Reciprocal sustainment, mutual support, reaction to the interdependence between equals that characterizes the human being, both in the emotional and material sense. It’s also an essential dimension of communal work, which is gaining protagonism and implicates attention directed to the back-lines and to the physical and emotional sustainment of the processes and people that make it happen. In this sense, caring could be defined for Silvia Federici as, “day-to-day activities through which we produce our existence, develop our ability to cooperate, and not only resist dehumanization but also learn to reconstruct the world as a space of nurture, creativity, and care” (2011). A root anarchist concept,— see El apoyo Mutuo by Kropotkin— it has become charged with a special relevance in the twenty-first-century thanks to feminist movements. Since a study done by Carol Gilligan about the ethics of female care as opposed to masculine justice (1982) was picked up as key to feminist empowerment by Difference Feminism and since the feminist movement denounced, since the 1970’s, how patriarchy obliged women to take on the labor of caring in the domestic sphere, care has become a topic of debate and at the same time an essential dimension of the work and agenda of intersectional feminisms, critical of the hetero-patriarchy, capitalism, racism, and colonialism. Nevertheless, one could say that it was in the twenty-first-century that the feminist movement made this topic central, both in its practices and its demands, above all after the international feminist strikes of 2018, in which it became a sepcific axis of resistance and the construction of alternatives.
Authors like Judith Butler connect care with the dimension of interdependence of human beings, underlining that the only way to assure that we live in equality is to accept dependency and make ourselves even more capable of care. Care (Sorge) has already become charged with relevance in the basic vocabulary of contemporary thought thanks to the existentialism of Heidegger, especially in his investigation Ser y tiempo (191), where he proposes it as one of the “fundamental ontological structures” of Dasein, of the existing being, in the form of “concern,” “worry,” and “request” as ways of relating to the world, to entities and other human beings.
The feminist emphasis on care, on the other hand, far from being a mere revalorization in key ethics, or uncritical in terms of the socioeconomic perspective, notes the neccessity of universalization so that care stops being invisble, obligatory, and uncompensated work of women and comes to be an issue of men and of the State itself. It has special relevance in the twenty-first-century in the sense that it confronts a serious crisis in care: the collapse of the nuclear family model that obliterates other communal structures of mutual support, at the hand of social atomization, plus the inversion of the population pyramid in societies that are very aged, makes it so that people who are dependent and/or elderly are finding it difficult to be attended to. More pressing, thus, is the need to promote the co-responsibility of men and the State and the need to criticize, from the feminist movement, how this work is subsequently dumped on the backs of poor women, and racialized women in the case of Europe. Nancy Frase locates the issues in a broader framework by pointing out that the crisis of care is actually a part of a general crisis of physical and symbolic reproduction in contemporary societies, for which reason feminists like Frase and Federici, who collaborated during the years of the international campaign “Salario para el Trabajo Doméstico” (1982), demand a salary as recompense for these labors.
As Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui signals: “The ethics of care,of reproduction, the ability to build solidarity with the brothers and sisters of communities allows us the most highly philosophical proposition of the women’s fight, that is, that women’s issues are not those of women alone.”
References Aguirre, Ixchel and Lulú V. Barrera. “Cosas de Mujeres, Cosas de Alta Política, Silvia Federici y Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui en México.” Luchadoras, 26 Oct. 2018, https://luchadoras.mx/rivera-cusicanqui/. Federici, Silvia. Revolución en punto cero: Trabajo doméstico, reproducción y luchas feministas. Traficantes de Sueños, 2013. https://www.traficantes.net/sites/default/files/pdfs/Revolucion%20en%20punto%20cero-TdS.pdf. Fraser, Nancy. “Las Contradicciones del Capital y los Cuidados.” New Left Review 100, Sep./Oct. 2015. Traficantes de Sueños. p.111-132. https://newleftreview.es/issues/100/articles/nancy-fraser-el-capital-y-los-cuidados.pdf. Gilligan, Carol. La ética del cuidado. Barcelona, Cuadernos de la Fundació Víctor Grífols i Lucas, 2013. http://www.secpal.com/%5CDocumentos%5CBlog%5Ccuaderno30.pdf. Kröpotkin, Pedro. “El Apoyo Mutuo, un Factor de la Evolución.” 1902. Instituto de Estudios Anarquistas, Santiago, Chile, April, 2015. https://web.resist.ca/~crisxyz/iea/biblioteca/pdf/Kropotkin.El%20apoyo%20mutuo.pdf. Manrique, Patricia. “Cuidar a las que cuidan.” El Diario. 27 Jan. 2018. Web. https://www.eldiario.es/norte/cantabria/primerapagina/Cuidar-cuidan_6_733586644.html. Manrique, Patricia. “Cuidar es revolucionario.” El Diario. 17 July 2018. Web. https://www.eldiario.es/norte/cantabria/primerapagina/Cuidar-revolucionario_6_793430658.html. Pérez Orozco, Amaia and Sira del Río. “La economía desde el feminismo: trabajos y cuidados.” Ecologistas en acción, 1 dec. 2002, https://www.ecologistasenaccion.org/13104/la-economia-desde-el-feminismo-trabajos-y-cuidados/. By Patricia Manrique