The Pew Research Center, a “nonpartisan fact tank that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world,” released a study the other day regarding our country’s attitudes towards “unwed mothers,” one of those terms from the 1950s that’s apparently still with us. Seriously, when’s the last time you heard a guy referred to as an unwed father?
The study is of particular interest because, as it happens, single motherhood is on the rise. Statistics released last year show that the number of children born to unmarried women has increased by 26% since 2002, although we’re not exactly talking about “babies having babies” here. While there are definitely teenage moms in the mix, the largest increase of non-marital births is among women aged 25-39 years of age. Many of those women are in long-term relationships; they just aren’t in long-term legal relationships. Others are having babies because they want them and can afford them and don’t happen to have a husband around to make it all nice and neat and Leave It to Beaverish.
Which has some peoples’ knickers in a bunch (the majority of whom appear to be over the age of 65). According to the Pew study, 66% of the 2,020 adults interviewed felt single women having children was a “bad thing for society” (although 25% said it made no difference and 6% said it was a good thing). Also objectionable, at least to 59% of the folks, unmarried couples having children; gay and lesbian couples raising children (50% thought this was “bad”) and mothers of young children working (41% felt this was a “bad thing”).
This might be a dumb question, but how the heck are you supposed to earn a living — and raise your child — without working?
My personal favorite were the folks who thought that women who go through life without ever having a child were also “bad” (29% went there). Equally offensive, at least to 21%: dads who stay home to take care of their own children.
Extrapolating on this data, my guess is 26% of those queried also think women in general are “bad” or “wrong.” And 65% think they have cooties. So what do you think? Are single mothers the scourge of society? Or do we face more of a threat from belief systems (and perhaps even survey questions) that haven’t quite caught up with the 21st century?