Care

Text read by Mary Peters

Michèle is inspired by an article.

This concept, dear to feminism, wants to revalue the professions that meet our essential needs.

The coronavirus crisis has reminded us strongly that we all depend on care and service to one another, practised mainly by women and socially disadvantaged people.

This concept of « care » has its source more than thirty years ago in feminist research in America. Initially, it was noted that women resolve ethical problems by being attentive to the details of the situation as well as the consequences of people’s actions. Men, on the other hand, often make decisions based on abstract moral principles.

In 1993 the political scientist Joan Tronto demonstrated why the activities and business of care and service (feeding, cleaning, caring), although fundamental, are highly devalued and very poorly paid: it is because they remind us of domestic work that since always, women have produced for free and almost invisibly.

In recent months, strike movements in hospitals and EHPAD (French care homes) have highlighted some of these jobs, and for the first time, “care” has appeared in government speeches.

During the crisis we have just gone through, thanks were extended to caregivers, garbage collectors, letter carriers, cleaning workers, carers, cashiers, delivery people, order services. So many jobs generally despised, attributed to people without qualifications, single women, immigrants, the most vulnerable. These people were given precarious contracts, and part-time shifted or cut hours, very low wages, and no prospect of career development.

If you talk about « care », you recognize the fundamental, vital importance of these professions, not linked to long study but to their daily need, you recognize that they must be remunerated at the level of their importance. You recognize that it is indecent and unfair to continue to view these professions as low-cost professions.

We understood during the coronavirus crisis that we all depend on each other, that we need these people who are usually invisible, and that we cannot continue to turn a blind eye while ignoring the much-needed help they provide. We need to rethink our social hierarchies (or erase them or at least reduce them?).

Let us hope that this awareness will be lasting and will bear fruit, « care » for every human whatever it is!

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