Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Response 11/3

In “The Lady and the Tramp (II): Feminist Welfare Politics, Poor Single Mothers, and the Challenge of Welfare Justice” Gwendolyn Mink writes “Especially for women of color, wage work has been a mark of inequality: expected by the white society for whom they work; necessary because their male kin cannot find jobs or cannot earn family-supporting wages; and exploitative because their earnings keep them poor. Thus, the right to care for their own children-to work inside the home-has been a touchstone goal of their struggles for equality. The fact that women are positioned divergently in the nexus among care giving, wage earning, and inequality separated feminists one from another on the welfare issue and separated employed middle-class feminists from mothers who need welfare” (page 61).

Her points in this piece as a whole, published in Feminist Studies, I feel really made me think. She has observed a real life problem, that anyone can see in their daily lives, whether or not they are poor or of color, or even female. I personally cannot imagine being in a situation where I felt that I was being exploited and at the same time was going all I could to make ends meet. While I understand that people have issues with women staying home with their children (and having perhaps many children to ensure that they have this right), therefore not working when impoverished and thus relying on taxpayers, etc. for money, Mink reiterates that we do pay teachers, psychologists, nurses, chauffeurs, housecleaners, cooks, etc. and these are all jobs that stay at home mothers do on a daily basis. Single mothers or not, all women should be recognized for the hard work that they do at home. It is certainly not easy to care for children, as, Mink acknowledges, it is many occupations combined into one.

That said, perhaps we should all reconsider what has been done recently with welfare, or at least come up with a better system in which our country can begin to accommodate single mothers and the difficulties that come along with falling in this category. Once again, as I have brought up before, how does one choose between the welfare of oneself and the welfare of ones family? It is not an easy choice, but I feel that the government should not be making decisions that families themselves should be primarily responsible for. What it comes down to often times is the love that mothers have for their children, the wanting to be there for when they are growing up, and I honestly don't think that someone can be penalized for that.

1 comment:

  1. I think that this is a great evaluation of the issues that Mink talks about in this article. This really acknowledges that their is real work in "parenting" and often single women wear multiple hats and are actually doing multiple jobs all in one. Going to work whether you admit it or not detracts from the parenting of that child and can have negative consequences. A reform of the whole welfare system seems to be the best idea because the way the system is now it seems to demean women for having children instead of celebrating them. The whole public view of welfare also needs to be revamped so that people who are not on welfare don't look down on people who are and assume they are lazy and want to cheat the system. This is a women's issue and if it is seen like one can be another major victory in the women's fight for equality.