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'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?

corlan Sun 05-May-13 16:18:08

Get used to it Snoopy - there's a lot of idiots out there! wink

You'll find your own way to deal with daft comments, but the truth is, people who judge you as being inferior because you are a single parent are probably a bit stupid anyway. We know we're awesome, even if the government and the Daily Mail don't agree.

IneedAyoniNickname Sun 05-May-13 16:24:19

People assume my 2 have different dads, mind you that happened before I was single as well, just not as often.

McBalls Sun 05-May-13 16:26:39

I'm sorry you are experiencing this.
To be perfectly honest, I have never had any negativity from anyone and I've been a single parent for 5 years.
I wonder if its a geographical thing?

RoomForASmallOne Sun 05-May-13 16:26:59

OP I live in rural Ireland and it is still 1957 here (sometimes) grin

I kill people with kindness if I get any stupid comments.

My favourite is the quizzical sounding..... but she has lovely children??
As if the only option was for my DCs to be horrors.

Another common one.... of course, there's no man in that house.... which explains everything

I generally get a kick out of the daftness tbh
How I live just doesn't compute for some...the trick is to go about my day knowing I'm doing well at this single parenting lark.

You just have to ignore or smile and wave smile

Fleecyslippers Sun 05-May-13 17:59:11

My favourite one is about kids being from broken homes. Our home might be a little bit wobbly in places but it sure isn't broken.

MissMogwi Sun 05-May-13 20:24:27

One of my favourite patronising comments was from a school mum (who I only know as such, not a friend) who said she was proud of me for doing a degree and working.

grin Cheers, stranger. How do you know my business.

She had good intentions I'm sure, but it didn't come across well.

MissMogwi Sun 05-May-13 20:26:49

Although I must add, I haven't experienced a lot of negativity. I don't think being a LP carries the stigma it once did.

marjproops Sun 05-May-13 21:29:40

yep, me too. im a lp for good reasons.

yet NEVER ever get taken seriously, DC has mental probs cos theres no man around, (not cos she has disabilities), and you get picked on when certain people know you have no partner/husb/boyf/support at all.

people naturally (and i admit i can be quite judgy-pants at times) that youve bbeen a naughty girl and trapped yourself, and most of all, single parent on income support (never mind carers ben for me and disabilty for DC as Im a lifelong carer for a lifelong disability) therefore the jeremy kyle type, just got preggers to get a council house and live off benefits. (unfortunatley there are a few like that but why tar us all with the same brush?)

i DO know who made my child, im NOT a chav, Im not a drinky/druggy/smoky type, yet you'll get all this and more.

and yy. broken home? whats that about? sometimes there are broken homes with 2 people there, and a child witnessing domestics and the like.


SnoopyLovesYou Sun 05-May-13 21:53:23

But seriously though!?!

With men it's almost as if I had leprosy...

Other women are so quick to unfriend me... Especially the married ones but basically yeah... Nobody loves you when you're down & out!

Some of my good friends look at me with such pity it's infuriating! Even though I'm happier and more successful than I was before.

marjproops Sun 05-May-13 21:56:10

most married women think you're after their husband.

most men think you're after a father for your child.

you never get invited to family type things...although tbh it might be cos they think you might feel left out without a partner.

SnoopyLovesYou Sun 05-May-13 22:19:21

Yeah Marj but it's not just family-type things is it? Ppl often seem to presume I won't be able to get a babysitter and so don't invite me out :-(

I'm actually really angry about this!

And what about the 'fallen woman' idea? Ppl seem to actually think this!

SnoopyLovesYou Sun 05-May-13 22:20:33

McBalls where do you live? In London or somewhere where you can find lots of normal people?

marjproops Sun 05-May-13 22:22:22

agree, snoopy with everything.

sooo been there, done that, still happening.

and no one offers to babysit either so you can go out. if someone has a partner they could look after all the kids and you could go out even for an hour for a quick drink with a friend.

marjproops Sun 05-May-13 22:25:10

sorry, snoopy you're new to this but i wish someone had told me how it was going to be.

having said all that id rather have DC anyday than anything else, and stuff what people think, sometimes its just ignorance, they dont realise cos theyve not experienced it, insensitive, or just plain judgy.

still hurts though. cant sugar coat it.

TheBiskyBat Sun 05-May-13 22:29:52

I think I do get invited to fewer social events than I used to particularly couple type things. My long standing friends, who I knew before my ex and I split up, and who know him to be a wanker, haven't changed at all - I often am the sole single person round a large table with the people I have known for a while. But I definitely don't get the "oh, do come to dinner" type invitations that we used to get when we were a couple from people I've just met. I think there is a bit of low level alarm, and the fear that perhaps I am after their husbands. Tempting to say to them that, with the greatest respect, their husbands are really not that appealing, but I don't.

That said, I have never encountered judging, but I do get patronised a lot. "You're amazing, coping with a job and children" (as if I have a choice), "you did so well not to fall apart when he left" (as if I have a choice), "your children are so well adjusted" (of course they are, they're bloody fantastic). It's as if they are amazed that I am not sitting around in my pants eating crisps and shouting at my children while watching Jeremy Kyle. Whereas really, there wasn't much option but to just carry on with life...

TheBiskyBat Sun 05-May-13 22:31:50

Snoopy - I'm in London. There are lots of us "normal" single mothers around...maybe location does make a difference.

Marjproops - have you tried just asking people if they are free to go out sometime? I am quite blunt - "how about I bring the children round sometime and your dh can look after them all while we go out?". Only works with really good friends whose children get on with mine, of course...

marjproops Sun 05-May-13 22:35:55

bisky yes ive tried that strategy but tbh DC has a lot of complex needs that prob people think they cant cope with . ( not realising of course that any lone parent copes with a child ,with no help!).

were not only fallen women, theres the 'black widow', 'scarlet woman'.

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Sun 05-May-13 23:32:04

Snoopy I totally get where you are coming from. I think when I realised that I was being pigeon holed by my status as a 'single mother' I kind of flipped a little. It crept up on me, as I never really took things seriously or the wrong way, and it had never occurred to me that I was suddently defined by my single parent status, never having been defined in that way before. It was little comments - things like 'oh you'll be OK if we get redundancy, what with all the benefits you'll get' and 'are you sure working is the right thing for you?' in response to a difficult patch I was going through financially, from my boss at the time - obviously all those benefits were just sooooo much better for me. Oh, and the assumption that I automatically refuse my ex contact with DD in response to his fecklessness in failing to pay support (before I got CSA involved) 'cos that's how us 'single mums' roll.

Anyhoo, I met up with an old school friend around the time it was dawning on me, and he made the fatal mistake of saying something about my 'situation' not being the 'ideal' but would I consider dating again (I think he was fishing to see if he had a chance grin ). I have no idea where it came from but I went on a 20 minute rant about how I was sick of people suddenly defining me by my supposed 'situation' when I'd never been as defined prior to becoming a single parent. No one ever made assumptions about me as a person, my finances, my choices, my experiences, my motivation, my ability to parent, my DD's now clearly reduced life chances, and I was damned if I was going to let anyone make those kinds of judgements about me now, just because my relationship with my DD's father ended. When I'd got off my soap box, I think he realised he'd put his foot in it, and just sat there like shock. grin God it felt good to vent, but I really should have aimed it at everyone who felt they had a right to comment on my life at the point I was no longer in a relationship, but had my DD to raise alone.

Now, I'm not so slow to pick someone up on lazy stereotypes. Still niggles at times, but I'm a bit more thick skinned, and not as backward in coming forward to pull someone up on what they might have to say about me/my situation.

SnoopyLovesYou Mon 06-May-13 00:09:18

I think a lot of it is in my own head. I'm so hyper-conscious of it. And I have actually been single for nearly a year so it's not that new but this part really is something that bugs me. I do live in a very backward part of the country and I would be a very forward thinking person so I think this is also a huge part of my problem.

I think bunchamunchy that you are right in what you say. Taking ppl up on the fecking stupid things they come out with can be helpful. Standing up for myself in the face of single-mother-phobia feels a bit funny because I don't want to look like I'm trying to justify myself the whole time, which is what it looked like the last time I tried to stand up for myself. All he did was ask 'Youre a single mother aren't you?' But A/ he knew damn well already that I am and B/ it was like he was trying to take me down a peg or two.

Like someone above said, if ppl see that you haven't got much support, they'll not be supportive. It's crazy! And the crazy sexism too...

So then we all have to work bloody twice as hard to make a success of ourselves in the face of all the judging. And then when we appear successful we get A/ disbelief and B/ mistrust!!!!!! I'd just like someone to cut me a bit of slack really... Just feels like a struggle uphill with unnecessary obstacles thrown in my way :-D

I think like someone else said that it's good just to feel that you're doing a great job- helps the self esteem when you're not too hard on yourself- and to give yourself a pat on the back sometimes...

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Mon 06-May-13 00:29:34

I think I was pretty defensive at the time my DD started school. I was already aware by then that some people did view me 'differently' in that my life, which was of no concern to anyone else, was suddenly 'fair game'. I was a very 'closed book' in terms of who I was, what my set up was, and what information I let people know about me. I can remember bristling at my friend (who knew me before DD started school) talking openly about what an arsehole my ex was at DD's 6th birthday party where some parents from school were in attendance, with ears pricking up as my friend went on a rant about the ex. Up until that point, no one knew a thing about me. And as soon as it was known I was a 'single parent' that's when people started treating me differently. It's pretty pathetic, and predicable too. I think sometimes I think I'm over senstive about it, and others I think no, people are just generally lazy twats about prejudging people when they think they know something about you - which in reality is nothing and me being a 'single parent' is no more revealing about me as a person than the fact I bought my own flat when I was 23, or travelled alone when I was 27 to New Zealand, or that I had a season ticket for my local football team. Yet, people still think that insignificant fact somehow defines me as a person. It's ludicrous at best, and down right nasty at it's very worst.

SnoopyLovesYou Mon 06-May-13 15:32:31

Well said bunchamunchy.

I think the best way forward for me is to jokingly make fun of the ridiculous statements ;-)

Like I might start prefacing the words 'single parent' with SHOCK! HORROR! faces...

Any other ideas?

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Mon 06-May-13 15:53:03

I find this facehmm works well grin

RoomForASmallOne Mon 06-May-13 16:04:19


grin at scarlet woman.

That is still an acceptable way to describe women where I live...madness.

I wind up the biddies by wearing red shoes grin

Snoopy you have too see the daftness in it or it will wreck your head.

Use it for entertainment and pull the ones who over step the line itms.

mumandboys123 Mon 06-May-13 19:23:52

oh jeez, don't get me started....I have had all sorts....the best one by far was the 'Oh, I'd love to do that' (retraining as a teacher) only I can't 'cos I have a husband'....another favorite is being told to get one of my children's hair cut by the woman who's male child has hair down to his knees 'because you wouldn't want people to think you're not coping, would you?'

bluergghhh! I was once a nano second from telling the 'my husband is wonderful' woman outside school that my ex husband was a twat and did she think she could beat that 'cos she'd seriously struggle...but I smiled nicely and moved myself along. May be next time??? grin

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