Tag Archives: Women in Theology

Ain't I A Working Woman?: Race & Which Women Can't Have It All

WORK, FAMILY BALANCE, FAMILY VALUES, AND TRICKLE DOWN FEMINISM

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton...

For the July/August edition of Atlantic Magazine, Anne Marie-Slaughter‘s Why Women Can’t Still Have It All has received a lot of feedback. When this discussion, first started, my initial reaction was thinking, “This is such a privileged and racially exclusive conversation.” And, really it is. On one level, this is about class privilege, right? I mean, I don’t think we’ll see the working poor or the homeless talk about balance at all. Conversations that center around notions of “balance” or some sort of harmony in people’s lives are chiefly the concern of people who are USED to stability and order in their lives. Balance, aka, middle class stability with leisure and yearly vacations are luxuries to the working poor, and particularly to poor women, single mothers, and working women who are pregnant. We can pay lip-service about family values, and taking care of the disabled, but really, why are pregnant women legally defined as temporarily disabled? (hat tip to Erin for this!) Are children a handicap to the economy?

Sojourner Truth

Besides class privilege in this discussion, the elephant-filled hole in the room is race. I have learned that feminist-discourse in academia is also anti-racist, race and gender roles as social construct are interconnected, and the historic experiences of Black women in U.S.American history is just part of the evidence (one could also point to the stories of Irish Women, First Nations women, for example). Last month, I pointed to the fact that there were enslaved Africans in this country also involved a rape culture, one that in fact continued all the way during segregation, and today, in the form of the Prison Industrial Complex. I would like to apologize however; I skipped over some important facts, especially in one of my follow-up posts on Christian Theology and Abolitionism. From Frederick Douglass to Sojourner Truth to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, abolitionists were also simultaneously women suffragists (fighting for women’s right vote). Women didn’t get the right to vote until the era of segregationist/KKK sympathizer Woodrow Wilson in the first decades of the 20th century. But during the early 1900’s, black women migrated north due to the harsh economic conditions in the Jim and Jane Crow South. According to Katie G. Cannon in her work, Black Womanist Ethics, Black families stuck together (unlike other migrant groups in the past), and black women out numbered men in terms of migration. Using their “Justice Tickets” Black women WERE EXPECTED to work as “domestic servants” [LIKE THE HELP!], “cooks, cleaners, washerwomen, and wet nurses” (page 59-60). Now if you notice something I put in ALL CAPS, it’s that the social expectations were for black women, single and married to work menial jobs. Racial Segregation in the north in South meant separate and economically unequal. Black families had to have both parents working in order to survive. No one is talking about “balance” when your very life is at stake.

Black men and white men were of course pitted against each other in Northern labor affairs (how else was the boss gonna control the employees?) but black women had to wait until World War I to get more opportunities to work. The Not-So-Free enterprise system was closed to people of color once WWI ended. The Depression came, and very little improved for black women and men. FDR’s New Deal was bad news for rural black women who worked on farms, for example; for more, see Ralph Bunche’s The Political Status of the Negro IN the Age of FDR. In the post-Civil Rights Era, black women have been the victims of racist politics, with Corporate Welfare Nobility like Mitt Romney taking cheap-shots at poor women, and with both candidates supporting the continued break up of black (and other) families with the “War On Drugs” little has changed for women of color. In terms of economics, those who want balance, sound more and more like the elites at the top, whites who have a median income of over $100,000 while black and Hispanic households have a median of around $6,000: CNN Money: the Wealth Gap.

I ask you, who is going to be more concerned about balance, who is concerned about just getting by, living day to day?

For more on this topic, see the following posts:

Women’s Work: Erin Kidd

Work and Family Balance: Some Open Questions: Elizabeth

Feminism Lied To Me: Elizabeth

The Atlantic Article, Trickle Down Feminism, and My Twitter Mentions: Tressie McMillan Cottom, a guest commentator of Racialicious

 

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Movie Review: Colombiana

Or Why I Fervently Believe Our Heroines Should Eat

“Eat!”- Cateleya to her pet dogs

“I don’t eat breakfast.”- Cateleya to her Significant Other, Danny

-from Colombiana

Colombiana (film)

Last night, I decided to RedBox Colombiana, a movie I have been wanting to see for a while. I am a big fan movies with movies featuring female characters who kick ass. Colombiana, like HAYWIRE, was a very likeable movie, only I enjoyed Colombiana’s story better.

As a Christian pacifist, I have some concerns in pop culture and probably with myself. Why do I have problems with movies featuring violent males, and “pro-wrestling” and Mixed Martial Arts but enjoy movies when women do it? Perhaps it breaks stereotypes. I haven’t had time to think about it. But a larger problem with Revenge + Justified violence movies, much like TAKEN with Liam Neeson, and even the ABC hit series REVENGE (which I haven’t seen a full episode) is that revenge/retributive justice is promoted as the only alternative in an unjust world. Restorative justice and reconciliation are viewed as non-options, keeping the status quo of gender violence and capital punishment in tack.

Secondly, as a Christian thinker who gets into gender issues, I found the presentation of Cateya’s body, the overly-thin type, plus her quote that she “doesn’t eat” breakfast to be far too problematic in this day in age where churches, governments, and media contest over the bodies of women. Particularly relevant to this discussion is Elizabeth of Women In Theology ‘s article in The Other Journal, To Love Oneself Through Food. Unhealthy social forces convince women to obsess over the size of their bodies already as is, and the makers of Colombiana want us to see Cateleya as a hero, who skips meals, and has remained abnormally thin all of her life in order to pursue her agenda for vengeance? Seems too puzzling for me. Also, the whole “dress as a drunken prostitute thing” really was playing on the whole, yah know, the hottentot venus, where black women are nothing more than erotic zoo exhibits; kinda like most hip-hop music videos.

Overall, I would recommend it (with a huge grain of salt). I am still undecided about the PJ movie ratings system. Gotta be something whedony tho.

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Erin Kidd on Battlestar Galactica, Robots, and Embodiedness

“The real paradox is that Cavil himself is glorifying a completely embodied experience–vision–while at the same time wishing away his body. He is completely unaware that what he longs for is impossible apart from his body. He is blind to his own humanity.

And for the most part, so are we. It is easy to imagine our own bodies as limitations rather than completely integral to our being. And then, in our fumbles to tease out exactly what it means to be human, we completely neglect the body as extraneous to who we are. We grasp for souls. We try and transcend exactly what makes us human.”

Read the rest at Women in Theology: On Robotology