Friday, March 11, 2011

The New Murphy Brown

I'm old enough to remember when Vice President Dan Quayle attacked TV character Murphy Brown for having a baby "out of wedlock," and in Quayle's words, "mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'life-style choice.'"  In fact, I was 32 and seriously contemplating single parenthood.  Murphy Brown didn't convince me to become a single mom, and Qualye's criticism didn't talk me out of it.

Now, almost 20 years later, another political figure makes the same argument.  Last week, Mike Huckabee, once and perhaps future Presidential candidate, spoke out against Natalie Portman, the actress who appeared on the Oscar red carpet pregnant and unmarried.  Huckabee said it was "problematic," and that her situation gave a "distorted image" of single parenthood because "Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can't get a job, and if it weren't for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care."

Really?  Melissa Harris-Perry talks about her experience as a single parent and says:
In fact, my lived experiences of single parenting are more representative of the unmarried mom experience than Huckabee’s fantasy of starving children fed by the state. Data from a 2009 report on unmarried parents show that 80% of custodial single mothers are gainfully employed and fewer than 10% are recipients of Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF). Poverty rates are certainly much higher among single parents. Nearly 27% live below the poverty line. But this number does not approach the “most” which Huckabee claims. These data show that although they are more often poor, most single mothers work despite the obvious difficulties of working while raising children without a spouse. They further show that our government actually does very little to support these women. These moms are hardly cash-sucking drains on national or state economies.
So, as a single mother, I have a question for Mike Huckabee -- why are we still scapegoating single mothers after all these years?

10 comments:

Liz said...

I have a different take on it. I don't think anyone becomes a single mom so that they can somehow cheat the system and become rich from TANF benefits. If a single mom's child would starve without government benefits, then THERE SHOULD BE goverment benefits available to make sure that DOESN'T HAPPEN! I don't understand why a "man of god" like Huckabee would think it's a bad thing to spend money on helping kids avoid starvation...

Mama C/Catherine said...

The single mothers I know in real time, or virtually are so able, strong, capable and Herculean. And, when we think we are not, we are so resourceful and know how to ask for help, strategize, and make it happen. What a threat that must be to some... I appreciate this post, and that Murphy Brown was brought into the conversation. She certainly gave me something to think about...

Linda said...

Sounds like Mike Huckabee works for the NCFA. Being unmarried is the number one reason women are pressured by baby brokers and paps to surrender their babies.

Mahmee said...

What makes a heterosexual married man think he knows anything about single motherhood OR single parenthood? Geez.
I'm going to go straight for the short and sweet here...
I was raised by a single Mom. Single Moms rock. Mike Huckabee is an asshat.
M.

Truly Blessed said...

Mahmee, I, too, was raised by a single mom, and she did a pretty good job, but I don't think a day went by when she wished she could have shared the responsibility of raising 4 kids with a responsible husband and wished that money wasn't always so tight that it kept her awake at night.

I'm not defending what Huckabee said, but I can see a point in there. Having said that, I've never been a single mom, but I've been a mom a long enough time (20 years) to know that it would be a whole lot harder to do this parenting thing by myself.

The adopted ones said...

I wonder if Huckabee wants widows to place their children for adoption?

Mahmee said...

Truly Blessed, there is no doubt that having help raising kids is great. 2 Moms, 2 Dads, 1 of each, Aunts, Uncles, Aliens from outerspace...whatever. I don't think that is the point here. There is nothing wrong with single parenthood. Huckabee has no right to judge anyone and especially not their particular family dynamic. He needs to get his facts straight as well before he opens his mouth.
M.

Anonymous said...

FYI

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2011/mar/11/huckabee-single-mothers/

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one mentioned the obvious: the many fathers who refuse to pay the child support due these children and Mothers and go to any means to hide their incomes or avoid their responsibility.

I feel the statistics would be different if we enforced their moral and ethical responsibility. Clearly I am speaking of families where the Father is intentionally not present emotionally/financially, not to Mothers who are single head of households by choice.

P.S. @ Linda, nice way to once again drag AP's into a discussion that didn't even hint at adoption at large. LOL Kind of transparant.....but maybe you see every media comment and discourse on American families at large linked to adoption then? ;)

Dan.Eliot said...

As a single dad I am very happy to have what some would perceive to be a “small family”. three children, two dogs, one cat, and yes the pets are part of our family. It’s not the size of the family that counts but the family inside that counts. Have a great day....

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