Feminism and Caregiving

Feminism 2.0 is holding a caregiving blog carnival July 13th:

Fem2.0 Blog Carnival: For Women, the Other Side of Work Is NOT Play… It's Caregiving

Women take care of children, spouses, parents, family members, friends. We dominate the caregiving professions, like nursing or social work. Ask anyone receiving care of any kind and he or she will most likely tell you that the primary caregiver is a woman.

Caregiving is a job for which women usually don't get or expect monetary compensation. It is a critical aspect of work/life and healthcare issues. How can caregiving be made easier to make our lives easier?

While feminism has worked hard to break caregiving of being a women-centric job, we still do most of the caregiving in the USA and most likely around the world. Yes, men are doing more, but it's still not at 50/50.

In my opinion, caregiving was women's work a generation ago. It wasn't always compensated to its fullest extent, if at all. Today I think that caregiving is given the shaft partially because it is women's work and partially because I think that women believe we can do better. Yes, I think we are being snobbish to each other - intentionally or not. Think about the last time a young woman told you she was in nursing school. Did you think, "Why you're smart enough to be a doctor!"

How can we reclaim pride in our caregiving work and command the respect it deserves? Is it feminist to be a caregiver? Is caregiving inherently a feminist service? I think it is. I do think that this thing we call sisterhood is all about us trying to care for each other. Whether it is by being there for our girlfriend or getting just as pissed off for the girl next door who isn't allowed to embrace her intellect as we would be for the girl on the other side of the world.

by Veronica Arreola
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Professional feminist, former Bitch Media board member, mom, and writer. Creator of #365FeministSelfie.

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3 Comments Have Been Posted


Maria Laurino's book "Old World Mother, New World Daughter: An Education in Love and Freedom" provides a phenomenal analysis of this issue.

I think that caregiving and feminism are two different things that can be combined, absolutely. Providing care is not inherently negative, demeaning, sacrificial, self-effacing or anything to that effect. But some caregivers adopt the job to the detriment of their identity, happiness, and growth. It all depends on context.

The thing is that we associate caregiving with self-effacement so that the term ¨feminist caregiver¨ can sound like a paradox. But it doesn't have to, not at all.

On the other hand, you say that caregiving IS feminist because it suggests sisterhood. But it doesn't have to, especially if it's your job just like any other and you do it to pay the rent.

I find the subject too complex to breed a Y/N answer.


Thanks for the book suggestion! I'm always looking for more awesome stuff to read.

The issue of pay for caregiving does throw a bit of a wrench in it, doesn't it? But what if you chose that career because you wanted to help people? Althou I've known enough people burn out in caregiving jobs to see that love fade & be replaced with the grouchies, to say the least.

Veronica I. Arreola

Also at

is the additional work we do (like caregiving) making us unhappy

I think the additional burden (and joy, don't get me wrong) of caretaking responsibilities is a huge factor in that hugely-buzzed-about study from last month, The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness. While a lot of people have credited it to the angst of having too many choices and too much opportunity, I think caregiving is definitely a signifciant--if overlooked--factor. http://undecidedthebook.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/more-opportunityless-ha...

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