An Afterthought: The Chaste Single Mother

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(Cross posted from Related Topics)

This ties back to yesterday’s post.     Last night I had another thought about what makes the single mothers in the NYT magazine article special and, more specifically, what shields them from the usual interrogation of their right to have children:   They are chaste.

The children are adopted or the result of ART.   Which is to say the children were not conceived via sex.   Of course, under existing law if they had been, there would be a legal father out there somewhere.   But in fact there are plenty of single mothers out there whose children were conceived via sex.     Not, however, within this cohort of women.

Beyond that, and really more importantly, one of the author’s key points is that most of the women portrayed have given up dating for the duration of their children’s childhood.       Although the author is not quite this explicit, I’d say the implication is that they have given up sex.

In some ways this portrayal makes them perfectly qualified for motherhood in a rather Victorian mode.   They are chaste and pure, without carnal desires.   Or if they are not without desire, they subvert their baser instincts in order to devote themselves more completely to the task of motherhood.   Of course they are beyond reproach.

It’s important to note that this is not the reason that the women have left the dating scene.     The women have left the dating scene in order to secure their own independence and autonomy.     I’m not suggesting that this isn’t “real” or that it isn’t sound reasoning.

Rather, it is the portrayal and reactions to it that interest me.       Is there a connection between the women’s apparent commitment to chastity and our response to them?

–by Julie Shapiro, cross-posted from Related Topics

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1 Response to An Afterthought: The Chaste Single Mother

  1. hysperia says:

    Of the single mothers I know, most have remained single and don’t exactly “date”, but do occasionally meet someone with whom they have a sexual relationship – they don’t even allow the man to meet the children. The thing is, would they admit to this in the circumstances of an interview or study? I think they are more likely not to do so. That seems almost to prove the point that either chastity or marriage is expected – or required? Or they believe it is?

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