'Fallen woman' and other single mother stigmatisms

(91 Posts)
SnoopyLovesYou Sun 05-May-13 13:58:43

Hi everyone I'm new on here. I know I shouldn't care less what idiots think but now that I'm single and happen to also be a mother, I haven't been able to help but notice just how stigmatised the role of 'single mother' is. I'm having a little difficulty with it. I know it's just blatant sexism and all and that I can't change how society is but loaded questions like 'You're a single mum aren't you?' (which felt in the context more like I was being asked if I spend all my day on the sofa, shouting at my kids and eating crisps in front of Jeremy Kyle- in which case I'm definitely NOT a m'single mum!) and automatically being thought of as inferior because of this DRIVES ME BATTY!
Anybody have a similar experience?

SnoopyLovesYou Fri 17-May-13 21:21:23

Thanks Lostdad. I'm slowly learning to ignore the idiots. This thread has really helped :-)

lostdad Fri 17-May-13 12:49:01

Opinions are like a**eholes - everyone has one.

In my situation (ex abducting my son without warning) people assumed a) I'd beaten her up b) I was screwing around c) I was a child abuser d) I was gambling/drinking/taking drugs all without actually knowing anything that gone on.

I work as a McKenzie Friend these days - I see the best and worst of men and women. And you know what? There's no difference whatsoever.

Best thing I have learnt though is to ignore the idiots. It says more about them when they feel able to judge you without bothering with inconsequentia like, you know, facts.

wink

SnoopyLovesYou Fri 17-May-13 12:37:33

You're right Lion. There's no need for the discrimination but it sadly exists and it's annoying that I have to 'prove myself' to ppl to avoid falling into the stereotype. I'm going to sell the ring. Sometime... ;-)

Lioninthesun Thu 16-May-13 23:11:06

I personally think broaching it face on is much braver and saves any issues further down the line. Really there is nothing to be worried about - you are you and when people get to know you the fact you are a single mother will fade into the background. If they don't get that far then they aren't worth it. People have worse secrets to be found out, but this shouldn't be one!

SnoopyLovesYou Thu 16-May-13 21:26:21

No jokes but I am honestly considering wearing a diamond eternity ring (present from ex) in my new place of work when I start there to make myself look like I might still be in a relationship and therefore avoid the single mother treatment (and the kick in the face it gives my self esteem) much in the same way that others have shared on this blog how they create a persona for people's small brains or use the word 'we' to refer to family. Someone please tell me I'm crazy and why I shouldn't do this so that I can sell the stupid ring ;-)

SnoopyLovesYou Tue 14-May-13 22:48:14

Yeah we all know that Daddy in lots of cases definitely doesn't come in to save the day. In a lot of families, Daddy has zero practical skills at all, moans a lot/ drinks a lot/ is at pub or other escape places a lot (delete as appropriate) and can't really cope with having a family let alone participate fully as a parent or do any real family problemsolving. So unfair then for kids to see the gap between fantasy and reality and feel like they're missing out. And I'm so glad you pointed that out to all the bloody sheep at the playgroup. Ah well it might just be the case alright that it's up to us to rock the boat a little.

russetbella1000 Tue 14-May-13 21:43:44

Omg, Mr Plumber! Scary isn't it...

...And you're right ignoranus is what he most definitely is!

Thanks for the tip about the books will check it out-girls and boys deserve quality books and not the same old outdated claptrap that gathers dust on shelves but continues to be used to 'educate'-sends shivers down my spine most of it :0)

Lioninthesun Tue 14-May-13 21:29:32

I don't know if you are on FB but there is a page called A Mighty Girl which is great and has a lot of books for parents who want their children to be less stereotyped as well as campaigning for less 'pink for girls and blue for boys' where toys are concerned. I don't run it btw, just like their posts and you may find it interesting as a teacher to see their book collection.

Another story that wound me up last week was a friend telling me a punter at her pub was banging on about how single mothers shouldn't be allowed to vote! He is a plumber and had been over in the winter to fix my heating, so it felt he was judging me when he said this to her. Apparently we all laze about in PJ's all day and eat MacDonalds hmm

Lioninthesun Tue 14-May-13 21:24:31

Nah, I liked ignorANUS much better wink

russetbella1000 Tue 14-May-13 21:21:15

Lioninthesun, so nice to hear similar experiences. I shouldn't really but I now look forward to the awkwardness when the assumption has been made... I enjoy the fact that I might have altered their (skewed) views somewhat.

As for the books, depressing how soon the conditioning starts isn't it...I'm actually a teacher and actively seek to dispel the myths surrounding superhero dad or prince charming wherever they appear (far too often in the curriculum imo grrrrr)
As for 'ignoramuses' - apologies for the earlier spelling error btw but here below is the definition - it like them definitely exists!

ignoramus = a colorful way to comment on a person's ignorance or stupidity. The word comes right from the Latin ignoramus, literally "we do not know,"

:0)

Lioninthesun Tue 14-May-13 20:49:52

Russet I love the ?typo? 'ignoranuses' - I think that should be the new word for DM readers grin
I have had a couple of comments about being a single mum. It's actually people more assuming I have a partner and then going weird and flappy when they find out I don't have a partner or husband. One was a lady at a playgroup. They were going through a suggested reading list with loads of 2.4 children family books and I asked if anyone had any suggestions about different family set ups, as I wanted something a little less "and then Daddy came in and saved the day!" I managed to silence the room and everyone looked shock while the lady running it stumbled out a 'I, er I, erm, didn't realise you were a SINGLE parent!" I almost heard the sucking in of breath through teeth. So embarrassing and I really don't usually care.

I also had another on Sunday at the local market. Guy took my £ and I smiled and said thank you as I put the things under the buggy. "What a lovely smile! I bet your husband is pleased as punch with that, oh yes!" I turned and for some reason said loudly and still smiling "oh no, no husband!" at which point several people stopped and gawped and the guy quickly changed the subject. I hadn't even thought before I said it, I just didn't like sounding like a prize for some man and wanted to point out that I wasn't 'owned' by someone. Silly really but the reaction reminded me how people would act if they knew.

I really find it weird. I have no intention of taking peoples fat/smelly/hairy/dirty/messy/sport obsessed husband/partners. Why on earth do they think I would want to change what I have chosen?

russetbella1000 Tue 14-May-13 20:34:14

Thanks...Sometimes can feel you're the only one that thinks that way but I guess we just don't shout the loudest :0)) We need to spread the word! Although better than words is just me, you and others like us just being fantastic and happy people (ooooo and single too!)

We know that this like any label can change in a flash but whatever it doesn't say anything about who we are anyway...:0))

SnoopyLovesYou Tue 14-May-13 20:15:03

Russetbella you are 1000% right. Yes one thousand percent right. That's why you called yourself that. It's important not to let someone else control who you are. It's important not to let someone else control your mind, your body...
Yet so many of us (including me) fall prey to controlling men. I completely lost who I was. For many years. It was a gradual, subtle thing. It's scary! Never again will I let that happen!

russetbella1000 Tue 14-May-13 20:08:36

To be fair, I have never had anything negative directed towards me either. I love being a single mum-very proud blah blah but hard to ignore the slamming of single mums in the daily rags etc...

However, it does irritate me that anyone would ever have the guts to judge someone as a 'social leper' or 'feel sorry for them just because they are single'. You really just have to feel sorry for such narrow minded (ignorant) people, they are evidently insecure and don't dare to see 'another view'...I could say (and indeed this is how I feel) that I often feel sorry for people in couples (especially when they can seem so unhappy) but I never do because I understand that this is just my opinion. Therefore why can't the ignoranuses who dare to judge the single mum understand that though they have chosen a different path the other is JUST as valid.

I think it generally comes down to how secure you are in yourself.

I am currently single and love it. If one day I become part of a couple that might be nice too...I have had great relationships in the past etc BUT they have never and will never define who I am. I am an individual first, I think some people lose sight of that and might even be hiding who they really are too...

Dahlen Tue 14-May-13 16:57:55

The only time I ever get faced with negativity is when I read the Daily Mail or listen to some clueless politician going on about family values. I've never faced it in real life TBH.

This may, however, be because I am forever going on about how great it is being a single parent so no one dares contradict me or feel worried that I might make a play for their DH. wink

SnoopyLovesYou Tue 14-May-13 16:53:01

Can I just add as an aside...

Looking good = Wow! She seems to be coping really well. And looks well. She must be gagging for sex. I bet she's a strumpet and out to steal our husbands. Single mothers don't have any morals

Looking bad= No wonder her husband/partner/wifebeater left her. The poor thing. She's in the gutter and there'll be no way out for her. She's a social reject. Better keep well away from her.

Just goes to show that there is no pleasing people where single mothers are concerned!

Fairygen Tue 14-May-13 16:37:59

Unfortunately, I think sometimes other single parents are our worst enemies! There used to be a mum at school who was like a whirlwind, rushing here, there, everywhere, because she was soooo busy and had sooo much to do because she was a single parent, (and didn't everyone know it!!)

equinox Tue 14-May-13 12:38:22

I don't wish to get into political hot water too much but David Cameron is very pro marriage pro couple so his stance to families over and above single parent families is not helping matters much either.....!

Making us sound like the social vermin of modern society somewhat hurrumph.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Tue 14-May-13 00:23:16

I think it's a problem when the value of a person is wrongly equated to the situation they are in

Eg 'successful' middle class couple = highly valuable people
Single mother / broken up couple = failed in relationship = failed as a person

And there is also some kind of idea that striving = failing to be successful and effortless / seeming effortless success = naturally deserving (I have to say the current government echoes that sentiment very strongly)

Whereas a single mother doesn't even mean broken up couple anyway, and besides, I'm a bloody hero! smile

russetbella1000 Mon 13-May-13 22:39:43

Just a quickie...

I was single for the whole of my pregnancy (by choice-I did not think the father was worthy of my soon to be beautiful daughter...-he found responsibility tough...My daughter was too precious, no man is-I know not everyone thinks this)

I also attended NCT groups. I was the only single mother there, although my sister sometimes popped along. I will probably get shot for being so judgemental myself(we're all human) but I honestly felt most of them were much more 'emotionally vulnerable' than me. I think that they felt comfortable exactly because they were a couple and could not comprehend (possibly) how I could be comfortable because I was pregnant and single...The whole NCT idea is sometimes all about just being part of some middle-class club....In some respects I went along to deliberately prove a point I suppose, that I was actively choosing to do this and could be part of something if I wanted to. More women should do this too!

Don't act like a leper, educate people!

Of course they didn't actually say anything directly to me and of course everyone was nice enough...We still meet but no big friendships which is exactly what NCT is for (a certain amount of competitiveness helps cement the group-such a cynic)...Anyway, I am myself projecting here a bit but while I could understand where they were coming from (us all being 'conditioned products' of the same society) - so for example I could see practical benefits of two adults involved in the pregnancy-It could have irritated me, I suppose, that others could not also see different but still valid benefits of what I was doing in going it alone.

Neither situation is perfect but the superiority which some people think they can hold in certain situations is not only unfair but in some cases actually just wrong. I could go on about how fantastic it was to just have me and my baby to worry about/enjoy as I saw others rowing about who should get up and feed the baby etc...I felt lucky that I didn't have the expectation of the father which to be honest was far too high in most of the couples I witnessed and in fact was where resentment began to grow too...

I can only speak personally but I had an amazing pregnancy and birth because I chose to...I didn't believe anything anyone said but rather had my very own experience and it was wonderful. If some people want to concoct untruths about I might cope that's up to them-I mostly knew this was to make themselves feel better and if they need to think negatively about someone else to do that, I can't control that.

On another point I do think there's a danger of single parents themselves feeding the cliches. We need to be much more confident about saying how things are rather than agreeing with sometimes just untruths..
...Whoops that was actaully b****y long!

SnoopyLovesYou Mon 13-May-13 22:02:11

Yes happy lives for all of us indeed! :-D
And... you make a great cup of tea bohoec thanks for that ;-)

bohoec Mon 13-May-13 17:25:44

Ah. I know it's not the same, but here you go brew x

equinox Mon 13-May-13 15:22:37

Yes you are right Snoopy I used to think that couples were lucky to have each other but over the past few years at school reading between the lines I have noticed a number of them can only be overcompromising ....

Wishing us all happy lives as single parents with our lovely children!

SnoopyLovesYou Mon 13-May-13 11:05:51

Equinox you know I actually really feel sorry for those ones in those unhappy relationships with no guts to make the break!!!! Destined to years and years of misery. Trapped in unpleasant situations because they're not brave enough to change their lives and make things better. I feel so sorry for them that I wouldn't dare pity them. They've got enough on their plates! I'm so happy now to be single and able to do all the super-productive things I couldn't do when I was living with an abusive layabout :-D

SnoopyLovesYou Mon 13-May-13 11:01:23

Girlie friend they are infuriating aren't they?? Honestly I just sometimes want to laugh in their smug faces! And then some of them will ask purposefully inflammatory or just insensitive questions.

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