Bees in My Bonnet

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Long time readers of my blog(s) know this about me: I will not tolerate bullshit. 

Especially when that bullshit is so patently in a topic that I know, inside and out. If that situation arises, than I am bound to stick my Nosy McNoserson into the thick of it and SAY something.

Which is why I need to Stay OFF the NPR page in Facebook.

It was innocent enough. First a headline stating Louisiana's new policy requiring women seeking LEGAL abortions  have an ultrasound prior to the procedure.
My comment? "So we should require any man who whips out his penis to view castration videos. You know, just in case."

I got lots of "like" on that comment. Really, I was just trying to point out the one sided nature of this law. All on the woman, yet again. All under the assumptions that women haven't thought through their reproductive choices, and if they KNEW more, they may choose to carry the pregnancy to term.  Cause really, women are silly, hormonal creatures and they need help to know what they want.

I left it alone after that for I could feel my blood starting to get heated, and what good would that do? 

Oh, but today. Today I got into it.

It was this headline:

Sigh. I just HAD to get into it. I just HAD to...

Let me break this down for us all.

The issues of child care, poverty, womens rights and the rights of children are heavily intertwined.  Overlying many of these issues are confounding issues of racism and sexism.  This can make this issue get super heated because with all of this tangled up, the facts get obscured. 

However, strip it all down and the fact remains that the US wants to punish women for having babies. The babies that the US needs to grown it's future citizenry and economic base. Which isn't the point, apparently. Because Women - the silly hormonal creatures who can't make informed decisions about their reproductive health - either shouldn't be having a baby ( but no abortions!) OR should be committed to the idea that they will now be staying at home post childbirth, regardless of their income or mental health.

Apparently, according to many of the NPR commenters, having children is a "Life choice", and if "You can't afford it, you shouldn't have kids".  

Refer back to my point: The US needs babies to grow it's economic base and citizenry. Of course, some would like to control the "type" of people who are reproducing. I suspect these people are also those who want "their "  America back.

The other comments were around "Why should I pay for You to stay home". Parents, as we all know, are Lazy.  Furthermore, the labor of raising children is worthless ( which is why early childhood educators are often paid minimum wage). I think there were some comments about "Breeders" vs the responsible working populace. Of course, we know that Parents spend no money on anything. They sit at home, waiting for someone to pay them for breeding. 

Sigh. Bigger Sigh. I was getting tired. There were no facts being used, only opinions about who should be allowed to have children, who shouldn't and the archaic idea that no one is responsible to anyone else unless you are related by blood. And even then, it's iffy.  Pointing out that the policies were intrinsically misogynistic was inflammatory.  I was another bleeding heart liberal who wanted free stuff for everyone!

Let me tell you some things I do know from a personal and professional viewpoint.

1. Healthy Happy Moms = Healthy Happy Babies. Worrying about money and health care and if you are going to have a job after having a child..or worrying that every time that child gets sick that you are going to get fired? Not healthy.

2. The first 5 years of life are CRUCIAL in brain development. This doesn't mean that a child MUST be with blood relatives, but rather that the care the child receives should be optimal. It is less important Who provides the care. In the first 5 years, the foundations for brain development is well established. Experiences grow the brain. No experience or poor quality ones means No brain growth.  The more we understand the brain, the more we know that it isn't K-6 where the real "stuff" happens. That is just the consequence of the 5 years prior, the brain starting to use all the information it has been acquiring for those 5 years.

3. There remains a pay gap between men and women in the US. Women are generally paid less than men for the Same labor. Women in "traditionally" female jobs, such as Teaching and Nursing? Paid less. A double whammy for being female AND in a traditional "job". Being a woman in Early Childhood Education? Barely worth it. You are doing a job that anyone could do, and you should be grateful we are paying you minimum wage. Plus, because you are a polite nice woman, you are happy to subsidize the lower pay of other women by accepting less than a living wage.

4. A majority of people receiving child care assistance are working very difficult jobs, for very little income. They ARE working full time, and then some. They don't receive benefits such as paid time off, or health insurance. When their child is sick, they don't have sick time to cover it. They get fired from jobs because of having children who need to stay home due to illness or school vacations. I worked as the Improper Payments Specialist for the State of New Hampshire. Very, Very little of the "Fraud" was being committed by  working parents not in their jobs or other wise trying to bill for services they did not receive. It was usually small business owners ( women) trying to make up the crummy wages by billing full time, all the time.  Was it worth it? Not usually. If we caught them, they got banned from utilizing the child care program for many years AND a Fraud conviction. 

5. Hordes of Single Mothers are out there, wanting to raise babies on their own. Because our welfare system is collectively so wonderful, it is worth living in poverty to get these super benefits.

OK, I must stop laughing now. Do you know what the income limits are for your state? 
For New Hampshire, the poverty level for a family of 3 is  $18, 310. Living the good life, they are. For many young families, the income of the second parent puts them over the line for assistance, so it becomes worth it to NOT live together because they will get the assistance they need that way. Our system is actively encouraging young families to not stay together. If they do, they get nothing. No health care. No child care. No housing subsidy.

Nice family values there, right?  Don't stay together because if you do, we penalize you. Either lie to us about your situation ( and be punished if caught) OR don't stay together in order to get the most minimal benefits.

Quite a little Gordian Knot there. 

Oh and did I mention that in order to get benefits you MUST be working? The time limits of TANF ( cash assistance) changed in 1996, when the 5 year life time limits were introduced.  The old trope of the "welfare queens" is passe. There are no "welfare queens". Did I mention that if you have another baby while on TANF that there is a penalty? Cause there is. They take away a percentage of the cash you receive for having another baby. You know, for "choosing life" and all.

So kids, what have we learned?

Women are incapable of making rational decisions.

Choose Life - If you are white and rich and married.

Mothers should be prepared to stay at home with any baby they do have. Because we don't promote quality child care through subsidies for low income families, nor are parents able to afford what it would really cost to provide care to a child. Any mother who chooses to work for personal or professional reasons? Selfish bitches. Should have never had a baby in the first place. 

Poor People should be prepared to be punished. Because they are poor.  Stupid poor people. 

Children born to poor parents get to be doubly punished with bad underfunded schools, cruddy non existent child care, and bad public policy which penalizes their parents for staying together. Stupid poor kids. 

Every (White) man for himself.  If you worked harder, you wouldn't be poor. If you were smarter, you wouldn't be poor and under educated. 

If you are a woman, you can't be trusted to make decisions....AND your labor is not worth as much as a Man. Plus you are a selfish bitch if you like working and want to be a Mother. Mothers should be all sacrificing, you know. The Cult of Motherhood Demands IT! Until we lose our shit and drown our babies in tubs. Then we should be killed for betraying the cult.

If you are a child, we don't care about you. Until you arrive, undereducated and in poor health, at the doorstep of the economic workforce...and then, well, what can you expect? Me to pay for You? 

Challenging anyone on any of these views makes you a "bleeding heart liberal", a communist, a socialist, a dreamer, a hippie, someone who is crying "victim" and asking others to "pay your way"...Cripes, and I didn't even get INTO institutionalized Racism in this discussion.

There are moments when I deeply fear for the seeds that America is sowing. Deeply Fear. 

7 Baleful Regards:

jwg said...

I'm proud to join you as a "bleeding heart liberal" . I spent 18 years as director of a day care center where about 60%of the kids were placed in day care by CPS and almost all the others were single working moms. Every word you say is true, and then some. I particularly liked the part of the regs that said if you got a small raise that put you over the guidelines you lost your subsidized care. I had a parent get a $10/week raise and her day care fee went from $8.00/week to the full cost, about $125.00. The system is designed for failure. By the way, where is Part 3 of the manifesto?

Anonymous said...

Selfish bitch here. I work because I'm good at it, and because I want my boys to respect working women, and because I work to keep our community safer for my kids and everyone's kids. But I still get a bad case of supermom syndrome periodically, where I beat myself up because I can't be the perfect worker bee and the perfect mom and have the perfect clean house. And I'm extremely lucky to be the boss in my office and have a flexible schedule and disposable income, and to live near to family who bend over backwards to help me raise my kids. My mom didn't have those things, and I remember her not coming to school functions during the day or bringing cupcakes for my birthday (although she sent them!) because her employer wouldn't allow it.

I wrote a book and I didn't even get started on pumping at work, which I had the pleasure of doing with my youngest. I could write for days about that, it was so SUPER fun. *sarcasm*

Dawn said...

I have counseled parents to turn down a 25 cent an hour raise because it would knock them out of eligibility. I have reminded parents that if they are LIVING together, we had to count them as a "Family unit" and both incomes would need to be counted. It is a sick punitive system.

And part 3? Sigh. I know. I am writing a chapter for the research team right now. Soon.

HBP: I am a happily working Mother. I have not made it a secret that had I not been working, I am not sure Em and/or I would have made it through alive or vaguely sane. Furthermore, I NURSED Em at work. Try being the boss and having people bust on in to chat with you as you nurse. HYSTERICAL! An irony is that when I worked at the State, I had a supervisor who made it known that she "frowned" on taking time off for kids. If Em had no school ,she would suggest that I simply bring her in to work rather than stay at home...Because a hyperactive 5 year old was AWESOME in a state office.

Finally, My professional views made it no easier as I cut very expensive checks for Emily's Early Care and Education. It was a struggle and sacrifice to pay the child care - particularly after I was no longer the Director ( and therefore receiving a 50% discount)

Did I feel she was safe and in a fabulous environment with Great adults? Yes. Did I love the 700 a month I was paying? Oh No. That hurt. $8400 per year out of a 35K salary. However, I carried health insurance for our family since Terrance is self employed...

It's just so crazy. Women are penalized on BOTH ends.

If anyone says "Hey we all have a responsibility to one another" - Socialist! That NPR comments section just made me crazy.

Unknown said...

I'm going to tweet and link the shit out o this post. Bravo!

Except for being a woman instead of a man I sit atop of the privilege pile and we cannot make it work satisfactorily. I'm a gov't lawyer and huz works in IT for a top insurance company we cannot afford excellent child care for two. So I'm sitting out this year at home with my 5 y/o and 10 month old. In August when Kindergarten begins I will return to work because only one will need child care. In our central Illinois town of 150,000 people, full time excellent childcare for two was going to cost $23,000 for one year. Over half my net income. It makes me crazy.

Dawn said...

Rayne -
The whole "Don't expect me to pay for Your life choice to have a baby" attitude in those comments was insufferable. Coupled with "You shouldn't be having a baby if you can't afford to have one" and my head was about to explode.

As I pointed out to one Man, I DID plan to have My Baby with MY HUSBAND. We had scrimped all my sick time so I could have 11 weeks off with her and half of that was unpaid. We had planned for her child care, and it was Still a huge chunk of our income.

The argument that business owners are losing out on supporting affordable child care and parental leave is akin to the abstinence movement. Completely counterintuitive. Happy workers = Productive. If more than 50% of your workforce is women and you are posing untenable problems to them (Be a Mom OR be a Worker, what can employers expect? Certainly not loyalty.

Furthermore, these babies we are calling "life choices" or "Not a choice" , depending on your political stance, are the future citizens. They are who we are going to rely on when we are elderly to do the right things by us. We've not paid it forward particularly well.

Unknown said...

Something that stuck with me from Bitch PhD was her argument that not having a child was a choice but having a child was the biological imperative.

I saw in the newspaper a few weeks ago that my last employer is hemoraging qualified lawyers even in this awful legal economy. Could that have something to do with the fact I asked for and worked out a plan for me to take 16 unpaid weeks of maternity leave and was told flat no. I could take my 12 weeks and that was it. In an agency headed by a woman with two small children. Couple the inflexibility with the high cost of returning to work and they lost one more qualified person that didn't necessarily want to leave.

Kristine said...

***There are moments when I deeply fear for the seeds that America is sowing. Deeply Fear. ***

You and me both, sister. You and me both.

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