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Offending Women

Hummingbird's picture

I had a hard time reading Offending Women, not because of the level of it's cohesiveness or vocabulary, but because of how angry it made me. The examples Haney gave of the treatment women faced at Alliance made me question how they could be justified in continuing thier program. Though I'm sure living in a house with few restrictions was far more comfortable than living in a prison, the verbal and mental abuse the women faced was uncalled for and unjustified in my opinion. 

Last year, I read a book called Unequal Childhoods by Annette Lareau. The book had a huge impact on the way I thought about teaching because it focused on the way parents of different class backgrounds raise their children. In the book, Lareau focused on what she called "concerted cultivation," which was a parenting technique used by middle class families to encourage their children to feel independence through giving choices (as opposed to directives). Children from these families were more likely to ask questions of thier elders and were better able to navigate social institutions – such as schools, doctor's offices, etc. – because they knew how to make sure thier needs were met. I'm mentioning this because I felt – almost as soon as I started reading about Alliance – that their program focused solely on ensuring directives were followed. The mothers at Alliance weren't allowed to ask questions and when they did push back, they were punished for it. Though the staff wanted the mothers to show initiative, they wouldn't let the mothers choose what to feed their children. I feel the system of directives was totally against Alliance's goal of fostering independence because ultimately, the women would still have had trouble navigating the social institutions they'd be forced to deal with once they were released. After being taught that the government owed them nothing, how could the women be expected to push for the assistence they needed or ask questions of institutions?