When women fish and men weave…

”]In cultures where men fish and women weave, fishing is valued more; where women fish and men weave, weaving is valued more.

Whatever women do will always be defined in the negative.

And it is for this reason that pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing (breastfeeding) have been devalued to zero.

It is why as you walk past a heavily pregnant lady you feel a shiver of revulsion rather than awe. Awe of pregnant women is not taught in school.

It should be.

It is why childbirth must be tamed, the birthing woman sedated and tipped on her back, feet in stirrups.

It is why only the most uneducated women raise children for a pittance. Or if (heaven forbid) the mother raises her child herself she must do it for FREE.

It is the reason why mothers are impoverished (unless they have a man). If work has no value then there is no need to pay for it.

And this is the essence of our “diseased world created by men” (Dworkin)

To hear patriarchal media tell it, it is men, not women, who work. This has always been a lie: a patriarchal reversal.

It is women who collect the firewood and carry heavy water in developing countries. It was women’s work that built the industrial revolution as they stood- literally- pregnant,barefoot and starving in the factories, the cotton mills. Women and children were sent down the pits to mine coal and were paid less than men for the privilege.

Courtesy of womeninworldhistory.com

Women would haul tubs of coal with a rope and chain. The chain usually passed beneath the body between the legs.

To hear men tell their lies it, it was only men who mined coal.

Aren’t they embarrassed about leaving the most dangerous work to women?
That’s right. Men refused to use a windlass because it was too dangerous (and they might have snapped a nail?) .

Courtesy of womeninworldhistory.com

Testimonies from South Wales’ mines

“Six year old girl:
“I have been down six weeks and make 10 to 14 rakes a day; I carry a full 56 lbs. of coal in a wooden bucket. I work with sister Jesse and mother. It is dark the time we go.”

Jane Peacock Watson.
“I have wrought in the bowels of the earth 33 years. I have been married 23 years and had nine children, six are alive and three died of typhus a few years since. Have had two dead born. Horse-work ruins the women; it crushes their haunches, bends their ankles and makes them old women at 40. “

Women did it to feed their children.  Men could probably see that alcohol and prostitutes, their main expenditure, was not worth risking their lives for. 

Incidences such as the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in 1911, where over a hundred women were trapped inside and died in the flames or leapt to their death, continue to this day.

The reason so many women die is because their male bosses lock them in. Young women continue to die locked in sweatshops all the time in the developing world.  

Wikipedia prefers to call the women of the Triangle shirtwaist factory “people” or the gender-neutral “garment-workers” but actually they were women. Underpaid women whose lives had no value.

But the most interesting piece of history I’ve found is the Japanese pearl Oyster Divers.

“Traditionally, Japanese pearl diving was done by women who were called “Ama” . The word ama literally means “sea woman.” This Japanese tradition dates back 2000 years. As recently as the 1960s, Ama divers wore only a loincloth. Even today, Ama dive without scuba gear, using free-diving techniques. Free-divers often descend to depths of over 100 feet on a single breath. Only divers who work at tourist attractions use white, partially transparent suits to dive in”

Diving could be very dangerous, as the divers were often required to go to depths of 100 feet. There were many dangers to pearl diving, including sea creatures and drowning. Drowning often occurred as a result of blacking out while resurfacing.

The Ama have a thousand years of diving tradition on the south-eastern coast of Honshu, and the profession is passed down from mother to daughter, generation after generation. The Ama had originally been the wives of fisherman forced to contribute to the family survival. This is why a male-dominated society such as Japan has an exception to the rule for this profession.

Even today Japanese women are considered better divers than the men as they are able to hold their breath longer and withstand the cold better. In the old days, the women started work in the shallows at age 11. By the age of 17 they were able to remain submerged for up to three minutes at a time diving as deep as 10 meters. Eventually they would go as deep as 35 meters with a weight attached to their bodies.” [thescubalady.com]
What do you think the value was of this highly skilled work?

Life-risking, Physical, Highly-skilled .

Gotta be highly valued, right?

But remember: whatever women do will always be defined in the negative.

So because of the life-risking element of their work the social status of the Ama mermaids was very low and some were slaves.



7 thoughts on “When women fish and men weave…

  1. Thanks for the link FABlibber, I didn’t know about that. But I do remember as a small child being moved by the heart-rending story of the Little Match Girl.
    THis is the first time I’ve put her life into context as the patriarchal exploitation that it was. If she’d have survived her childhood it would have been prostitution next.

    These tales are more patriarchal lies because they tend to give you the impression that the horrors are just the way of the world and can’t be helped. They cast attention away from the active agent i.e the predatory males who exploit the poor and vulnerable.

    Although Hans Anderson does juxtapose the rich family’s feast with the little match girl’s hunger, we never get to see her boss, but we know he’s a man. A rich man getting richer on the backs of children. That part is “written out”,making it seem as though nature herself is responsible for the impossible plight of orphaned children.

    But we know exploititative men are at the root of all the suffering. God do we need any more evidence that men are inept at running society.

  2. “These tales are more patriarchal lies because they tend to give you the impression that the horrors are just the way of the world and can’t be helped. They cast attention away from the active agent i.e the predatory males who exploit the poor and vulnerable.”

    So true, where do all the misplaced and starving children come from? They are the daughters and sons of the rape and abuse of women. Millions and millions of crushed lives, just think of all the births women have undergone to produce children they are often too poor and malnourished to raise properly. Birth rates would drop overnight if women were free. There would be very few orphans, no sex and slave labour for the men. The trouble is many men like society just fine the way it is, they are the ones that designed it. They stand at the helm, of the good ship humanity, steering its course toward total destruction with a kind of maniacal joy plastered across their face.

  3. “They stand at the helm, of the good ship humanity, steering its course toward total destruction with a kind of maniacal joy plastered across their face.”

    PMSL! great turn of phrase
    They do sometimes allow the odd hero through like Hans C Anderson who managed to notice some of the suffering on his doorstep , but never is the underlying power structure analyzed in male art, especially not in relation to WOMEN, and never does it expose the fact that the male political institutions are specifically designed to keep women and children as poor as possible in order for them to be available for exploitation *by* *men*.

    This is why male art is so banal and conservative. Each time a man does manage to “discover” something about the human condition women are going “I could have told you that for free a thousand years ago”

  4. Pingback: On hairdye and hormones | twanzphobic since forever

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