Blaming the poor (and women) for poverty?

Lately, people have been talking about Katrina Gilbert, a single mom from Tennessee who is at the center of a new HBO documentary, Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert. The documentary looks to be an inspiring one, with insights into the lives of the working poor, similar to those discussed in books like Nickel and Dimed, which I read a few years ago and loved. In simple terms, Katrina is a single mother of three, forced to live on her $9 an hour salary as a nursing assistant.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject of poverty, though it interests me. However, while reading about the documentary in an article from NPR, what I found startling was the comment section. It amazes me what people will say when hiding behind anonymity, specifically commenters like this, who insist that Katrina herself should blame herself for her situation.

What some people seem to ignore is that life is a series of choices, those choices set you on a path to poverty or prosperity! No one wants to talk about this, because it leads back to personal responsibility. There is a lot of reasons why most of these women are below the poverty line, one is because they didn’t get a good education in a lucrative field, they decided to have kids without the means to take care of them, and they don’t choose their mates wisely, not to mention they have kids without getting married to their mate. Single parent hood is not a badge of horror, it’s actually a disgrace, we have made what use to be wrong right, and whats right wrong! Sad state we are in, and out solution is raise more taxes on the rich so we can help these people that make life choices, that makes them poor. Why are rich people responsible for my choices, why do they need to provide for my kids, why? If I made a choices that led to my life being not great, then I should live with that! Last year the federal government issued 250000 H1B visas so foreigners that are educated in the right field can come to the US to work in high paying IT jobs. There is not a pay gap, there is a skills gap. all you have to do it stop having babies get an education in a n in demand field, and you will be ok!

First of all, I accept that life IS a series of choices, and our fate is largely due to the choices we make throughout our life. Even if you are born into poverty, it is possible to work hard and focus on ways of lifting yourself from the mire that traps so many.

But there are so many things that suck about this statement:

“…they didn’t get a good education in a lucrative field…”

I wonder what this person thinks a “lucrative field” is anyway? Engineering? Business? Accounting? Namely, male-dominated fields that are only attainable by higher education? Education that single mothers can neither afford or have the time for? Plus, I thought nursing WAS considered growing field?

“…they decided to have kids without the means to take care of them…”

Yes, let’s just blame women for pregnancy. Because you know, it’s not like it takes two people to make a baby.

 “….they don’t choose their mates wisely, not to mention they have kids without getting married to their mate…”

Again, let’s just lay everything on a woman’s doorstep here. Let’s not hold men accountable for their behavior or actions. Men aren’t expected to better partners, husbands, and fathers. No, it’s simply the woman’s fault when she “picks” the wrong one, or when the one she picked and had children with turned out to be a bad egg. Stupid women.

“Single parent hood is not a badge of horror, it’s actually a disgrace”

Is this guy (I can’t only assume it’s a man) serious? I guess those parents whose partners pass away are a disgrace? Or, Katrina should be expected to raise her kids with their drug addict father…because that’s not shameful? Or, women should not have a choice in life partners, but simply settle for whoever knocks her up first?


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