27 June 2009

Language Matters

Mother-blaming is a major problem in our society. Mommy-bashing, Mommy-drive-bys, and my favourite, "But she's a mother!" as a horrified gasp at a woman's behaviour.

Lately, one of the themes seems to be shots at mothers for drinking alcohol. A woman in North Dakota was arrested for breastfeeding while intoxicated. A felony arrest, I might add. She was charged with neglect. Okay... here's the thing, the amount of alcohol in breastmilk is the same as in the blood. So, assuming she was flat out loaded, her blood alcohol was maybe .2%. There's more alcohol in Gripe Water! (yes, there is alcohol in Gripe Water unless otherwise indicated). So why in hell can she be arrested fro this?! Because Moms shouldn't drink, of course.

Right. So I was reading the cbc.ca site and ran into the article about the racist whackjobs who drew swastikas on their daughter's arms and sent her to school. Now it seems that the woman has been charged with fraud, for impersonating her mother and using her credit cards to the tune of $20,000. And how did cbc phrase it? (Emphasis added)
The mother in a controversial Winnipeg custody trial, involving a girl who was sent to school with white supremacist symbols drawn on her skin, has been arrested.

The mother has been in jail since Thursday, charged with a number of fraud-related crimes, news that came just as the custody hearing was set to resume with lawyers for Child and Family Services wrapping up their case.

According to court documents obtained by CBC News, the mother is accused of stealing her own mother's credit card last fall and racking up charges of more than $20,000. It is also alleged that she impersonated the woman for a few days last October in order to commit the fraud.

The court worked Friday for several hours to arrange to get the mother transferred from the remand centre to the courthouse. The judge in charge of the hearing wanted her present but it took some time for bail to be granted.

The mother appeared in court in shackles Friday and testified in the custody case that she wants a relative to get custody of the child, not the father.

Okay, the first one makes sense. She's the mother in a custody case. But after that? It's just another case of Mommy-shaming. She's a woman, first. Then a mother.

I think that's what so many forget. Women aren't people in the eyes of a lot of people. At church, on Father's Day, a man in my congregation got up and said, "Happy Father's Day! I think just about everyone here is a father!" Um... So one of the women hollered out, "I'm not!" There was an uncomfortable laugh. And here's the thing, the congregation is about 75% women. He just simply didn't view us as people.

You hear about murdered prostitutes, school teachers, mothers, etc. When it's a man, it's a murdered man. When it's a woman, it's about her job, her profession, her choices. Never just about her. Because women just don't seem to matter.

h/t on the arrest to Jill at Feministe