Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Main Post 11/4
In the article "The Lady and the Tramp: Feminist Welfare Politics, Poor Single Mothers, and the Challenge of Welfare Justice," Gwendolyn Mink discusses how poor, single mothers have been left out to dry when it comes to welfare and how the issue of welfare has divided women of different classes. Mink was part of a group that mobilized to help fight with poor women to obtain the welfare they deserved and aimed to unite women, preaching that "a war against poor women is a war against all women(56)." However, few women (and feminists) rallied around this cause, and the Personal Responsibility Act ended up passing, which took away poor single mothers' entitlement to welfare. Mink claims that feminists could have helped and made a difference when it came to this welfare reform, but instead, they were complacent and simply unconcerned. There was no widespread feminist opposition to the principles of the Personal Responsibility Act. Mink asks, "[w]hy were so many feminists unconcerned that welfare reform not only repealed poor single mothers' entitlement to cash assistance but encroached on their basic civil right as well?"(57). She asks why no action was taken to help defend their fellow women. In one of her new books, Mink urges middle-class feminists to "practice true 'sisterhood' by upholding poor mothers' rights as we do our own"(58). She argues that welfare is a condition of women's equality. She is adamant in her belief that single poor mothers are being punished for having children, taking care of their children, and working in the home. The problem is that our society does not put any economic value on working in the home and childraising. Mink claims we need to "reconceive welfare as the income owed to persons who work inside the home caring for, nurturing, and protecting children--mothering(59)." Unfortunately, their is a common conception that single poor mothers on welfare are "lazy, promiscuous, and matriarchal" and are simply "breeding" children to avoid work (59). Furthermore Mink talks about how (white) middle class feminists, the "mainstream of the women's movement" (60), have emphasized women's rights to work outside the home and the need for women to earn their independence and equality through having a wage-earning job outside of the home. By doing so, they almost force their goals on poor women, who do not have these same goals in mind because of their limited means and opportunities, and as a result, we see a divide between women of different classes (and races). Mink ends her paper by reemphasizing the need to compensate and reward poor single mothers' with an income for their caregiving and work inside the home.