Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Follow Up: Eang and Mink

I was really interested in Mink's standpoint on the Personal Responsibility Act. She notes the fact that poor, single mothers are thrown into an entirely separate law system. They are the only people who the government can punish for having children, who the government can expect intimate details about relationships from, and who are forced by law to allow biological fathers into their families. This seems incredibly unfair to me, as a woman. I can't imagine having these aspects of my life controlled by the government and would deem it an incredible intrusion on my privacy, not to mention my rights as a human being. These mothers are deprived of equal citizenship because they aren't paid for their labor. They have to make the choice between wages, and their work as a mother. Mink claims that these women are owed welfare for doing the job they do. However, this is where I get a little bit stuck. Single mothers everywhere are forced to make tough decisions to raise their families. Even women with husbands are sometimes forced to work in order to provide for their families. I'm not quite sure what makes this particular caste of women different. Although I think it would be great for the government to be able to hand out money to single mothers, I'm not sure that this is realistic. One other thing to point out was the "typical" woman on welfare. People see this woman as black, lazy, promiscuous and matriarchal. This is similar to the articles we have read about black women either being hyper-sexualized or turned into motherly, nurturing figures. I'm sure plenty of women on welfare are white, but it's just interesting that the stereotype is of a black woman.

Eang and her whole family of women seem like exceptional people. The things I thought were most notable in this article were the way Eang's mother was forced to work to support her family and the chasm between old and new Cambodian cultures. First, the way Eang's mother was forced to work reminded me of "The Mommy Tax." In the article, they discuss the fact that it's even harder to be a mother if you're working a blue collar job, which is exactly what Eang's mother was doing. Blue collar jobs require mandatory overtime, are physically draining, and often require training sessions that cannot be missed. When Eang talks about not seeing her mother for almost a week at times, it is clear to see what a price her mother was paying for just $4.50 per hour. The other thing that caught my interest was the cultural clash between the old and new Cambodian attitudes. Eang and the women of her family are modern in their views that women should be strong and opinionated. Traditional Cambodian women are expected to be meek and quiet. I wonder if this has to do with the Cambodian genocide and that women decided they couldn't keep quiet anymore. However, it paralleled my News Flash about Indian cultures very well and therefore caught my eye.

1 comment:

  1. Tira-
    I like that you highlighted Mink's point in your post regarding individuals' socially constructed stereotypes of single mothers. I find it extremely unfair that people often immediately label this genre of women as "lazy" or "promiscuous" when in reality, they have been left alone to handle a child by men (who can also be labeled as lazy and promiscuous in this case). Since these same stereotypes exist for black women, oftentimes single mothers are labeled as black as well, since these assumptions transfer over. However, regardless of these assumed personal characteristics of single mothers, as a society, we should be helping them as to ensure the health and safety of their children (who have no say as to who they are born to). Thus, we need to remember to not be blinded by stereotypes when analyzing political welfare policy, and we also need to remember that helpless children are involved in the equation no matter what qualities their mothers happen to possess.