Alexa: Hello My name is Alejandra Rishton. I am a student of Science, Technology, and Society at Pitzer college as well as a U.S. Army Veteran and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Jeremy: and my name is Jeremiah Rishton and I am also a student of Science, Technology, and Society. We are with femtechnet. We will be presenting the keyword Labor.
Feminism has always been concerned with the subject of labor. From the struggle to enter the masculine dominated workplace, to the recognition that women who engage in waged labor tend to come home to a second shift of housework, feminist theories of labor have consistently challenged the patriarchal norms of the capitalist work economy. Techno Femenism author Judy Wajcman argues that, "paid work could not be understood without reference to women's unpaid work in the home, and that the sexual division of labor separated women from control over technologies they utilized both in the workplace and at home."
One major critique of our current economic model is that it has institutionally codified the exclusion of women's labor. Activist, writer, and political organizer, Selma James coined the term "unwaged labor" to describe the work that women have traditionally done including caring work, house work, and even the reproductive labor of bringing the next generation of workers into existence. James argues that breaking into the male dominated workforce is a step towards equality, there is still the critical work of recognizing and paying wages for the caring work women already engage in.
We would like to extend this argument to relate this denial of the value of women's work to the hegemonic war culture that exists in the United States today. Since women's caring labor is devalued, the capital their labor produces is also devalued. In other words, our children's lives are devalued by a system that sacrifices their bodies, their minds, and their lives for capitalist gains and political dominance.
Our permanent war economy necessitates a value system that encourages the elimination of social wellbeing programs in order to increase the worker's dependence on military institutions for services that are critical to human survival such as housing and healthcare. This creates what has been called the 'economic' or 'poverty draft' that ensures that noncommissioned enlistment rates are retained in an all volunteer military.
War also produces a form of capital that is difficult to think about: bodies for medical and bionic experimentation. Most humans would not volunteer to undergo this type of experimentation, including neurologically connected prostheses, without the component of recovery from trauma.
The civilian casualties of war embody the devaluing of human life and by extension the labor of women. War highlights the divisions between power and powerlessness in a brutal way. Women's labor is extinguished not only when the lives of their children are extinguished, but also when they are denied access to their own reproductive labor through premature death as well as the use of toxic chemicals in warfare. War practices, such as the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam and the use of depleted uranium in Iraq, lead to a high rate of infertility and infant mortality.
Feminist theories on technology should always incorporate the lens of militarism in order to struggle for the collective rights of all women.
*excerpt from the documentary film The Doctor, depleted uranium, and the dying children.
Music by Moby
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