Most of us have an internalized picture and an accompanying narrative of what a ‘Bad Mother’ is, ranging from the physical of what she looks like through to what her mothering would comprise of. The ‘Bad Mother’ is ‘othered’, not a friend of yours but someone whom you may come across and whom, you think, you would spot immediately.

In reality she is a lot more pervasive than that and the construct of a ‘Bad Mother’ is an affront to all feminist mothers who strive to have their subjective maternalism recognised.

A book titled: ‘Bad Mothers: Regulations, Representations, and Resistance’ dissects the stigmatisation of ‘Bad Mothers’. It is a collection that considers the ‘Bad mother’ from different angles and different cultures to create a mosaic of the insidious ways that the ‘Bad Mother’ label defines mothers and is used to evaluate them, regulate them and punish them within their social worlds. Explanations are offered about the way social constructions are made about mothers that ‘turns them’ into ‘Bad Mothers’.

The writers, Michelle Hughes Miller, Tamar Hager and Rebecca Jaremko Bromwich, are distinguished in their authorship because they go one step back from the label of ‘Bad Mother’ and demonstrate that it is the “structures, systems, assumptions and discourses” that continue to marginalize, punish and define bad mothers in “ways that go beyond the naïve assumptions about what constitutes a bad mother”. In so doing they have turned the concept of ‘Bad Mothers’ from being a right-wing. neoliberal political issue grab for votes on the backs of mothers to one immersed in structural theory.

A list of mothers tagged as ‘Bad Mothers’ are as follows: single mothers, working mothers, wealthy mothers, mothers who do not work outside the home, poor mothers and mothers of obese children are only some a few mentioned. The writers are clear that the label does not include mothers whose behaviours cause harm to their children, such as a failure to feed a child, infanticide and inflicting emotional violence.

The journal is thematically divided into sections on: legal and regulatory landscape of bad mothers; the complicity of the medical establishment in the regulation of mothers; media and cultural representations of the ‘Bad Mother’; and resistance to the ‘Bad Mother’ trope.

What I have learnt from reviewing this fantastically informative book is that a collective feminist mothering understanding and pushback is needed to challenge the ‘Bad Mother’ status otherwise the net will widen to include any paradigm of mothering that is outside the capitalist concept of motherhood.

The book is available from Demeter Press
“Bad Mothers makes a significant contribfrom beution to understanding how the constructed ‘dangerous mother’ continues to trouble major institutional areas such as law, governance, economy, and child protection services in ways that reveal why our society remains invested in marginalizing mothers instead of seriously addressing the numerous, interconnecting obstacles they face in raising children.”
—ERICA S. LAWSON, Associate Professor, Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research, University of Western Ontario

I was brought up in the Global South where British media such as the BBC were held in high esteem. In fact, it still is. Listening to the BBC is a mark of an intellectual in many countries there, almost as if it were a badge of cleverness and a show of one upmanship. 

This high regard is held for two reasons: the British were seen as purveyors of truth and honesty largely due to nostalgic colonialism and the BBC World Service (which is a good service); and the British press, judged in sharp contrast to their local government dominated mouth pieces, are seen as ‘believable’.  Cue to the present coverage of the UK’s general election 2017 with Channel 4 being the only exception.

The Anglophiles would be keeling over if they had the misfortune of watching and following the press coverage closely. Frankly, even local home grown Brits are doing this.

The irony is that Freedom of the Press, as a topic, is taught in Constitutional Law classes around the world where the UK is held up as a shining light for having a free press. An institution that is ever more rapidly being made a mockery of by the press themselves. Consumers of their spoken and written word, listeners and readers in other words, are being fed news that suits the agenda of the media owners. While this has been going on for rather a very long time I am particularly incensed because the biased reporting is especially pronounced over this election. 

Much like during the Cold War when Communism had to be beaten at all cost to preserve the sanctity of Capitalism, it feels as if a ‘Cold War of News’ is taking place because a left-wing leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is seen as being a credible threat to the establishment. Take the Sky News (another culprit) debate in a ‘not face to face televised Q&A’ last night. Afterwards pro Tory voters were interviewed rather blatantly and the reporting did not reek of bias so much as to be saturated.  

People’s voting intentions is NOT the issue here. The issue is the highly strategised selection of messages and people featured put out of context, a deliberate misreporting of what politicians have said and a hostile and conflictual style of journalistic questioning to convey a strong impression that a particular party is, basically, not worth voting for. 

Here is an example. Who do you think gave the following speech?:

” It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons…”

The answer is OBAMA on 24 July, 2008, in Berlin. Imagine if Jeremy Corbyn had said this! 

Voters are intelligent people and want a level playing field of facts. Is this asking for too much? I rather suspect it is and that people like me will have to live with an ‘Asymmetrical’ news stream that is getting worse by the day. A press infested and riddled with mischief and biased intent seems to be the mainstay. 

Even David Dimbleby, a veteran of the BBC, has now spoken out. I rest my case. 

The folly of youth is to think that it is a permanent unchanging state of being without fear of wrinkles, bent spines and people laughing at your advancing age. Some of us may remember being victims of this delusional hallucinatory phase at some stage in our youth but we did not think it to be true all of the time. 

The term ‘youth’ may be contested with attempts to define its’ outer boundaries i.e does it end when you are 21, 25 or later? Whatever the consensus the boundary does not stretch to 30. At the age of 30 you are, of course, young but you certainly aren’t ‘youth’ and you really ought to have learnt by now that nothing lasts forever, not even a pert derriere that looks great encased in the uniform Playboy bunny costume. 

Dani Mather

That is unless you live in the Ga Ga Land of Playboy where women dressed as bunnies claim to be empowered while living in a mansion which has its own Wikipedia entry. Reality must be as further away from this abode as the Easter Bunny is from Christmas. But bunnies, of the two legged sort, aren’t immune from other norms of society like the law of the land. 

Cue the Playboy Bunny who has this week been convicted for taking a photo of a naked 70 year old woman in a Gym changing room.

Dani Mather,  Playmate of the Year 2015, who is 30 years old (refer back to what I said in the first para above) took the following photo at an LA Fitness Club and posted it on Snapchat with the message: “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either”. 

Given Playboy’s gift for soft soaping misogynistic messages Dani Mather’s message was no different in tone and substance. She not only body shamed a 70 year old but ratcheted up the wickedness of the situation by referring to old age as a misery that must be shared because it is too great a burden to be borne by one person. If this is the extent of the horribleness that Dani has seen to date then she clearly has not been exposed to much. 

Let’s not also forget that Dani Mather is a disciple of a 91 year old, Hugh Hefner, owner of the Playboy empire. Given his penchant for nudity in a world which Dani actively inhabits does she actually not anticipate that old age is something that beckons all? Or is it the sight of an old female body that nauseates her?

Dani Mather with Hugh Hefner

The complexities in the mind of this silly woman can only be the result of living in a twisted world of misogyny where the superficiality of it all is traded upon your looks and your pertness. 

Dani, you won’t be a young woman forever. You are now old enough to know better. You too will be that lady one day. Now go and educate yourself about feminism. 

Young people need to fight more than ever for their future and this in itself is an understatement. Almost every sphere of politics contains a cost benefit outcome for youngsters and never have the stakes been so high. Throw a dice up in the air with the words ‘housing’, ‘education’, ‘work’, ‘open spaces’, ‘living costs’ and ‘political structures’ written on it and, no matter which way the dice falls, each issue carries a weight of negative repercussions for young people. 

What is worse is that this six issue list of does not cover all that affects youngsters which is why it is super imperative for them to take ownership of their future through a vote. 

Some days ago I was having dinner with a friend whom I thought shared my political beliefs. I brought up the subject of young people and was flabbergasted when he launched into one of those “when I was young” claiming the high moral ground type anecdote. No doubt we have all heard one of these before. Your grandparents tell them, your parents tell them or, in my case with a 17 year old daughter, I tell them too but the chord of superiority that was evident in my friend’s narrative stopped me in my tracks. 

He spoke about how young people want more than they have and are not willing to put the work in to achieve this. I challenged him all the way. His killer line, as he saw it, was “young people should live within their means”. This was a killer line, come to think of it, in more ways than one. 

It is a statement that is as loaded as a dead weight sinking into the sea because of its’ presumption that young people have an oyster at their feet as opposed to a broken system that has undermined their prospects. Take education for example, there is not a level playing field with schools what with comprehensives receiving a low priority on the political agenda, academies sucking up huge amounts of money and failing too and the possible introduction of grammar schools. 

The education system is being re-landscaped over and over again to create an outcomes based field. By this I mean that whether a young person has attended a comprehensive in a low income area or a grammar school in a posh area their entry into the world of work or further education is decided by a grade system that assumes a level playing field. 

This dystopia is masked quite cleverly by stigma. It deems young people’s existence as being unworthy of high political attention. Flash a few pictures of drunken youngsters at raves, brandishing smartphones and dressed in the latest fashion gear and you have a picture that plays to this stigma. 

These scenarios area mask for the reality of youngsters who are struggling to find their way around an education system where head teachers have to beg for money from parents; and for dejected youngsters who have been sold a puff dream of ‘independence’ but can’t get a foot on the housing ladder because there is not enough social housing or because rents in the private sector are too high. The assumption that behind every youngster that there is a set of parents who run a domestic bank from their living room is another mask for the growing poverty that underpins young people’s lives. Parents themselves are struggling with a low wage economy which does not leave much money left over at the end of the month. 

This election could be THE game changer for the young. I have a 17 year old daughter. I have a vested interest too in getting the young vote out. She can’t vote yet but those who are 18 years old can. Older people have a huge stake in the young vote too. The stakes are high. The solution is to register to vote and get out and vote on the 8th of June. 

There are a number of great organisations listed below which are encouraging the same. Seek their help if you are unsure of anything. Email me even if you wish: 

Bite The Ballot

The League of Young Voters

Compass Online


But money can buy you more money at the expense of the masses:

(photo allegedly taken some years ago but Trump properties still trade on the Phillipino market)