Thursday, August 07, 2008

A working mum's guide to rousing her rabble

What does a working mother do when told something she doesn't like to hear? Throw a snarky tantrum of course, toss out a few anecdotes, ridicule some stereotypes and then blame men and employers. Along the way, there might be one or two reasonable points, but it'll be hard to tell. Above all, don't examine the possibility that some working mothers might have more interest in their own "choices" than their children's wellbeing.

The piece is mildly amusing in its own way, much as any empassioned rant might have you smile at its more extreme exaggerations, but what caught my eye, even tripped me up halfway through the article and forced me to start reading it again, was the line: "I feel as if the told-you-so-sayers are plonking working mothers in a category of villains that includes paedophiles and violent dads."

Wait, what?

Suddenly, I found myself not thinking about working mothers, but why such a one would a) group paedophiles with violent dads and b) use this artificial group as a shibboleth against people who would disagree with her choices.

The point, of course, is to gather a couple of stereotypical bad guys into one band and say "look, we're obviously not one of them, therefore you're wrong". Not a particularly intellectual means of argument, it nevertheless works remarkably well with your typical idiot in the street. Not wanting to be thought of as considering working mums as on a par with abusive fathers and child molesters, the only concievable alternative is to dumbly nod in acquiescence.

But why this particular selection of bad guy? Paedophiles are the easy and first recourse of the lazy rabble rouser. Most of the western world now immediately shuts down its critical faculties at the merest suggestion of impropriety with children, making it the quickest route to shutting down dissent too. So, green light to identifying the out-group as a bunch of pedos.

But that really isn't enough because to suggest working mothers are being cast as simply like paedophiles is really too silly for even the dumbest of Telegraph reader, so she needs something slightly less risible to lend credulity to the claim. "Abusive fathers" might have done it, but it's not really down to earth enough. Better to say "dads" because that'll bring it right into everyman's, or everywoman's, home and say "violent" to make sure we know what we're talking about. (Shhh! Nobody point out that child abuse is primarily perpetrated by mothers and their boyfriends, well before actual fathers enter the picture! You'll spoil her fun!)

Interestingly, this is the only explicit mention of fathers in the entire article. Even when she starts complaining about men not "pulling their weight domestically", it's just "men", not fathers. Mention of fathers is reserved for association with violence and proximity to pedophilia.

So, what does author Cassandra Jardine betray about her true agenda? I'd say it's something like rather than examine the possibility that some working mothers are putting their own choices ahead of their children, she'll fan the fires of father hate and fall back on a couple of safe canards. For me, that rather proves the point she's trying to deny.


Anonymous said...

"(Shhh! Nobody point out that child abuse is primarily perpetrated by mothers and their boyfriends, well before actual fathers enter the picture! You'll spoil her fun!)"
Care to back that up with a source?
Or just being super-defensive of all fathers?

John Doe said...

Anon (12:09), why should I do your work for you? Provide me with credible sources which show it not to be true.

(I've documented it here before and there are plenty of other options including the US dept. of Justice and UK Home Office statistics. It's a fact, ma'am.)

Anonymous said...

There is too much money involved in the art of preventing fathers from haveing any contact with thier children. I would hazard a guess that over 3/4 of divorces in the US are filed by the mother. Mothers in this country know that when it comes down to it they get a free ride through the court, custody of the children posesion of the house and vehicles and a guarnteed income usually including alimony (a scam thought up by lawyers I reckon) while the father gets to suffer all the loss with the knowledge that no matter what the court is never going to be "Fair or impartial"

The courts should view marriage as a legal contract and divorce proceedings should be treated just as a dammn business contract. but then, if courts didn't have a bias towards women then less women would file for divorce and therefore there would be less work for those poor underpaid lawyers and judges.