Just read this horrible article on Yahoo! News. Which I only pay attention to when I login to my Yahoo!mail account. Title:
“How common is filicide, or killing one’s child, among mothers? Finding accurate records is nearly impossible, experts say. One problem is classification: The legal disposition of these cases varies enormously. Also, many cases doubtless go unreported or undetected, such as very young mothers who kill their newborns by smothering them or drowning them in a toilet after hiding the entire pregnancy”
Women! They hide their pregnancies! And then smother the newborns! Because women are evil and broken!
It occurs to me: one way to prevent this tragedy? Access to sex education, contraception, and abortion! Also prenatal support and health services, counseling, and adoption services!
Several databases track such killings but do not separate mothers from fathers or stepfathers.
Uh-huh. Because separating them out in that way would in no way stigmatize women (and fathers and stepfathers, for that matter. And what about stepmothers?).
Korbin, the anthropologist, says in prison interviews she conducted, some women who had killed their children were still certain they were good mothers. And it’s that very ideal of being a “good mother” that is holding our society back from taking preventive action or intervening in a potentially abusive situation before it’s too late, Korbin says.
“Often the people around these women will minimize a troubling instance that they see, saying, `Well, she’s a good mother.’ We err on the side of being supportive of women as being good mothers, where we should be taking seriously any instance where a mother OR father seems to be having trouble parenting. ANY instance of child maltreatment is serious.”
Yes, child maltreatment is serious. But I think the idea of being a “good mother” is harmful in a lot more ways that people just assuming that someone is a good mother and ignoring potential abuse. It’s harmful to many people who are actually great mothers – but because someone doesn’t agree with their parenting style, or witnesses a child having a temper tantrum, or a swear slipping out in front of a child, suddenly they are Not Fit Parents and DCF takes their children away and sends them into a system that is profoundly less safe. Women come under so much judgment from *everyone* (mothers, parenting book industry, partners, friends, psychologists, media) about the way they raise their kids. The whole J. Crew neon pink nail polish debacle is a ridiculous and perfect example – yes, she’s a baaaad baaad mother for loving and playing with her son, instead of spanking him sternly for liking the color pink and indoctrinating him into a rigid stereotyped binary gender system with idiotic associations between colors and sexual orientation. Because everyone knows being prejudiced is being a good parent.
Bottom line? Articles like this are the least helpful things in the world when it comes to preventing actual abuse and deaths. Extremely helpful at stigmatizing entire groups of people and putting even more pressure on women. Also reinforces the idea that women should have some supernaturally more powerful bond with their children than other parents, because women are naturally more connected to babies, because UTERUS, hello!