Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Follow Up: Enloe

Cynthia Enloe’s two articles were both very interesting.  I find it very upsetting that women in many of these Asian factories are almost tricked into working there.  Society works to tell them that being a “respectable daughter” and a “patriot” means moving to an urban area and helping their nation financially by working at ridiculously low wages in factories.  Cultural norms emphasize finding a husband and thus appearing like a good candidate for marriage, thus the authoritarian regimes ensure that the idea of femininity is tied to factory work.  It clearly would be difficult for a woman to defy these norms as they are so deeply embedded in society.  Some factories even had dating services, which would improve worker turnover therefore decreasing seniority.  This works to decrease the chance of worker dissatisfaction because workers are at the factory for fewer years.  I can see how this is definitely strategic on behalf of the corporations, it minimize the chance that workers will be working at the factory long enough to do something about the unfair wages and conditions.
The rhetoric leads women to believe that they are truly needed to help the nation and thus are playing important roles as underpaid workers in awful conditions.  I find it appalling that American and European corporations are basically endorsing this by setting up factories wherever the cheapest labor can be found.  It is concerning because clearly corporations are out to make a profit.  These major corporations especially seem to put human rights on the backburner in order to benefit economically.  Globalization has led to conditions that I believe are very concerning.  In the U.S. we are buying sneakers with little to no thought about the true costs that actually went into that shoe.  Only with more awareness of the low and unfair wages and poor working conditions will Americans hopefully better understand what goes into their new pair of shoes. 
This is an excellent example of how we are all a part of a system and thus even if we do not think that we are directly doing something wrong, we are endorsing this sexism and rhetoric.  As American consumers we are participating in this system and thus are also at fault.  It is often difficult to see this relationship yet with more knowledge the general public will hopefully better understand the connection between one’s pair of sneakers and women’s rights.   

1 comment:

  1. Tricia,

    The birdcage theme is definitely apparent for Asian women working in sweatshops. As you have mention above all the rhetoric that surrounds Asian women pushes them to feel confined to traditional roles and less valued jobs in society. I do agree with you that it is appalling that the United States and Europe endorse this labor made cheap system. I think it is extremely hypocritical of the United States to support labor made cheap when in its own land higher wages, better working conditions, etc. are demanded for while on the other hand we support labor made cheap in other countries. We have the mentality that it is okay to exploit others. I totally agree with you that we should be more aware of our consumer power and think about the roles we play in a global sense and how we can impact/change the world.