Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Secretly Thinking We're Crazy

At Slate, single mom Katie Roiphe muses that everyone thinks single moms are crazy:
A few months ago I came across a Pew Poll showing that 93 percent of Americans still view single motherhood as unacceptable and, in the colorful words of the poll, “bad for society.” Which somehow doesn’t surprise me. Caitlin Flanagan wrote in Time, “Few things hamper a child as much as not having a father in the home,” which is perhaps a little unsubtle for progressive New Yorkers, and yet many of them think and recycle polite, modified versions of this same idea.

Someone who was trying to persuade me not have the baby said that I should wait and have a “regular baby.” His exact words were, “You should wait and have a regular baby!” What he meant, of course, was that I should wait and have a baby in more regular circumstances. But I had already seen the feet of the baby on a sonogram, and while he was pacing through my living room making his point, I was thinking: This is a regular baby. His comment stayed with me, though. It evoked the word bastard: “something that is spurious, irregular, inferior or of questionable origin.”
Someone said, similarly, to a single friend of mine who was pregnant that she should wait and have a “real baby.” As if her baby were unreal, a figment of her imagination, as if she could wish him away.
Such small word choices, you might say. How could they possibly matter to any halfway healthy person? But it is in these choices, these casual remarks, these throwaway comments, these accidental bursts of honesty and flashes of discomfort that we create a cultural climate; it’s in the offhand that the judgments persist and reproduce themselves. It is here that one feels the resistance, the static, the pent up, irrational, residual, pervasive conservatism that we do not generally own up to. Hawthorne called it “the alchemy of quiet malice by which [we] concoct a subtle poison from ordinary trifles.”


Anonymous said...

This idea that single mothers are crazy is highly offensive and patriarchal. Sounds like some old insecure angry men created this survey to me.

Let's survey how many people think old Right Wing men are crazy and see what happens.

Because traditional families have NO issues at all?

Haven't we progressed as society beyond attacking women's choices? From this article it sounds like we're still in the dark ages.

Let me guess, instead we should all be married, barefoot and pregnant instead of single adoptive mothers?

THis survery is a load of crap.

Anonymous said...

Yup, as a single Mama I get speculative looks and comments all the time BUT as a single adoptive parent they angle more to the:

"Well, its not ideal, but thank heavens you rescued a child instead of adding one more to the world naturally".....or some such baloney!

On the other hand I have friends/coworkers/family express to me all the time how amazing they find my status as a single parent to be - cuz they? Just can't imagine doing it day in and day out by themselves!

:) And honestly? How many children of divorced parents find themselves in largely single parent led households, seeing their Dads one or 2 weekends a month. My children have that too....only they are called Uncles and Papa.

P.S. Anon. you might be surprised at how many folks who "claim" to be progressive/liberal still have ingrained biases against single parenthood, gay rights, etc.; its not simply a symptom of aging white conservative men IMOP.

Anonymous said...

If you can support a child both emotionally and financially, great. I am tired of supporting other people's kids through government paid daycare, healthcare, housing, food stamps, etc. I waited to have kids until I could afford them. My best friend when I was growing up wads adopted. She had a wonderful life with terrific parents. A Mom and Dad who raised her both emotionally and financially.