There are those without contracts, those at risk of dismissal, those who can't work because they're busy with children, relegated to a position of economic dependence that's hard to break free from. Precisely for this reason, in a specific post, alternative forms of protest are specified compared to traditional ones, complete with practical examples. Among these, refraining from consumption can send a strong signal economically. Furthermore, there's talk of reproductive and care strike: "Those with the greatest burden of domestic work stop and abstain, making their contribution and demands visible, towards a fairer consideration and collaboration," and gender: "Refuse to do anything you feel is imposed on you based on your gender, at home and at work." All these demands (and many others, actually) could be grouped under the umbrella definition of care work, and the resulting strike could be called the care strike. Clear, right? Apparently not.

The Controversy Misses the Point: We're Sick of Productivity

What's the problem? That, according to some people, these demands dilute feminism. That women just want to be lazy, that care work is innate and enjoyable (always!) and that it's better to just relax, use March 8th as an excuse to never do anything in life again, to not love their husbands and partners, their children. A "competition" has even arisen spontaneously in the comments between women who work both inside and outside the home, and those who work "only" at home. In reality, it's precisely in this competition of who works more that the point of this broad and all-encompassing definition of protest lies, on multiple levels. Firstly, these controversies underline how sick we are of productivity, how we can't even imagine a society that isn't capitalist and based on exploitation, how a certain individualistic feminism wants to replace men in power, not dismantle a system. Secondly, it emphasizes even more how caregiving work and "gendered" work is diminished and taken for granted when, in reality, it's a vital component of family and collective life, affecting emotional and educational development, and bearing fruit in the medium to long term. Until we manage to inform our feminism with intersectional (including women who don't work) and collective demands, then we'll be slaves to money and stereotypes. It couldn't get any worse.