The Arcane of Reproduction

Leopoldina Fortunati, Autonomedia
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housework, prositution, labor and capital

One of Italy's leading feminist thinkers critiques the traditional Marxist categories or production and reproduction, repositioning the central role of women's labor and women's bodies that Marx himself could not see. Leopoldina Fortunati profoundly illuminates the nature of the nuclear family, housework, the sexual division of labor and prostitution under capitalism, and underlines new arenas for feminist struggle arising from the unpaid labor of those (primarily women) who "produce and reproduce" (sexually, materially, psychologically, spiritually) the "productive" wages worker.

Fortunati has written an incredibly dense work here that argues basically two important points:

1. That the relations between men and women under capitalism have to be grasped as relations between women and capital, mediated by men, where women as reproductive labor are part of the creation of value (and therefore surplus value) in a Marxian sense.

2. That Marx and most post-Marx Marxists have gotten the realtionship of reproduction to production radically wrong, and that this requires a revaluation in practice of the labor of reproduction and production.

Fortunati theorizes the relationship between reproductive and productive labor, and between unwaged and waged labor and discusses the historical gendering of such labor and the aspects of reproduction (of labor power, which cannot be reduced to giving birth) which make it difficult for reproduction to not express itself through gender oppression (especially pregnancy/birth, which is ironic). Her whole work is couched in the understanding of reproductive labor as 'unwaged value-producing labor'.

Table of Contents

Author :
Leopoldina Fortunati
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