Maid in America

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When watching the film, Maid in America, the woman's story who seemed particularly problematic/ conscious-raising was Thelma's. She was the woman who worked for the black family. I understand that families have a lot going on and some need assistance with keeping the house clean, cooking, helping with homework, possibly bringing a child to and from school, etc. This family in particular had Thelma there for all parts of the day. I did not catch if she may have possibly even lived with them. It was also interesting that the couple even brought up their own histories which involved slavery and domestic work. The father seemed to see this work as a means to an end for Thelma. What is Thelma getting out of this relationship; what great ending is in her future? The father also mentioned that anyone who is a part of your family like Thelma is there's should be paid as much as the family could possibly afford. If i recall, at the end of the movie Thelma was dreaming of earning ten dollars an hour. To me that is not nearly enough money for the amount of work that she does for the family (cook, clean , help with homework, assist at family gatherings, drop off and pick of child from school, tuck the child in for bed, etc.). It also was very sad to me that the family's son had been around Thelma so much that he began calling her mommy. This shows the amount of time Thelma spends in their home. Does Thelma get private time away from their home? How often does she come in contact with her own family? Does she get vacation time and/or benefits? I still am not exactly sure if the use of domestic workers is something that is reasonable/fair. Under what circumstances is this kind of work okay and what type of pay/benefits/vacation should be a set minimum standard for these domestic workers?

stop domestic worker abuse.jpg

3 Comments

Here in the UK there are many illegal immigrants who unfortunately end up in a form of domestic slavery. Too poor to move away and too scared to walk away and be deported. My www.50-dating.co.uk website has some posts on the subject as this effects mature people as much as it effects younger ones.

Lyndon

My primary concern and confusion with these women was exactly what yours is with Thelma. How do these women get to have a life of their own? Especially in Thelma's case, her job seems to require her to be an actual member of the family. What we were shown in the documentary didn't give much of a hint that she lived with them or not, as you said, but they also did not give much information about her family. Being paid minimum wage or less to give up having a life of your own seems outrageous to me. As for your questions on a lack of vacation time or benefits, this must be employers taking advantage of the fact that they are undocumented. There is no minimum standard for them if they are not documented citizens, I suppose. Were they all undocumented workers?

I agree with your take on Thelma, what gets me is that these women are alone. They spend their time in a gilded cage. Nothing is their own and they a forced to live in a world they are unlikely to attain. Also how do you think she feels being made to pick up the boy at school, like his servant! Further the all of these measure teach the son that the world is overly dangerous and that the world (people) resolve around him. If you remember Briana the slave free citizen dichotomy, this is the exact thing. The father saw the working for others as a stepping stone, but how long does that take. Also it does nothing to change systemic oppression.

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