strong, independent Kenyan rejects Unbound gender bigotry

pith helmet in the style of 2nd French Empire

Like most cutting-edge international development organizations, the sponsorship organization Unbound has been attacking failures in poor communities to conform to world-elite standards of gender equality.  In a recent mailing to Unbound sponsors, an article entitled online “Bank accounts offer independence and opportunity to families” got an extra super-title and cover billing: “MOTHERS KNOW BEST.”  This article explains:

In countries such as India and Kenya, sponsorship benefits are distributed to families through individual bank accounts.  With the assistance of Unbound staff members, the mothers of sponsored children manage the accounts until the children are of age.  These bank accounts are created to empower mothers to decide how to best use the sponsorship funds for the development of their families. [1]

Notice how “distributed to families” is equated to “distributed to mothers.”  Contrary to gender lies propagated through leading educational institutions and powerful media, males across all primates commonly have been excluded from equal relationships with their children.  In the U.S., men face huge gender discrimination in decisions about child custody and child support.  Nothing has been done to address that gender inequality.  Unbound and many other international development organizations are perpetuating and worsening gender inequalities against men worldwide.

Unbound’s literature provides a fine case study in the soft power of cultural imperialism in spreading gender bigotry.  A recent edition of an Unbound magazine had 12 pages (about half the total pages in the magazine) devoted to “girls and women.”[2]  That’s a conceptual category largely unknown in relatively high-income, cosmopolitan cities and poor rural villages only a few decades ago.  Are women really more akin to girls than boys are to girls?  If you doubt that conceptual doctrine, then you aren’t fully educated to today’s world-elite standards.

Unbound’s literature aggressively disseminates cultural constructs of gender bigotry.  Here are some more examples:

  • Unbound entitled an article, “GIRL POWER / sponsorship provides opportunities for girls, women.”  The phrase “girl power,” like “girls rule” and “boys are stupid, throw rocks at them,” now appear on girls’ t-shirts in the U.S.  You can count on Unbound to bring these phrases to girls living in material poverty in villages around the world.  After all, persons in high-income countries have an abundance of spiritual poverty.  They can contribute their spiritual poverty to persons living in material poverty.
  • Unbound entitled an article, “Women in India establish identity.”  Western experts in lack of identity ask poor, under-educated others whether they have an identify.  The other responds with a look of complete bewilderment.  The Western expert records that the other does not have an identity.  Western expert then helps the other “establish identity.”
  • Unbound entitled an article, “Giving Girls the Power to Dream.” How can girls dream without the help of highly developed teen-girl magazines (“polish your nails with the color of your dreams!”)? How can girls dream without specially designed go-girl video programming (“Glamor and Drama in STEM — the adventures of supergirl hero who works 80 hours a week as a computer programmer at Facebook”)?
  • Another Unbound article featured the exemplary indoctrination of Sonia in Guatemala.  The article begins:

    “I have so many dreams!” Sonia said as her mother looked on proudly. “I see myself graduating from the university as a business administrator or an auditor.  I dream of working in a big company and doing important things.”

    Sonia has thus received outstanding preparation for joining the global workforce of corporate drones.  I’m sure when she’s fifty years old, shuffling papers and counting the days until she can retire and spend more time home alone with her cats, she’ll look back fondly on her original and truly inspiring childhood dreams.

  • Unbound entitled an article, “Challenging Traditions.” This article describes how Sophia, a Greek-named woman living in “the traditional Maasai community in southern Kenya,” plans to “continue her education.”  Making clear that Sophia has been well-educated, the article reports:

    “I have learned that girls are equally as important as boys,” Sophia said. “I have been empowered to fight for the rights of the girls who are suffering in my community.”

    How generous, empathetic, and community-spirited!  To better understand how to serve her community, Sophia might examine how her values relate to sexist values in the World Values Survey.

  • Unbound entitled an article, “Staff member sees effects of gender inequality.” Unbound staff member Sara Asmussen answers questions about “gender inequality.”  Here’s a typical question, “How does {Unbound} help to empower women and their families?” Asmussen says nothing about gender inequalities disadvantaging men or disadvantaging boys.  A reasonable inference is that Unbound doesn’t care about inequalities hurting men or hurting boys.
  • Here’s a pull quote from Unbound founder Bob Hentzen: “My joy and inspiration is to work with strong, independent women.  They are my heroes and I love them.”  Unbound apparently is rooted in fashionable, old-fashioned, insipid sexism.  Parroting the women-are-wonderful effect is not inspiring. [3]

Culturally dominant persons offering the poor desperately needed material resources and gender bigotry are an enormously powerful force worldwide.  But heroic acts of resistance are possible.  For example, David, a strong, independent Kenyan, stood up to Unbound’s gender-biased programming:

One requirement of {Unbound} sponsorship is the family taking an active part in the program. In some projects this can include being part of a mothers group.  As the name implies, these small groups are typically made up of mothers.  A main goal is to empower members to become economically self-sufficient through microlending.

Because Caroline {David’s wife) spent so much time at the market, she couldn’t attend the group meetings. So David went instead. “I am a member of a support mothers group, although I am a man,” David said. “My group is called Nguono group, and we have 30 members. It is from this group that I was able to grow and come up with the idea of starting my welding workshop.” [4]

Women and men worldwide should look for inspiration to courageous persons like David.  The future of civilized life depends on such action.

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Read more:

Notes:

[1] From feature article, p. 4, in Unbound’s publication Impact, Spring 2014 issue, cover title: “MOTHERS KNOW BEST / Celebrating mothers around the world.”

[2] Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, renamed CFCA, renamed Unbound, publication sacredground (vol. 32, no. 2, fall/winter 2013), pp. 10-19, 22-23.

[3] All these examples are from sacredground, id.

[4] From feature article, p. 5, in Unbound publication Impact, Summer 2014 issue, cover title: “A FIRE WITHIN / Sponsorship sparks opportunities for fathers full of potential.”  That title is misleading.  One father’s refusal to accept being excluding by gender from Unbound’s programming allowed him to acquire resources to open his own welding shop.  Here’s an online version of the article.

[image] Pith helmet in the Second French Empire style, worn by soldiers in the army of Madagascar Queen Ranavalona III (reigned 1883 – 1897).  Thanks to Rama and Wikipedia.

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