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Pregnancy and motherhood is a significant part of womens lives. In fact, motherhood is a privilege that only women can experience. However, not all women feel privileged about becoming a mother. Knowles and Cole (1990) suggest that there is an increasing number of cases wherein soon-to-be mothers are not happy about their pregnancy either because of their current marital relationship, the biological father of the baby is not responsible enough to give emotional and financial support, or simply because they have negative past experiences such as being sexually or physically abused by their own parents, brothers, or relatives (Knowles and Cole 1990). Due to high incidence of unhappy pregnant women and mothers, the number of female perversion also increases.
Sexual abuse towards children or the act of inflicting harm towards her own body or the child’s body is considered as female perversion in the sense that sexually abusing her own children, inflicting harm towards one’s own body or her child’s body is totally the opposite of the true concept of motherhood and femininity. Welldon (2008) argues that female perversion is often expressed by inflicting self-destructive harm caused by biological or hormonal disorders that normally affects their reproductive meaning (Welldon 2008). Unlike male perversion, researchers highlight that female perversion aims at causing physical harm against their own body or against the objects that they created, including their babies (Welldon 2008; Springer-Kremser et al. 2003; Richards 1990). Motz (2001) acknowledges that there are many ways in which female perversion could cause physical harm towards her own body. Since perverse women identify their own body as their mothers’ body, perverse women is capable of attacking their own body through self-mutilation or self-starvation (Motz 2001). Other signs of perverse women include, as Balsam (2008) and Somers and Block (2005) note are: the act of exhibitionism wherein the woman shows off her body as a way of showing her active sex life and pleasure they get during procreation and sexual promiscuity ( Balsam 2008; Somers and Block 2005). In the case of perverse mothers, Banning (1989) explains that they attack their own children as a way of expressing their violent revenge (Banning 1989). Various researchers note that perverse mothers are often guilty of infanticide, unlawful abortion, and concealing a birth (Fraser 2008; Spinelli 2004; Tekell 2001; Boswell 1984).
Boswell (1984) suggest that infanticide cases normally occurs when the mother abandon their infant in outdoor places in order him or her to die from hypothermia, animal attack, hunger, or dehydration (Boswell 1984). In some cases, as Spinelli (2004) highlights, infanticide can also happen by intentionally suffocating the infant using a pillow or drowning the infant in a bathtub (Spinelli 2004). Spinelli (2004) and Tekell (2001) argue that that regardless of whether maternal infanticide cases happened because of postpartum mental illness or psychosis, schizophrenia, or purely because of neglect on the part of the mother or carer ,infanticide outside the concept of mental illness is clearly a crime under the law (Spinelli 2004; Tekell 2001).
Postpartum mental illness or psychosis is a kind of mental illness that can occur because of too much blood flow that passes through the brain (Meyer, Proano and Franz 1999;Cox 1988). In some cases, as Rapaport (2006) highlights, the practice of lactation could become a ground for mental disturbances among mothers who has just given birth to a baby (Rapaport 2006). Fraser (2008) also argues that biological and hormonal imbalances cause significant changes in the mood such as agitation, delirium, and delusions on the part of the mothers (Fraser 2008). Aside from biological or hormonal disorders, other common factors that can trigger female perversion, as researchers suggest, include the early exposure to maternal abuse and neglect, alcoholism, the use of illegal drugs, and stress related to socio-economic problems (Barnett 2006; Motz 2001).
Peter (2008) suggests that when a young girl is physically or sexually abused or neglected in the past, the future relationship of the abused might lead to confusion between the appropriate and inappropriate sexual activity, especially if the relationship is an abusive one. Since the negative experience with man could further damage their self-image and psychological functioning, the victim’s ability to become good mother will also negatively affected (Peter 2008). Barnett (2006) also notes that childhood experiences such as a young girl who failed to receive emotional support from mothers and fathers could grow up feeling devastated about their life. Because of their strong desire to rebel, some women may end up becoming unwed mothers only to prove their femininity or their ability to become more superior than another person – in this case, their own children (Barnett 2006). In line with this, other studies, Barnett (2006) and Welldon (1991), highlight that young girls who were sexually abused or emotionally deprived by their mothers often end up as prostitutes as a way of revenge. Authors also suggest that such mothers with psychological imbalance will intentionally inflict physical harm on their children (Barnett 2006; Welldon 1991). Welldon (1991) also explains that perverse mothers can either be a facilitator – someone who is capable of adapting to the child’s needs; or regulator – the type of mother who anticipate that their baby is capable of adapting to their own needs , which the second type leading more to physical abuse of children (Welldon 1991).
Society in general perceves mothers as a role models to their children, loving, nurturing. As part of being a role model, ideal mothers should refrain from the use of illegal substances,alcohol and smoking addictions. Aside from molding, educating, and nurturing their children to become good citizens, ideal mothers are expected to make their children happy and confident by instilling only good values in their minds. In other words, the role of ideal mothers are not limited in feeding their children but also to make them feel that they are loved by not being selfish. Every woman, on other hand, desires to be accepted socially as a good mother.In line with the strong desire to be accepted in public, the act of idealizing motherhood may lead to denial of female perversion. As it was highlighted previuosly, perverse mothers are capable of sexually abusing or physically harming their own children due of their negative childhood experiences. By strictly idealizing the concept of motherhood in our society, there is a strong possibility for perverse mothers will deny participating in any forms of such actions.
As mentioned in the previous statement, various researchers suggest that female perversion can be noted when there is alarmingly disturbed relationship between the mother and her infant, mother and son, or mother and daughter (Peter 2008; Hetherton 1999; Banning 1989). In line with this, women who have been neglected or deprived of love in the past or were sexually abused, could make them capable of sexually abusing their own children. Although the possibility wherein perverse mothers could sexually abuse their children is high, Motz (2001) highlights that these type of cases are often under-reported because of the complex relationship or emotional attachment that is present between the mothers and children. The absence of concrete evidences, it would be difficult to prove that a perverse mother is indeed punishing their children physically or sexually especially when the child is too young to talk and defend themselves against their abusive mothers (Motz 2001). As a part of idealizing motherhood and femininity, the idea wherein perverse mothers are abusing their own children physically or sexually is totally not acceptable within our society. As a result of idealizing motherhood and femininity, there is a strong possibility wherein perverse women are more likely to deny their act of perversion in order to protect themselves from being humiliated and judged by the public as irresponsible, immoral, and/or cruel mothers. For this reason, Hetherton (1999) and Banning (1989) argue that idealization of women could result to more under-reported cases especially with regards to criminal issues wherein female perpetrators would sexually abuse a child (Hetherton 1999; Banning 1989).
Researchers studies suggest that women’s past and unresolved experiences of being sexually abused during her childhood days can make them prone to inferiority complex which makes her an easy victim of abusive men (Balsam 2008; Springer-Kremser et al. 2003). In line with this, a good example is drawn by Motz (2001) where a perverse mother wherein becomes as an accessory of sexually abusing her own children, when the husband coerced the wife to encourage 7 and 10 year-olds, sexually abused victims, to masturbate the husband while the wife was taking pictures (Motz 2001). We can suggest that in case these two children refused to participate in the sexual activity with the father, either the mother or the father would physically harm the children for disobedience. There is also a strong tendency for both parents to threaten these children not to inform other people about the sexual activity that happened between them. Given that the society strictly idealizes the concept of motherhood, perverse mothers will continuously deny their willingness to abuse their children physically or sexually as a way of protecting themselves from becoming involved in child abuse cases. Based on the given example, it is possible on the part of the perverse mother to claim that it was the husband who made her encourage children to perform illicit sexual activities with the couple. For this reason, as we may suggest, it is the husband who is more likely to face the legal consequences or punishment for engaging children to participate in illegal sexual activities as compared to the perverse mother.
According to Welldon (1991), perversion in motherhood is possible when society denies mother’s perversion and idealises being a mother. Author further agrues that due to sexual or social politics, some women are not treated as a complete human beings because they were not born as men. By not allowing women to feel completely as human beings, there is a greater chance wherein of emotional instability leading mother to result in perverse motherhood (Welldon 1991).
Considering the cases of maternal infanticide, Rapaport (2006) explained that the law in UK has a distinctive legislation with regards to the act of killing infants and young children by their own mothers. In line with this, women who are proven victims of biological or hormonal disturbance caused by immaturity or unfavorable circumstances such as rape cases are qualified for settled law. For this reason, women who are guilty of maternal infanticide are free from death penalty. Under the British’s infanticide statute of 1922 and 1938, mothers who are guilty of killing their infant or children because of postpartum mental illnesses or psychosis are exempted from capital punishment related to murder. Author further acknowledge us the legal charges that are most likely to be imposed on the accused mothers will be reduced to manslaughter provided that there are enough biological evidence to prove that the accused mothers are going through postpartum-related mental disorder. Instead of sending the accused mothers to prison, perverse mothers who happened to be convicted of killing their infants due to post-partum syndromes are mandated to undergo hospitalization for necessary treatments (Rapaport 2006). In relation to the case of maternal infanticide, Card (2002) explained that evil actions can be classified as either “intolerable harm” or “culpable wrongdoing” (Card 2002:4). Since conscience plays a significant factor which enables us to act good deeds and avoid those that are evil, each person should be free from mental illnesses when judging whether a human action is morally good or bad (Card 2002). Card (2002) suggest that those women who are suffering from postpartum mental illness or psychosis, should not be classified as perverse female simply because they are not mentally capable of determining what is right from wrong at the time they had committed a crime. Infanticide caused by postpartum mental illness and psychosis should never be considered as an intentional crime. For this reason, the level of legal punishment imposed on postpartum mothers who are accused of infanticide should be different from perverse mothers who are guilty of intentionally inflicting physical or sexual harm on their children (Card 2002). West and Lichtenstein (2006) also draw a good exaple of criminalization of Andrea Yates case who drowned her five children in the bathtub and was inicially convinced for capital murder, who later on was found guilty of insanity and eventually was moved to state mental hospital. Authors argue that society’s myths and perceptions about perfect mothehood plays a great role in womens lives and stigmatizes those who’s behavoir is unnatural and deviant. Aside from taboo and stigma, society also don’t take into account the role of women;s daily activities, which as authors argue, lead to “double shift” both at home and at work which often result in emotional and physical stress and therefore could escallate to murder of a child (West and Lichtenstein 2006). Although it is possible that the act of idealizing motherhood could lead to denial of female perversion, it is by no doubt that justice will always prevail. Even though perverse mothers are capable of denying the act of harming their children physically or sexually, the local authorities can still gather concrete evidences from the victims of child abuse in order to convict preserve mothers who are guilty of committing a crime. Perverse mothers may continuously deny their act of female perversion, as in Andrea Yates case due to delusional thoughts about Satan, but they are not free from being legally punished for their socially unacceptable behaviour.
Rapaport (2006) suggests that when maternal infanticide is classified by psychiatrists as a form of postpartum mental illness or psychosis, suspected mothers who are positive for postpartum mental illness or psychosis should be given the privilege to receive psychiatric treatment (Rapaport 2006). In line with this, Spinelli (2004) highly recommended the need to make use of formal DSM-IV diagnostic criteria when scrutinizing a suspected mother for killing her infant and deciding for the level of punishment to be imposed on mentally ill person (Spinelli 2004). Considering the fact, as Hetherton (1999) highlights, that idealization of women could result to more under-reported cases particularly with regards to criminal issues wherein female perpetrators would sexually abuse a child, criminologists together with the assistance of social workers and school teachers should continuously educate children concerning ways on how they can protect themselves from abusive parents including issues related to perverse mothers. By teaching the victims of sexually and physically abusive parents on how they can report such cases to the authorities, the number of victimization caused by perverse women is more likely to decrease over time (Hhetherton 1999).
Barnett (2006) and Motz (2001) , as noted previously, suggest that the factors which can trigger female perversion include hormonal imbalances causing mental illness, the early exposure to maternal abuse and neglect, alcoholism, the use of illegal drugs, and stress related to socio-economic problems (Barnett 2006; Motz 2001). For this reasons, the kind of punishment imposed on women who are convicted of murdering their children varies on case to case basis. Wilczynski (1997) notes that unlike men, the universal characteristic of ideal women is passive by nature. Since the public’s perception of women is characterized by femininity, there is a lesser chance wherein perverse women and mothers will be accused of inflicting physical and emotional harm on their children. This is one of the main reasons why it has been a common legal practice in the United Kingdom that women who are found guilty of killing their own children are most likely to receive lesser punishment as compared to men (Wilczynski 1997). Up to the present time, there is on-going situation wherein perverse women and mothers are sexually abusing both male and female children. Since the cases of female perpetrators are often left unreported and considered by society as rare, there is a risk that the number of perverse female and mothers who are on the loose will continuously abuse children either sexually or physically (Peter 2008).
The legal system in the United Kingdom strongly recognizes the possible link between maternal mental illness with maternal infanticide and child homicide. Since there are cases wherein perverse mothers and young women who are convicted of murdering their children are using insanity as a defence for murder or child abuse, criminologists in UK should be able to learn more ways on how they can improve their ability to differentiate perverse mothers from those mothers who are suffering from mental illnesses caused by postpartum. By psychiatrists to strengthen their ability to detect postpartum-related mental disorder and psychosis, there is a higher chance wherein the accused perverse mothers will be able to receive proper medical treatment and free themselves from the punishment of life-time imprisonment.
As Raitt and Zeedyk (2004) suggest there is a very thin line that separates innocent women from perverse women who are guilty of murdering or physically harming their own children. Considering the fact that idealization of motherhood can enable perverse women and mothers who has just given birth to a baby to mislead the authorities by acting similar to mothers with postpartum mental disorders, criminologists should take it as a challenge to focus on determining the truth by gathering concrete evidences that will prove whether or not perverse women or perverse mothers are guilty of a crime. To prevent false accusations or wrong judgment, it is important on the part of criminologists to make use of medication intervention such as autopsy in order to determine whether the death of an infant was intention or merely caused by unexplainable infant death syndrome (Raitt and Zeedyk 2004).
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