I Want To Meet these Mythical Single Mothers Who Rejected Great Guys They Love
Yesterday, I wrote at Slate about how conservatives arenât going to let little things like evidence stand in the way of blaming crime on women living without male supervision. For a long time now, conservatives have blamed single motherhood for high crime rates. This claim contains within it a prediction: That rising rates of single motherhood, which the claim was a weak attempt to prevent through scare-mongering, would cause increased rates of crime. Indeed, I suspect most conservatives actually think crime rates are rising, because believing the world is going to hell is a sacrament of conservatism. And while Kay Hymowitz throws a lot of words around to confuse people, what she was defending was the routine conservative claim that, to quote Rick Santorum, âmoms raising children in single-parent households simply breeding more criminalsâ. This is a prediction that offers a simple equation: More single moms=more criminals.
Hymowitz tried and failed to confuse the issue here, which is that prediction wildly failed and thus, if youâre actually interested in evidence, has to be scrapped for another theory, even if it makes you sad to give up telling single mothers that their children are destined for prison.
Of course, what happens when you discuss this issue is that youâre inevitably accused of claiming that you disbelieve that two parents are better than one. (I do wonder if the people who spout this truism actually believe that unmarried women are capable of parthenogenesis. In my experience, the quote-unquote âfatherlessâ children that conservatives claim to fear/be concerned about usually do have fathers. They donât just evaporate when they stop being with your mother, and those that do pull a disappearing act usually have themselves to blame.) It makes me bananas, because primly claiming âtwo parents are better than oneâ contains within it an assumption. A really idiotic assumption: that single mothers had opportunities to be in happy, loving marriages but took a pass.
Or not! Thereâs also the possibility that theyâre saying that being with a man who you donât get along with or even being with a man who abuses you is better than being single. But when you ask them if thatâs what they mean, they deny it.
Because, otherwise, why say âtwo parents are better than oneâ, with the caveat that you only mean when all other things are equal? Itâs like reading a story about a woman who is trying to raise kids despite her health problems and primly saying, âAll other things being equal, itâs better for a mother to be well than sick.â Dropping no-shit-Sherlock observations like that is just a way of passive-aggressively accusing the person of having a choice, in this case, to be well but choosingâafter all, all other things were equal!âto be sick. Weâd all recognize the asshole who said that for the moron that he is. So why do we breeze right by it when someone says, as if itâs some great pearl of wisdom, that itâs easier to raise a kid with a partner than without?
So, I have one simple request: For anyone who has a desire to bash single mothers and accuse them of, as Mitt Romney did, of not having a man in their life due to being too stupid to know thatâs what you do, please produce these single mothers. I want to meet them, these scads of single mothers who had an opportunity to marry a great guy they loved dearly, but thought, âFuck it. I want to try to make it on one income because FEMINISM, so go away, great guy I love who wants to stay with me forever!â Your entire argument about âpersonal responsibilityâ rests on the belief that single mothers had a chance at happy marriages and took a pass, and I know this, because if I ask if women should marry men that are bad for them or that they donât love in order to not be single, you blanch and say that you didnât mean that. Considering conservative opposition to affordable contraception and legal abortion, delaying pregnancy until youâre more sure of your relationship is also not under the umbrella of âpersonal responsibilityâ. Indeed, contrary to conservative scare-mongering with the term âfatherlessâ, most single mothers didnât trot down to the sperm bank or have an anonymous encounter to get pregnant. Most of them were actually following the Romney plan of being partnered first, and it just didnât work out. Marriages end. So do live-in relationships. Not all boyfriends produce an engagement ring when you discover youâre pregnant. Thatâs the reality.
Thatâs not the story right wingers tell, of course. The story they tell is one where women have plenty of totally viable options for happy marriages, but instead they shun men to raise their children with government as a âsurrogate husbandâ, because FEMINISM. They claim that women are shunning great guys who love them because they, to quote Ann Coulter, want government âto be their husbandsâ. They claim, as Jennifer Rubin did, that women reject the legions of sweet guys who love changing diapers and taking out the trash without being nagged because liberals have instructed them to: âI would briefly note the irony of the liberal feministsâ idealized single woman: no husband and utterly dependent on government.â
Okay, so this is the theory: Single mothers have plenty of loving men they also adore who are begging for their hands in marriage, but single mothers are choosing âgovernment dependencyâ (on what, I have no idea, since actual government aid is not enough to live on, if you can get any of it at all) because of their devotion to a mysterious feminist ideology that I have not actually heard any feminists propose. Got it.
Please produce these single mothers. That is all. I want to meet them. They sound like interesting people! I want to ask them about the awesome would-be husbands they rejected. I want to know what mysterious government offices they know about where they can get enough benefits to replace the salary of the great guys they rejected. (Does the government ask you to produce a pay stub from Romeo and agree to match it?) I want to hear about the feminist theorists they read that encouraged them to reject these loving relationships, and I want to know why they found these theorists so much more convincing than other feminists like myself that think that relationships that work for you are awesome. Since these women are, according to conservatives, the reason for the high rates of single motherhood in our country, they should be easy to find.
Because, if you canât produce these women, Iâm forced to believe that you are lying when you say that you donât want to strand women in dependent relationships with men that are bad for them, because you want to create a society where every man is entitled to a woman to pick up his socks, no matter how he treats her. And that youâre willing to bully, starve, and abuse women until they accept relationships with men they donât like, donât love, or find repulsive.
But hey, thatâs a terrible thing to think, so Iâm ready to meet these women who rejected great relationships with men they love because they were that into obscure feminist theorists I havenât heard of. Prove me wrong. Itâs not that hard, if these women are as common as you claim.