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FeralZombieMum

Why are women still undervalued?

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FeralZombieMum

The last few weeks, I have seen women advertising cloth masks for sale. There has been the occasional comment that these women should be donating their sales money to charity, and one guy posted a comment saying how disgusting it was that the lady was profiteering off the corona virus. I am not sure what he thinks the makers of the disposable masks are doing. Plus - materials for masks actually cost money, why should women be out of pocket? These women are actually providing a service to the community. I have been making masks for my family this weekend, and my back is killing me. I'd happily purchase masks if I could.

Masks will now be mandatory in all of Victoria. One workplace was trying to source hundreds of re-usable masks - they are an essential service, but not health related. During the discussion, a comment was made about not minding about possibly having to pay the money for these masks, but they'd feel better if they knew this money was going to charity. I was quite shocked, because she is quite a feminist herself. The (male) workers pay rate starts at around $40 an hour for manual labour. Why is the manual labour of a female not worth anything? Why is it expected she should give up her time freely, and donate any money made, to charity?

 

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FiveAus

Because a lot of people are knobs.

Some people making masks are out of work due to Covid, so why wouldn't they make some money where they can? Others are seeing an opportunity to cater to a rapidly growing market. You know, like actual businesses do.

I'd be putting those making stupid comments right in their place.

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SusanStoHelit

Completely agree with the premise of your question: no doubt unpaid labour by woman is a thing. (Even more know with a federal government who seems he’ll bent on keeping unemployment numbers down by bringing back in draconian childcare rules and propping up construction jobs for the boys without similar investment in “pink” industries)

but I don’t think your specific example is gender specific, but more “creative work is a hobby, not a real job for pay”. (Something else the government has shown through the pandemic!) Sewing is seen as a nice homely pastime, not something people actually do at a professional level for pay.

my brother used to work for a high-end photography company, charging his services for $1000s. The number of people that thought he would do their great aunt bettys 80th for free because “they’re mates” is astounding.

 

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~LemonMyrtle~

Because sewing is just hobby

because sewing is easy, after all, if a woman can do it, anyone can, probably takes 2 minutes to whip up a mask

because women don’t really need a job, cause they’re husbands can support them, any extra money will just get blown on a new handbag

Because only a selfish rude woman would dare expect payment for her time. How dare she be so forthright

because I deserve free masks, dammit, I’m very important and do important things!

 

(sarcasm by the way, and at an average of $10 a mask, these people are not making much of a profit anyway)

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Chamomile
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, FeralZombieMum said:

During the discussion, a comment was made about not minding about possibly having to pay the money for these masks, but they'd feel better if they knew this money was going to charity. I was quite shocked, because she is quite a feminist herself.

!!!
I would like to respond to that with: “Action item: Jane Smith to approach tailors to work at no cost for our business.”

Edited by Chamomile
Too wordy
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CrankyM
Posted (edited)

It’s many a craft related thing. Because sewing/knitting/crochet etc are all hobbies so we should be happy to sell them to people Because how dare these women actually get paid for their hard work. I can tell you know if they are re men more often then it’s Oh that’s fine they need to be able to pay for their labour and equipment.  
 

I honestly doubt anyone making cloth masks is making much money at all when you look at the actual reality of it. Cost of fabric, cost of elastic, cost of thread, cost of wear and tear on the machine, and god forbid they actually dare to pay themselves a wage...

Edited by CrankyM
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gruidae

Oh Lordy, I'd snark so badly at those comments. It'd be "When women aren't the main ones losing income from this, when unskilled women's labour has equal access to paid leave as unskilled men's paid labour, when I hear you offering me your no doubt well paid, full benefits job so you can sit at home sewing out of the goodness of your heart- then perhaps I'll believe you're genuinely jealous of a woman earning any income at all from her work".

As to your feminist colleague. In the past it was very very unfashionable to own feminism.It made you "Humourless. A bull dyke.  A ball breaker" in terms of how other women saw you. Other women would actively be the gender police on behalf of men. it's now very trendy. A lot of women who for years were in the "Ï'm not a feminst but..." crowd (translation: I don't thnk women should be treated the way we are but if I admit that it will have a social cost). The social cost has lessened by a great deal, mostly after decades of slog by us unfeminine humourless ballbreakers.  It's made feminism accessible. It does, however, mean there are plenty of women who are very new to feminsim who still hold an awful lot of conservative attitudes about gender roles without being consciously aware of it.

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Sweet.Pea

It's just like when free childcare ended. There was outrage by women because they were going to experience a pay decrease.

Many wanted the employees to look after their children for minimal pay, but didn't want to pay for it. There wasn't much mention of their DH's pays being reduced.

I guess sewing and childcare is women's work and we should be so lucky to get the opportunity to serve those who don't have the time or skill (note the sarcasm).

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lizzzard

Something tells me your question is not going to be answered in this thread OP ... and I’d suggest that efforts to value women more are too diffused, and this post is classic example.

Almost everything in life can be viewed through a ‘feminist’ lens and sometimes this isn’t helpful, or the most impactful example of the problem. For instance I’d argue there is more covid-specific drivers vs feminist drivers of why people would argue against masks being sold. It’s a complicated issue. Although it might seem that highlighting every possible instance of female disadvantage is helpful, my sense is that we’d get further by consolidating our energy into a few things that really matter, rather than picking at relatively peripheral issues. 

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Runnercoz

I don’t think there are covid specific drivers to this. When companies changed from brewing alcohol to making hand sanitiser there was no expectation that they would do it for free. Plastic face shields are not expected to be given away. There hasn’t been anything else I can think of covid related where the profits have been expected to be donated to charity.

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Jane Jetson

Far from being a peripheral issue, this is an example which goes to the heart of the under-valuation of women and our work.

Creating masks is domestic labour (sewing) as well as caring labour (health-related). It is deeply entrenched in our culture that women are nature's caregivers, and that any woman who does not provide domestic and caring labour - and genuinely love it - is malfunctioning badly and is some sort of unnatural/selfish/bad/whatever woman. Asking for payment makes the action transactional and thus not provided freely out of Natural Womanly Love.

Thus the backlash against women who rightly expect payment for their labour, because by asking for it, they have demonstrated that by not providing freely out of love, they are not good or proper women.

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~LemonMyrtle~
32 minutes ago, Jane Jetson said:

Far from being a peripheral issue, this is an example which goes to the heart of the under-valuation of women and our work.

Creating masks is domestic labour (sewing) as well as caring labour (health-related). It is deeply entrenched in our culture that women are nature's caregivers, and that any woman who does not provide domestic and caring labour - and genuinely love it - is malfunctioning badly and is some sort of unnatural/selfish/bad/whatever woman. Asking for payment makes the action transactional and thus not provided freely out of Natural Womanly Love.

Thus the backlash against women who rightly expect payment for their labour, because by asking for it, they have demonstrated that by not providing freely out of love, they are not good or proper women.

Exactly. 

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FeralZombieMum
59 minutes ago, Jane Jetson said:

Far from being a peripheral issue, this is an example which goes to the heart of the under-valuation of women and our work.

Creating masks is domestic labour (sewing) as well as caring labour (health-related). It is deeply entrenched in our culture that women are nature's caregivers, and that any woman who does not provide domestic and caring labour - and genuinely love it - is malfunctioning badly and is some sort of unnatural/selfish/bad/whatever woman. Asking for payment makes the action transactional and thus not provided freely out of Natural Womanly Love.

Thus the backlash against women who rightly expect payment for their labour, because by asking for it, they have demonstrated that by not providing freely out of love, they are not good or proper women.

You have hit the nail on the head.

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Owls

I have a full time IT job but sewing is a hobby. I have two machines and an overlocker and do mostly costuming for my other hobby, theatre so I'm a very experienced seamstress.

I spent Friday night sewing masks for my parents and siblings in Vic. Proper triple layer, nose wire piece, fitted masks. They take at least 1/2 hour each with cutting/sewing and my daughter helping. 

There is absolutely no way I could make any kind of business from this - after paying for the materials, let alone time spent on labour/time spent purchasing materials etc, I'd have to charge $20 _minimum_ each mask before postage to even cover costs.

I've had plenty of people ask if I could just 'whip them one up' and I've referred them to small businesses online which are selling, saying I'm not making them commercially. 

I agree that certainly women's work is undervalued, but this is also an issue of undervalue across all arts/crafts. I've never had anyone willing to actually pay for what craft is worth, let alone photography/costuming/theatre work. It's just thought of as 'hobby' or 'for experience/exposure'. 

I've seen similar masks to what I've made online from $10 up - they wouldn't be making any profit and I imagine could only do that as they don't have other work as well. I just couldn't afford to spend my outside hours work creating for nothing :(

 

 

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lizzzard

Maybe ‘peripheral’ was a poor choice of word. I can see the women-as-caregivers-therefore-undervalued angle, and of that specific issue, this is a good example. But as a platform its power is diluted because it conflates too many other issues - 

1. Arts and crafts being under valued

2. ‘Gig’ workers being under valued

3. Controversy over masks 

4. The ‘We’re all in this together’ slogan

5. The health-over-economic gain narrative

Any and all of these issues are likely playing a role alongside the issue of it being women’s work.

 

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MadMarchMasterchef
3 hours ago, Owls said:

 

There is absolutely no way I could make any kind of business from this - after paying for the materials, let alone time spent on labour/time spent purchasing materials etc, I'd have to charge $20 _minimum_ each mask before postage to even cover costs.

I've had plenty of people ask if I could just 'whip them one up' and I've referred them to small businesses online which are selling, saying I'm not making them commercially. 

 

My friend has a cake making business and is constantly asked by acquaintances if she would mind doing them a cake for 'a favour', however the materials would put her out of pocket a fair bit let alone the time. 

I don't know whether its a female thing or whether people just have no idea how much the items cost. 

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mumpteen

A clothing company I get ads for is selling masks. $25 each. No comments about the price being outrageous or that they should donate to charity. Because it's a "real business".

I agree that crafts being undervalued is a big part of it but that is also because it's a female-dominated area. The covid "in it together" narrative is not impacting other industries - heaps of people are grateful for being sold to where they perceive shortage.  Even at inflated prices. The b**ching about homemade masks is squarely due to the fact that it is women making them.

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Dianalynch
4 hours ago, Jane Jetson said:

Far from being a peripheral issue, this is an example which goes to the heart of the under-valuation of women and our work.

Creating masks is domestic labour (sewing) as well as caring labour (health-related). It is deeply entrenched in our culture that women are nature's caregivers, and that any woman who does not provide domestic and caring labour - and genuinely love it - is malfunctioning badly and is some sort of unnatural/selfish/bad/whatever woman. Asking for payment makes the action transactional and thus not provided freely out of Natural Womanly Love.

Thus the backlash against women who rightly expect payment for their labour, because by asking for it, they have demonstrated that by not providing freely out of love, they are not good or proper women.

Nailed it. Wish I could put all this on a tshirt. I could make do with ‘not a good or proper woman’ though. 

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Hypnic Jerk

I’m being posted some masks for our family, made by a friend’s sister,  possibly her daughter.  She’s just messaged me with the cost - $44, including postage.  For 8 masks.  Seems on the low side to me.  I’ve sent her a message asking how long they took to make.

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-Emissary-

I think whenever people perceive that they could make things themselves, they tend to not think there’s any “value” and expect things to be free.. 

DH thought he’ll give the mask making a go and thought it was “easy”. After a hour and a pretty wonky mask, he gave up. My mum has since made them for us but I wouldn’t have had a problem just buying them from Etsy. 

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Lunafreya

I think I’m fortunate in my medieval club where we value each other’s skills in arts and crafts more. We have a barter system where you ask someone to make you something and they make you something in return. The cost of materials being agreed as equal, so what is being traded is labour and no money changes hands.

That said, there are professional crafts people who do charge money for what they make but what they make is usually rather high end 

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Bethlehem Babe
On 02/08/2020 at 2:43 PM, Jane Jetson said:

Far from being a peripheral issue, this is an example which goes to the heart of the under-valuation of women and our work.

Creating masks is domestic labour (sewing) as well as caring labour (health-related). It is deeply entrenched in our culture that women are nature's caregivers, and that any woman who does not provide domestic and caring labour - and genuinely love it - is malfunctioning badly and is some sort of unnatural/selfish/bad/whatever woman. Asking for payment makes the action transactional and thus not provided freely out of Natural Womanly Love.

Thus the backlash against women who rightly expect payment for their labour, because by asking for it, they have demonstrated that by not providing freely out of love, they are not good or proper women.

Absolutely. 
 

I’ve just ordered some from Etsy for our family. Cause I’m a sh*te sewer. And me making masks would be painful. 

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Lunafreya

As for how long it takes to make masks, I’d say two hours with cutting out, sewing and ironing 

I usually make them in batches 

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~LemonMyrtle~
7 minutes ago, Lunafreya said:

As for how long it takes to make masks, I’d say two hours with cutting out, sewing and ironing 

I usually make them in batches 

Two hours to make how many? Took me an hour or so to make 3 basic pleated ones, all the same. And I don’t sew much. And I’d get quicker each time.

ladies on you tube can sew one up in 5-10 minutes, real time. So double that for cutting and ironing, I reckon someone good at sewing could make 4-6 good ones an hour, if done in batches. It’s still not much of a profit once you take out the cost of materials. 

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Lunafreya

10 masks 

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