Following Cincinnati Zoo incident, Professor Fentiman comments on tendency to blame mothers

In the wake of the Linda Fentimanrecent Cincinnati Zoo incident where a child fell into a gorilla enclosure, Professor Linda Fentiman published an article on the tendency to blame mothers for anything that happens to their children. This common reaction, she says, “is what we do.” Professor Fentiman’s scholarship focuses on the ways that this blame has been incorporated into our laws.

“In modern American culture, mothers are supposed to be perfect, or nearly so,” she writes in the article. “Thus, the concept of ‘the reasonable person,’ who morphs into ‘the reasonable mother,’ is swiftly elevated to the status of ‘the perfect mother,’ an infinitely generous, vigilant, and heroic figure – somewhere between Mother Theresa (who of course was not a mother) and the first Madonna. When any mortal mom is compared to the perfect mother, she is likely to be found wanting, and thus, potentially negligent.”

Professor Fentiman’s latest book will be published this fall. To read her article, click here. To read an article written by Dr. Elaine Heffner that also discusses the incident and references Professor Fentiman’s new book, click here.

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