Tuesday, 23 December 2008

I shouldn't let the Maxim Institute get to me

I've been stewing about a Maxim Institute opinion piece all day yesterday, and last night, and telling myself that I shouldn't let it get to me, and I should just let it run off my back like duck's water* because really, it's just not worth paying much attention to such obvious agents of the patriarchy. I give up!

Look after the family and you help the child claim the Maxim-drones, arguing that it's better to merge the Children's Commission into the Families Commission. I disagree - I think children need their own representation, a clear focus on their needs, not just some vague commitment to families. But that's not what has me stewing, 'though it makes me angry enough, and perhaps I will try to write a little about it in the New Year.

It's this doozie.
We know that if a child lives with their two biological parents they are substantially less likely to be abused than if they live in a house where their mum has a string of successive boyfriends.

Spot the mother blaming in that one! Child abuse is not the fault of violent men; it's the mother's fault. And it's certainly not the fault of men who abandon their children, leaving mothers and children to get along as best they may. No, it's all the mother's fault.

When will the Maxim Institute stop blaming women for men's violence?

* Somewhat obscure literary reference - honour and glory and the admiration of your peers for whoever identifies it.


Nikki said...

I find it ridiculous that she is claiming that the Children's Commission operates without considering the wider context? WTF?

Same argument heard many a time when talking about why we consider gender in contexts where it "doesn't apply" (apparently). Fruuuustrating.

And on a personal level, totally resent the single mother and 'string of boyfriends' comment.

Dave said...

The single mother and string of boyfriends comment is a factual comment. If you don't like facts, that's your problem.

Deborah said...

The "fact", Dave, is that the people perpetrating the violence are the boyfriends. Lets blame them for teh violence, then.

muerk said...

Sure, it is the boyfriends who are committing the violence, but it's the parent, not the boyfriends, who has the responsibility to put the children's needs first.

Children raised by their own biological, married parents are less likely to be abused. That's not to say single mothers can't find a fantastic boyfriend who loves their girlfriend's child, but it is less likely than a biological father having those feelings.

That's just human nature I think.

Anonymous said...

Muerk, that sounds like an argument for making marriage more obtainable to gays and making adoption even harder.

There's also a gross false dichotomy that bothers me - surely there are more family situations possible than married bioparents and "a string of boyfriends"?


notafeminist said...

I see. So basically, a woman must adhere to these options:

1) She should not raise a child alone; apparently two parents families are always better in our one-size-fits-all world. Raising a child alone means that she will either have to find the exact job that allows her to look after her children when needed, or a job that creates enough disposable cash to hire a caregiver, or going on a benefit (involving a whole nother sub-category of wimmin-hatin'). Good luck, girls. Finding another partner for financial stability (not to mention, uh, happiness)is not a viable option because...

2) She should not have a new partner because this could lead to a string of potentially abusive boyfriends; statistics (second in stature only to Jesus) tell us so. So in order for her to have a partner, it needs to be a biological parent, but...

3) She should not continue the relationship with the other parent if he is abusive, or the strain of arguing that goes on is not a good environment for the children to grow up in. She needs to look out for her kids, and so she needs to break up with the other parent (for whatever reason) but...

1) She should not raise a child alone... so the Woman Can Never Win cycle continues.

Maxim is telling us that in order for a woman to be approved of, she needs to have a loving husband with a good salary who smiles like they do on the Kiwi Pary website. If a woman's life gets fucked up in anyway, the consequences are her own fault.

PS mayb, lyk, we shud, lyk, tell th men 2 stp bein abusiv lol instd ov tlln wmen how 2 strcure ther lyvz 2 acomod8 abusv men lol

Anna said...

Everything about this pisses me off, so I'll focus on just one aspect.

Stating that the children of women with a string of boyfriends are more likely to be abused suggests a simple causative relationship where there is actually a lot of tricky stuff going on. It also implies that women's sexual activity has a bearing on their kids' wellbeing too - ie women with boyfriends are sluts and sluts are bad parents.

Consider it differently - ie which socioeconomic groups are more likely to end up parenting alone, what sort of material/social situations do they end up living in, what life experiences might have lead them to be parenting alone, etc - and you get into a lot more complexity. If you control for these factors, I suggest, the lack of biological relationship between 'boyfriends' and kids will have a much weaker correlation with violence.

And, notwithstanding all this, men shouldn't abuse kids. Dave, point your vitriol in the right direction.

Hugh said...

Am I missing the part where it's exlicitly stated that it's the boyfriends abusing the kids? It could equally be read to mean that women who are immoral enough to have a 'string of boyfriends' are also immoral enough to abuse their children.

Madeleine said...

Maxim were quoting a statistical fact not bashing mothers.

We all know there are exceptions to statistics and many single parents do very well and many do not have a constant stream of violent boyfriends.

I became a mother when I fell pregnant at 18. I did 6 years on my own so believe me I know all about how hard it is and I too get very irate at the suggestion the mum gets the blame when the mum is the one doing the nappies, not getting any sleep, the one who actually faced the consequences and got on with it.

The stat that Maxim did not quote though is that children are more likely to be abused by a woman in their life than by a man.

muerk said...

"Muerk, that sounds like an argument for making marriage more obtainable to gays and making adoption even harder."

I do personally know of a case where the child. When the birth mother (who is a family friend) met her child and discovered the terrible life they had suffered she was distraught and obviously regretted placing her baby for adoption all those years ago.

This doesn't make adoption (or boyfriends) inherently bad, it just means we should be careful and aware of human nature.

muerk said...

- opps add in "...the child was abused..."

Anonymous said...

An oblique comment on the name of this outfit.

MAXIM guns were instrumental in the triumph of western colonialism--and the wholesale slaughter of those who tried to resist the theft of their land and resources.

And yes it has links to all the usual suspect groups on the "right" side of the culture wars.