Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Motherhood Tuesday 4: Mother-Blaming Studies And Mothers in Politics

This popularization about a study concerning breast-feeding was hilariously bad.  I had fun writing about it, in a dark-humor sense.  This older post looks at how alcoholism is covered when it applies to women with children.  This post talks about obesity and children and whatever the mothers might be doing wrong, and this post takes apart one study on how bad mothers cause fat children.  And this tells us why mother's depression matters:  It might lead to shorter children.

I could have added many more such studies to this final Motherhood Tuesday report.

That's because researchers are really keen to study such questions as whether working/obese/etc mothers cause childhood obesity but don't seem at all interested in any potential relationship between working/obese/etc fathers and childhood obesity.  Indeed, if you study almost any field of research into children's development mothers are much, much more likely to be studied than fathers.

That is changing slowly.  I'm not sure if I should cheer for the arrival of new father-blaming studies.  It would be better if parenting research was popularized more carefully and if the biases didn't show as much as they do now.

To round off this series, I recommend this New Statesman article about being a mother or not being a mother in UK politics.  It tells us that childless female politicians are often asked about why they don't have children (or taken to task for it) and that female politicians with children are doubted as not being able to fully engage in politics.  The same is not true about childless male politicians and male politicians with children.

At the same time, the UK political institutions are still run on the assumption that there's a wife somewhere in the background, taking care of the politicians' children.

As the link article notes, children are an asset to male politicians but problematic (whether in their absence or in their presence) for female politicians.  This is a direct result of traditional gender roles expectations (mothers are to take care of children) and the (most likely subconscious) belief that women are really supposed to be mothers and only mothers.

Even this is changing, though perhaps slowly.  I write about it to make it change faster!