A full-time worker making nine dollars an hour cannot raise a family above the poverty line. A paper by Sheldon Danziger and David Ratner demonstrates that fewer women survive on less than $9 an hour today than (its adjusted equivalent) in 1979. The same cannot be said for men: The authors write:
…changes in the labor market over the past thirty-five years, such as labor-saving technological changes, increased globalization, declining unionization, and the failure of the minimum wage to keep up with inflation, have made it more difficult for young adults to attain the economic stability and self-sufficiency that are important markers of the transition to adulthood.
This was originally posted at Jezebel by Lindsay Robertson. Thanks to Chloe A. at Feministing for drawing our attention to it as a possible cross-post!
Last night, ABC used hidden cameras and actors to see what regular people would do if they saw an obviously abused woman being harassed by her boyfriend. A lot of regular people failed the test.
The highly-successful 20/20 spinoff What Would You Do? brings social experiments to television, using variables to test how ordinary people react to situations such as seeing someone steal a bike in a park, or witnessing a deli clerk give a blind man incorrect change. Lately, the show has been raising the stakes, and last night reporter John Quiñones showed us what restaurant diners do when they see a very obviously bruised woman getting picked on by her boyfriend at a nearby table.
As they often do, the producers used different variables to see if they changed the outcome, staging the scene with both white and African American actor “couples” to see if race affected bystanders’ willingness to step in. In both cases, the actresses were helped by fellow diners (though fewer men got involved with the African American couple):
But then they tried a different variable: the women’s clothing. When the same actresses dressed “provocatively,” and we’re talking clothing that’s pretty average for a Saturday night, not Julia Roberts’ blue-and-white monokini-thing in Pretty Woman, nobody came to their rescue. Diners complained to the staff that the couple were “upsetting customers” and one man told the abusive boyfriend actor that the two were “embarrassing themselves as a couple,” but nothing like what happened when the women were dressed conservatively occurred in this case, and in fact, two middle-aged female witnesses joked with each other about the beaten-up woman being a prostitute.
While obviously the show is highly unscientific (notice that in the second video, the white actor is inexplicably dressed up in a suit) and meant for entertainment, it can’t be a bad thing to force viewers to think about issues such as racism or domestic violence. Maybe the next time they see someone being abused, they’ll be more likely to step up. (After all, they might be on TV!)
Nationalist white supremacy organizations, and their gentler counterparts in the U.S., sometimes argue that non-white women are having more children than white women. The result is a shift in the national demographic (that they don’t like).
This month the Pew Research Center released a report on the changing demographics of American motherhood (discovered thanks to a tip by Michael Kimmel). Under “Mother’s Race,” we see that there has been a 12 percentage point decrease in the share of births to white women between 1990 and 2008. In contrast, births to Asian and, especially, Hispanic women have increased (a combined 13 percentage points):
The share of births to native versus foreign born women has also shifted, with a quarter of births now to women who have immigrated to the U.S.:
White women made up 53% of mothers of newborns in 2008, down from 65% in 1990. The share of births to Hispanic women has grown dramatically, to one-in-four.
So, whether you agree with the national white supremacists’ evaluation of the data or not (I assume you do not), they’re right about the data.
UPDATE: Sabrina, in the comments, rightly points out that my comments assume that the father’s race matches the mother’s.
Michelle R. sent in a segment from CNN that asks children to associate positive or negative attributes with various skin tones, much like a famous 1940s experiment that asked children which doll they preferred. The original experiment, and recreations since then, have found that children of all races tend to view lighter-skinned dolls or images more positively (prettier, smarter, more desirable as a classmate) than darker-skinned ones, and to believe that adults do so as well (sorry for the ads before each segment).
Anderson Cooper then talks to some of the children about their answers:
It’s fascinating that kids pick up on competing cultural themes and use them in their answers — that is, skin color isn’t supposed to matter and you judge people as individuals, but people still do care about skin color. And they all agree that the “good” skin color (from their own perspective or what they think adults prefer) is lighter. And to hear a girl refer to her own skin color as “nasty”…heartbreaking.
Chrissy B. sent in a link to a post at Tom & Lorenzo about a fashion spread in the May 2010 issue of Interview magazine. The images draw on the common “Black people as accessories/props” theme, presenting a White model surrounded by men and women of color, all in sexualized poses.
The text accompanying the photo spread:
Let’s get lost. The hour is late, the air is thick, and the evening is charged with a steamy sensuality. What works? Tone-on-tone swimsuits, slithers of silk, and plenty of skin, as flesh meets flesh, body meets soul, and Daria gets lost in the heat of the night.
These might be somewhat unsafe for some workplaces (there’s no nudity, but very suggestive poses), so I’m putting them after the jump to be safe.
A recent study by Chelsea Schafer and Greg Shaw found that, as of 2006, over a quarter of Americans would still rather not live near homosexuals. This percentage has been decreasing, however; in 1990 and 1995, 38% and 30% of people, respectively, wanted to keep their distance:
But tolerance for Muslims and immigrants has not increased alongside tolerance for gays and lesbians. The data show that rather high levels of tolerance in the ’90s (with about 90% of people being happy to have these groups as neighbors) disappeared and, by 2006, 22% of people did not want to live near Muslims and 19% did not want to live near immigrants.
The data on tolerance for Muslims is likely due to the way the attacks on September 11th, 2001, have been spun to stoke hatred against Muslims. What do you think about the increased intolerance for immigrants? Have “foreigners” been collateral damage in the smear campaign against Muslims and Arabs? If it were simply growing conservatism, wouldn’t we see the same pattern for homosexuals? Other explanations?
An article in press at the journal, Medical Hypotheses, suggests that detection of underlying medical problems that affect skin color can be facilitated by placing patients in hospital gowns matching their skin. If their skin starts to change color, then the contrast will make it suddenly obvious; without the contrast, it might go entirely unnoticed.
The article, though, includes only illustrations featuring light skin. These are them:
A search for words that might suggest even a nod to the idea that darker-skinned people exist — e.g., black, race, ethnicity, Latino, etc — turned up nothing.
The designer of the cup, Leslie Buck, arrived in the U.S. after fleeing the Nazis during World War II. He joined a new company called “Sherri Cup” in the ’60s. He designed the cup, with no art training, with a Grecian theme and in the colors of the Greek flag, to appeal to… Greeks. It turns out that a large portion of the city’s diners at that time were owned by Greeks. It was an instant hit.
So, we have immigration, ethnic occupational segregation, and Buck’s ingenuity to thank for decades of cozy, New Yorky feelings inspired by that little cup.
Buck died this April. You can read his obituary, and the whole story of the cup, at the New York Times.