Listening to last week’s This American Life podcast “Switcheroo,” I noticed that the Philippines played a prominent role. First, the Philippines were the source of cheap labor in the story about outsourcing local journalism and reporting. The piece talked of how a company providing local news content has farmed out writing responsibilities to Filipino writers paid cents per article. Additionally, they did not get credit for the articles, instead having to select generic traditionally American sounding computer generated pseudonyms. This American Life also gave the writers a limited voice, reaching out to contact one but only quoting him saying a single word.
Second, in the final piece in the show, the Philippines were the source of a mail-order bride who did not take a maternal interest in her new stepdaughter. This mail-order bride later sued her stepchildren for possession of the family home when her husband took up with another Filipino bride and fled to the Philippines. The entire piece is a narrative from the stepdaughter and except for a brief fact checking epilogue, no other source is presented and the brides have no voice.
Taken together, the listener gets a view of the Philippines as a source of oppressed workers with limited options open to being exploited by Americans. Also, the stories reinforce the sense of Filipinos as low-cost laborers willing to make money in ways the average American would not accept. What listeners do not get is a sense of Filipinos as authors of their own stories, as speakers in their own voice.
I know this show was not meant as a piece on the Philippines, but it did strike me in a way as a microcosm of the history of American interactions with the Philippines, interactions that have involved imperial occupation and an unwillingness to listen to authentic Filipino leadership. See Stanley Karnow’s “In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines” for details.
Back to the olden days…
Schools should be teaching girls how to go about finding supportive husbands, or so Helen Fraser, 63, the chief executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust in England stated. Fraser was inspired to think about the topic by Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg’s comment “The most important career choice you’ll make is who you marry.” Fraser also coined a great phrase when she said the problem for women achieving in the workplace was not so much the glass ceiling as what she termed in great British terminology, “the nappy wall.” To overcome the barrier posed by the demands of child rearing, especially all those diapers, it essential, according to Fraser, for a woman to find a man who values and supports her career going beyond merely, “finding a husband who does the Hoovering and makes the dinner.”
I thought this educational suggestion striking as it came from a head of a girls’ school organization and at least in the States all girls’ schools t truly push independent achievement in all realms, particularly teaching girls to compete and succeed in the corporate and educational arenas. The idea that a girls’ school would provide lessons on husband finding seems on the face to be rather retrograde. However, I see the point. If a school wants to prepare girls for the demands of the modern world, helping them to make choices that best address those demands makes sense. Still, I do wonder what the lessons would actually look like. Will there be role play first dates, assignments asking students to critically analyze online dating profiles, studies of film and books to assess wisdom of character partner selection decisions (don’t be like Hester Prynne or Daisy Buchanan).
I also wonder about the flip side. What would happen if the chair of a boys’ school coalition stated that they needed to educate boys to find supportive spouses who would value the man’s career. I can imagine that some might think that would be unnecessary while the program for girls is necessary due to societal expectations. Still, though, would it not make sense even if not needed part of a crusade to remedy inequality? Doesn’t everyone need to think about choosing partners intelligently regardless of gender?
If it’s good for girls, should this group look into spouse selection education?
There have been a number of articles on the tradition of women proposing to men during leap year, what was a once in four years chance to reverse the power dynamic and give women the chance to take the initiative. I did not know of this tradition. However, I saw on Slate this supposedly humorous series of postcards illustrating the tradition and making fun of women taking advantage of the opportunity. They show how the tradition may have existed, but was more of a joke, and how those who might take advantage of it faced mockery.