Infrastructural Care

November 30, 2018


Care vs. Control

“While it is fair to say that care has been and remains an essential feature of transformative feminist politics and alternative forms of organizing, ‘caring’ is also commonplace in everyday moralizations: for example, companies compete to show how much ‘they’ care, buying recycled toilet paper shows that ‘we’ care, and caring for ‘the self’ is a pervasive order of biopolitical morality.”         – María Puig de la Bellacasa


Sometimes I feel unsafe when I walk home during dark hours and I usually prefer to walk when there are more people walking in the same direction. And I have experienced more than one girl or woman turning their head around a bit nervously to see who is walking behind them, in the same way that I do sometimes. If we have a problem of women feeling a bit frightened to walk from the metro station when it is dark outside, how can we address that problem? Could there be a simple way to organize so that people can accompany each other on the way home from the metro? Maybe we could create a meeting point in each metro station, where you can go to and wait for others that might be able to voluntarily accompany you to where you are going. Maybe a friend or neighbor you trust would happen to be on the same train. This suggestion raises a lot of questions off course. Who is it for and who can take part of it? Would it only be for women? How do you agree on which route to take? Is it just an imaginary feeling of safety? Can it be misused for bad intentions? And so forth. I don’t have the answers to all those questions, but thought it was interesting to propose this idea.
Care can turn in to control or judgement towards the object/person(s) of interest. “Here, the notion of doing something with care led to that of ‘being exact’. The tempting proximity between these terms reveals a risky ground: the ambition to control and judge what/who/how we care for.” (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2012) An example I heard about was a metro station in another suburb in Stockholm. There was a café by the entrance of the metro station, and it turned out that some of the men often sitting in the café where preforming a kind of social control, keeping track of the movement of women among their acquaintances. We can never completely rule out the misuse of things. Issues of personal and societal safety, care, social control and individual freedom constantly needs to be discussed and negotiated.

Helena Eriksson

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