Ripped from someone’s childhood:
It was getting towards the end of class time in Algebra I and Susanna, who’d read Little House on the Prairie to pieces, was talking to another student about how much she loved country music and how cool it was to hunt for your food even if you were poor and such.
The teacher, unusually for the free time at the end of class, cut in. “You haven’t been poor, it’s not ‘cool’.”
“But couldn’t pa just, like, hunt deer for you all?”
“You have no idea what it’s like to really be poor. A deer won’t fix it!” The teacher didn’t have to go on. Susanna never mentioned country music or deer hunting ever again.
The teacher was a wise woman. A deer won’t fix the leaky roof, or serve as a winter coat. A deer won’t fix the blisters when your shoes are worn bare and there aren’t going to be any more because your older brother ran away and you almost feel bad that your first thought was hoping he’d left his Sunday pair behind, because they weren’t too worn and only a little big on you. A deer won’t fix it.
In one of those interesting confluences that transcends race, both the wider black community and the wider right-wing community have a tendency to romanticize poverty and “struggle love”. That the kids coming out of many of those unions aren’t so enamored about the idea of being married and incredibly poor is waved away as them being too spoiled, somehow.
The discussion here is a good example of right-wing folks romanticizing the struggle and presenting extended periods of poverty as unalloyed good.
They were discussing, dismissively (but somewhat justifiably), this person’s wicker basket of issues around “emotional labor” that strictly speaking she doesn’t have to do and mostly isn’t labor.
Yet the problem with the emotional labor complainer lady isn’t gender, or even money. A lot of the time, the obstacles to normal life aren’t financial, but from the vantage of those with no financial resources anyway, it can seem like “proof” that money doesn’t fix anything, so why worry about whether you have any?
A deer won’t fix the toothache. Or the gap between your kid’s college scholarship and your empty pockets.
Poverty isn’t inherently unworthy, but there’s a difference between preparing a child for the possibility and spinning up a tale that it always works out and will in fact basically be “broke-college-student” level temporary. It’s an ideal of struggle-life where you’re not actually lacking the roof, or the full belly, or the warm coat, or the well-fitting decent shoes. You just have low income but all basic needs completely met. This is pretty bitter aloes for anyone who jumps into low-income marriage on purpose without any prep and finds out it’s not very romantic or easy and that married poverty without a strong local community or regionally suitable skills to “make do” can be devastating and corrode a marriage bond to a brittle snapping point.
A deer won’t fix it. Only frankness and realistic discussion about the tools needed to “survive and thrive” as a low income household with children could. Not romanticism and rosy glosses on what some couple did decades or generations ago. That leads to people seeing marriages blow up over the poverty or how bad it is for the family and mistakenly thinking that the solution is more
dakka money. But we could all make less money as married households if the sheer value of close relationships and getting along with other people were taken seriously society-wide.