2017 — Essay

Promethean Labors and Domestic Realism

Helen Hester

e-flux Architecture

Contemporary feminism, too, is picking up on this emergent mood. Nascent projects such as xenofeminism, for example, are seeking to articulate a technologically-minded counter-hegemonic gender politics fit for an era of globality, complexity, and alienation, and as such, evince a commitment to the development of more systemic approaches to oppression (reminiscent of those Promethean “perspectives of winning” which characterized strands of second wave activism). But is the designation “Promethean” always hospitable when it comes to these emerging feminisms? What are the connotations of this label, and what kinds of ideas does it foreground or appear to overlook? Starting with a discussion of the notion of Promethean politics sketched out by both Ray Brassier and Alberto Toscano, and critically considering its relationship to gender and labor, this essay will examine some of the artificial barriers to participation in and engagement with the Promethean project, particularly in terms of the seemingly competing demands of social reproduction. This, in turn, will lead to a consideration of some of the historical debates surrounding care work and reproductive labor within feminism, and to an analysis of the facets of those debates that encourage a re-estimation of social reproduction.