It’s hard being a disabled single mom, because it’s hard to be disabled and hard to be a single mom. But what makes each of those so hard is often society.
The social model of disability is based on this idea. Many of the barriers to an easy life for disabled people are human-made barriers – like stairs complicating access for a wheelchair user, or a social preference for intense eye contact complicating access for some autistic people.
Much of the resistance to making a more accessible world comes from ableism, the belief that disabled people are less worthy. Opponents will usually frame their objections by insisting we disabled are a minority they should not have to cater to, or a special interest group asking for special treatment, or – in a very capitalist way – by pointing put we are not their target market.
Disabled people are far more likely than their abled peers to experience prolonged unemployment, under employment, poverty, and even homelessness. This, again, is a product of ableism more often than a direct reflection of our abilities as nd impairments. Societal fear and disgust of disabled bodies, and a capitalistic puritanical work ethic lead to disability benefits well below poverty line.
I suggest there are similar cultural, often capitalistic barriers to an easy life for single parents, particularly single moms.
Annual preschool tuition is now higher in most major cities than tuition at many public universities, which has skyrocketed as well. Childcare reimbursement welfare programs are extremely limited, covering only part of the cost, only for already employed parents, only for a period of weeks, if at all. This barrier to work access is human made. It does not need to exist. If we as a culture did not despise and fear single mothers, we would not make access to employment so challenging.
I know I’ll be thinking of this more in the days ahead, both what forces are at work creating these barriers and how best to move ahead. What do you think? Leave me a comment.