So, I get a lot of people reporting this story on facebook today, and they were actually lauding it, acting like it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Quite frankly, I’m tempted to delete anyone who is stupid, selfish, and short-sighted enough to think that this is a good idea.
Why am I so opposed to drug testing for welfare recipients? Well, to start, most who receive welfare (or TANF) are single mothers. Who are first required to name the father of the child and try to get child support from him before applying for TANF. For a woman who may not know or wish to disclose the identity of the father (In cases of rape and incest) this is a doubly humiliating experience, being drug-tested for trying to feed their children.
There’s a very insidious, misogynist message in this additional policy: If you are a woman who is not dependent upon a man, and for any reason, unemployment, or the recession, or a disability, or illness, you fall on bad times, you must humiliate yourself before you can expect to be given any type of help.
In addition to the misogyny, there is also a very disablist undertone to this story (And yes, disabled people can be parents, I know two disabled single mothers who are good friends, and I plan on being a mother myself some day with my disabled partner, so can it) Many disabled people are forced to self-medicate or find a way to obtain prescription medications outside of “the system” (I know some may not agree with this practice, but this is reality for many poor disabled people in our broken healthcare system in the united states) or turn to medical marijuana. For them to have to choose between living a life filled with chronic pain, or mood swings, or other problems related to cognitive disabilities, and feeding their children, that’s a choice nobody, and I do mean nobody, should be forced to make.
What I find most interesting about this story though, is that this is straight from the lips of a governor who belongs to the Republican party, the party that has made it increasingly difficult for a woman to have access to reliable, truthful, and safe abortion, healthcare, and family planning services, meaning there will be more and more women forced to go on TANF in the future if these policies are kept in place. This to me is all the proof that is needed that these policies are in fact not about preserving taxpayer money from the big bad welfare queen toking up and shooting up in her bedroom. These are about controlling and humiliating poor women, particularly those who do not have a man in their lives. Nothing like a little intellectual dishonesty and cognitive dissonance to oil the wheels of GOP policy.