Wisconsin, Let Me Define “Abuse” For You…

Wisconsin is not one of those states that is generally associated with craziness, or anything but cheese really.  But at the moment, Wisconsin appears to be the latest battle ground in the ongoing war against women in the United States.  At first, I really didn’t like calling it a “war against women”, but I think the time has come to be realistic: when we have a state that is actually willing to claim that single mothers cause abuse just by not being married AND that women should stay in an abusive relationship rather than get divorced, after other states have managed to mandate unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds and a mini-war is being fought just over birth control, the time has come for me to admit that things are COMPLETELY out of control.

Wisconsin, let me define abuse for you: Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines abuse as 1) the improper or excessive use of something (ie, drug abuse), 2) language that condemns or vilifies unjustly, or 3) physical maltreatment.

So are we all clear on what abuse is?  Good.  Now let me explain why Wisconsin’s lawmakers are completely out of their minds.

Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman recently introduced Bill 507, which would require “the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.” The bill would also require public awareness campaigns about how being a single mother contributes to abuse and how fathers play a crucial role in preventing child abuse.

I just said this in the comments from our last post, but I’ll just say it again here: THERE ARE ABUSIVE FATHERS OUT THERE.  Now, I’m not saying ALL fathers are abusive or that NO mothers are abusive.  But vilifying only mothers makes literally no sense; it’s just more misogyny designed to punish women who aren’t married.

Now, why might a woman not be married?  Maybe her partner left her…in that case, I think said partner is probably the one guilty of neglect, NOT the mother.  Maybe her partner was abusive so she left him, in which case becoming a single mother may have been the only way she could protect the child.  Ditto for if her partner was an alcoholic, drug addict, etc.  In none of these cases do I see any evidence that the woman has done the wrong thing.

I will admit that it is harder for single parents to devote the same attention to their children because they don’t have a co-parent to split the work with, but that does NOT make them abusive or negligent based on the definition I just provided.  The fact that Senator Grothman is trying to paint it as such is disgusting.

But just when I thought that was bad enough…I tripped over this article about yet another brilliant Wisconsin state senator.

One of the co-sponsors the Senate Bill 507, Don Pridemore, recently came out against divorce for any reason-~-including abuse/domestic violence.  He claims that fathers are the only people who provide structure and discipline-~-mothers are simply incapable of this.   According to Pridemore, if children don’t grow up with married biological parents, they go astray.

Alright, let’s just stop RIGHT THERE and talk about the four million problems with THAT statement. Pridemore isn’t just against single mothers-~-he’s against adoptive parents, gay parents (not surprising), grandparents raising their grandchildren, foster families (not that there aren’t problems with the foster system but there ARE good foster families out there), STEP-parents, etc., based on that statement.

Look, families don’t all look the same.  Plenty of kids grow up in single-parent households or with gay parents or in non-traditional families and turn out FINE.  And plenty of kids grow up in traditional nuclear families and end up “going astray” anyway.  Vilifying other kinds of family because one only wishes to support the traditional nuclear family fails to recognize that people are human, that people are individuals, and that no two families are exactly the same.

Pridemore also wants women to suck it up and try to remember why they fell in love with their husbands in the first place.  But people change.  Sometimes it takes year to realize the deeper problems with the person you love.  And there are some things love cannot overcome.  NO ONE should have to stick around and deal with an abusive spouse who teaches children to normalize abuse, may abuse the children, and hurts him/her.  The suggestion that women should do otherwise is an absurd expression of misogyny.

Meanwhile, Senator Grothman is trying to restrict the kinds of food that single mothers on welfare can buy with food stamps, make Section 8 housing more cramped, eliminate school choice, and otherwise punish single mothers for having babies but not husbands.

To those who want to tell me there is no “war against women” and sexism is no longer an issue in America…you sure about all of that?  Because the evidence is piling up over here, and none of it looks good for anyone with a uterus.


~ by Randi Saunders on March 28, 2012.

3 Responses to “Wisconsin, Let Me Define “Abuse” For You…”

  1. This is so absurd that when I first started hearing the news about this “war against women,” I was always convinced that the news item in question was some kind of joke. But the news keep coming, so clearly it’s not a joke.

    I really don’t understand this need these conservatists have to control everyone else’s lives. Isn’t it enough that they have the freedom to follow the Bible to the letter, refuse birth control and do whatever the heck else they get into their heads to do? Why must they insist that everyone else must live by their absurd rules?

    • Here’s the funny thing about freedom:

      if you force people to live according to YOUR values, you aren’t really respecting freedom.

      So when conservatives say they’re defending American values, just remember: we have one really core value, and it’s not Christianity, it’s not marriage, it’s not “traditional family values”, because no matter how important one deems those to be, freedom trumps ALL of them

      • Well, exactly! That’s why it’s so absurd hearing them go on about their American values. But perhaps the time when all Americans shared the same values are long gone. I wish people could just agree to disagree but I’m afraid the religous extremists won’t be satisfied until they’ve turned th US into a theocracy.

        The problem with left wing liberals, feminists and co is that they also tend to be intellectual, open-minded and high-brow, whereas the reactionaries are the kind of folk who get nervous when faced with something unfamiliar, they want to stick to what they know. The liberals want to have intelligent conversations to challenge old ways of thinking while the opponents are winning the argument by making a lot of noise.

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