— Care is… by Natsumi Sakamoto

Care is everywhere, but invisible and therefore only recognisable through words.
Care is all the “attention” that sustains our life and our environment.
Care means keeping a continuous attention on others. It means taking responsibility for the condition of others as if it were your own.
It is very ‘hard to see’ when you are in an environment where you take it for granted that care will be provided.
Without the word “care”, all kinds of everyday labour might not be recognised as labour. The small invisible labour is done by someone else and is hidden to those who do not always do it.
When I started this session, I thought of care as referring to care work – the work we do for specific people who need care. And I’ve focused on thinking about the problems of it being so fixed in gender roles, that is, so biased towards women’s roles. Since I mainly experience care work such as child-rearing and housework in my life, in our session I wanted to ask the main question about why the burden of care work is still exclusively on women in even today’s society.
The word ‘caring’ means to be concerned or worried about the people around you. The word ‘caring’ has a long history of being associated with femininity and motherhood, and is considered to be a nature of women. For this reason, there is still a strong belief that care work is a woman’s job. Care work, which does not create value in a market economy, was considered women’s work under the patriarchal system and therefore undervalued.
The reality is that care work is still often carried out by vulnerable groups, mainly women and migrants.
Carol Gilligan’s ethics of care shed light on the experiences and thoughts of women that had not previously been examined. It was an attempt to give recognition to care work, which had previously been seen as mere ‘self-sacrifice’, by seeing it as another ethic, based on responsibility to others. In Gilligan’s assertion that “being a feminist begins with the need to make unheard voices heard,” she stressed the importance of women speaking with their own voices, which had been forgotten in society.
We have listened to and shared voices from Japan, the UK and elsewhere in this session. There have been moments of a kind of ‘solidarity’ where we have all brought ‘similar’ experiences to the table. But what was also interesting to me was the sense of ‘difference’ and ‘diversity’ of our individual experiences. The more I listened to each of them, the more it became clear to me that even if we were talking about the same “childcare” issue, we had different circumstances and different perceptions of the problem.
When I thought about why there is so much diversity in the experience of care, it seemed to me that it is fundamentally because the experience of care is ‘personal’.
In general, there is a view that the personal is ‘inferior’ to the public.
This is because society is built on the standard of the ” independent and healthy male “, and therefore it is difficult to accept diversity.
So, I believe that the difficulty of talking in public about things like caregiving and raising children, where each person has a very different experience and perspective, is due to society’s “intolerance of diversity”.
I felt the possibility of trying to gather together in the same space ( virtually) and listen to each other, while sharing these “differences”. I also felt the importance of creating a situation where people are not talking about the same “goals” or solutions, but just getting together and listening. I also thought it was important to question the tendency towards Westernisation, especially when engaging in transnational dialogue. This is because too often we talk about some singular theory, such as feminism, as a norm or goal. Perhaps this challenging attempt to create tolerance for diversity in the public sphere is what care represents itself.

キャロル・ギリガンが主張したケア倫理は、それまで省みられてこなかった女性の経験や思考に光をあてました。これまで、単なる「自己犠牲」としてみなされてきたケアを、他者への責任に基づいた、もう一つの倫理として捉えることで、ケア労働に正当な評価を与える試みでした。「フェミニストであることは、聞かれなかった声を 聞こえるようにする必要から始まる」というギリガンの主張では、これまで、社会の中で忘れられていた女性たち自身の声で語ることの大切さを訴えています。

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