Friday 18 August 2017

Mum's the word - why there's nothing society likes better than to label a woman

Working mums are incredibly important to society but they often feel that nothing they do is good enough Photo: Depositphotos
Working mums are incredibly important to society but they often feel that nothing they do is good enough Photo: Depositphotos

Fiona Ness

As students of the law 20 years ago, our class once whiled away an entire afternoon debating the terminology around "battered women". Or should it be "spousal abuse"? Or "domestic violence"? Or, or, or. If you label me, you negate me… it was all incredibly important stuff.

The debate took place following Edinburgh's original 'Zero Tolerance' campaign against domestic abuse (or what we ended up calling abuses-that-take-place-in-the-home-environment-by-a-perpetrator-close-to-the-abused). Our learned jurisprudence professor believed that by manipulating how society labelled the women involved, we could go some way to eradicating the problem itself. I just wanted to get on and be of practical help.

This week, I was reminded about our love of labelling women - this time, by the labels we place on mothers - when yet another study was rolled out about the effect working mothers have on their children.

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