Debate Magazine

Casey Anthony and the Assumption of a Mother’s Love

Posted on the 19 July 2011 by Datecoachtoni @CoachToni

Too often we hear about a father doing it. We are horrified, shocked, saddened and angry. The media covers the story for a few days or a week- if it’s multiple homicide, the coverage can last until the funeral and the initial aftermath. We use words like evil, crazy, rage, jealous, depressed, and despondent to describe the act and the perpetrator. It’s AWFUL and it breaks our hearts, but somehow, we accept it and move on.

So why the ongoing outcry, extensive and seemingly endless media coverage, activity on social networking sites and serious death threats related to the death of Caylee Anthony? Because her mother is believed to have killed her, even though she was found innocent by a jury (who has hinted that they did not fully believe in her innocence but the state did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.) A mother is not supposed to kill her child, no matter what. If there is a true belief that she did, we can’t accept it and move on.

Why do we expect more of mothers than of fathers- especially when it comes to the love they have for their children? Because a mother’s love is believed to be completely “unconditional’ and a father’s love, “conditional.” In 1956 a psychologist wrote the now classic book, “The Art of Loving.” In his book, Erich Fromm explores the theories of brotherly love, motherly and fatherly love, erotic love, self-love, and the love of God - as part of his exploration of the subject of loving in general. It’s an interesting read about what love is and what is necessary to achieve “real” love as opposed to infatuation, obsession and other forms of unhealthy attachment.

Mothers are theorized to feel love regardless of what traits or characteristics the child presents- this is unconditional love. Fathers on the other hand, dispense love that is earned through proper behavior, high achievement, and fulfilling the expectations of the father- which places conditions on the love felt and offered. While this is presented as an absolute in theory, most of us know fathers who love unconditionally and mothers who do not. As a society we have witnessed fathers who stand firmly by their children and moms who abandon or kill them. However, there is a widely held double standard- moms protect their young and are the last line of defense against abusive fathers, predators, and the bully down the block. No matter what, our moms will always be there for us…but dads, maybe not.

This belief is fueling the outrage against Casey Anthony. One can’t help but wonder if some of her most outspoken critics were abused children once- or perhaps have come dangerously close to abusing their own children and cannot tolerate such behavior as it comes too close to home.

Whatever is in the hearts and minds of all the people who are blogging, posting and verbalizing their feelings of hate and a desire for revenge for Caylee could lead to violence against her mother and even death. We all need to be mindful not to spark these dangerous coals of rage and remember that the courts have decided and now it is a matter between Casey and God.

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