Sunday, April 04, 2010

Continuing on the the feminist theme of coercion through positive reinforcement

Yesterday, there was an article in the National Post in which Jonathan Kay described his visit to an anti-racism workshop.

I laughed, as it reminded me of what DeBeauxOs said of the likes of me and other so-called int├ęgristes.

An especially telling moment came when someone raised the subject of Third World nannies who immigrate to Canada under government-sponsored caregiver programs. The instructor told the class that the practice was inherently "super-exploitative." She also pointed us to an article included in the week's reading, Black Women and Work, in which Canadian author Dionne Brand argues that cynical employers use appeals such as "You know that you're part of the family" to emotionally blackmail nannies, housekeepers and elder-care workers into the continuation of abusive work relationships.

One of the students -- I'll use the name "Chris" (having promised not to identify any attendee by name) -- interjected, apologetically. Chris couldn't help but confess that her own family had employed just such a nanny, who truly did seem "part of the family." For several minutes, Chris gave details, describing all the touching, intimate ways in which the nanny's family had become intermingled with Chris's own.

This speech from the heart caused a ripple of discomfort. One woman suggested that the nanny has adopted a "coping mechanism" to deal with her subordinate situation. This led to a discussion about how we must recognize the nanny's "agency"--a popular buzzword signifying that minority members must not be seen as passive victims. The instructor listened attentively -- but didn't offer much more except that the example demonstrated the "contradictariness" of anti-racism studies. We moved on while Chris sat there, looking somewhat confused, and attracting my sympathy.

Maybe the "contradictariness" is due to the fact that it's crap.

Look, the woman has "agency". Just because she's a poor woman of colour from the Third World doesn't mean she can't see through the BS.

If the family says she's part of the family and they don't treat her that way, don't you think she's not going to see that?

It seems that feminists have low expectations of women in "victim" groups. It's almost...sexist, racist and discriminatory in other ways as well.