DE Entry Group C Maid in America

| 5 Comments


This might be a weird concern, but what are these women eating?

Domestic work is hard labour: scrubbing, brushing, mopping, wiping, vacuuming, et cetera. They probably do a lot of walking as well. Judith had a bicycle. I would have expected the women in the video to be pretty fit.

Are they allowed to prepare meals in their employer's home on breaks? When Telma prepares food for Mickey, can she also eat the food she made? Does she have to have separate meals?

Do these women not have access to grocery stores with a cheap produce section? Do they not have enough money to buy fresh fruit and vegetables frequently?

How much private time do they have? Do they have adequate lunch breaks? Do they feel pressured to cut into their break time to get the work done?

In one scene, one of the domestic workers was drinking something greenish from a mug and tearing off chunks of bread for her breakfast. I would like to know what she was drinking. What is their grocery list like?

These women apparently had health care benefits because of their ownership of a business. As the video stated, most of the domestic workers do not have this luxury. When domestic workers have health problems, what do they do?

How many quality prenatal checkups did Eva have? How much did she have to pay for? How much did the state help her? Did she have access to healthy food while she was pregnant?

Maybe someone will see my post and think I'm being unfair and judging women because of their weight. Frankly, I wonder how much control they have over their health, and how low wages and benefits affect their ability to be healthy.

Most full time workers get health benefits of some sort because it is a less expensive way for an employer to compensate its employees. I wonder if the domestic workers' lack of health care benefits has anything to do with how their labour is valued/undervalued by society and by those who employ them.

5 Comments

From what I understand, the Hispanic diet has massive amounts of carbohydrates in it, such as corn and beans. I'm not sure how much the weight has to do with adequate health care as much as it has to do with the diet.

You raise a lot of interesting questions about the quality of domestic workers' work situations, and how being "off the books" affects the ways in which they are treated and the ways in which employers think of labor done.

I was curious about the question of health care during pregnancy, and I found that in Minnesota, at least, there is an assistance program you can apply to, MinnesotaCare, upon being diagnosed with pregnancy. I don't know how many state programs like that are available for illegal immigrants. With MinnesotaCare it seems to be that noncitizens can be covered, but sometimes only during pregnancy and for emergency services.

http://www.dhs.state.mn.us/main/idcplg?IdcService=GET_DYNAMIC_CONVERSION&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestReleased&dDocName=id_006248#

I wonder if this kind of thing exists because the pregnancy will become a baby that is a U.S. citizen...something interesting to think about, especially because I think in some cases coverage is terminated 60 days after birth.

I think this is such an interesting perspective. I had considered that these undocumented workers lack health coverage, but I did not think about how their low wages may or may not contribute to their ability to be healthy. It is true that I would think that their active job would lead to a more fit weight, yet in today's society so many people are overweight with so many factors contributing to obesity, it is hard to say.

I think you raise many interesting questions pertaining to Eva's prenatal care. How safe was it for her to be doing such strenuous work in the 7th month(I think she was 7 months). I think Eva explained it best when she was at home sick one day and said,"we are not machines, humans get sick." I can't recall whether the documentary disclosed if she still got paid that day. I wonder if some undocumented workers get paid sick days or time off for any holidays?

I also wonder if these women are granted adequate meal breaks. It seems that Thelma, the woman watching the 8 yr old boy, was probably not, considering she seems to be the main care taker and more to that family. Before the boy attended school I wonder if Thelma also ate with the child or if she had to purchase her own food?

...so many questions when it comes to these workers' rights!

The role Latina domestic workers play today in American society is a significant one; many consider them to be indispensable to the smooth operation of their daily lives and families.As the film opens, we meet 36-year-old Judith, driven by poverty and lack of employment opportunity to move to Los Angeles from a small village in Guatemala. But the decision wasn't an easy one: Judith's four young daughters had to stay behind, in the care of her sister, Olga, and her elderly mother. With her husband, Álvaro, Judith illegally crossed the Mexican border into the United States. Álvaro works as a day laborer and Judith as a domestic. Every two weeks she sends 50 percent of her income back home. The last time Judith saw her daughters was when she left in January 2000 (the youngest was then 17 months old). She hasn't been back home since. Now pregnant with her fifth child, Judith faces the challenges of continuing to perform heavy housework throughout her pregnancy, giving birth to a child in the United States and continuing to support a family abroad.
this is really nice post. You raise a lot of questions about nannies problems.

All of these concerns are so important and I don't see them addressed in the video, or elsewhere. Even where the working conditions seem liveable and even nice (like Thelma comes to mind, in particular) there are just certain ways in which I don't think these women are getting what they need out of the job. Would you ask these same questions of the Marburys (Thelma's employers)? Probably not, because you'd assume they had the resources because they had the money, which is a backwards system indeed. When domestic workers have healthcare problems and no coverage, they suffer at work or suffer away from work for no pay. Does that change if you co-own a business? The points you make about prenatal care are really important too. The health of these women is important but the health of their families should be guaranteed too, the way I'm covered under my parents' health insurance. I know you're not being condescending about their weight or circumstances and using these questions to reflect on how much control they have lost as an agreement to be employed with these places. I wish that women who work this hard and put in the physical and emotional labor would be more recognized and appreciated for what they do, regardless of their legal status as immigrants.

“Genetics and family history can predict whether you will become obese – but then so can your ZIP code,” Drewnowski said. “If poverty and obesity are truly linked, it will be a major challenge to stay poor and thin.”

From Science Daily: Researcher Links Rising Tide of Obesity to Food Prices.

(http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040105071229.htm)

This article answers the question as to how weight can correlate to income and the types of food people can afford to buy, and speaks volumes when applied to the women of "Maid in America."

Leave a comment

Recent Entries

DE April 27: Group B
While this course has been my first official foray into the GWSS department, feminism and gender politics have always been…
DE March 30: Group B
La Colectiva has a few conflicting messages. While their Bill of Rights demands improved conditions to empower workers and "level…
"Vulva"...A Feminist Issue?
Since our classmates' informative and compelling blog about the perfume industry has made fragrances something of a hot-ticket item,…