On interns and housewives

In the article we discussed in class yesterday, Madeleine Schwartz calls interns “the happy housewives of the working world.” To give you a better sense of just how happy (and hard) those housewives were considered to work, here’s a short film commissioned by Chevy in 1940, when the stereotypical image of the “frailer sex” had to be quickly reworked to show how women could work (and consume) just as hard as the men that were being sent to the frontlines of WWII. Martha Rosler famously parodies this “happy housewife” persona in her 1975 Semiotics of the Kitchen, vivisecting the mechanisms of women’s oppression in a capitalist, patriarchal society. A classical piece of feminist art, Rosler’s performance can be read as a response to the Wages for Housework campaign founded by the International Feminist Collective the 1970s and spearheaded by the Marxist feminist Silvia Federici. In a recent talk, Federici demonstrates how the economic exploitation of women is related to violence against women, discussing both in the context of #metoo.

Leave a Reply