Monday, September 10, 2007

Temporary Aid for Needy Families controls women's reproduction

From Learning from the history of poor and working-class women's activism, Mimi Abramovitz, dated 2002. TANF is Temporary Aid for Needy Families, and American program. Note the "temporary" - it's designed to be a short term thing. It makes the American public, which believes in hard work, feel good, but it fails to meet the needs of many. That's actually another story; here, Abramovitz examimes how TANF has been used to control reproduction.

TANF's work requirements have captured most of the public interest, but welfare reform also directs our attention to what might be termed the point of reproduction - long a site for activism for the feminist movement and many middle-class women. In its effort to promote marriage as the foundation of a successful society, welfare reform stigmatizes single mothers and unduly controls the marital, childbearing, and child-rearing choices of poor and working-class women. To this end, TANF includes the family cap noted earlier but also an illegitimacy bonus, which provices extra funds to the five states that reduce their nonmarital birth rates without increasing abortions, and abstinence-only funds for school programs that try to limit teen pregnancy by replacing comprehensive sex education with abstinence-only programs. The ferofmers built support for these harsh policies by evoking racialized stereotypes of hypersexed black women who have additional chuldren to increase their welfare grants. The new Fatherhood and Marriage initiative, currently under discussion in congress, suggests that family values will become a major issue during the upcoming reauthorization debate.

No comments: