In 1969 and 1970, reading in Volume I of Capital all about this uniquely capitalist commodity labor power, I realized that this was the special commodity which housework produced. Being ignorant, I thought everybody knew and I was angry that they had neglected to tell us. It was a surprise to find that the obvious view—that women were the producers of everyone’s labor power, everyone’s ability to work and to be exploited—was new. In the course of spelling out the implications of this (and in the process shocking some well-meaning left-wing people out of their political minds), I tried to describe the work that produced and reproduced labor power, the general sale of which defines a society as capitalist: “This is a strange commodity for it is not a thing. The ability to labor resides only in a human being whose life is consumed in the process of producing. First it must be nine months in the womb, must be fed, clothed, trained. Then when it works, its bed must be made, its floors swept, its lunchbox prepared, its sexuality not gratified but quietened, its dinner ready when it gets home even if this is eight in the morning from the night shift. This is how labor power is produced and reproduced when it is daily consumed in the factory or the office. To describe its basic production and reproduction is to describe women’s work.” I invented the word ‘unwaged’ to describe this ‘women’s work,’ this housework. Although we got no wage for doing it, it wasn’t entirely unpaid—remember? For some we are paid in the form of food, clothing and shelter. But we get no money in our own right for expending our labor power, wages which are ours by right, acknowledgement of and reward for a contribution to social labor. Without recognition of what we contribute, we lack the socially accepted justification to claim autonomy as individuals. Without money of our own, we lack the power to take that autonomy. But though it brings no wage, this work is not outside the wage relation. We are neither serfs nor slaves. The wage and the wage relation, often in the form of a man’s wage, commands the work we do; the wage and the wage relation dominates the society we do this work for, and thus most directly dominates us.