Many Crimes Are Committed By People Who Aren’t Working Mothers

Lisa M. Nowak

This Hillary Brenhouse piece in Time starts on an interesting note:

The men chosen to lead China into outer space are often referred to locally as “superhuman beings” — and not just because they train to cross the final frontier. Would-be taikonauts have to meet near impossible standards that are meant to weed out the less-than-flawless. Chinese astronauts cannot suffer from chronic sore throats or runny noses. They mustn’t have food restrictions, strong regional accents, ringworm, cavities or scars. Bad breath, body odor and a snoring problem are all immediate disqualifiers. And if China’s spacemen are expected to satisfy an unlikely string of qualifications, so too are its new spacewomen — with two notable additional criteria. China’s first two female reserve astronauts, selected earlier this month from a pool of 15 female fighter pilots, were required to be wives and mothers.

Interesting! Then graf two explains that “at least one authority, Zhang Jianqi, former deputy commander of the country’s manned space program, has stated that the requirement stands because married women are more physically and psychologically mature.” And then graf three veers off into some curious sexism:

That was not, of course, the case for Lisa Nowak, the former NASA astronaut who less than a year after flying aboard the Discovery was arrested in Florida and charged with the attempted kidnapping of the girlfriend of astronaut William Oefelein (Nowak was eventually sentenced to a year’s probation after pleading guilty to lesser charges of felony burglary and misdemeanor battery). Experts have since said that Nowak, who was married at the time and has three children, may have been driven to those extremes by the pressures of juggling her demanding space career and motherhood. “It’s definitely a challenge to do the flying and take care of even one child and do all the other things you have to do,” she told Ladies’ Home Journal in an interview before her arrest.

Really? See a working mom walk down the street and you’d better watch out, because she might snap at any moment? There’s no doubt that working mothers face many stresses in life but it’s clearly the case that the vast majority of violent crime is committed by men, so I think it hardly makes sense to start drawing lines between work-family balance problems and crime sprees. Fortunately, we do learn in the graf after that that “Nowak’s epic meltdown . . . almost certainly hinged on more than her working-mom status.”

I’m going to go with just plain old certainly.