Angry Ann Against Single Moms.
by Vicki Larson
Last week, I discovered that I was responsible for all the world’s problems.
This was news to me, although my teenagers have been alluding to something like it for a while, just within a smaller world — say, 1,200 square feet on a certain block in a certain town in Northern California.
But because I am a single mom, I am guilty, accused by Ann Coulter, conservative political commentator, columnist and author. Coulter recently declared on the “Today Show,” where she was promoting her new book, “Guilty: Liberal ‘Victims’ and Their Assault on America,” that single motherhood was "a recipe to create criminals, strippers, rapists, murderers."
Funny — I think my two boys have other plans.
But since there are basically two ways to get noticed in this two-minute sound-bite world — pushing sex or outrageousness, and Coulter happens to be the mistress of both — the messenger often obscures the message. I wanted to delve further.
So I read “Guilty” — not the whole book, just the juicy bits on single moms — and I couldn’t help noticing how I’ve heard most of this before, most recently in an article in Slate last year written by Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, the magazine’s advice columnist. In fact, Coulter cites Yoffe’s article.
And both Coulter and Yoffe target women who get knocked up out-of-wedlock but keep their babies anyway and single moms by choice (and I felt a bit relieved that Coulter says divorced moms shouldn’t latch onto the single mom category, although she has other unkind things to say about us). And there are more and more women choosing that path.
But blaming all the world’s ills on us — I mean, them — bothers me. I know a handful of kids who were swept up in the middle of the night and sent to wilderness programs who came from wealthy, white, traditional families. Two-parent families mess up, too; just ask any shrink or read an Augusten Burroughs memoir. Although Coulter cites numerous studies about single mothers, without knowing what else is going on — addictions, abuse, mental illness, poverty (and single moms are among the poorest, according to Census data) and just plain ol’ bad parenting — it’s likely skewed. And nowhere do we know what percentage of kids from single-parent families end up as criminals and strippers — 50 percent? 5 percent? .05 percent? Plus, most of the studies date from the 1990s; I’d like to know what’s changed.
And everything’s changing. More people are OK with hookups and cohabitation; more young men are getting vasectomies; more couples are choosing to be child-free; more men are skittish about marriage, perhaps rightfully so given divorce laws; more women are becoming choice mothers, even in their 20s — we are morphing into something very different from the 1950s Cleaver family model and we’re not going back.
What good is it to point fingers?