“Leading By Example” – Rosanna Eang
Eang gives a beautiful view of her mother in this story. She tells how her mother fights for her children. The story begins with saying that Eang’s family fled Cambodia from the regime. She explains how, before her family was able to leave, her mother used a machete to get food her children. (From this point on I knew that her mother was impressive.) Her article continues with her family moving to Philadelphia. America is far from perfect for Eang, though. She is sexually abused, her family is poor, and she experiences racism. Eang writes that by the time she was eight years old, she was working full time doing manual labor (picking blueberries) when she was not at school. Eventually, Eang goes to college. She says how her family is so surprised by her and her sisters attending colleges because it is not what good Cambodian women do.
Throughout her story, Eang’s mother is her rock. Her mother works tirelessly to protect and care for her children. When the welfare law changes, she attends school while also working. Sometimes her children would not see her for a week, but she made time to be with them. It is clear that her children drive her forward. When Eang speaks about going to college she says how it was her mother who encouraged and pushed her. Her mother does not believe in the stereotypes that Cambodian women are meant to follow. She wants her daughters to be strong, independent women. Without knowing what it means to be a feminist, it sounds like Eang’s mother is the definition of one.
“The Lady and the Tramp” – Gwendolyn Mink
This article addresses the injustices that face poor single mothers and the challenges of the welfare system. Mink writes how she, and the other women in the Women’s Committee, is mobilized to not speak for the poor single mothers, but with them; what is the poor women’s fight, it every women’s fight. She goes on to write about the Personal Responsibility Act, and how it is unjust. Mink believes that women do not take up the welfare call because many feminists are white, middleclass women, who do not have to deal with the welfare system.
A big issue that Mink has with the Personal Responsibility Act is that this law distinguishes poor single mothers as a separate caste—a group that is subject to a different system of law. She thinks that welfare is a necessary part of equality for women because it gives support for those working within the home. For the most part, women who are work within the house are seen as women who do no work. Housekeepers, maids, and nannies are all paid to do work, that women who work in the home are not paid for.
An issue for the welfare system that Mink suggests is the stereotype of the welfare woman. The welfare woman is lazy, promiscuous, and unintelligent. She could get enough money to support her family if she just worked hard enough. There is also a racial part of the welfare woman (she is not normally white). Mink argues that poor single women on welfare are the victims. She wants feminists to unite for these women, and to work with them. Since money is the way to become powerful in American society, these women need money. The welfare system is flawed because it suggests that you must work, and ignores the work that goes into raising a family. There is a gender divide that should be addressed, and poor single women are just one part of the divide.