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【首页】→ 【学习交流】→ 主题:双语阅读:女性一定要为人母吗?
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双语阅读:女性一定要为人母吗?
zona(2012/10/3 23:33:04)  点击:14119  回复:0  
In 2008, Nebraska decriminalized child abandonment. The move was part of a "safe haven" law designed to address increased rates of infanticide in the state. Like other safe haven laws, parents in Nebraska who felt unprepared to care for their babies could drop them off at a designated location without fear of arrest and prosecution. But legislators made a major logistical error: They failed to implement an age limitation for dropped-off children.

Within just weeks of the law passing, parents started dropping off their kids. But here's the rub: None of them were infants. A couple of months in, 36 children had been left in state hospitals and police stations. Twenty-two of the children were over 13 years old. A 51-year-old grandmother dropped off a 12-year-old boy. One father dropped off his entire family -- nine children from ages one to 17. Others drove from neighboring states to drop off their children once they heard that they could abandon them without repercussion.

The Nebraska state government, realizing the tremendous mistake it had made, held a special session of the legislature to rewrite the law in order to add an age limitation. Governor Dave Heineman said the change would "put the focus back on the original intent of these laws, which is saving newborn babies and exempting a parent from prosecution for child abandonment. It should also prevent those outside the state from bringing their children to Nebraska in an attempt to secure services."

One father dropped off his entire family.

On November 21, 2008, the last day that the safe haven law was in effect for children of all ages, a mother from Yolo County, California, drove over 1,200 miles to the Kimball County Hospital in Nebraska where she left her 14-year-old son.

What happened in Nebraska raises the question: If there were no consequences, how many of us would give up our kids? After all, child abandonment is nothing new and it's certainly not rare in the United States. Over 400,000 children are in the foster care system waiting to be placed in homes, thousands of parents relinquish their children every year. One woman even sent her adopted child back to his home country with an apology letter pinned like a grocery list to his chest. Whether it's because of hardship or not, many Americans are giving up on parenthood.

In February 2009, someone calling herself Ann logged onto the website Secret Confessions and wrote three sentences: "I am depressed. I hate being a mom. I also hate being a stay at home mom too!" Over three years later, the thread of comments is still going strong with thousands of responses -- the site usually garners only 10 or so comments for every "confession." Our anonymous Ann had hit a nerve.

One woman who got pregnant at 42 wrote, "I hate being a mother too. Every day is the same. And to think I won't be free of it until I am like 60 and then my life will be over." Another, identifying herself only as k'smom, said, "I feel so trapped, anxious, and overwhelmed. I love my daughter and she's well taken care of but this is not the path I would have taken given a second chance."

Gianna wrote, "I love my son, but I hate being a mother. It has been a thankless, monotonous, exhausting, irritating and oppressive job. Motherhood feels like a prison sentence. I can't wait until I am paroled when my son turns 18 and hopefully goes far away to college." One D.C.-based mom even said that although she was against abortion before having her son, now she would "run to the abortion clinic" if she got pregnant again.

The responses -- largely from women who identify themselves as financially stable -- spell out something less explicit than well-worn reasons for parental unhappiness such as poverty and a lack of support. These women simply don't feel that motherhood is all it's cracked up to be, and if given a second chance, they wouldn't do it again.

Some cited the boredom of stay-at-home momism. Many complained of partners who didn't shoulder their share of child care responsibilities. "Like most men, my husband doesn't do much -- if anything -- for baby care. I have to do and plan for everything," one mother wrote. A few got pregnant accidentally and were pressured by their husbands and boyfriends to carry through with the pregnancy, or knew they never wanted children but felt it was something they "should" do.

The overwhelming sentiment, however was the feeling of a loss of self, the terrifying reality that their lives had been subsumed into the needs of their child. DS wrote, "I feel like I have completely lost any thing that was me. I never imagined having children and putting myself aside would make me feel this bad." The expectation of total motherhood is bad enough, having to live it out every day is soul crushing. Everything that made us an individual, that made us unique, no longer matters. It's our role as a mother that defines us. Not much has changed.

"The feminine mystique permits, even encourages, women to ignore the question of their identity," wrote Betty Friedan. "The mystique says they can answer the question 'Who am I?' by saying 'Tom's wife ... Mary's mother.' The truth is -- and how long it's been true, I'm not sure, but it was true in my generation and it's true of girls growing up today -- an American woman no longer has a private image to tell her who she is, or can be, or wants to be."

At the time she published The Feminine Mystique, Friedan argued that the public image of women was largely one of domesticity -- "washing machines, cake mixes ... detergents," all sold through commercials and magazine. Today, American women have more public images of themselves than that of a housewife. We see ourselves depicted in television, ads, movies, and magazines (not to mention relief!) as politicians, business owners, intellectuals, soldiers, and more. But that's what makes the public images of total motherhood so insidious. We see these diverse images of ourselves and believe that the oppressive standard Friedan wrote about is dead, when in fact it has simply shifted. Because no matter how many different kinds of public images women see of themselves, they're still limited. They're still largely white, straight upper-middle-class depictions, and they all still identify women as mothers or non-mothers.

American culture can't accept the reality of a woman who does not want to be a mother. It goes against everything we've been taught to think about women and how desperately they want babies. If we're to believe the media and pop culture, women -- even teen girls -- are forever desperate for a baby. It's our greatest desire.

The truth is, most women spend the majority of their lives trying not to get pregnant. According to the Guttmacher Institute, by the time a woman with two children is in her mid-40s she will have spent only five years trying to become pregnant, being pregnant, and not being at risk for getting pregnant following a birth. But to avoid getting pregnant before or after those two births, she would had had to refrain from sex or use contraception for an average of 25 years. Almost all American women (99 percent), ages 15-44, who have had sexual intercourse use some form of birth control. The second most popular form of birth control after the Pill? Sterilization. And now, more than ever, women are increasingly choosing forms of contraception that are for long-term use. Since 2005, for example, IUD use has increased by a whopping 161 percent. That's a long part of life and a lot of effort to avoid parenthood!

Now, it may be that these statistics simply indicate that modern women are just exerting more control over when and under what circumstances they become mothers. To a large degree that's true. But it doesn't jibe with an even more shocking reality: that half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended. Once you factor in the abortion rate and pregnancies that end in miscarriage, we're left with the rather surprising fact that one-third of babies born in the United States were unplanned. Not so surprising, however, is that the intention to have children definitively impacts how parents feel about their children, and how those children are treated -- sometimes to terrifying results.

American culture can't accept the reality of a woman who does not want to be a mother.

Jennifer Barber, a population researcher at the University of Michigan, studied more than 3,000 mothers and their close to 6,000 children from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Barber and her colleagues asked women who had recently given birth, "Just before you became pregnant, did you want to become pregnant when you did?" Those who answered yes were categorized as "intended"; those who answered no were then asked, "Did you want a baby but not at that time, or did you want none at all?" Depending on their answer, they were classified as "mistimed" or "unwanted." Over 60 percent of the children studied were reported as planned, almost 30 per center were unplanned ("mistimed"), and 10 percent were unequivocally "unwanted."

The results of Barber's research showed that the children who were unintended -- both those who were mistimed and those who were unwanted -- got fewer parental resources than those children who were intended. Basically, children who were unplanned didn't get as much emotional and cognitive support as children who were planned -- as reported both by the researchers and the mothers themselves. Barber's research looked at things like the number of children's books in the home, and how often a parent read to a child or taught them skills like counting or the alphabet for the "cognitive" aspect. For the "emotional" support rating, they developed a scale measuring the "warmth" and "responsiveness" of the mother, how much time the family spent together, and how much time the father spent with the child. Across the board, children who were wanted got more from their parents than children who weren't. Children who were unplanned were also subject to harsher parenting and more punitive measures than a sibling who was intended.

Barber pointed out that this kind of pattern could be due to parental stress and a lack of patience that's "directed explicitly toward an unwanted child," and that a mistimed or unwanted birth could raise stress levels in the parents' interactions with their other children as well. She also says that in addition to benign emotional neglect, parenting unintended children is also associated with infant health problems and mortality, maternal depression, and sometimes child abuse.

[...]

When Torry Hansen of Shelbyville, Tennessee, sent her seven-year-old adopted son by himself on a plane back to his home country of Russia with nothing more than a note explaining she didn't want to parent him, she became one of the most reviled women in America. Russian officials were so incensed that they temporarily halted all adoption to the United States. We sometimes expect fathers to shirk their responsibility; but when mothers do it, it shakes the core of what we've been taught to believe about women and maternal instinct.

Anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy argued in a 2001 Utah lecture, for example, that being female is seen as synonymous with having and nurturing as many children as possible. So when mothers abandon their children, it's seen as unnatural. This simplistic, emotional response to parents -- mothers, in particular -- who give up their kids is part of the reason Americans have such a difficult time dealing with the issue. As Hrdy says, "No amount of legislation can ensure that mothers will love their babies."

That's why programs like safe haven laws -- age limitations or not -- will never truly get to the heart of the matter. As Mary Lee Allen, director of the Children's Defense Fund's child welfare and mental health division, has has, "These laws help women to drop their babies off but do nothing to provide supports to women and children before this happens."

Unfortunately, discussing the structural issues has never been an American strong suit. Hrdy notes that legislators are too afraid to focus on sensible solutions. "Talking about the source of the problem would require policymakers to discuss sex education and contraception, not to mention abortion, and they view even nonsensical social policies as preferable to the prospect of political suicide."

If policymakers and people who care about children want to reduce the number of abandoned kids, they need to address the systemic issues: poverty, maternity leave, access to resources, and health care. We need to encourage women to demand more help from their partners, if they have them. In a way, that's the easier fix, because we know what we have to do there; the issues have been the same for years. The less-obvious hurdle is that of preparing parents emotionally and putting forward realistic images of parenthood and motherhood. There also needs to be some sort of acknowledgement that not everyone should parent -- when parenting is a given, it's not fully considered or thought out, and it gives way too easily to parental ambivalence and unhappiness.

Take Trinity, one of the mothers who commented on the Secret Confessions board about hating parenthood. She wrote, "My pregnancy was totally planned and I thought it was a good idea at the time. Nobody tells you the negatives before you get pregnant -- they convince you it's a wonderful idea and you will love it. I think it's a secret shared among parents ... they're miserable so they want you to be too."

By having more honest conversations about parenting, we can avoid the kind of secret depressions so many mothers seem to be harboring. If what we want is deliberate, thought-out, planned, and expected parenthood -- and parenting that is healthy and happy for children -- then we have to speak out.


2008年,内布拉斯加州将遗弃儿童合法化。该举动是“平安港”(safe haven)法案的一部分,该法案旨在解决该州杀婴率升高的问题。与其他州的平安港法案一样,如果认为自己还没准备好养育自己的婴儿,内布拉斯加的父母可以在指定地点将他们遗弃而不用担心被逮捕或起诉。但立法者在逻辑上犯了一个大错:他们没有限定弃儿的年龄。

法案通过后的几周时间里,有父母开始遗弃自己的孩子。但问题来了:被遗弃的孩子中没一个是婴儿。几个月的时间里,有36个儿童被留在州立医院或警察局,其中有22个儿童超过了13岁。有一位51岁的祖母遗弃了一个12岁的男孩,还有一个父亲遗弃了整个家庭:年龄从1到17岁不等的九个孩子。临近的几个州有人一听说遗弃孩子不用承担什么后果,还特地开车前来。

内布拉斯加州政府意识到自己犯了个大错,于是召开了特别立法会重新制定了法律,设定了弃儿年龄限制。州长大卫·海因曼(Dave Heineman)说这次变更将“把重心重新放回此法律的初衷,即拯救刚出生的婴儿,免除弃儿父母的法律责任。变更后法律也将禁止其他州的父母把儿童带到内布拉斯加州遗弃。”

2008年12月21日是允许遗弃任何年龄儿童的旧安全港法案有效的最后一天,有一位母亲从加州的优洛郡驱车1200公里来到内布拉斯加的金伯尔州立医院留下了他14岁的儿子。

内布拉斯加发生的一切让人们不禁疑问:假设不会有任何后果,我们中有多少人会遗弃自己的孩子?不管怎么说,遗弃儿童不是什么新鲜的话题,这一现象在美国也绝对称不上罕见。现在美国有超过40万名儿童在寄养中心等待收养,每年数千家长遗弃自己的孩子。甚至有个女人把收养的小孩送回其出生国,在孩子胸前像别购物单一样别着一封致歉信。不管这是不是因为养孩子很难,很多美国人都放弃做父母。

2009年一个网名Ann的人登陆“秘密”网站(Secret Confession)留下了三句话:“我很沮丧。我讨厌当妈妈。我也讨厌当全职妈妈!”三年后,这条“坦白”下的评论仍然很多,超过数千条,而一般每条“坦白”下只有十几条评论。我们这个匿名的Ann戳中了要害。

一个42岁怀孕的女人写道:“我也讨厌当妈妈,每天都一成不变。想想我要到六十岁才能解放,那时候我的人生就完了。”还有一个网友k’s mom说:“我觉得自己身陷困境、情绪焦虑、快撑不住了。我爱我女儿,她也被照顾得很好,但如果可以再来一次我绝不会选这条道路。”

Gianna写道:“我爱我的儿子,但我讨厌当妈妈。这真是个单调、压抑、吃力不讨好而且让人精疲力竭、让人压抑的工作。当妈妈和坐牢一样。我现在真希望他赶快满18岁、最好滚得远远地去上大学,这样我就能假释了。”一个家住华盛顿特区的妈妈甚至说,尽管她在生儿子前反对堕胎,但现在要是又怀孕了她恨不得“立刻飞到堕胎诊所去。”

这些回复大多来自自称经济状况稳定的女性。她们讨厌当妈妈并非因为“缺钱”这种用烂了的原因。她们没说明详细原因,只是觉得当妈妈并非人们所说的那么好,而且如果能够重来一次,她们不会再这么做了。

一些人说待家里做全职妈妈太无聊,很多人抱怨另一半不愿意分担照顾小孩的责任。另外一个妈妈写道:“和大多数人一样,我的丈夫几乎不怎么照顾小孩。我不得不计划一切、做所有的事情。”有一些人是偶然怀孕的,迫于丈夫或男友的压力撑过了孕期。还有一些人知道自己永远不想要小孩,仍感觉这是她们“应该”做的事情。

然而,很多人都提到了一种感觉——失去自我,她们的生活已经完全被自己孩子的需求绑架。DS写道:“我觉得我完全失去了自我。我从没想过生小孩、把自己放到一边会让自己感觉这么糟糕。”别人期待你做一个完完全全的妈妈已经够糟糕了,每天都生活在这种期待中更是毁灭灵魂。让我们成为独立个体、让我们独一无二的每样东西都不再重要。妈妈这个角色决定了我们的一切,没什么改变。

“女性的奥秘允许甚至鼓励女性忽略自己身份的问题。”贝蒂·弗里丹写道,“这种奥秘说女性面对‘我是谁’这个问题时能回答‘汤姆的妻子、玛丽的妈妈。’我不确定事实究竟真相是什么,也不确定这答案正确了多久,但在我这一代这是正确的回答,对现在的女孩来说这也是一样——美国女孩不再有专门的形象来告诉自己她们是谁,能是谁,想成为谁。”

出版《女性的奥秘》时,弗里丹称女性公共形象大多和家用用品有关——“洗衣机、面包粉、洗涤剂”,所有这些形象都是通过广告或杂志推销。如今,美国女性的公共形象不只是家庭主妇。我们可以看到自己出现在电视、广告、电影、杂志中,形象可以是政治家、企业主、知识分子、军人。但正因如此,单纯母亲的公共形象才会如此狡猾阴险。我们看到了自己不同的形象,我们以为弗里丹所写的压抑的标准已不复存在,但其实它只是做了点小改变。这是因为无论我们女性看到自己有多少种公共形象,这些形象还是很局限。这些形象仍主要是标准的中产阶级的白人女性,而且它们仍把女人分成母亲和非母亲。

美国文化无法接受有女人不想成为母亲这一事实。这与我们所学的女性的形象相悖,与她们迫切的想要孩子的愿望相悖。看看媒体和流行文化,我们会发现女人甚至女孩永远都迫切地想要个孩子,这是我们最大的渴望。

但事实是,大多数女人一生的大多数时间都在避孕。古特马赫研究所(Guttmacher Institute)的研究显示,有两个小孩的45岁左右的女性只有五年的时间想要怀孕、正在怀孕、不打算避孕。但生孩子前后,她为了避免怀孕平均有25年的时间禁欲或采取避孕措施。几乎所有15至44岁的有性经历的美国女性(99%)都会采取各种形式的避孕措施。仅次于吃药的第二常见的避孕形式是绝育手术。现在选择这种长效的避孕措施的女性越来越多,比以往任何时期都多。举个例子,2005年以来宫内避孕器的使用增加了161%。为了避免为人父母真是花了相当的时间和精力啊!

也许统计数据只简单地说明了如今女性不过是更积极地控制受孕的时机。很大程度上看这是对的,但这和一个更惊人的事实相矛盾:美国有一半的怀孕非有意而为之。如果考虑到堕胎率和小产率,我们会发现一个相当惊人的事实:美国三分之一的婴儿是计划外出生的。然而,还有一个不那么让人惊奇的研究结果:是否要小孩的意愿决定性地影响了家长对孩子的感觉以及孩子如何被对待,有时这种影响程度让人恐惧。

密歇根大学人口研究员Jennifer Barber研究了来自各种社会经济背景的超过3000名母亲和她们近6000个孩子。Barber和她的同事询问那些刚生完小孩的女性“在你怀孕前你是否想要怀孕?”回答“是”的人分到“计划内”组,回答“否”的人继续被问到:“你是不想在那个时候有小孩,还是完全不想要小孩?”根据答案的不同,她们被分为“时机不当”组和“不想要”组。被研究的儿童中有超过60%属于“计划内”,30%的属于“时机不对”,还有10%的明确属于“不想要”。

Barber的研究结果表明“非计划”中孩子(时机不对的和不想要的)得到的父母的养育比计划中的孩子少。无论是研究结果还是母亲自述都显示,非计划中的孩子基本上得不到儿童应该得到的情绪和认知上的支持。在“认知”方面,Barber的研究计算了儿童家中图书的数量、父母读书给孩子听或教他们数数、背字母表等技能的频繁程度。在“情感”支持方面,他们设计了一套标准来衡量母亲的“热情度”及“反应度”、家庭成员在一起的时间长短以及父亲与孩子呆在一起的时间。父母计划中的孩子从父母那得到的全面超过非计划中的孩子。非计划中的孩子比计划中的兄弟姐妹也受到更严酷的管教以及更多的惩罚措施。

Barber指出,这种模式可能是由于父母压力大、对不希望出生的孩子明显缺乏耐心。而且,不在父母期待时间出生的孩子以及父母不希望降生的孩子也会增加父母和其他孩子交流的紧张程度。Barber还指出,计划外的婴儿除了情感上会被忽视,其健康情况、死亡率、母亲产后抑郁情况也会受到影响,有时甚至会出现虐待的情况。

田纳西州谢尔比维尔的托丽·海森把她收养的七岁的儿子一个人送上回俄罗斯的飞机时,除了解释不想养他了之外她什么都没话留下,她也因此成为美国受到最多斥责的女人。俄罗斯官员非常生气,暂时禁止美国人收养俄罗斯儿童。我们有时候也预料到父亲会逃避责任,但当母亲这么做的时候,我们所学的有关母亲和母性本能的核心被撼动了。

2001年人类学家沙拉·布拉夫·赫迪在犹他州的一次演讲说,做女性被视作生育尽可能多孩子的同义词。因此母亲遗弃子女被视作反常。这种对父母,对母亲,尤其是遗弃子女的母亲的简单且情绪化的反应是美国长期以来处理这种问题如此困难的原因之一。正如赫迪所说,“再多的法律也无法确保母亲会爱自己的孩子。”

正因如此,平安港法案这样的项目(无论是限制年龄还是不限制年龄)始终无法真正找到问题的核心。正如儿童保护基金(Children’s Defense Fund)儿童福利与心理健康部部长玛丽·李·艾伦所说,“这些法律帮助妇女扔掉自己的孩子,但在这些弃儿行为发生前没有为妇女和儿童提供任何支持。”

不幸的是,讨论这种结构性的问题从来不是美国的强项。赫迪注意到,立法者过于害怕而不敢把关注点放到实用的解决方案上。“讨论问题的原因所在需要政策制定者讨论性教育和避孕的问题,更别说流产了。相较于这种可能断送自己政治前程的问题,他们更喜欢讨论无意义的社会政策。”

如果关注儿童的政策制定者和普通人真的想要减少被遗弃儿童的数量,他们则需要解决体制的问题:贫困、产假、资源获取以及医疗问题。我们需要鼓励女性要求其另一半(如果有的话)提供更多帮助。从某种程度上说这是最容易修复的问题,因为我们知道我们再这一方面必须做点什么,这个问题多年来一直没有一点变化。另外,我们需要帮助准父母在情绪上做好准备,真实地说明为人父母和做母亲是什么样的。这里也需要承认为人父母不是每个人都有义务——如果为人父母是项要求,人们就不会完全考虑清楚透彻,也很容易陷入做父母的矛盾境地和不快心情中。

就拿特里尼蒂为例吧,她是在秘密网站那条讨厌当母亲的坦白下留言的母亲之一,她写道:“我怀孕完全是计划之中的,那时候我觉得这是个好主意。没有人在你怀孕前告诉你怀孕的坏处,他们只告诉你这是个美妙的想法你会喜欢这主意的。我认为这是父母间的秘密:当父母很痛苦,他们想把你也拖下水。”

通过更加真诚地谈论为人父母,我们能避免很多妈妈心中秘密的压抑情绪。如果我们希望自己为人父母是深思熟虑后的结果,符合自己的计划和期待,如果我们希望自己的孩子健康快乐,那我们必须把这些说出来。


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