I decided to go with the option of discussing the origins of the stigmas associated with women and poverty, along with some of the gender issues of poverty. Being a single mom isn’t easy work, and they are rarely credited for all that comes along with it. It’s very lonely, tough to get a night off, and most of all it can be nearly impossible to support your family. Chapter three speaks a fair amount on stigma and discrimination, in the first paragraph the author asks the reader to conjure up in their mind an image of a “welfare mother. ” They ask what she may look like, who she may sound like, why she’s on welfare, and how she feels about being on the system.
A woman named Dawn is described as a large, gregarious woman. She is a 31 year old, African American, who had never been married. Dawn’s mother is alive, but she was not raised by her. She was raised from her grandmother. Dawn quotes “Momma didn’t live there, but we would always see her. She was always close by. ” “That’s a trend in my family. ” Dawn’s grandmother received welfare for her care. “Granny,” as she affectionately called her grandmother, and to whom she referred to several times throughout the interview, recently passed away. Children who come from single mother families usually have a mixture of different fathers. Dawn has four children, with four different fathers. Mental health is a very large topic with people who fall in the category of poverty, especially single mothers.
An article from Cambridge Core on single mothers, poverty, and depression set out a study to find out the connection between women who are married, poverty, and depression in a trial of inner-city women. After two years, single and married mothers were requested for a follow up. Psychological risk factors, early onset of depression and encounter of chronic episodes were measured (Brown and Moran). Results came back that the risk of early onset depression was highest among single mothers (Brown and Moran). Single mothers were twice as likely as married mothers to be in financial deprivation, regardless of being more than likely to be in full-time employment (Brown and Moran). Lack of education, and stunned stereotypes misshapen our impressions of individuals (Belle, and Doucet). Discrimination can even take place without an individual offender when, for instance, certain groups are prevented by job requirements that are irrelevant to job performance (Belle and Doucet).
From this perspective, discrimination is dynamic, its effects generally tending to maintain and accentuate existing inequalities within society (Belle and Doucet). Discrimination exposes individuals to the undeserved contempt of others and to repeated negative experiences over which they have little or no control (Belle and Doucet). Discrimination can lead to lowered economic and social status and losses of jobs, promotions, housing, etc. (Belle and Doucet). Using food stamps, or other “stigma symbols” requires women to give up their privacy, and their choices they explain in chapter three. Their lives, shopping habits, and their food preferences, everything. Welfare critics are quick to judge their spending habits as inappropriate and wasteful, and look for examples of this to verify these assumptions. They look for women who buy steak with food stamps, and are very informal when they find them.
Yes, she purchased a steak, but in order to do so, what else did she give up? In what other ways did she save, and give up during the month? A woman explains what it’s like to be on welfare. She quotes “It’s a very humiliating experience- being on welfare and being involved in the system. You are treated as though you are the scum of the earth. A stupid, lazy, nasty person. How dare you take this money? It’s a very unpleasant experience. I’d avoid it at all costs. But unfortunately, I can’t avoid it right now. Several women mentioned that they have felt mistreated by public health clinics. They quote they have to sit many hours in the waiting room before being seen, or that doctors and nurses talk “down” to them, as though they are too ignorant to understand basic or medical health terminology. Looking back on the last twenty years, gender issues of poverty are something that have always followed the poor around. Labor-intensive growth is the central prescription of the new consensus on poverty (Jackson). In class, we watched a video about a single father, raising his son and now daughter. The children’s parents did all they could to try to make it work, to give their kids everything they could, while showing them a healthy relationship, but it just didn’t work. They had to fall to the option of giving up.
The parents had to split, while the father chose to raise them. He was not his daughters biological father, but he dreamed of the day he earned custody of her, so no one could ever take her away. The minuerature family moved from apartments to shelters almost every couple months. Their father never gave up on his family, and their dream. In the end he gained custody of his daughter, and they got to move into a house to celebrate Christmas. Poverty knows no gender, often people think single mother families when that’s not always the case. The turn to subjective understandings of poverty has not generally been made likely or possible to greater gender awareness and the action which states to be sited on how the poor define poverty as even more gender-blind than anyone could ever imagine (Jackson). One of the many reasons that welfare use is stigmatized is that it is associated with use primarily by African Americans. Welfare is put in racial terms because many whites incorrectly assume that the majority of the poor and the majority of welfare recipients are African Americans. They see welfare as a program primarily serving African American mothers who have never been married.
In chapter three several women commented that the public unfairly labels welfare as a problem primarily within the African American community “. They want to say that there are more black people on the system than white people. ” Dee is an African American woman, 24 years of age, with three children aged four and under, and she told us that the most negative comments she has ever heard come from white males. A color on your body should not label you as anything different than you are.
When I think of poverty, not one specific gender comes to my mind. When I think of poverty I think of children in my elementary school classroom who had to walk to school, or wore dirty clothes. I think of a woman working third shift at the gas station, or a man on an exit off the highway holding a jug for spare change. Poverty is defined by your household value, and how many of you there are in your family. Poverty is certainly not defined by male or female. Although it is easy to fall into the rabbit hole of poverty, if you don’t dig to get out, you never will.
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