Friday, 31 January 2014

Single parent stigma

I have just read this article on the Gingerbread website, written by author JK Rowling I don’t know how I came to be there – I’ve been enjoying myself browsing the web this afternoon, having submitted my tax return with almost 11 hours to spare until the midnight deadline, woo hoo – but there I was. I’m shocked. Read the article and read the comments underneath and tell me if you’re not shocked too. It’s not the content that left me gobsmacked, it’s the attitude that JK and those commenting have come across as single parents. What century are we living in for God’s sake? How can people still have this outdated, stereotypical view of single parents, their children, their place in society and their morals? It’s the sort of thing I expect to see in Call the Midwife, an attitude from the darker days before women’s lib when women stayed at home to raise babies and cook dinners, not an attitude I thought was rife in 21st century life. 

Women have fought hard for equality; laws have been passed to improve our status in society, laws that are supposed to give us the same rights and respect as those afforded to men. Are male single-parents subject to the same stigma? I wonder.

I’ve only just become a single parent and I can see I have a lot to learn. I receive child and working tax credits as I only work part-time. I hope I will also receive help with my council tax and yes, perhaps even my rent. I will not be made to feel ashamed by this. I have spent my adult life paying into a system and society that discriminates against the poor and brands people on benefits as scroungers! It’s not me who needs to feel ashamed.

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