The betrayal of the single mother

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An angry, passionate and polemical book that draws connections between pornography, the pharmaceutical industry, self-help culture and social media to launch an inflammatory attack against patriarchal capitalism. –Rosalind Gill, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, City University London

Rosalind Gill rightly calls Abigail’s latest book, angry and polemical and notes that her passionate tirade is directed at pornography, Big Pharma, the positive thinking movement and the harmful effects of social media. But what resonated with me was Abigail Bray’s fierce essay on the plight of single mothers under patriarchal capitalism.

I have known many single mothers, and for a short period of time I was one. But I was in receipt of the single mothers pension which although a minimum welfare payment was decidedly more generous than the Newstart allowance that single women and their children must survive on now. It also did not require that you to look for work – and allowed for a very modest way of rearing children recognising that child care is work. But the pension has long disappeared with the ascent of neoliberal capitalism or fascism as Bray names it: In the name of the global financial crisis, patriarchal capitalism is rapidly transforming into austerity fascism. 

Bray explains that there has been a total betrayal of poor women, and most brutally, single mothers by mainstream western feminism today. Australia’s former female Prime Minister Julia Gillard will be remembered by many a struggling single mother for forcing around 100,000 of her fellow single parents, 90 per cent of whom are women, onto Newstart  unemployment payments when their youngest child turns eight, slashing their weekly income by up to $223 a fortnight, or 12.8 per cent. Single mothers often have little choice but to descend into abject poverty, or work at low-paid jobs that fit into school hours or stay in abusive relationships. Most single mothers are not single by choice; they are separated, divorced or widowed women but are regarded by many in society as ‘scum’, ‘damaged goods’ or ‘sluts ‘, suggests Bray.

Abigail Bray rages against the fierce division that exists within the women’s movement and quotes Hester Eisenstein, who asks:

what if ?

… the leadership of the women’s movements had focused, not on

gaining access to top levels of professional work—law, medicine,

politics—but on addressing the economic needs of the poorest

women? …

Yes: What if?

Misogyny Re-loaded will be released in November by Spinifex Press

http://www.spinifexpress.com.au

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