I made the mistake of Googling “single moms are ruining America” to try to find a quote I’d heard or read on the subject by Rick Santorum, because it’s election season and I like to be informed.
And I’m here to inform you that in 9.18 million places on the web, someone is agreeing with Santorum, who in 1994 said: “Most people agree a continuation of the current [welfare] system will be the ruination of this country. We are seeing it. We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it’s falling apart because of single moms.”
I know that was 1994, but ugh. It’s going to be a long campaign season.
I could write a really angry post about this, but lately I’ve grown tired of screaming into the void. I need my voice.
I know there is a huge element of racism here; Santorum and most Republicans are defining, in their own minds if not out loud, “single mom” as “single mom of color.” Single black mom. And they point to Baltimore and Ferguson and the dead bodies of black children as evidence of rampant criminality–of the dead people, not the ones who killed them, mind you. They think black men are out being criminals instead of fathers, so black sons parented by single moms are doomed to follow in their footsteps. Republicans love to cite some percentages here–72%, or 78%, or 84%, depending on where you’re clicking, of black children are raised in single-mom households.
They also like to talk about welfare fraud. According to that MSNBC article linked in the first paragraph, “Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert took to the House floor for an impassioned speech on the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration, saying he was inspired to run for Congress in order to fight against single mothers abusing welfare programs.” For real? That was your reason, your cause, the motivation for your life’s work? To stick it to single moms trying to feed their kids?
I’m reminded of how many times I’ve verbally battled with people who fervently believe all welfare recipients should undergo drug testing. My response is always the same: “I don’t care if you’re the world’s biggest junkie, I still hope your innocent children have a good dinner tonight.” I also remind them that the “statistics” they cite about abuse and fraud of social programs are deeply prejudiced and misinformed. Food stamps provide on average about $5 per day. Close to half of welfare recipients are single white working moms.
Amanda Marcotte said, in an enlightening and well-written 2014 article at the Daily Beast, that, “single women are usually single not because they are taking some kind of government-subsidized stand against being with a man, but because they don’t have a good man right now to be married to.” (She also said, “If you incorporate tax breaks like the mortgage interest deduction into your view of social spending, it turns out the real ‘welfare queens’ are America’s wealthiest citizens.” I love her. She wrote “Single mothers and the blame game,” too. Now I’m wondering what a mass “government-subsidized stand against being with a[n abusive, immoral, or misogynist] man” might look like…) I can’t speak for all single moms out there, but even from a position of white privilege, from a position of having two jobs and no longer needing food stamps, from a position of having a family support system, I can tell you: I didn’t choose to be a single mom.
Wait a minute. I did. I chose to be a single mom over being a married, abused mom. I chose not to raise my son in an abusive environment. I didn’t have a good man to be married to. And guess what? I’m a lot more capable than Santorum, Romney, Bachmann, Gohmert, and apparently a decent chunk of society think I am. I mean, read my blog. 😉
I applaud single mothers. All of them. You have my empathy, my compassion, and my admiration. This shit is hard. You, I, we are not what’s wrong with this world. The world is wrong, and we are trying to be right in it, and in spite of it.