Dean Spade & Normal Life

The found of the Sylvia River Law Project talks abut his new book, Normal Life. He is, as ever, smart, compassionate, and earnest about providing some answers to how we protect the most vulnerable. Totally worth watching:

He is too cool. Here’s Part 2.

Who’s Poor? Women

With all of this blather about financial bottom lines, I’d just like to point out a small fact: the majority of the poor people in this country are women. So any budget plan that cuts funding for the poor is cutting funding for women, especially single mothers with children.

It’s embarrassing that we have the largest gap in poverty rates between men & women in the Western world.

Here are some other useful facts the next time someone starts going on about budgets and bottom lines and how there’s no need for feminism:

  • 13% of women over the age of 65 are poor; only 6% of men that age are.
  • The poverty gap between women and men widens significantly between ages 18 and 24—20.6 percent of women are poor at that age, compared to 14.0 percent of men. The gap narrows, but never closes, throughout adult life, and it more than doubles during the elderly years.

Why? Not just because of the wage gap, which is still significant – 77 cents on the dollar these days – but also because

  • women provide far more unpaid care giving than men,
  • they are still responsible for most of the unpaid childcare,
  • women still get pregnant and lose jobs as a result, and finally,
  • women lose paid work days dealing with the sexual and other violence.

So how about we actually work on a plan that eliminates sexual violence against women to balance the fucking budget, instead?

(h/t to Dylan.)

Dickens Suddenly Relevant Again

There’s a great piece today in the NYT by Barbara Ehrenreich about the criminalization of the poor.

But will it be enough — the collision of rising prison populations that we can’t afford and the criminalization of poverty — to force us to break the mad cycle of poverty and punishment? With the number of people in poverty increasing (some estimates suggest it’s up to 45 million to 50 million, from 37 million in 2007) several states are beginning to ease up on the criminalization of poverty — for example, by sending drug offenders to treatment rather than jail, shortening probation and reducing the number of people locked up for technical violations like missed court appointments. But others are tightening the screws: not only increasing the number of “crimes” but also charging prisoners for their room and board — assuring that they’ll be released with potentially criminalizing levels of debt.

As more Americans become this kind of poor, maybe we’ll finally pay attention.

(h/t to Kate Bornstein for tweeting it)