Tag Archives: single mothers

According to Pridemore, Abuse is Not an Excuse

15 Mar

So I am still on about this Glenn Grothman bill that I posted about last week.  Basically, Senator Grothman proposed a bill that essentially equated single parenthood with abuse and neglect.  I did not, however, give the necessary attention to the bill’s co-sponsor, Representative Don Pridemore, who was reported mid-firestorm as saying that he believes that even in abusive relationships there are options better than divorce.  In a local broadcast from Wisconsin, Pridemore said women should just “re-find those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place.”  Good idea, Pridemore.  Let’s try and convince women to stay with their abusers for the benefit of the child because said abuser never turns his attention towards the children.   Therefore, I thought maybe I would just present some information about the prevalence of abuse against women in the United States.  I mean, since, as Grothman insists in an interview with Alan Colmes, women are choosing to be single parents and all in order to take advantage of government payouts (and, presumably, having nothing to go with what they might face in the home), I thought some meager statistics about domestic violence might be useful.  I promptly proceeded to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. There I found the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS).  Here are some of the “highlights” of the 2010 survey:*

– 1.3 million women were raped during the year preceding the survey

– 51.1% of female rape victims reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance

– 1 in 4 women have been the victim of severe violence by an intimate partner

– 81% of women who experienced rape, stalking or physical violence by an intimate partner reported significant short or long term impacts related to the violence experienced in this relationship such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms and injury

I don’t know about you but if I left an intimate partner because said intimate partner was raping, stalking, or beating me I would take my children with me.  I would not think to myself, “hey, why don’t I think back to the good times before I was afraid for my safety and that of my children?  After all, being in a two-parent household with an abuser is way better for my children than raising them alone.”    I mean, after all, even though women can take care of a family in some situations, men are the disciplinarians in the household and without them “kids tend to go astray.”**  Nothing like getting your kids back in-line with some good old fashioned discipline from your favorite wife-beater!  According to an article published by the University of Michigan News Service, it has been shown that exposure to their mother’s physical or emotional abuse was shown to cause significant emotional and behavioral problems in children as young as preschool age.   The article discussed a book edited by Sandra Graham-Berman and Alytia Levendosky:

“Children of battered women showed higher rates of sadness, depression, worry and frustration than peers from nonviolent homes. Their emotional responses to events were less appropriate, and they were more likely to express anger and frustration by hitting, biting or slapping others, even when unprovoked. They were also found to verbally abuse their peers, by insulting them and calling them names, more than did children from nonviolent families.”

So yes, Pridemore, let’s get those families back together for the sake of the children!  What goes on in the home stays in the home, right?  Except, of course, if that home is run by a single mother.

*Since Grothman and Pridemore decided to word this bill in such a way as to victimize single women, I am only providing statistics and information for domestic violence against women.  Domestic violence against men is also a problem, but has not been as widely reported for, off the top of my head, at least two reasons: (1) it simply happens less often and (2) because of our cultural and societal tendency to think of men as the stronger and dominant gender, there is probably (unfortunately) an additional amount of shame felt on the part of the male victim in a violent, heterosexual relationship.

**The quotes for this section were taken from a news report from WTMJ’s coverage from this past Friday (can’t figure out how to get the video in my blog…my tech-brain is a work-in-progress)

Senator Glenn Grothman, You’re an Idiot

8 Mar

Glenn Grothman, Republican Senator of Wisconsin, has introduced Senate Bill 507 which requires “the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”  Apparently, according to Senator Grothman, being a single parent essentially makes you a child abuser.  You might think that I am being a little liberal with my interpretation but in an interview with Alan Colmes, Grothman said there has been a change towards single motherhood over the last 30 years and that “a lot of that change has been the choice of women.”  He believes that women need to be taught that this is a mistake.

In the interview with Colmes, after Grothman cited a New York Times article that said 60% of children born to women under 30 are born out of wedlock, the following interaction happened:

Colmes:  It’s a good argument for birth control, right?

Grothman:  Well…no…we all love all, all children.

Colmes:  I mean if you’re saying we’ve got a problem with out of wedlock births, a good answer to that would be to help provide, as the president is doing, access to complete birth control and health care for women.

Grothman then responds that “anyone has access to birth control, it’s not that expensive.”  Planned Parenthood, according to Grothman, makes birth control very available.  (It’s like it grows on trees!)  I guess he hasn’t been clued in on the recent assault on Planned Parenthoods nationwide and that many of them are being forced to close their doors.  Colmes countered this by referencing the recent appearance of Sandra Fluke in this debate.  Grothman, who obviously is not very up-to-speed on the whole birth control debate currently exploding in this country, responded that most of these out-of-wedlock births are no accident and that our “social services bureaucracy” have made these births acceptable, even beneficial.  He believes that the government is actually engineering the single-parent lifestyle by providing all these benefits.  Government, he believes, is making it easy, even desirable, to be a single mother.  When asked what he would do for women who are already low income and perhaps left an abusive relationship or have a partner who doesn’t pay a fair share of child support he did the easy thing:  he blamed the women.  He believes that women choose to be single mothers because apparently the benefits are so good that it beats out the alternative.  He’s on to us, ladies!

If you would be so kind as to direct your attention to the following chart that I discovered on the ChildStats website, you will notice that there is a pretty sizable percentage of children who live in a one-parent home.  You will also notice that of those children living in a one-parent home, most of them live with only their mother.  It is therefore not a huge leap of logic to say that this bill is blatantly sexist.  In fact, in the interview with Colmes and other articles I read, single father homes are never mentioned.  We don’t need to educate the men about the dangers of single-parent living to the safety of children, only the women.  And to add insult to injury:  Grothman is, as you probably already guessed, pro-life.*

So, this man simultaneously supports the government forcing women to carry babies to term, (because birth control is affordable for the majority of women…ha!) regardless of the circumstances, marital or otherwise, surrounding that pregnancy and then says that if they do indeed abide by that unjust rule they are likely to be considered neglectful or abusive parents.  So I wonder, Senator Grothman, if a woman was raped, and then was forced to carry that baby to term, would she then be urged to marry her rapist so as not to seem abusive or neglectful? Has she actually orchestrated the rape in order to live high on the hog with the abundance of government “handouts”?  These two view points are at odds with one another.  Also, they are just a bunch of sexist, woman-hating bullshit.

NOTE: Data for 2010 exclude the nearly 290,000 household residents under age 18 who were listed as family reference persons or spouses. Prior to 2007, Current Population Survey (CPS) data identified only one parent on the child’s record. This meant that a second parent could only be identified if they were married to the first parent. In 2007, a second parent identifier was added to the CPS. This permits identification of two coresident parents, even if the parents are not married to each other. In this figure, “two parents” reflects all children who have both a mother and father identified in the household, including biological, step, and adoptive parents. Before 2007, “mother only” and “father only” included some children who lived with two unmarried parents. Beginning in 2007, “mother only” and “father only” refer to children for whom only one parent in the household has been identified, whether biological, step, or adoptive.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements.**

This now brings me to the next point which is that this bill is not only sexist, it is also racist.  According to information compiled from the US Census Bureau by the Kids Count Data Center, and demonstrated in this really embarrassingly bare bones chart that I made in excel, one-parent homes are most common amongst Blacks, followed by American Indians and Latinos.  So now you have a bill which not only disproportionately impacts single mothers, but it even more disproportionately impacts single mothers of color.***

Non-Hispanic White 24%
Black or African American 66%
American Indian 52%
Asian and Pacific Islander 16%
Hispanic or Latino 41%
Total 34%

And finally, I believe this bill is classist.  With only one income coming in, and dependents to care for, it can be difficult for single parents to keep their heads above water.  Think about child care costs, for example.  And the fact that, according to this New York Times article, aid to single-parent families living on “less than half of poverty-level income” declined 38% between 1984 and 2004.  (An article which Grothman didn’t see fit to read…sort of turns his theory on its head, don’t it?)  That’s serious.  According to a slightly outdated article (although I imagine that the statistics are now on the low end rather than the high given the economic environment in recent years), about 60% of mother-only families are impoverished compared with 11% of two-parent families.

So, basically, this bill is like the trifecta of awful.  Sexist, racist and classist and, as usual, it does not address any of the systemic issues that increase poverty among these groups in the first place but rather seeks to incriminate people, most specifically low-income women of color, a group which really needs a little more challenges sent its way.  Why not look at the price of child care, issues of joblessness, our education system (and yes, that includes sex education), the difficulty some people find obtaining the benefits they qualify for, availability of birth control, access to abortions, among other things.  How about we try to empower women to improve their own lives, rather than alternatively thinking of them as incapable and calculating?  Also, if you bring abuse and neglect charges against single parents, where are the kids going to go?  Into our fantastic foster care system?  Yea, great idea.

*  In a search for a link telling me what I already knew about Grothman’s views on abortion, I came across this blog written by an MPeterson who hails from Wisconsin.  The blog is called “What did Glen Grothman get wrong this week?”  I applaud you, MPeterson.

** Note and chart taken from ChildStats.gov (link referenced in above post).

*** This chart reflects information for the entire United States.  If you want Wisconsin, or other state, specific statistics, please go to the Kids Count Data Center website.