Yesterday, Bristol Palin wrote an awful, ugly, offensive, homophobic, thoroughly disgusting blog post in response to President Obama’s announcement this week that he believes two gay people should be able to get married. Reading Bristol’s words deeply hurt me because she’s a person that has the privilege of the national stage and she’s using it to spread hate.
What has been more hurtful – and I mean, almost devastatingly so- has been the quickness with which the feminist twittersphere and bloggers threw single parents under the bus. Right after reading Palin’s hateful post, I scrolled through my twitter feed full of so-called feminists and equal rights proponents only to notice a common theme in response to Bristol: What could a single, unwed mother possibly know about morality!?
Nice–women who have a kid outside of traditional, heteronormative marriage are obviously perfect examples of what immorality looks like, right? Because Palin should clearly shut up about parenting because she’s a single, unmarried mom, and therefore knows NOTHING about parenting! DUH! I mean, Bristol should actually shut up because she’s spreading hate and discrimination, but it’s way easier to say she’s not qualified to talk at all since she’s a stupid single mom.
And I feel like shit. It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday and just typing that makes me tear up. My son is seven, and he’ll no doubt present me with an amazing card (I frame each year’s card and put them on the wall) thanking me for being awesome and loving him, but I will still feel inadequate. I’ll still feel like I’m failing. Intellectually I know that self-hate is just another way patriarchy takes power away from us, that being a mother and being unmarried is not a bad thing, that I am no less strong, no less good than the Married Woman Next Door .
But I’m never going to fit into the “normal” model of ‘traditional” parenthood, nor should I have to. I know that my privileges in life, my incredible family, friends, and broad social network enable me to create a life for myself and my son that is comfortable and happy. I’m very much at peace with myself.
And yet, I’m still a bit insecure about my job at being a mother. Mostly becuase I freeze my ass off at my son’s baseball games (It’s not sunny here in the NW) and take on the jerk sideline-dads all by myself and think, it would be cool if I had a partner in crime right about now. Because this time of year I am bombarded with commercials and greeting cards of loving dudes presenting their pretty wives with thank-you trinkets in front of the two beaming kids and a dog.
I’m not that mother, I’ll never be that mother, and the insecurity comes when I forget that it is OKAY that I’m not that mother.
Shame works like that, making people forget that it is okay that their life is not the same as the so called “norm.” Reading the disparaging remarks from feminists about Palin’s status as a single mother were shaming and very hurtful. I’m not perfect, I’ve made my share of awful comments, but I think feminism’s response to Palin’s homophobic post is indicative of a larger problem within feminism today: when it suits the movement (sticking up for Obama and gay rights in this instance), everyone is all too quick to throw a group of people under the bus. In this case, it was single moms, and that’s wrong.
It shouldn’t have to be said that shaming single parents because one particular single parent wrote a really hateful blog post isn’t going to advance the numerous causes Feminism is currently fighting for. It shouldn’t have to be said that shaming single parents ALIENATES them and makes them feel unwelcome. It shouldn’t have to be said that defending one issue shouldn’t come at the expense of other people. But I guess it does have to said.