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Positive Politics: towards a politics of care

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“They just don’t care”; is the phrase which has been relentlessly circling as scandal after revelation about our leader’s appetite for telling lies and hypocrisy – and of course, partying while he does it – makes headlines. Why don’t they care? – and this time I mean care in its more literal sense: ‘to look after and provide the needs of’. Care is historically undervalued, not just in politics, but also in our social and economic relations. So, in the month of Mothers’ Day I’d like to talk about its consequences, and maybe, why we should all aim to be a little more caring.

It is apt that March also hosts International Women’s Day, as one of the greatest struggles of the Women’s Movement is related to the undervalue of care. I’m talking, of course, about the gender pay gap. Caring professions are traditionally taken up by women and they are paid less for their work. On top of this, childcare is often seen as the responsibility of mothers: this is work that goes uncompensated, a “second shift” as sociologist Arlie Hochchild called it.

A damning indignity of modern life is that caring roles are not considered as important as the traditionally ‘male’ roles; bankers, CEOs, stock traders. But, the last two years have made it absurdly conspicuous that this has been a miserable mistake. Many of us have had loved ones depend on care during the pandemic – many of us have depended on it ourselves. Without our carers, our residential nurses, hospital cleaners or social workers how could we have survived?

At the heart of care is one of the hardest and most beautiful qualities to have: selflessness. In times such as these it may be the single most important. Yes, there will always be those that don’t care, those that are mesmerised by the myths of strength, power, and dominance. It’s those myths that create tyrants and bullies. So, this Mothers’ Day, make sure you show whoever has looked after you that you don’t see their care go undervalued.

Happy Mothers’ Day, Mum x.

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