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The Center for Research on Women and Social Justice    Eileen Boris, Director    Department of Feminist Studies
University of California    Santa Barbara, CA 93106    Tel 805.893.8444, line 2    Fax 805.893.8676

Archive: The 3nd Annual Hull Chair Lecture on Women and Social Justice - January 21, 2003

Photography Exhibition "Beggars and Choosers: Motherhood is Not a Class Privilege in America"

Rickie Solinger

Rickie Solinger
Rickie Solinger, prize-winning historian, in conjunction with "Beggars and Choosers: Motherhood is Not a Class Privilege in America", A Photography Exhibition (curators, Rickie Solinger and Kay Obering)

Exhibit is co-sponsored by the Gallery, College of Creative Studies and will be in the Gallery, January 6-29, 2003

Reception: January 21 at the Gallery following Solinger talk

Solinger Lecture: January 21, Multicultural Center Auditorium 4 pm

For more than a generation, politicians have argued that resourceless women in the U.S. who have children-especially the ones who need public assistance-are irresponsible and selfish, are wasting public money, and make bad mothers. Opinion polls show that a majority of Americans agree: women shouldn't have children if they are too poor-or otherwise lack the resources-to support kids properly. In fact, at the beginning of the 21st century, most Americans have, in one way or another, embraced the idea that motherhood is an economic status, a consumer status, even a class privilege that should be reserved for people with enough money to give their children advantages.

When Americans think about who is a legitimate mother, they often lack information about how women become poor and resourceless. Few know that employers pay African-American women about 65 cents for every dollar they pay white men for similar work. Most Americans don't know that 40% of the poverty in female-headed households could be eliminated if all women were paid wages comparable to the wages males earn for comparable work.Even more poverty could be eliminated if all employers were committed to paying all employees a "living wage." This exhibit provides images and information that clarify the strength, dignity, and determination of mothers often defined by public policy and public opinion as women who should not reproduce.

"Beggars and Choosers" makes a stunning case that "reproductive rights" means claiming the right and the resources to control fertility, and also means claiming the right and the resources to be a mother. Among the distinguished photographers in the show are Susan Meiselas, Margaret Morton, Stephan Shames, Mel Rosenthal, Brenda Kenneally, and Corky Lee.

Among Rickie Solinger's books are Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race before Roe v. Wade (1992, 2000); The Abortionist: A Woman Against the Law (1994); and Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States (2001).

Kay Obering is a photographer and artist located in Boulder, Colorado.

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