Why Are We Obsessed With Mothers Accused Of Murder?


#TIA – Proving again that if there’s a question mark after the headline there isn’t an answer in the story.

Every couple of years, the strange disappearance or death of a white toddler — JonBenét Ramsey, for instance, or Madeleine McCann — seems to overtake the news cycle. A panic ensues, and even with little evidence to parse, the public must find someone to blame to assuage their anxieties. As the seemingly endless retellings of the Ramsey case makes clear, these stories get a longer shelf life once the cast of characters widens, and they can be framed as mysteries about seemingly suspicious parents, and — even more specifically — about murderous bad mothers.

This particular narrative twist is more easily sold — on cable news, social media, and at trials — when the suspected killer doesn’t fit the conventional mold of innocent, white suburban motherhood. Perhaps she’s too secretive, too talkative, not properly mournful in public, and so outrage soon follows. Perhaps — like Patsy Ramsey, who lived under an “umbrella of suspicion” until her own death — she’s too flashy, too image-conscious, an overbearing stage mom possibly capable of staging a ransom note and committing murder over her daughter’s bed-wetting.”

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