Care, Day 1, Preliminary Reflection


I’m still making my way through the readings for next week but as I do my mind has been shifting in different directions. I think that as I continue reading I will most likely have other thoughts and questions. To do something different, I’ve decided to use my post to write my initial reaction instead of my final reflection. I just read “Empathy is an Ideology” and am now working on “Connection Established”.

This image from “Empathy is an Ideology” really stood out to me. It made me recall a discussion from another class I had today. We were discussing the sexism behind telling a woman to smile. During class we also talked about the downside of care as a feminist praxis. How sometimes (in early literature) those that performed care often uphold patriarchy because of their (gendered) line of work. I’ll stop here because I don’t want to digress too much… Now that I played around with the interactive story in “Connection Established” and read the Manifesto, I’m once more thinking about the “dark side” of care. As I say this, I’m referring to this quote form the “Labor” section in the Manifesto “…we’re seeing staggering job losses—over 650,000 since the start of the pandemic—with low-paid staffers, workers of color, and women suffering the majority of these cutbacks. In other words, the workers who already take on the majority of care work, both at home, in our schools, and in our economy at large, are the first to be put on the chopping block“. It seems that those who perform care are often uncompensated for it and their care goes unrecognized.

Further down in the Manifesto’s “Audience” section they write to those in positions of power. “If you are a decision maker, a person with power, a dean, provost, VP or president at UVA reading this: the following are not suggestions or requests, but demands…We want to remind you that you do have power. Many of you have people on your payrolls. Some of you can grant your workers healthcare. You can do away with grades. You can leverage UVA’s strong financial position to borrow more money for workers. You can use UVA’s immense resources to lobby politicians. We all have levers we can pull.” This made me go back to Moya Bailey’s article and her call for community building. It’s clear that everyone, including those in power, needs to work together in order to have a fully functional community of care capable of overriding precarity.

As I continue reading I find myself thinking about the following questions: Who performs care? Who should be performing care in order for it to be effective? Do we consider care as something positive, negative or both?

Also, I’m curious to know how others reacted to the picture above…

3 thoughts on “Care, Day 1, Preliminary Reflection

  1. Katina Rogers (she/her)

    These are such thoughtful questions, Adrianna, and I like the idea of posting initial reactions as a different point of entry into your thinking about the readings. The overlap between care work and emotional labor is something that would be really good to discuss in class. Where is the boundary between taking action that offers genuine care and support vs. performing an emotional display (e.g., professions that insist on smiling etc) in order to ease the discomfort of others? Is that care, or is it something else? Who tends to be cared for, and who tends to be a carer?

  2. Jen Hoyer (she/her)

    Adrianna, I really like the discussion you went into about power. In reflecting on this, I’m thinking about how those with greater power should also have greater responsibility for care. How do we typically reflect that, if at all? I suppose that those with power–like employers–are then (sometimes) supposed to give very material forms of care, such as health care and other benefits. But, how do we articulate more holistic realms of care that those in power should provide? And, honestly, do we actually *want* all that care from those who have power over us? How else could they make space for care without having complete control over systems of care?

  3. Brieanna Scolaro (They)

    Adrianna, I appreciate that you brought up the imagery in the Empathy Zine. I almost want to separately reflect on / process just my responses to the imagery within this piece. I am not even sure what my own interpretations are of these, as I focused on the text over the imagery. I also what the imagery evokes alone, in conjunction with the other images, in parallel with the text, or even without the text.

    To the photo you posted, I am not sure what it means, or what it means to me. I see a White woman with a fake smile, and I wonder did she put it on herself? Did someone else put it on? How long has it been on? I see a Mirror and I wonder similarly – is she opting to look herself, is someone else prompting her to look, what does she feel, what does she see when she looks at herself. The dark silhouettes beneath her, to me, represent the fact that we are all in transit, and we are all constantly perceived, whether by others or by ourselves. I am not sure if this is the illustrator’s intentions, however, this is the impact it has on me.

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