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Welfare Feminism

- Abstract

It is fair to say that the Nation, having come out every week for almost 130 years now, is the country’s longest-lived and most consistent voice of the Left. Therefore on opening a new issue one might, depending on one’s outlook, expect to be soothed or stirred to passion, illuminated or infuriated. The one thing one does not usually experience is surprise. A striking exception is the column called “Subject to Debate” in the May 30, 1994 issue. The column’s author is the much-prized poet and radical feminist ideologue Katha Pollitt, and on this occasion her subject is welfare mothers.

Pollitt begins by pointing out that women have been unfairly blamed for many things, beginning with the banishment from Eden and on down to the serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer (whose father, says Pollitt, accused Dahmer’s mother of being a reluctant breast-feeder). And now women are being subjected by virtually everyone to the most unfair accusation of all: that they are the cause of poverty.

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