‘When women behave badly, we seek to understand; when men behave badly, we condemn them’

[Note: Reader Robert Franklin, a retired business attorney, has joined the blogging team at All of Robert’s posts are available here.–GS] Los Angeles, CA–Here”s another case of a mother apparently killing her children. Although we don”t know exactly what happened, we do know it”s a terrible tragedy. The story is here. From where I stand, there are two issues about the way this is reported. First the article says nothing about the boys” father. Is he alive? Where is he? Did he play any part in these children”s lives? If not, why not? It”s a powerful condemnation of the society we live in that fathers seem to be so marginalized that they don”t even bare mentioning in stories like these. Second, note the way the mother is referred to. 
Her behavior, according to the story was “a cry for help.’ If a father had murdered his toddlers, would we say he was crying out for help? I”ve never seen it and I frankly don”t expect to. So this story falls into the familiar pattern – when women behave badly, we seek to understand why; when men behave badly, we judge and condemn them. One approach is love and understanding; the other is condemnation. The difference is based on the sex of the bad actor. That sexism is destructive in itself, but it”s worse than that, for both men and women. By failing to treat equally the bad parenting of mothers and fathers, the media, pundits, etc. promote the idea that women are qualified to be parents and men are not. (This article does more than just suggest that the mother was a perfectly good parent in need of help.) In doing so, they encourage women to engage in the role of parent and men not to. That obviously encourages the wide array of discrimination men face in family courts today. After all, if men aren”t good parents, why enforce their parental rights? It also tends to turn women away from work as their primary occupation which results in the lower wages and savings, fewer promotions and greater vulnerability to financial risk in old age we see in women today. Every article like this is a two-sided coin for women. The side we see is the one that extols women as parents; the side we don”t see is the one that nudges them away from work and financial equality. For parents of both sexes, it”s a lose-lose proposition. Equal treatment of men and women in the media benefits both sexes.

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