Translated by Marvin Najarro
The maidservant, the maid, the domestic help, the nannie, the cholera (Guat.), the handmaid, the chacha, and the gata (Mex.) are some of the countless names the domestic worker is known, disparagingly. However, she is the most important employee, but she is also, paradoxically, the most poorly paid, exploited and enslaved in a model of society that uses the outcast as a springboard; as a ladder, as the most important support to sustain the exploitation of some for the benefit of others.
Myriad of theories, studies, concepts and definitions can be written to justify the existence of the maidservant, however this work has no justification; it is the exploitation of a woman so that another woman obtains the benefits of professional and personal fulfillment. A system that for thousands years has maintained a model functional for certain minorities.
Thanks to the structural neglect of access to education for the outcasts and women in particular, thousands of girls, adolescents and women are forced to work in the domestic service, a situation that benefits many middle class families, the bourgeoisie and the oligarchy who in most of the cases do not care about fairness and social equality, because its absence benefits them.
And this is how we see feminists and human rights defenders, who are not excluded from the system and often consciously becoming part of it because «how can they be guilty if everything was already in place when they were born, and why to get into a fight with it». We see them attending conferences, giving seminars on equality and women’s rights, and on access to education, while at their homes other women are taking care of their children, cleaning their houses, ironing their clothes, cleaning their bathrooms and mopping their floors; others that thanks to the system of exploitation do not earn the minimum wage, and lack labor benefits.
And we see how since time immemorial, entire families achieve development, and the opportunity to access to higher education, while others serve as a prop, doormat, and as a pillow. That soft pillow that caress them and takes care of their sleep in exchange for the pain of being exploited, insulted, treated like an old piece of furniture, not as a person. A maidservant who never tires, never cries, and feel no pain; a maid who does not think, does not see, does not listen and does not speak, only when she has to say: yes Mrs., yes boss. Because if she feels, listens, speaks, interacts as a person, she will be fired for crossing the line, for being cheeky and a climber. That’s why the maidservant exists as well as the occupation of domestic servants, because they are close-mouthed who also clean the crap of their employers. And if we go further, they are also the bed to satisfy the sexual desires of the boss, his friends and his children.
While the lady of the house and her daughters can attend school, college, or grow professionally, the domestic worker rots between four walls, and the dirty floors and the pots to be washed. A domestic worker, who also has dreams, yearns, and who also feels. A girl, an adolescent, a woman who dream of going to school, to college, and with changing their lives. Mothers who have daughters, who will also turn out to be maidservants, many times of their masters’ daughters and granddaughters. A chain of social injustice that benefits some and exploits others.
Why does any woman in her right mind would like to work as a maidservant instead of having access to college and achieve their dreams? Who would change a student desk for a bathroom cleaning brush? Who would change a fair wage for the exploitation by not having labor rights?
And we see through history the advance woman has accomplished as a gender when the female professionals, who have put aside their housework to develop professionally are placed in the spotlight, however the thousands of pariahs who are the support remain in the dark, in the invisibility of exploitation. Is there really advancement in gender rights? Maybe for some, depending on their social condition, because the pariah will be pariah anywhere.
With this I do not mean at all that the housework corresponds exclusively to the woman, it is not about feeding stereotypes, but here the point is another.
And we see how female doctors, engineers, teachers, journalists, feminists, writers, artists, high performance athletes, and very successful businesswomen, all of them recognized for their humanity and excellence at their work, succeed by their own efforts, but also by the support of a girl, adolescent and woman, who could not develop herself because her status as a pariah forced her to work in servitude. Life’s injustice or the system’s? How can a woman develop professionally, talk about humanity and fight in theory for gender rights while at the same time having a maid in her house? Have this to do with bourgeois feminism things, with taking advantage of the system, or with double standard things?
And since we know that among the ills of society, domestic service is a chronic one, it is urgent to pass laws that benefit them with full labor rights, so that these women have the right to a fair wage, paid holidays, bonuses enjoyed by employees of any company, overtime pay, days of sickness, and medical care. It is the least that can be done for the benefit of such important people in society. On the other hand, it is also urgent that child exploitation stops, these girls and adolescents should not be working as servants, they should be in school.
What would happen to these professional women the day the domestic servitude be abolished? Will they organize themselves at home with their families and, will they clean up their own shit? I doubt it will happen, because everybody takes advantage of it, and who in their right mind wants to lose privileges? Hopefully, one day, the family and the collective memory will bring to mind those who from the shadows served as the support for the development of so many women over time.
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Ilka Oliva Corado @ilkaolivacorado firstname.lastname@example.org
The maidservant as a slave
Translated by Marvin Najarro