I recently finished reading the book “The Help”. It’s an interesting insight into life in America during the 60’s. The book takes on different voices from the housewives, their friends and their help.
At times the book was slow and other times I felt that it wasn’t doing the subject justice. How can you really combine civil rights, segregation and the south while doing all these subjects justice? I’m not sure you can but the author sure did try.
After I was done reading the book, I couldn’t help but think about the maids in Jordan and their situations. I see many parallels between the two.
The book is based in Mississippi in the 1960’s and my observations are based on the period between 2009 – 2010. I guess it just makes me sad that we still treat people like second class citizens because of their profession and maybe it isn’t a profession but a job, a means to an end, an income.
One main issue that stuck out was the separate bathrooms. One of the White female characters in the book believed that black maids should have bathrooms in the garage or outdoors because the maids carried diseases that white people didn’t carry. Backwards, I know.
The thing is, this happens in Jordan. I know many households that have separate bathrooms for the maids. Lots of apartments are now being built with “Special” maids rooms.
Another theme in the book is raising other people’s children. A lot of the characters in the book were raising these children as their own while their mothers were off doing something else.
This is another phenomenon in Jordan as well. A lot of children are raised by the maid while their mothers are off with their friends, hair salons or traveling.
I’m also sad that some of these attitudes haven’t dissipated. I was having a discussion a couple of weeks back about cultures and attitudes. My companion mentioned that he had a colleague from India and believed very much in the caste system. She also believed that if a woman in their family doesn’t have a doctorate in something then they shouldn’t work because it’s beneath them.
I see that attitude a lot with various groups, they believe that you must become a doctor, lawyer or engineer to be accepted or worthwhile. Now my degree is crap to most people. Human Services, what will you do with that? My family still asks me that question from time to time still and I have graduated and been working in my field for 4 years.
Sometimes people don’t change and sometimes they do. I just hope we learn. Learn from works of fiction, real life and learn from friends and families.