Welfare. Read that word to yourself and ask what popular images surround it. The first thing is probably women and children. This one is correct, because 97% of AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the federal “welfare” program) is made up of women and children. Young women? Not really-the average age of a mother receiving welfare is 29, and only 7.6% are under the age of 20. Is she black? Maybe, because the composition of the welfare roles is about the same percentage black and white. More kids than she can count? The average welfare family has 2.9 members. That means a single mom would have 1.9 children (fewer than the national average). Forever “dependent?”-the average length of a stay on welfare is 22 months. We certainly think that they don’t work. Without bringing up the question of why raising children is not considered work, the average AFDC benefit plus food stamps still is only 69% of the poverty line. Women on welfare are constantly working to make up that difference. Do we think of welfare as expensive? AFDC represents just over 1% of the national budget. If welfare is not about young women having lots of babies and living their life off the generosity of the state, and if it’s a minuscule part of the federal budget, why have Republicans chosen it as their pilot issue? Why, when our Federal Reserve is raising interest rates and attempting to maintain an unemployment rate of 6.2%, and when a job at minimum wage would still leave a mother with two children 23% below the poverty line, is entrance into the paid workforce being pushed as the panacea for poverty?
If we are serious about getting people to work we need relevant training programs, child care provisions, and efforts at job creation. These at least were discussed in the Clinton plan, if the plan was in many other ways as punitive and insubstantial as the Republican plan. The Republican ideology is particularly insidious because it shifts the entire frame of debate from the structural to the moral. It implies, even states, that if those people would just clean up their morals and stop being so lazy that they could have a place in the American Dream. Today welfare moms are understood to be the symbol for all that is morally wrong with America.
Movie Essays – Jane Campion’s Film of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady
Jane Campion’s Film Version of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady
Jane Campion’s film version of Henry James’s novel, The Portrait of a Lady, offers the viewer a sexually charged narrative of a young naive American girl in Victorian era Europe.
James’s novel focuses on “what an exciting inward life may do for the person leading it even while it [a person’s life] remains perfectly normal” (James 54). James could not or would not place into his narrative the sexual thoughts, suggestions, and actions of his characters beyond the first flush of the experience. For example, when Caspar takes Isabel into his arms and kisses her near the close of the novel, Isabel does express sexuality, but that sexuality is short lived:
He glared at her a moment through the dusk, and the next instant she felt his arms about
her and his lips on her lips. His kiss was like white lightening, a flash that spread, and spread again, and stayed; and it was extraordinary as if, while she took it, she felt each thing in his hard manhood that had least pleased her, each aggressive fact of his face, his figure, his presence, justified of its intense identity and made one with this act of possession. (James 636)
This passage, like every other passage in the novel, that deals with male-female touching or kissing ends as it is read. James does not allow his characters to recall their sexuality. Dorothea Krook points out: “To speak of James’s “treatment” of the sexual theme in The Portrait of a Lady would be virtually meaningless, but for the striking episode between Isabel and Caspar Goodwood in the very last pages of the book” (Krook 101). The sexual theme in Campion’s film version of James’s novel is not meaningless.
Campion not only allow…
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…. 1881. New York: Penguin, 1986.
Jones, Laura, adapt. The Portrait of a Lady. By Henry James. Dir. Jane Campion. Videocassette. PolyGram, 1997.
Nadel, Alan. “The Search for Cinematic Identity and a Good Man: Jane Campion’s
Appropriation of James’s Portrait.” Henry James Review 18.2 (1997): 180-183.
Volpe, Edmond L. “James’s Theory of Sex.” Twentieth Century Interpretations of The Portrait of a Lady: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Peter Buitenhuis. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968.
Walton, Priscilla L. “Jane and James Go to the Movies: Post Colonial Portraits of a Lady.” Henry James Review 18.2 (1997): 187-190.
Wexman, Virginia Wright. “The Portrait of a Body.” Henry James Review 18.2 (1997): 184-186. White, Robert. “Love, Marriage, and Divorce: The Matter of Sexuality in The Portrait of a Lady.” Henry James Review 7.2-3 (1986): 59-71.