(Prepare to hear me go postal. Hold me back, ladies.)
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This bill, introduced in Wisconsin by a man who has never been married and has no children, states that single mothers should be penalized because their unmarried status is a risk factor for child abuse and neglect. The bill would require the funding of ad campaigns to “educate” the public regarding the ill effects of single parenthood on children.
Imagine it: you’re a single mom (from the language, this bill is clearly aimed at women). You collapse on the couch after a long day at work and feeding and bathing and getting your kids to bed, all by yourself, as usual. You click on the TV to relax, and some ad pops up and pompously, self-righteously, ignorantly tells you what a crappy parent and child abuser you are, just because you aren’t married. I don’t think so, Wisconsin.
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Now, I don’t know in concrete terms what the aforementioned “penalty” would be (nothing is mentioned in the text of the bill), but it doesn’t take a lawyer to figure out the real danger here: the passage of a bill like this would set a precedent for legitimizing the usage of a single parent’s marital status as a “black mark” against them as far as the best interest of their child goes, and that, my friends, is straight-up discrimination, and a giant step backwards for hundreds of thousands of women and children in this country.
The senator who introduced the bill would also like to underscore “the role of fathers in the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect.” And what role would that be, exactly? Too often, a single mother is single because the father up and left her. How about penalizing those deadbeats instead of the hard-working, self-sacrificing women who pick up their slack? Watch out, Caroline. Don’t you dare ask me for that third cookie. I might just freak out and do something crazy with all my female hormones and emotions running rampant and no level-headed man here to stop me.
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No doubt this piece of judgmental trash masquerading as a state senator is one of the Limbaugh-esque far right conservatives who don’t believe contraceptives should be a covered service for the very sector of the population which contains the vast majority of single mothers. I try not to get political on my blog, but really people, it’s the elephant in the room, and I can’t hold my tongue: you can’t get birth control, you can’t get an abortion, and you can’t keep the child because then you’d be a single mother and, apparently, an abuser … so your only option is what, adoption? But then he goes on to say that a child should be raised by two biological parents, so adoption doesn’t work either. What exactly are we going to do with all these children? Perhaps they will all just conveniently disappear?
Some of my regular readers may remember that I actually wrote something along the lines of this topic months ago. Statistics don’t lie: single parenthood is a risk factor for child abuse, plain and simple, and that fact should be recognized. But in order to truly make a difference for abused children, it is critical that we distinguish between offering guidance, support, and practical resources rather than forwarding a cruel, judgmental, and purposeless smear campaign against women who face more than enough stereotyping on a daily basis, in addition to all the other challenges of raising children alone.
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Honestly, I know that this bill is too ridiculous to ever have a prayer of passing, and I shouldn’t even give it the publicity of a blog post. But I couldn’t keep silent on the topic, because discrimination and an ad campaign tantamount to slander based on marital status is not okay, in this country or anywhere else. I hope it never is.
Read more about Julia's life as a single mother of a toddler on her blog Unexpectedly Expecting.
This article first appeared on Parents.com.