This is a really important article that gets at the heart of misogyny in one of its deepest dwelling places: feelings about motherhood and the idea that mothers can never sacrifice themselves too much. This deeply pernicious conviction comes back dressed in slightly different clothing with each generation, but it never, ever dies. That is because motherhood is not simply the act of bearing and raising one or more children; it’s a fantasy of endless, self-sacrificing mother-love that is then wrought into an ideology and turned against women for making choices deemed “selfish”: deciding not to have children; or deciding to have children, but to raise them on their own terms (choosing not to breastfeed, for example, or choosing to return to work before the end of maternity leave).
As ever, when the sacrifical mother form of misogyny is turned against poor women, the the criminalization of leaving children alone to play or look after themselves becomes, in effect, a criminalization of poverty:
“In a country that provides no subsidized child care and no mandatory family leave, no assurance of flexibility in the workplace for parents, no universal preschool and minimal safety nets for vulnerable families, making it a crime to offer children independence in effect makes it a crime to be poor.”
Kim Brooks, The New York Times, 27 July 2018