Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ever notice how society likes to blame mothers?

If you haven't taken a good look at the misogyny of media posts lately, now is a good time to do so. You have to be careful though, because it's tricky to see how women are portrayed by the media. There are the posts that make you want to think that there is some sort of forward progress with women's lib issues, especially when it comes to telling young girls that they can achieve equality. One example is the recent buzz about "normal Barbie" which purports to make a more realistic and proportionally accurate version for girls to play with. But look closer, it is created by a man and confusingly comes with accessories such as scars for "kids who are really shy about them" while simultaneously promoting bruises on women and sporting halter tops and skimpy clothes and frumpy below-the-knee suits too. It would seem that for the creator of Lammily, everything is ok. "Normal" is good. Normal is better than never-obtainable-crazy-thin with glitter and sequins everywhere, right? Where's the issue? Well, the issue is that it's still focusing on women's bodies, and it's still trying to create a "normal" instead of focusing on the individual characteristics that makes girls and women unique. I'll say this once:
Anytime a "normal" is created, an "abnormal" is simultaneously created whether it was intended or not. 
Why not spend more time creating girl-empowering toys such as Hearts 4 Hearts, a lesser known doll available at Target and which focuses more on what the particular girl believes in and the characteristics that make her unique and the positive ways she impacts her corner of the world than what she looks like? Why not tell girls that they are capable, intelligent, competent change-makers regardless of what their bodies look like or how they compare to others? Why not indeed.

How does this trend in childhood toys affect grown women exactly? Well, it does so like this: when a young girl learns that all she is valuable for is her body, and the way it looks, and what it does, then she learns that her mind and heart and joys and sorrows and desires and choices have no value. Girls learn that they are something to be used, to be defined, to be dictated. And just what does this look like when the girls who were indoctrinated into Barbie become mothers? It looks like exactly what you would expect:
The media is still shaming them into thinking they are not good enough
Except now, in adulthood, it's not as simple as saying "your body isn't good enough" or "you don't fit inside our version of normal". It's cleverly hidden beneath messages of "you as a person are not good enough". Cleverly smart enough not to attack women directly, this recent article aims to hurt mothers where they are most vulnerable: their children. This article claims that the children who are most sleep deprived and thus most disadvantaged amongst their peers are those whose mothers work full time outside the home.  Did you pick up on that? Not the dads, whose employment hours would equal those of the mothers at full time employment. In fact, if you read the'll find no mention of fathers at all. And this is a scientific study. A scientific, data-driven study on how our babies thrive failed to include 50% of their parentage. In fact, this article doesn't even address if the study accounted for single parent homes, stay home fathers, stay home mothers, same sex couples, or any other "alternative to the nuclear family unit" dynamics. It simply states that the kids who suffer most are those whose mothers work full time.

Anyone having a flashback to the 1950s at all? Women are best kept in the kitchen, at home, raising children, where they belong.....not in the workforce which is clearly meant to be dominated by men. Women in the workforce hurts the children! 

Think about that for a second, in combination with the fact that they left out all the alternative families. Single mothers? WOW if they work full time, those kids are doomed. What does this mean for children whose mothers work full time yet have stay-at-home fathers who do all the cooking and bathing that the article talks about? Hmmm...doesn't mention them. What about the children who have single fathers as their primary caregivers, are they extra-fortunate since they don't have females as the breadwinners or are they just as disadvantaged as the single mother group? Readers don't know because, it isn't addressed. (Note that a quick google search of "single mother vs father work statistics" will pull up this as the very first article.....showing the incredible disparity in income amongst children of single mothers with more than double living in poverty vs. single fathers. Why is that? Hint: it's not that women are inept.) The message is this: a child who lives in a home where one parent works full time and the other parent (Oh I'm sorry, the mother) works full time also, is greatly disadvantaged. There's the subtle implication that a child living in a female-run single parent household is simply doomed. Now here's a question: what does this mean for children growing up in same-sex parent homes? Are they doubly blessed if they grow up in a home with two gay fathers, vs. doubly cursed if they grow up in a home with two lesbian mothers, if both households have two parents who work full time? I don't believe they addressed these issues at all.

Let's take another look at this article, from a social justice perspective.

This could easily have said "mothers have so much impact in the home and receive so much pressure from society that recent study shows no insight into the roles of fathers at all and completely discounts their relevance on their children's upbringing or their impact on household responsibilities at all." Look at the difference there, suddenly....this article seems flawed. Suddenly, when the blame is shifted off the women in the scenario, and the light is shed on the fact that researchers completely discounted the male role or any of the other possible dynamics...suddenly it seems inflammatory.

This is the moment when you have to check your worldly beliefs.

Imagine this: As a whole, our country (the USA, in case anyone reads this blog outside of our borders) raises the minimum wage to a livable rate for a family of 4 (the living wage for a family with 2 adults, 2 children in my county is $20.15 per hour...a far cry from the $7.25 national standard), lowers the hours in the workweek to the expected 35 instead of lengthening the required lunch time to ensure that parents spend adequate time with their kids, increases the awareness of the importance of fathers in their children's lives and also appreciates the value of experiences over materialistic items as important, thus decreasing the need for capitalistic gains.

Just for a moment, think about what that would look like. It would look like the entire country being enraged at this article, because it doesn't take into account their family dynamics or their values for their children or their everyday expectations. It neither acknowledges the role of men nor validates the role of women, thereby invalidating the contribution of every parent regardless of their gender or relationship type! Whew, talk about a downer!

Here's the end result of this post:

What does it look like in your household when you discuss life roles? Do you talk about gender, parenting, daily living, media, race, sex, class, income, and how all of these aspects are created by our social environment and how they intersect to form what your household looks like and above all why your household is unique and therefore wonderful and worth celebrating?! 

If your answer to the above question was confusion....consider educating yourself on gender roles and society. And, buy your children toys that promote gender equality so they don't grow up to place all the burden and the blame on mothers one day too!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

So You Think Rape is FUNNY?!

So I happened to come across a blog written by a girl who went to a comedy club last night & had the misfortune of seeing Daniel Tosh, otherwise known as Tosh.0. I admittedly have never watched his show because - from what I hear from others - this man sounds like a moron. Turns out, he is. Here is a link to the blog I mentioned so you can read what happened for yourselves, but suffice it to say that he felt it was FUNNY to make jokes about rape, then when the woman spoke up & said it was not in fact funny - he turned it into a chance to ask the audience to agree that it would be funny if "5 guys raped her right now".
That this man thinks that it is in any way acceptable to joke about rape is indicative of the sickness of today's society. When did it become acceptable for someone to publicly announce that making a woman have sex by force is comical? When someone who is a public figure JOKES about rape, it reduces the violent, psychologically damaging, life altering experience that 1 in 4 of us have had to something for the world to laugh at. 

Let me tell you about rape. I won't bother telling you the searing pain that shoots through your body when a man enters you forcibly. I won't bother explaining to you what it feels like to have a hand gripped around your throat while a man whispers "yknow you like it" in your ear. I won't share with you what the sensation of having your head smashed into the side of a car is like. I won't tell you how long it takes for the bruises to heal or the bleeding to stop. I won't tell you how, no matter how hard you try, you cannot get the smell of him off your body. No, those are all physical things. Physical things heal. Scars fade. Marks disappear. What I will tell you is what happens to a woman after she is raped - the person, the woman, the individual, not the body. 

When you are raped, your entire world view changes. You no longer feel safe, you no longer trust anyone, you no longer like yourself. Cruelly, you're the one person you can't escape - & you're stuck with the memories that refuse to go away. Every relationship you have for the rest of your life is affected by this one moment. You can't have sex with someone without something reminding you of this man - & the worst part is it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. Aside from the obvious unfairness to the victim, it's unfair to the men who unsuspectingly breathe in at the same tempo that he did that you suddenly panic. Not all men are bad. But once you've been raped, they all seem like they are. 

The non-sexual relationships? Yeah, those get affected too. You learn to use your sexuality to your advantage, to disconnect yourself from it & flash a little sexy coyness when you "need" to even though deep down you loathe yourself for it & you're repulsed by the ones who foolishly give in to you because you have nice breasts or a cuvaceous ass. You learned from one moment that all you're worth is your sex & no more. And when someone shows you genuine affection? You freeze up & go cold because, well, the thought of actual intimacy scares you. If someone who meant nothing could ruin your life, imagine what someone who does could do. 

When it happens when you're young, when you're barely starting to make sense of the world anyway, well then the psychological ramifications are worse. Not to mention, if it happens to you when you're an adolescent, you're more likely to be raped again &/or abused. I was 13 the first time a man forced himself inside me. Thirteen. I still don't talk about the specific repercussions of that, but suffice it to say that when you learn that sex is equated with fear, you lose your voice. And you get raped again. And you blame yourself.
And nearly two decades later, when you read about some asshole who thinks it's clever to try to get a room full of people to agree that a woman being raped is funny, you write about your horrified reaction but worry so much about what people will think of YOU even when you're writing anonymously that your hands shake. THAT is what rape does to you. It alters your life in a way that virtually no single other act can. And it's not funny.

Women already are shamed, objectified, over-sexualized, and belittled to the point that nearly 50% of rape victims never report it. Girls learn at such a young age that sexual objectification of women is normal. We don't speak up enough against it - & when someone is brave enough to, she has some jackass tell her in front of a room full of people that she deserves to be gang raped. Diminishing the severity of such traumatizing act to a skit or late night joke is INEXCUSABLE. And the people who *think* he's funny are passively condoning the notion that women ask or deserve to be raped.

I for one expect the world to be a safer place when my own daughter turns thirteen. Judging by the sad fact that the (only) two people who walked out of his act were mocked, her generation of girls will have more social & sexual victimization issues to face than mine did - which is scary.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Healthcare in the US

What is is about healthcare in the United States that gets people so upset? Have you ever noticed that as soon as you bring up the topic of universal healthcare (UHC), an argument breaks out? It's really the most fascinating thing to watch. People have this bizarrely unfounded internal measure of who "deserves" access to medical care. Not that anyone would readily admit that, they would say things like "I don't want my taxes to go up to take care of people who don't buy insurance!" when what they really mean is "I deserve proper care while others don't". 

The United States is supposedly this amazing country to live in, yet millions of citizens go without access to medical treatment. Many actually avoid going to the doctor when sick, because they know they simply can't afford it. There is something inherently wrong with a place that categorizes the value of those who live there by their ability to see a doctor. Think about that for a second....if you have a job that provides some sort of insurance, you've done "well". And yet it's the people who work the jobs that would rarely if ever provide medical care - foodservice jobs, machinery jobs, housekeeping, etc. - that are most likely to need regular doctor visits due to repetitive injuries! 

What about children? In this country, people have to decide whether to treat their children when a medical need arises & risk not paying the bills for a few months or having a giant chunk of debt to pay off over a few years. How is that acceptable - I mean after all, which do you choose....a healthy child or a roof over said child's head? It's an impossible decision. 

Here's the thing that many people don't seem to care about, get ready for it, it's a huge secret.......

     insurance companies are overcharging you astronomically!

I know, I know, I bet everyone is shocked.  Seriously though, since we all know that insurance companies are money-grubbing leeches & we all know that millions go without medical care because of it, then why are people against UHC?! The same little aspirin for a Medicaid patient is charged around 15cents, while for an insurance patient could be $32! No kidding! You'd actually save more money with UHC, have more cash in *your own* pocket that you aren't paying to the insurance company....but nobody seems to realize that. 

Is it any wonder that people in the US are going to other countries that provide free care to anyone on it's soil for their medical needs? I for one, am not surprised a bit......

(now how much do you want to bet that the US will rapidly become the country that people in this generation & the next LEAVE to seek a better life?)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

40 years later...

War is not something that's new to the human experience. It's a phenomenon that has taken place for thousands of years. People disagree, & they think the answer is to kill off everyone then declare those left standing the winner. Novel idea for conflict resolution, huh? Clearly, it's worked well. Oh we are millennia later, still fighting.

I can buy into the notion that until the last century, commoners were more or less removed from the battle scene, relegated to back-home cheerleaders for "their" cause. Soldiers brought back stories of war that would make anyone think the "others" were barbaric enemies. And of course nobody would imagine that "their" guys could be just as vicious...after all, they were fighting for the right cause. And with both sides holding the same viewpoint with one-sided information, I'll accept the idea that this lack of full perspective allowed the concept of a just war to continue. 

BUT...& this is a big one...that all changed 40 years ago. The Vietnam war was the first globally publicized war that showed true horrors firsthand, delivered to average homes on tv. I'll give you a moment to go to google images & type in "Kim Phuc". You don't have to be any more descriptive, the photo will come up. I'm choosing not to include it here because it is so horrific it leaves me in tears. It's a prize winning photo of an 8 year old girl and her brothers running away from their village, burned by napalm. Her skin literally falling off her body. She survived, she's still alive, but that is not the point. The point is....40 years ago we, as a global community, started to have regular access to images of the comprehensive effects of war. Not the soldiers returning home with battle scars. Not the tales of the unholy things "the others" would do. But the stories of the innocents. The ramifications of our actions on people who had nothing to do with the fight in the first place. 

Now, one would think that as a whole, the world would be horrified & put an end to this immediately. But we didn't. Instead, we found bigger, deadlier, scarier ways of proving how right our cause is. Right now, over in the Middle East, there are children being burned to the bone by white phosphorus. This stuff melts away skin & reignites when doctors try to operate. And before you get so horrified that those barbaric Middle Easterners would do such things....there was recently another little girl who suffered this way and the US military issued a statement that they cannot be sure if it was our weapon or theirs that caused it.

Let that one soak in for a second. The military intelligence does not know what their weapons are targeting. They are...unsure. They use terms like casualty of war & unfortunate incident. These are CHILDREN! Children are not casualties, they are not in the wrong place at the wrong time by playing out in the streets of their home town, they have no understanding of the asinine politics going on in the world...all they know, at that moment, is that they are in terrible pain. 

And we, as a global community, allow this to continue. We perpetuate it by funding scientists who find more lethal ways to do it.

When will people understand, we borrow this earth from our children? We inhabit it for a short time, while our future bloodlines continue to live here when we are long gone. Instead of leaving a legacy of beauty, health, and generosity....we're leaving behind nothing. And by nothing, I don't mean vast wastelands of devastation & toxic remnants. I literally mean nothing. It is the goodness, the kindness, the love within humans that sets us apart from other creatures. In teaching our children that destroying other lives is an acceptable means of conflict resolution, we are destroying the humanity within all of us. We are leaving a legacy devoid of anything but atrocity. We should have learned from those images that first streamed into our livingrooms on tv. We should have learned from the generations of innocents that we have destroyed. We should have found a way to protect them, to say no more. Instead, we were so outraged that we found ways to make it worse. 

This is what I want to change in the world. When I say I got into social work to have an international impact, this is what I mean. I tell people I'm not interested in child welfare work, but that isn't really accurate. I'm interested in global child welfare work. In educating others as to how our misguided ways have & will continue to affect the youngest of our generation the most. In speaking up to ensure that the world is a safer place for those who will be here when I am long gone. In being a voice for the children who hide amongst rubble and bombs who have no understanding that this is happening because people on the other side of the world pray differently, or vote differently, or live differently. That is what I want to change, and advocate for & educate about. This is why I love working with refugees, I have a very tiny impact in my very tiny corner of the globe on a very tiny number of people affected by the atrocities that governments have committed in their "just wars". And if I am very fortunate, one day I will be able to have a greater impact.

There are no just wars. There is one earth, one global community, & one human race. And we are destroying it one child at a time.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Empathy in social work

Empathy is a very important part of being a social worker. I think sometimes though people confuse empathy with an exact replication of someone else’s experience. This is not the case. In fact, one of the worst things that can be said to a client in distress is “I know exactly what you’re going through….” because well, you don’t. Saying that diminishes their own experience, even if the social worker has been through something extremely similar.

More often than not though, I hear it being used in a completely unrelated context. For example, I have 2nd-3rd degree burns on both of my hands. Burns are painful, no doubt. However, this doesn’t mean that I have any type of relevant first hand experience to be able to tell the client I recently worked with from Haiti whose body was covered 40% by burns from the earthquake that I know the feeling. It would be a terrible mistake to look at that client & say “oh I know how awful that feels, I had burns that took months to heal on my hands.” First of all, I have no idea what it’s like to have significant burns across my body or to spend years in the hospital with countless life saving and reconstructive surgeries. Second of all, I cannot relate to the trauma of going through a natural disaster. And even if I *did*, that doesn’t mean that my experience or reaction would be the same.

This is an example of self-reflection, and a realization as to how my own experience could potentially impact a client if I *think* I know what they are feeling. Self-reflection and empathy are both important in social work in order to check your own biases, values, and practice ethics. Caution must be taken to ensure that the line from empathy to self-righteousness or dogma isn't crossed.

Never, ever tell a client that you know what they are going through. You don’t. Having a similar experience is a good starting point to be able to make a connection – albeit quietly & in your own head – with what the client may or may not be experiencing. Empathy is a good jumping-off point to being able to help a client understand their own feelings, but it is imperative that workers do not confuse this with *knowing* what the client feels. This has the potential to do harm because it relegates the client to a lesser role in their own experience.

One particular population that I've noticed this happens a lot with is the LGBT community. People like to say "well why don't they just live their lives & not worry about what others think?" or the one that irritates me the most "we've all been teased about something". Yes, that's probably true. However, being teased because you wore a certain outfit or something equally changeable is *completely* different than being targeted not only in your immediate peer group but by society as a whole simply for existing. So while you may understand what it feels like to be teased a time or two in your life, & it's good to have an understanding of how uncomfortable that is, unless you have been told repeatedly by politicians, media, religious institutions, legal frameworks, and society as a whole that you are innately unacceptable the way you naturally simply cannot relate. 

LGBT equality isn't about an individual ignoring what a few mean kids at school say or getting over a breakup by focusing on a hobby for a while. It's much bigger than that. It's about changing the entire framework of a society that deems a whole portion of it's members to be subhuman. It's about re-defining everything to include equality at all levels, whether it's marriage equality or simply the right to hold your partner's hand in public without getting dirty looks from people. It's about changing the very perception of "normal" to include a broad spectrum of identities. When LGBT equality truly exists, there will not be questions as to why that boy likes to wear pink or assumptions that a girl with a short haircut must be into other girls. There will not be discussions telling a transwoman to be a man & quit dressing like a woman, or insinuating that there is something "sick" about them when there most certainly isn't. 

The LGBT community is society's largest civil rights fight today. Which side do you want to be on in history? I know for me, I want to be on the side that stood up to speak for justice. And the first step in that is realizing that although I may have common experiences, it is entirely inappropriate to assume that my experience is the same for others. It is my greatest wish for society that we can learn as a whole to look at someone who is different in any way &, instead of judging & assigning value, simply say "I don't know what that's like, will you talk to me about it?" And then accept that their truth is as valid as anyone else's.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Our pasteurized society

We live in such a pasteurized society. We seem to want everything to be homogenous, similar, to fit within narrow parameters. There seems to be these ideals of what "normal" is - & virtually nobody fits into that category, yet everyone upholds these ideals as attainable. Stereotypes are so pervasive in our society that we as a general rule don't even notice them. We claim to be accepting & tolerant, yet that is rarely the case. Take shopping at the mall for example. What do you see portrayed as the ideal in shop windows? Scantily clad women whose thighs are about as big around as my wrist. White scantily clad women at that - how often do you see mannequins that are any shade of brown? Not very frequently. And when is the last time you saw a mannequin in a wheelchair? Our ideal for women is to be sickly thin, taller than average, willing to show as much skin as possible, white, & perfectly able in all capacities. The reality is.....virtually all of the population does not fit into that demographic. 

Let's focus on this "able" category for today. I myself have no disabilities, but I have a child who does & I work with the developmentally disabled population. That's enough to tune in my perception to the disadvantages our society puts in place for anyone who is disabled in any way. This is called "ableism". Yes, another -ism like sexism, racism, etc. We have more isms in society than I care to count. Here are two short examples: 

Take my child who is hearing impaired, & a trip to the movie theatre. Did you know that by law movie theatres are required to have closed captioning available or either a handheld reading device or a headset to increase volume? Ask for one next time you go to the movies - most don't have them available. And they won't provide closed captioning because it is a "disruption" the other patrons. I'm so sorry that ensuring everyone can enjoy & understand the film is a disruption. Subtitles are interestingly NOT a distraction when at a foreign film. Why? Oh....because the majority can't understand the film of course. But when the minority can't, well that's just disruptive. Speaking of hearing impaired accommodations, are you aware that by law fire alarms have to light up to signal a problem to the deaf/HOH? HOH stands for hard of hearing, if you didn't know. And many facilities do not have light up alarms, although I do see more lately. That is a life or death scenario made solveable by installing a few simple flashing lights. But it is an inconvenience. 

Now let's go back to the mall setting. You know those kiosks in the middle where the sales people accost you with samples of everything from skin softening miracles to hair extensions to the newest gadget you simply must have? I don't know about you, but they annoy me to no end. If I was interesting in sampling your fantastically amazing product I would come over to check it out, you don't have to run across the mall with feigned compliments & poor sales pitches....I'm aware of your presence already. However, try walking through the mall with someone who is disabled in some way. Someone who is in a wheelchair, someone who looks a little different, someone who walks a little different, someone who has autism or something else where they may have sudden movements or outbursts. I kid you not, the crowd literally parts to let you through. And the people at the kiosks? They have no interest in selling you their wares. It would be fascinating, if it wasn't so profoundly & painfully telling of the insensitivity of our society.

People with disabilities, particularly very noticeable ones, are treated so vastly different in everyday life. And it's hurtful. And I'll let you in on a little secret.....they notice! They have feelings just like you do. Hopes, dreams, fears, worries, everything that you deal with on a daily basis - they do too! How would you feel if most people recoiled away from you every time you went into public, & those who didn't treated you like you had some sort of inferior intelligence by either talking slowly or in some weird form of babytalk? Oh...& let me point out, not everyone who is "different" is deaf. I can't tell you the number of times people interact with my perfectly hearing-able yet otherwise disabled clients & yell at them...there is some sort of innate tendency to think that someone who has a disability cannot hear you. And it is obnoxious! Although it amuses me to no end when certain clients will talk back in an equally loud or slow voice to mock the other person & point out that they understood them just fine. While I'm at it....speaking to those who actually ARE deaf/hearing impaired in a r-e-a-l-l-y  s-l-o-w  w-a-y so that they can understand doesn't help. It changes the shape of your lips & makes it very difficult for them to read.

I'm not asking anyone to drastically alter their lives to accommodate those who may have a variety of different needs. All I'm asking is for a little bit of awareness. Next time you're out, see if everything is wheelchair accessible. The clothing racks in stores are requires to fit a wheelchair through them, yet they are rarely wide enough because then retailers couldn't fit as much stuff on the sales floor. Consider what the world would be like if you couldn't hear everything, & what might be different for you. And for goodness sake, please make it a point NOT to cross to the other side of the walkway when someone who looks or acts a little different comes your way.....they are just regular people out in public, just like you! 

Just be aware of the way everyday life is set up to further disadvantage the already disadvantaged. But I warn you, it's upsetting once you finally start to see. And you'll see it everywhere.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

free Apartheid?

I have a new favourite public figure. Well, he himself isn't new - he's been around a while - but I only learned about him yesterday. Tim Wise, and if you don't know who he is, check him out immediately. I'm a bit disappointed in myself that I haven't heard of him sooner to be honest. And don't be surprised when I meet him one day & I'm about as ecstatic as the time I met Dr. Maya Angelou. I think he's that amazing. 

So I'll spare you the complicated process of thinking that goes on in my head, but basically I read over his bio & realized that he became an anti-racism activist by involving himself in anti-Apartheid activities during his undergraduate studies. Having grown up in Apartheid South Africa myself, I understand how that experience can make you question not only your values but also the concept of justice in the world as you know it. And I started thinking about how common it is for white people there to have black maids. And the general thought is that by allowing this person to clean your home & care for your children 5 days a week, pay them, house them, & give them a day or two to return to their own towns/families, that they are being given a better life than they could have otherwise. There is no inequality, because they are getting a great deal. Think about that for a second - someone comes in, cleans up your crap, takes care of your (probably completely spoiled if you're the type to hire a maid) children, lives away from their family & loved ones, & this is *a good deal*. What's the automatic assumption there? 

Wait for it.......did it click yet? 

The unspoken yet automatic assumption is that the person who is financially able to do the hiring has a better life. Let me tell you, some of the most valuable lessons I learned as a child were from the Zulu women. And there is nothing that money can buy that is more important than being able to be a part of your own community, culture, and people. Therefore, by offering employment to people on the condition of being removed from their own is not actually "better". 

And then I got to thinking about the United States. Today, not in previous decades. Who primarily cleans houses here today? Latina women. Low income black women. If you're a really generous and wealthy white woman, you *might* have a live in nanny/maid type of thing & actually believe that you are in some way helping them achieve a better life. I cannot for one second wrap my mind around how someone could actually believe that having another person clean your toilets and raise your children and clean up your messes is "giving" them anything. It's the other way around in fact....they are enabling your lifestyle to exist by doing the menial tasks (otherwise known as common household responsibilities) for you. But there is no inequality of course, because they are being compensated for their work & oh my goodness if they are undocumented then how very generous of you to be providing them with a way of life. Right? 

When is the last time you heard a little girl say "when I grow up I want to be a maid" or "my biggest dream is to do someone else's laundry" or better yet "I hope I can take care of some rich lady's bratty kid while my own sits home alone all day"? Pretty much......never. These women do this backbreaking work for so little compensation because there are no other options. These women have hopes and dreams, and most likely they will never come true because of the way society is set up. 

Tim Wise said something very true that nobody wants to acknowledge: the term underprivileged by default means that there is an overprivileged. But nobody wants to admit that they could be hogging the resources of society or denying people access to basic rights like healthcare, education, self determination. Oh no, especially not if they are kind enough to *pay* these people for their services. No inequality there! And yet it exists....there is a distinctly overprivileged group in society, typically made up of wealthy whites. 

Our society in the United States today is really no different than it was in South Africa during the Apartheid, for plenty of reasons aside from this one. But I think in a way we are worse, because we hide the fact that there are distinct inequalities in the way we live. We *deny* it even. We say "oh no everything is wonderful here! Look we aren't like THEM." 

But we are. And we are worse because we adamantly refuse to admit it. We have the Apartheid in place under the guise of freedom. Ruminate on that one for a while...