If you’re looking for a good (?) read that will fire your pistons over morning coffee, check out HuffPost’s piece Bill That Lets Bosses Fire Single Women for Getting Pregnant. ‘Sounds interesting!’ you say. Mmhm. Indeed. It basically says that US Republicans are pushing new legislation that will serve to undermine same-sex marriage laws and effectively protect those that discriminate against homosexuals and single mothers (because single mothers are not ‘in wedlock’ according to the fundamentalist ‘Christian’ right. ‘Christian’ is in quotes here because Jesus was arguably less judgemental and didn’t persecute people. So. There’s that. But ya know. Whatever.) Here’s what the article says:
“The bill specifically protects those who believe that marriage is between “one man and one woman” or that “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” Ian Thompson, a legislative representative at the American Civil Liberties Union, said that in addition to targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the bill “clearly encompasses discrimination against single mothers” and would hobble the ability of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal body that protects women from sex-based discrimination, to act.” (My emphasis in italics).
You get it. We are all lumped into a pool of hedonism and sin because policy is not about nuance and context, people. It is about broad, sweeping brushstrokes dipped in ancient myth and white male class privilege. Big deal. Another broken policy. This is not a surprise. Moving on…
Not so fast. Consider this:
“This scenario isn’t merely hypothetical. There are a number of recent cases where religious schools have fired unwed teachers for becoming pregnant. A Montana Catholic school teacher who was fired for having a baby out of wedlock, for example, filed a discrimination charge last year with the EEOC. While the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized a ministerial exception to employment discrimination laws, that exception is somewhat limited, not necessarily covering educators employed by Catholic schools who teach about exclusively secular subjects.”
Hm. This is actually affecting single moms. You know, single. Women. Without any support whatsoever. Taking care of their children. Working moms. Women with only one income. Without any support.
Uhm… can someone say FORCED structural inequality??? How about State violence?
Never mind the fact that most single mothers are actually abandoned by
selfish and irresponsible men. Never mind the fact that out of literally all the single mothers I know, not one (that has been abandoned by the father) wanted that situation for herself or her child. Often they were led into believing that the man cared about them. They were told all the right things. Some were even given engagement rings and promises, only to have their hearts broken and their dreams destroyed because the man got spooked and booked in the opposite direction. Our society neutralises this behaviour. ‘Girls mature faster than boys’ says the old adage. Mmhm. If girls mature faster than boys, boys can’t be held to account or be found guilty of wrongdoing if they are ‘immature’ (i.e. ignorant). Right? If a child hurts another child, it is usually assumed that the child meant no real harm because, after all, the child is just a child – young, immature, and ignorant as to the differences between right and wrong. We do not punish children for ignorant childish behaviours because, well, they are children! They are young and don’t know any better! But men aren’t children.
This is a tool of power that is used time and time again to normalise men’s bad behaviour and wash them of any culpability for harms that they systematically cause to women and children. Irresponsible, selfish adult men conveniently escape the political microscope when it comes to discussions about unwed parents. The behaviour of these men is rarely under scrutiny, rarely taken into account, and never the subject of governance meant to instil any real social change. Men get to walk away. What’s even worse, is that men get to abandon women and children and aren’t stigmatised (they’re not thought of as ‘whores’), they aren’t marginalised, penalised, or judged for it. This is obviously, albeit hardly, surprising in a system that normalises the social acceptance of men having the freedom and access to take viagra to have more sex, while simultaneously shaming and penalising women who have sex and removing their access to take the pill. Men are encouraged and supported in their sexuality. Women are shamed, penalised, heavily regulated, and told to refrain from sexual activity (see this article).
Leaving aside the governance of sexuality and fundamentalist conceptions of ‘wedlock’, let us also consider the reality that some single mothers arrive at single motherhood due to tragedy (death of the father); some due to loss (divorce); some due to trauma (mental/physical/emotional abuse) and realising if they don’t leave the man, that they and their child will be in danger; personal choice (I’m a woman with a career and I want to have a baby but have no need for a man and this is ok). There are lots of scenarios, and all scenarios are ok. Just like being gay is ok. Being gay is OK. Being a single mom is OK. It is 2016, people. Wtf.
Of course, the saddest irony of legislation like this is that some of its victims will actually also be religiously faithful and passively accepting of their oppressive situation as ‘the will of God’ working in their lives. Patriarchal brainwashing in full effect. I’ll reserve comment on the metaphysics of their faith, but I will say that they need to read more feminist blogs and talk to more empowered women, if only to balance that faith out with some unfortunate but helpful (and hopefully empowering) truths.
There are not a lot of women in power across the spectrum of world polities. The fact that men continue to systematically erase and oppress us in policy in all aspects of society on a global level equates to institutionalised hatred of women and male pattern violence. There are no excuses. They want us subdued and silent because it works in their interest. This is not a conspiracy theory. This must stop. We must work together to fight this oppression and end misogyny in policy. Our children need us to do this. And so do our future generations.
We are the life-givers and Creators of society. We need more woke women. But more importantly, we need more woke women in power. End of story.