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Feminization and Criminalization of Poverty.doc

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Social Science
SOSC 1350
Julie Dowsett

THE FEMINIZATION AND CRIMINALIZATION OF POVERTY Poor women have always been… morally suspect. Although low-income women were early recipients of welfare, there was always considerable public debate about just which women were morally deserving and which ones were not. Such divisions between the worthy and unworthy poor women have increased recently. And welfare fraud measures have legitimized the public’s perception that welfare recipients, and particularly single mothers, are not… deserving of state aid. —Margaret Hillyard Little 1.The Feminization of Poverty and Neoliberalism a.why neoliberal retrenchment of the state adversely affects the socio-economic position of women more than men - neoliberalism, first retrenchment (social services, health care, education) are continuing to be cut - Affects women more then men because they depend on social services then men - Health care, women are likely not to get benefits (EI for employment insurance {if you have “paid work}) - Women are likely to need education for their children (and interruptions in employment because of personal reasons {children, sexual harassment}) b.why the neoliberal reorganization of labour disproportionately affects the employment and earning rates of women - women make 71% of what men make - The loss full time jobs with benefits and more part time jobs without benefits for women c. some feminists argue that the feminization of poverty is not new - poverty is not anything new 2.The Feminization of Poverty: An Old Problem with a New Name? a.women have always been poor; their poverty has been concealed - it is not new because it is taken a new shape - Because of their depended roles, their poverty has been concealed - More and more women live without men (choice and necessity) women’s poverty becomes more visible - At every stage at their lives, women are likely to be more poor then men b.the “feminization of poverty” ought to be defined as such: without the support of a man, a woman is likely to be poor - without a support of a man, women are likely to be poor - Usually women solve their poverty problems by getting married - ^ instead they should have a better job and a bank account so they don’t have to get married to get out of poverty - This perspective more and more women are living without men, they become more poor - ^ queer women are likely to be more poor than straight women, and queer & straight men - Generally women with disabilities are likely to be single than men who are disabled - ^ often have difficulty to get work and likely to depend on the state - An increase in homeless is men but women are slowly increasing and becoming more visible c. regardless of whether the term “feminization of poverty” is understood to describe an old or new (neoliberal) phenomenon, women today form the majority of the poor in Canada - women do form he majority of the poor 3.The Feminization of Poverty in Canada: A Snapshot a.2.4 million Canadian women live in poverty - 1 in 7 (2.4 million women) live in poverty b.this has been tied to the divorce rate - ^ tied in divorce rate, and nowadays, 50% change you may get a divorce c. this is especially the case for women with children - 2005, over half (51.6%) lone parent families (female lead) are poor - ^ children are poor because their parents are poor , and women being poor and primarily caregivers, obviously their children will be poor - Women and children are interlinked d.70 percent of minimum wage workers are women (particularly immigrant women and women of colour) - minimum wage Is not enough to keep you out of poverty (and especially if you have children) e.the poverty rate for older women is twice what it is for older men - women over 65 (considered senior citizens) 20% chance of being poor and living their life in poverty and men is 9.5% 4.A Socialist-Feminist Understanding of Women’s Poverty a.poverty as crucial to capitalism i. the working poor ii. the unemployed - most poor people work, poverty law is only concerned with the unemployed - Poor and unemployed = a job isn’t enough to keep you out of poverty and most poor people do work and poverty law has only been concerned with unemployed (so if you’re working but poor, not there problem) - Women of colour are still poor - Social feminist argue that the working poor and unemployed are not an accident or not a form of capitalism that has yet to be perfected - The working poor and unemployed is a crucial role in working of capitalist economy* - Bill Livant states, “a liberal sees a beggar on the street and says the system is not working. A Marxist sees a beggar and says it is” - ^ its working only if they are willing to get paid b.the importance of unemployment to capitalist economies - from the perspective of capitalist there should always be unemployment because there are always spare people for work c. women as a disproportionate share of the working poor and unemployed - feminist argue that the organization of families in the capitalist economies 5.A Brief History of Poverty Law: The “Deserving” Versus the “Undeserving” Poor a.The Poor Law (England, 1601) - the law justifies the existence of poverty between the deserving and the so called undeserving poor* - The history of law, Is the history of the deserving poor on how they are socially and legally constructed compared to the undeserving poor - “enclosure” means that if your poor and you had land it no longer belonged to y
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