Indonesia is like most places on earth. It is considered preferable for children to have both mom and dad. In fact, unlike in America and much of the west, almost every person here is conservative; truly liberal-minded people are a rarity here.
And yet, the vitriol against single mothers in America is extreme, something which I don’t see in Indonesia. Maybe single motherhood isn’t as common or talked about as much. But, I never heard about a huge number of Indonesians demonising single mothers, blaming them for every existing social ill.
Worse, those people even use scientific papers – which supposedly claim that children of single mothers are more likely to be worse off – as their evidences. They feel more empowered and, among the gullible ones, they seem to be an ideologically sound bunch.
I have never read those papers. Knowing how zealous ideologues can be, they may either oversimplify the content or straight up lie about it. But, even if the papers truly make such claim, they are peer-reviewed and their results can be replicated by other peer-reviewed researches, I still don’t see how it proves the dangers of single motherhood.
For misogynists, those studies affirm their preconceived beliefs about women, especially their supposed inherent incompetence in anything. For gullible people, they start thinking that the misogynists are on something.
But, for sceptical people who try their best embracing the complexity of reality, they won’t take the studies for granted and they acknowledge that no one and nothing lives in a vacuum.
They realise we are shaped not just by our homes, but also by our racial and ethnic backgrounds, our schools, work places, the media we consume, the dominant political and religious beliefs in our area, the political and religious beliefs we embrace, any places sociologists refer to as the “third places”, any thoughts we are exposed to, any interactions we immerse ourselves in.
If you are truly open-minded, you would not be too quick to blame something on only one factor, you would consider multiple of them.
You would not blame it entirely on single mothers, you would also hold other aspects of the society accountable for severely failing those fatherless children.
Yes, I know there are bloated elephants in the room: the absent fathers.
Unless the mothers slander the fathers and undeservingly end up with full custody of the children, we can definitely say the absent fathers are also a factor to consider. It is not the mothers’ faults that their partners died or were lost on the way to buy cigarettes.
I initially wanted to omit this, as it was too obvious and easy. But then, I remember the people who love demonising single motherhood never talk about negligent fathers and refuse to hold men accountable to anything. In the end, I have to state the obvious.
Now, for my anecdote as a son of a single mother.
I was very young when my father died, I don’t have a single memory of him. I started to long for a father figure when I was a teenager. Inexplicably, that longing feeling died out after I graduated high school.
Now, as a thirty-year-old man, I am glad I was raised by one parent. It is emotionally burdensome to face the demands from one parent. I cannot imagine facing demands from two!
I don’t know what kind of person he was. He might be able to balance my mom’s burdensome bearing. But, it is also possible he was either equally burdensome or my mom’s biggest apologist. Considering what kind of person my mom is, you have to be either toxic or permissive with toxicity in order to enjoy her presence, let alone marrying her.
Oh, and so-called manliness is not a concern. For one, I don’t give a fuck about conforming to an arbitrary and ever-changing gender role. But, even if I do, my conservative mom loves upholding gender roles anyway. She loves shaming me every time I show lack of interest in anything automotive and outdoor-related… or, more frequently, show my fear of height.
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