Dear Women's Education:

I recently saw a review of my book by G. Marshall [No Way to Live, WEdf vol.7 no.1].

  1. Thank you for the good review.

  2. I seriously take objection to the following: "I agree that women are fearful of retribution by their welfare worker if they are 'problem' clients..." This is bullshit. Women are battered by welfare the same as all the other battering that takes place in their lives. There is seldom "problem women." There are more likely to be "problem workers."

  3. "Sheila neglects to include specifics of many cases." Women were never my cases. They were peers. I never had an office, a salary, a filing system or a typist. I did the very best with the little I could afford out of my welfare cheque. Women who were scared to go to an established service came to me in doorways, streets, restaurants, washrooms. Many were helped, many were too scared.

People are still scared and they are not "problem cases." Just battered poor people. When they stand up for their rights they become empowered. How I wish it could always be like that. But it's not.

Welfare Bum

A welfare bum they called her
as she struggled to raise three kids.

She baked, she served,
she tried so hard to make a little money.

The house she cleaned at the top of the Hill
only earned her twenty dollars.

Just 35, she looked so old
her face so lined and wrinkled.

She worked and worked, that welfare bum
and raised those tiny children.

I believe the time has come for society to
honour such "welfare bums"

Sheila Baxter
Vancouver, B.C.

. . . .

Dear Women's Education:

As a single mother on welfare and a volunteer worker at the local Unemployed Action Centre, I would like to comment on the article "Combining Facts and Feelings: A New Approach to Decision-Making" [WEdf vol.7 nol.1]. I would have appreciated hearing something about what happens to the women after they go through the OFA program. It is great that their decision-making skills are honed and their self-esteem raised, but out in the working world employers don't really care about employees' self-esteem. They don't want assertive employees who will stand up for their rights; the circumstances of the women's lives as employees will not necessarily allow them much decision-making and the quality of their lives, their feeling of having power over their own lives, may be even less than it was on welfare! This is because the major motivation of employers in the '80s is to have people's services at as low a price and under as lousy conditions as possible.

There is a myth abroad that anyone who is unemployed is semi-literate and has low self-esteem and once these two things are corrected all will be rosy in their life. This is putting the responsibility for poverty on the poor themselves rather than on the system which nurtures and exploits poverty.

What poor women (and men) need is not endless retraining for low-paying jobs (even skilled people are being forced to take less than they are worth these days), not endless courses on self-esteem and resume-writing. What we need are jobs that pay enough to raise a family, flexible working hours that allow us time with our loved ones, decent child care, and the option to stay home with our children if we feel their needs warrant it (in other words, recognize and reimburse the unpaid labour of running a home).

Anne Miles
Gibsons, B.C.

. . . .

Dear Women's Education:

Women's Education des femmes continues to be very informative and interesting. Thank you!

Susan DeRosa
Ottawa, Ontario

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