Monday, 21 April 2008

the panic of economy

So I'm reading my morning news (a bad decision, given that it generally makes me depressed for the whole day), and I see a headline about 'Moms' who are suffering from the rising cost of food and gas. I read the article, and a few things struck me. Depressing things, of course, but perhaps insightful nonetheless.

1. These 'Moms' are mostly working mothers with working (or recently working) fathers. None of these families can be said to be earning anything lower than middle class wages. Perhaps that is the point of the article (i.e., here are some middle class families who are struggling), but what does that say about the recently unemployed, or, for that matter, the hoards of people who make less than $20/hour?

2. The incredulity of independence from mass-marketed goods. Moms breastfeeding? Making their own baby food? Growing their own vegetables?? My god, it really has gotten bad. Of course, while there is plenty of information about your local bulk-food/low-cost grocery store, there is no information about buying actual local food (from actual farmers in your neighborhood). Heaven forbid people start realizing that they don't actually need to go to a grocery store to acquire more-than-adequate sustenance for themselves and their children.

3. The emphasis on female self-sacrifice. I understand that women still do most of the household chores in American families, including grocery shopping and cooking, but why the focus on women? Where are the men in these families cutting corners? Why are women the suffer-buffer for a family's economic woes? The article aims (I think) to use the 'mother' as a pity-evoking symbol, but it also reifies that antiquated (and Christian) notion that women are naturally (and appropriately) self-sacrificers.

So, wives and girlfriends and daughters and mothers and sisters, in these tough economic times (tough for everyone except the millionaires, of course), please just take the hit for all of us. We'd like you to absorb all the financial hardship of your family and try to make your husbands, children, and parents not notice the difference in their lifestyles. We'd also like you to quell whatever emotional difficulty your family might be having because of their lack of money. Emotions and housework are your basic family responsibilities. You can feel better about yourself later by making everyone around you feel guilty for their inadequate martyrdom.

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