As the brilliant Silvia Federici expands on in her book, ‘Caliban & The Witch’, the exploitation of women has played a central function in the process of capitalist accumalation, insofaras women have been the producers and reproducers of the most essential capitalist commodity – labor-power. Women’s unpaid labour in the home has been the pillar upon wage-slavery was built and the secret to its productivity. The ways the work of women (and care providers of any type) in the home has been reduced to a natural resource or a personal service to exploit for gain, to use until it burns out and we find some other kind of wageless condition to profit from, is disconcerting. This didn’t happen because of ‘feudal relations’. This was orchestrated in the age of the patriarchy of wage and birth of capitalism. And in order for it to work, conflict was created in the bodies of women that involved severing their love & respect of self, in order for any sense of self-ownership to be destroyed to. You take away self-love and ownership of self from a woman, and she becomes a puppet who believes her role of martyr is one where her sacrifice is necessary for society to thrive, for her children to thrive. It is demented, frankly.
16th & 17th century. Marxist and his proclamation that capitalism would lead to ‘human liberation’ couldn’t be further from the truth. Mostly because the consideration of how women would be impacted (let alone every marginalised or community who is ‘othered’). Capitalism is obsessed with racism and sexism because it wouldn’t exist without it.
“…a set of historical phenomena is absent in Marx, and yet is an extremely important part of capitalist accumulation. They include 1) the development of a new sexual division of labour subjugating women’s labour and women’s reproductive function to the reproduction of the work force 2)the construction of a new patriarchal order, based on the exclusion of women from waged-work and their subordination to men 3) the mechanisation of the proletarian body and its transformation into a machine for the production of new workers….the continuous expulsion of farmers from the land, war & plunder on a world scale and the degradation of women are necessary conditions for the existence of capitalism in all times.” (The Caliban & The Witch pg. 12)
The female body can be a “source of identity and or it can feel like a prison”, and this is why body politics are so important to feminists like me. The devaluation of women’s position was an imperative part of the transition to capitalism. In many ways, it is where the obsession with gender and binary was born. It is where the sexual division of women from men and the separation of production from reproduction was founded. As Silvia says, “Sexual hierarchies are always at the service of a project of domination that can sustain itself only by dividing, on a continuously renewed basis, those it intends to rule.”
The systematic ways in which you were meant to dislike yourself and distrust yourself as a woman, mother, lover and community member is not absolutely intentional. And while most of us are preoccupied with how make up companies are the reason we hate ourselves, it is worth knowing your history. Context is everything, and this is no exception. Context helps you rewrite history and rewrite the future for our children.
Self-love is directly tied to self-ownership. Therefore, concepts such an bodily autonomy, autonomous decision making, self-defence, confidence and more much like this, are simply not possible without deep love and reverence for one’s self.
Now, much like ANYTHING in life we work really fucking hard to ‘own’ (yuck I hate that term), you gotta work hard for that honey. Or that money. Or that car. Or that house. Or that dream. Or that body. Or that goal. Ain’t nothing falling into your lap.
SELF-LOVE IS SOMETHING YOU EARN, YOU TAKE BACK AND YOU FIGHT FOR.
Ya gotta move through it, commit, and believe in the objective of loving yourself forever. I wish love at first sight existed. Not in this world. It doesn’t. Not even with ourselves. We need to date ourselves. We need to earn our own trust and love the ways others earn ours. Once you work and earn it, and FEEL it – you advocate for its plight forever. You recognise its value, you know what’s at stake and you uniquely know what you had to do to get there.
Furthermore, by extension, any love you give others or anything will be compromised until love of self is achieved. And no decision you ever make will ever truly be yours until you own your brain / body / soul like a monopoly boss who is IN IT TO WIN IT.
As discussed above, capitalist rationalisation of social reproduction could only thrive if conflict between body and mind of the ‘rebel’ woman. “The heretic, the healer, the disobedient wife, the woman who dared to live alone, the abet woman who poisoned her master’s food and inspired the slaves to revolt” (The Caliban & The Witch pg. 11) – all of these women were destroyed, and their destruction paved the way for your self-deprecation. The way we love ourselves was taken away a long time ago. And we’ve never actually made a decision for ourselves since then.
When I say that loving yourself is the key and the greatest act of rebellion – I ain’t fucking kidding.
So much of the work I am doing in helping women and womxn reimagine their lives by first reassessing their self-worth (to build abundance from this foundation only), is absolutely requiring me to delve deeper into our blood, genetic history and the ways our personal power has been plagued from doing anything but propagate little people. If you are a professional working within the realms I do, I certainly urge you to do the research and reading to.
You can scope out a replay of a video of a live speaking event I did with Erika from The Queen Of Confidence by visiting my Instagram page.