by Annabs Sanchez

Photo via Bea Camacho
 
I was supposed to be cleaning. But after finding an old art catalogue in one of my shelves, I decided to take supposed seriously.

Inside was a series of still frames from Filipino artist Bea Camacho's work, Efface. The 11-hour performance shows her lying on the floor of a white room, crocheting herself into her own disappearance.

The description across the page says her performance is an act of erasure. Of her slowly disappearing into her work. Of her slowly being invisible.
 
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Photo via Bea Camacho
 
In her paper Invisible Work, Arlene Kaplan Daniels describes work as "something that, whatever its status, is hard, (it can be arduous, boring, taxing, challenging, stressful), yet we have to do it."

Kind of like doing a month's worth of laundry because you don't have anything else to wear. Or like washing the dishes because you've used up all the disposable plates avoiding it. Or like feeding babies - because, well, babies.

And who's doing all this "arduous, boring, taxing, challenging, stressful" work? Women.

According to a study done by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) titled Balancing paid work, unpaid work and leisure and as cited by UN Women in their discussion of economic empowerment, that "despite some improvements over the last 50 years, in virtually every country, men spend more time on leisure each day while women spend more time doing unpaid housework."

Because it's unpaid, the housework that women do is not recognized as having any economic value. As opposed to the paid work of their male counterparts, which is deemed more economically valuable.

And in a capitalist society - where money decides everything - having no economic value is the last thing you want to be.
 
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Photo via Bea Camacho
 
Want to have a mind blown moment when it comes to the situation of domestic workers?
  1. In a 20-page report to the two-week session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in 2009, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon points out that housework continues to remain "invisible and unmeasured."
  2. In Valuing Domestic Work by Premilla Nadasen and Tiffany Williams and published by the Barnard Center for Research on Women, "If the work is not recognized, neither are the workers."

 

 
 
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Photo via Bea Camacho
 
On the first day of my Feminist Perspectives and Strategies in Organizing class, we were asked what is feminism for us. Inspired by domestic workers everywhere, I said: Feminism is our neverending fight against invisibility.  
 
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Photo via Bea Camacho
 

When I finally decided to get on with my cleaning, I kept thinking about where it was I heard, that, when domestic workers organize, they usually hold their meetings out in public.

I guess, in the end, all everybody wants is to be seen.

Reposted with permission

Annabs Sanchez is a graduate student taking up Women and Development at the University of the Philippines (Diliman). She recently changed her dream from action superstar to feminist activist - then realized it's kind of the same thing. Learn more about Annabs.

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