Striking from the ‘Second Shift’: lessons from the ‘My Mum is on Strike’ events on International Women’s Day 2019

Claire English, Rosa Campbell

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Abstract

On International Women’s Day 2019, a group of us involved in the Women’s Strike Assembly UK organised political ‘stay and play’ events across London; in Walthamstow, Tooting, Haringey, Clapton and Deptford and in Cardiff, called ‘My Mum is on Strike’ (MMIOS). These were events where children could be collectively cared for while their mums, carers and parents could have a chance to chat about what it means to care for children in 2019. More than five hundred people attended across our six venues, making it a roaring success and beyond our wildest dreams as organisers. This article explores how MMIOS came to be, our historical and theoretical inspirations; why it was successful, and the collective’s future imaginary. MMIOS aimed to make public and visible ‘reproductive labour:’ the gendered labour parents and carers do in the home (Duffy, 2007). Reproductive labour, also known as social reproduction (Dalla Costa and James, 1975; Federici, 1975) is totalising, hard to reveal and indeed, hard to strike from, so to continue our project of making it visible, we have interspersed this article with vignettes, illustrating what ‘interrupts’ our writing process.

The mother is supposed to be endlessly devoted to her tasks. Her payment is the ‘unbridled happiness’ that motherhood brings. But, the attendees at the MMIOS event were confident to ask, what happens when happiness in love is not enough? What happens when mothers have material demands, psychological needs and desires outside of what the nuclear family currently allows?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-160
Number of pages10
JournalFeminist Review
Volume126
Issue number1
Early online date22 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • social reproduction
  • feminism
  • motherhood
  • emotional labour
  • social movement studies
  • reproductive labour

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