Courage Under Fire: Aftermath of the care industry’s assimilation by the establishment

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
– Emily Dickinson

If I’m well liked by those with authority it means I’m not doing my job. My understanding of justice is defined by something other than supporting the establishment and their agents. For me, doing what’s just means aligning myself with the interests and struggles of those who’ve had their sovereignty and power stripped away from them. People from these communities are at the other end of the cross-hairs, fighting against the enormous tides of oppression, and things seem hopeless. It may seem like a law of nature that people are always corrupt, that life just isn’t fair, that resistance is futile, and that nothing will ever change. I see a different picture. I believe the world is what we make of it. I believe that we are capable of so much more. I believe that if oppression has a beginning, then it must also have an end.

In my previous post (The Hydra’s Head), I touched upon the cost of professionalizing the care industry. If you pay attention, you will notice that professions mainly occupied by women tend to be lower paying. This idea stems from gender roles expected of women in the domestic arena, and in this case, care services are considered an extension of those domestic obligations. Overwhelmingly you see professions considered for women regarded with less prestige and pay … unless, of course, that field becomes assimilated by men. Pick any profession occupied heavily by women and acknowledged by the establishment, more often than not you will find men in management. The process of assimilation follows a formula (and this applies to all social classes whether it’s age, race, socioeconomic status, etc). So you have an industry seeking to gain prestige by becoming more professional. Professionalization is another way of saying conformity to the terms of the establishment. Once the industry is assimilated by the establishment it must be managed by someone that the establishment trusts. Guess who that would be? It’s own agents, someone who upholds the establishment’s values, practices, and interests. Often times it’ll be a man, but sometimes it’s a women. However, no-matter how much credibility a woman gains within the establishment she will always be the subject of envy, suspicion, and disdain by men. She not only must do what her male counterparts do, but she needs to do them in compounded ways so as prove her credibility. Even if she were to attain the highest office within the establishment, she loses by virtue of abandoning her own truth in order to succeed on the terms of men.

In terms of the care industry, I support the idea of re-claiming some of what’s been lost in the process of professionalization. For me, the original spirit of care is absolutely worthy of salvage. Skill without spirit is mechanical mimicry. Service without care is hollow and perfunctory. It’s dismal, but that’s only part of the picture. What we pay attention to paints our reality. The establishment wants us to focus on the hopelessness, on the impossibility. Look closely enough and you will see leaders of the resistance, you will see communities banding together to create a different world, you will see hope.

One that note, I’d like to close this blog with one of my favorite speeches (click here).

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