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"Offending Women" certainly offended this woman

Michaela's picture

I came away from reading the first three chapters of "Offending Women" diametrically opposed to Alliance as a program--with all the unfair, hypocritical, awful practices that were described, I was astounded that Haney was able to remain (relatively) calm and objective about the whole thing as an observer. Frankly, among the young women imprisoned (and I do use the word "imprisoned" intentionally here) by the directors who called these captives "their girls" and presumed to speak of rescuing them, I'm surprised that they were so restrained, that only Maria escaped (so far as Haney reports, if my memory serves). I found Rachel Brennan in particular to be teaching in a way that seemed, after our class discussions of the past few weeks, misguided and even malicious. She taught by and enforced codes that her students were unfamiliar with, that did not fit in with what they wanted in the classroom (being able to keep their children with them, for instance). Her "I know best" attitude and penchant for changing classroom expectations and plans just because she could was infuriating! Her self-congratulatory, smug attitude was counterproductive to listening to her students or improving her techniques, as she was sure that she was teaching her students the value of performing a given task for a monetary reward through her ridiculous, patronizing "Brennan Bucks" program.

Sorry for the rant. I could go on about my frustration with this program, but I'd really like to hear what others have to say, both here on Serendip and in class on Friday. 



couldntthinkofanoriginalname's picture

Offending Women: Something Else Got Under My Skin

I was going to write this as my post but I wanted to put it in direct coversation with the posts you two wrote so it is now a comment. I also found this reading problematic but for a different reason--the stereotypes of "Welfare Queens" (borrowed that from Chandrea) was nothing new to me.For that reason, the impact of Alliance's message to the girls did not hit me hard--perhaps, because the dependency discourse is so ingrained in our society and is constantly used as a political platform when discussing class in America. With that said, what bothered me most was the use and mentioning of the word, "girls." While reading both of your posts/comments, I noticed that in some cases that word was used either to remain true to the original text or to refer to the subject at hand. At some point, Uninhibited, you give them their due respect by referring them as "young women."

When Rachel Brennan says, "girls like you." The phrasing and the use of the word  characterizes the "young women" as small, naive, even stupid. Although referring to someone or using the word "girl" is, often times, not problematic, it is worh noting that it can mean that a female has not yet reached an esteemed state: womanhood. So, as I was caught off guard by Rachel Brennan's demeaning approach, and annoyed by the whole chapter, the question of "What does it mean to be a girl versus a women?" kept coming to mind. Yes, I can acknowledge that these females are young but for them to end up in a correctional facility/program speaks volumes to the experiences and hard lives they must have had. Similar to how adulthood is often characterized by how wise someone is as a result of many experienced years, along those same lines, the "girls" should be titled as women. This term is respectful and acknowledges that many of them probably led lives that forced them to take on the responsbilities of womanhood.

Uninhibited's picture



I felt the same exact way, I was in a state of disbelief when I read about the ways in which they scolded the young women for "being dependent" on government money, when the program itself was dependent on the girls! They probably thought they wouldn't realize this, but they quickly learned that the girls were intelligent enough to exert their power and to recognize that are integral parts of the organization, not only on the receiving end, but also on the giving end. I think this really speaks to the ways in which incarcerated people are looked at as less than human, powerless, and incapable of making good decisions for themselves. The whole idea of victim blaming is like a repeated disk that I've heard too many times. I was happy when I read about them making use of their resources and turning the phrases they heard over and over again upside down.