Written June 2004
The generalized gender breakdown is men's "welfare" is social security. I have met many a male recovering drug addict and male vet who received social security payments monthly. Women and children, instead, predominate the welfare system as we've come to know it. Currently in most states, at least in the West, a woman and a child on welfare get approximately $440 a month. That does not cover rent for a one bedroom apartment (with child and mom sharing the bedroom) in most cities. Now the predominantly male "welfare" system, social security, currently pays one white male $560 a month. How is it that Congress has decided to give one single white male, the population with the easiest and highest earning potential in society, more money to live on each month than mothers with children? It is called misogyny and patriarchy.
In all reality, the welfare systems run by the states (DSHS, etc) are actually subsidizing the male portion of child support most often. The man leaves a child with a woman, and this society allows him to do so, completely free of stigma. And these men often have patterns of this, leaving trails of women on welfare. Yet society only talks of sterilizing welfare moms, never the dads who create them. So the woman is doing more than her share of childcare, cleaning, cooking, etc. While the mom is being more than responsible, the male who ditched his kids is the irresponsible pig whose ass welfare is covering. Not the woman's. For society's good, welfare is covering the irresponsible male's ass! And blaming the women for it! Misogyny and patriarchy.
Most women on welfare have court appointed child support orders that the males laugh at. The states give women welfare to equal their missing child support amounts, basically, and then the state is supposed to go get repaid by these deadbeat dads. And yet due to patriarchy, the "Child Support Enforcement Offices" (CSEO's) are run out of the incompetent and abusive welfare offices, so it is quite circular, and the men remain insulated from all responsibility endlessly. The workers, if you can call them that, at the CSEO's are so incompetent, at least in my case, as to be stealing public money in my opinion. In my case, the CSEO's said they could not find my son's father to serve him child support papers. So, I did a 5 minute search for the home he owns and lived in, and then handfed that to the idiots at the CSEO. Next month, I received a letter saying they could not locate the father. I reminded them that didn't work anymore, I busted them with the address the month prior. So the next month, I got the letter again, we cannot find him. He never moved. Apparently instead of actually working at the CSEO's, they send out form letters saying they cannot find the fathers, when they sure can find them. I went through a living hell with the CSEO's in 3 states, and in the end, I got not one cent of child support, while the dad owned a house and was in blatant contempt of court orders with no penalty whatsoever.
It is clear to me that the welfare departments that I dealt with had no sincere desire to ever collect that child support from him, even though he owned a house! As soon as child support papers were served upon my son's dad finally, for a total of 14 years in arrears, he quickly divorced his wife, signed over all property he owned into her name and the names of the kids he had after mine with her, and then claimed poverty and said he could not pay any child support. While he stayed living with his wife and kids in the house he owned until served with child support paperwork! No one cared at all about him repaying the state for covering his child support. Instead, all eyes were on me, the responsible one, the one who did her share of the childcare duties and his share too! Instead, I was shamed, dehumanized, and degraded systematically, being told my doing childcare was not a job, that I was a lazy drain on society, and my only worth was to provide immediate labor for a business owner for minimum wages and no benefits, while also paying someone else to do my childcare.
So let me get this straight. The male does not pay his child support nor does he DO any childcare. The state doesn't enforce child support orders. (Talk about solving a state budget crisis overnight, make men pay welfare back for all their subsidized childcare!) Then I was told that my providing childcare was not a job, but someone else doing the exact same thing, was doing a job? Could I then babysit a welfare mom's kid and she could babysit mine, and our work would finally be validated? I don't get it. I get that it is misogyny and patriarchy.
Historically, men owned women and children in America. Women fought long and hard for their legal freedoms, much less our children's freedom from merely being male property. But in this patriarchy, even that has turned completely to male advantage. Now men AND THE STATE are just using women as a free childcare pool and shaming the women as they use them for financial profit. Welfare pretends to help women by forcing them into minimum wage jobs. Women only making minimum wages at their own jobs, are then told to pay a minimum wage to a childcare provider. It does not take a genius to see how that does not work! The two cancel one another out! Duh! The solution? Men who make babies either do their physical share of half the childcare or they pay someone else to do it. The solution is not to pretend childcare when done by welfare moms is not work. It IS work. We need to QUIT protecting lazy unconscious males by blaming men's irresponsibility on women who are doing more than their share of parenting duties. If you are angry at welfare moms, go take that out on the MEN who create more and more of them with no accountability at all. If you are angry at welfare moms, take it out on the STATE that subsidizes the men, and never collects the arrears owed the state. The MEN get the welfare, not the women! Can't anyone but me see this?
Women are systematically abused in job training partnerships between the state welfare offices and businesses. Businesses pay the state to FORCE welfare moms to attend mandatory WorkFirst training to get jobs. The state threatens to end all their benefits if women do not attend these gross "workshops" and "classes." If the job training and WorkFirst "classes" were not abusive and worthless, women would flock to them, without mandatory sentencing, like they do at universities! Women are forced to pay for childcare to go to these mandatory WorkFirst "workshops" every single day of the week. The workshops involve businesses coming into offices with welfare recipients and making them watch promotional business videos, then they hand applications out to every one, ask everyone to fill them out, and leave. The fine print is you also must accept any job offered you, so I just never would fill out the applications!
Other ways they waste women's time in WorkFirst is through unbelievably inappropriate and degrading "classes" taught by WorkFirst women workers, with little to no education. One such "class," that I was forced to attend in Seattle in 2002, handed out a worksheet of 5 pages. I have it here as I type, as I saved it for articles like this when I was given it. The front page says "My Money Values" and then it lists 19 different things that it asks you to number "in order of importance." This is the list in the exact order on the paper: "eat out occasionally, sports car, education for self, good car or pickup, adequate life insurance, modern furnishings/appliances, bills paid on time, owning a home, church, savings for the future, family trip, family or religious celebrations, education for children, stylish clothes, gifts for others, sports or other recreation, medicine or doctor, entertainment/hobbies, other." Wow. Does that just say it all or what? I stood up in this WorkFirst "class" as soon as we were handed this and said, "This is absolutely insulting. How DARE you hand me this and imply these things! Sports car, stylish clothing, modern furnishings? HOW DARE YOU and your stereotyping hand me and these women this?" I was FURIOUS. Another woman there who had a university education stood up and said what I said again. The "teacher" told me and the other woman to see her out of class while the other women went about rating their "money values." We argued quite intensely. As always, I was rerouted to not influence others with my rebellion. They decided I was overeducated for their WorkFirst "classes" so I was put on independent job search in the computer lab after that. At which time I began researching circus openings, street performer/busking festivals, and performance grants, as my job search. They could not figure out WHAT to do with me at WorkFirst. Back in Santa Cruz when JTPA was jacking me around for vocational training, I actually got the Pickle Family Circus to write welfare a letter saying they would take state training funds to train me in the circus! The earthquake derailed that plan, but that was a pretty amazing idea!
Back to the WorkFirst class handout…So the second page, after you have assessed your "money values" and have gone through her rehearsed lecture about why stylish clothes and sports cars have to wait, you get to the "Budget Worksheet." The "budget worksheet" goes on for 3 pages. It includes lines with these titles: "wages, child support, loans, rent, furnishings, taxes, utilities, food, car, childcare, medical, clothing, personal care, insurance, gifts, contributions, installments, child's school expenses, child support, job search postage/copies, etc." But one of these categories stinks to high hell also. It is the "recreation and entertainment" section. Under that one, it lists "cable tv, movies, magazines/newspapers, cigarettes/alcohol, gambling/lottery, eating out." Now that covers pretty much every stereotype of a welfare mom out there, doesn't it? So budgeting should not take long. Wages equal 40 hours minimum wage. Output is 50 hours childcare at minimum wages. So let's see, -10 hours minimum wage as the starting budget amount. Now, let me spread that over that lavish entertainment section, and over all those other categories…why again? To see how far in the red you will be monthly? We pretty much are already clear on that, since we pay the bills. I found this type of degrading nonsense to be INTOLERABLE within the institution of welfare. When they tried to force me to do that type of analysis, I IMMEDIATELY turned it into a capitalism and class analysis and they HATED that.
But, let us review again. The men say they cannot pay child support because they are poor and unemployed. But they have no childcare costs. Now, if welfare attached the deadbeat dads to these children's cases, instead of the moms, and forced men into the WorkFirst program, well, they actually have PLUS SIDE incomes to budget for WorkFirst "teachers." Women with children are forced into job searches unless they are working in the WorkFirst program. I say all deadbeat dads be forced into job searches until they are paying child support or doing half the childcare duties physically, before women put out anymore energy in that WorkFirst system. First of all, men would just pay child support if there were any real penalties beyond slaps on the wrist. If they were forced into WorkFirst because welfare is subsidizing their childcare, they would pay rather than face the humiliation women face in WorkFirst daily. Second, since the women have to pay for childcare to attend WorkFirst, why not send the parent without childcare costs there first? Third, why are we protecting men who make more and more welfare moms and babies with anonymity? Fourth, why are the women who do more than their share already, shamed for the men getting childcare subsidies?
I am sorry, but I can only see this as a gender war, a class war. It is abusive. It ruins women's lives every single day. This is a hidden problem. Welfare moms are afraid to identify themselves, much less speak up for their rights in public, due to society's attacking them for men's crimes. It is just an extension of stoning the pregnant woman in the town square for not being a virgin or being a whore or whatever, even if she was raped. The women take the blame for the men's crimes. You have read the Adam and Eve story, right? Adam eats the apple, Eve suffers in pain in birth thereafter as his punishment??! Misogyny and patriarchy, I say. Neil Young had it right with his classic song, "Welfare Mothers Make Better Lovers." It is time for welfare women to stand united and FIGHT for their dignity at welfare offices. This domestic abuse has gone on long enough. I implore every single welfare mom to WRITE THEIR STORY OF WELFARE ABUSES DOWN and post them on the Indy Media site nearest your home. Go to www.indymedia.org for a complete list of the IMCs in America. Let's see welfare moms rise up with clear voices, shattering the silence, saying WE WILL NOT PAY FOR MEN'S CRIMES, LIKE IN BIBLICAL TIMES, ANY LONGER!