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Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
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Mother Knows Best: Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette

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  • Transcript

    • 1. “MOther Knows Best”: Gender Roles in theTrial of Molly Midyette B Y C a i t l i n D u f f y
    • 2. IntroductionThe purpose of this presentation is to argue thatgender role stereotyping exists in our legal systemand it could be the reason that Molly Midyette wasconvicted so harshly in the death of her son Jason My presentation draws from articles surrounding the cases of Molly and Alex Midyette, but a large amount comes from a presentation and discussion with Molly’s parents
    • 3. Introduction (double click) YouTube Video
    • 4. IntroductionWe would like to believe that outdated genderstereotypes like in the previous video don’t stillexist but sadly they do: We still see women making a lower wage than men for the same jobs Women are still thought to be less intelligent than men concerning math and science Women are expected to stay home and do the cooking and cleaning
    • 5. IntroductionWe still see these gender stereotypes inpopular media “He cooked, he cleaned, he did everything my mother does, so he was the woman of the house.”
    • 6. IntroductionIt seems that much of society is making aperson’s sex synonymous with their gender This is an issue dating back to the 18th century when Eunuchs were given a different gender orientation because they lacked biological aspects that the male gender possessed
    • 7. IntroductionWhat is the problem with interchanging someone’s sex with theirgender? Are they that different? Sex and gender are different and it is important to distinguish between the two and to know what I mean by gender role sex: refers to a person’s biology and consists of male, female or intersex gender: refers to a person’s behaviors, feelings and attitudes that society relates to a person’s biological sex However, many people associate with a gender that is not associated with their biological sex gender role: The expected social behavior of an individual based on their biological sex
    • 8. IntroductionIt is important to know these differences becausemany people get a gender and gender rolesassigned to them because of their sexWhile it is typical for those to act out the genderassociated with their sex, it is not necessarilyalways the caseIt is also important to note that just because youact out a particular gender, it does not mean thatyou have to assume the roles associated with thegender
    • 9. IntroductionWhat does gender and gender roles have to do with the Justice system? The short answer should be nothing, but it most certainly does Gender is no stranger to the legal system, and cases concerning gender inequality have been fought since the 1970s: 1975: Foritn v. Darlington Little League - Founded unconstitutional that girls couldn’t play in little league 1984: Planned Parenthood v. Board of Medical Review - Successful in challenging the state law that required husbands to be notified before a woman could have an abortion
    • 10. IntroductionNot all cases that involve gender roles arefocused around gender discriminationIn some court cases the verdicts that are reachedmay be based on arguments that perpetuate theideas of stereotypical gender rolesThis is what happened to Molly Midyette in hertrial Molly was convicted of child abuse resulting in death
    • 11. Background on the Trial of Molly Midyette
    • 12. BackgroundMolly was convicted for the death of her sonunder the charge of child abuse resulting indeath in mid 2007, at the age of 28The conviction arguably occurred becauseMolly assumed the gender role of a motherand stereotypical conclusions about this rolewere made by the prosecution
    • 13. BackgroundTo understand how Molly could havepossibly been convicted based on genderroles, it is important to look at thebackground of the death of Molly’s son,Jason
    • 14. BackgroundMolly Midyette married her husband Alex inthe summer of 2005, due to an unplannedpregnancy
    • 15. BackgroundDuring the pregnancy Molly suffered frompreeclampsia Preeclampsia occurs in pregnant women after the twentieth week of pregnancy and can cause high blood pressure Symptoms of preeclampsia include: Lasting headaches, belly pain, as well as nausea and vomitting
    • 16. BackgroundJason Midyette was born December 17, 2005.Though he was a bit premature the preeclampsiadid not seem to effect him, and he was a healthy boyAfter Jason was born it was suggested by Alex andhis parents that Molly return to work and Alex be astay at home dad The interesting aspect to Molly returning to work is that both Alex and herself were employed by his parents
    • 17. BackgroundOn February 24, 2006 Molly received a callat work from her husband saying that hebelieved Jason was sickMolly and Alex took Jason to their regularphysician,where they discovered signs ofswelling in Jason’s head, and he was rushedto the emergency room at BoulderCommunity Hospital
    • 18. BackgroundAt the hospital Jason under went a series of testswhich revealed he had a major skull fracture andthat he had over 30 broken bones, all of which wereat different stages of healing This suggested that Jason had been repeatedly abusedAt this point the police were called to investigateMolly and AlexJason was rushed to the Children’s Hospital inDenver, where he slipped into a coma
    • 19. BackgroundJason Midyette died on March 6, 2006, twodays after he was removed from life supportat only ten weeks old
    • 20. BackgroundPolice pursued Molly and Alex for the deathof their son and were indicted for the chargeof child abuse resulting in death two daysafter Jason died This charge holds the same consequences as second degree murder
    • 21. BackgroundMolly and Alex were tried separately, bothtrials starting in 2007Molly’s trial was not exceptionally long, andjust weeks after it started she was convicted ofthe crime of Child Abuse Resulting in Deathand was sentenced to sixteen years in prisonAlex was also convicted in his trial. However,he was charged with Criminally NegligentHomicide, which is a lesser charge than Molly’s
    • 22. BackgroundThere was a lot of controversy thatsurrounded outcomes of the trials of Mollyand Alex because there was no evidence thatpointed to one of them being more guilty (ifguilty at all) over another, so why did Mollyget a worse sentence? During Molly’s trial there were three major issues that were brought to light that made Molly seem responsible for Jason’s death because of her role as a female and mother
    • 23. Gender Roles in the Trial of Molly Midyette
    • 24. Gender Roles in the TrialDuring Molly’s trial there were three major issuesthat were brought to light that made Molly seemresponsible for Jason’s death because of her role as afemale and mother, and her not fulfilling these roles.The points made were: 1. The nursery for Jason was not decorated or painted in a way to reflect they were having a boy 2. Molly returned to work while Alex became a stay at home dad 3. Mother Knows Best
    • 25. Gender Roles in the Trial1. The first point that the prosecution made wasthat Molly did not decorate the nursery to reflecther and Alex were having a boy The gender role that this violates is that new mother’s are supposed to want to nest and create a comfortable and inviting home for their newborn By Molly not nesting, the conclusion was drawn that she was not excited for the child and that she might even resent him
    • 26. Gender Roles in the TrialThere are many issues with this being evidence for motivation to harm her son: Molly was suffering from preeclampsia and the symptoms associated might make it hard to be around the smell of paint or do any sort labor This could almost be an argument for her loving her son, she took care of herself and Jason before taking care of superficial needs While decorating a room is something that is traditionally done in preparation of a new child, it is certainly not evidence to dispute a mother’s love for her child in court Why did Molly have to paint the nursery? Shouldn’t Alex be held just as accountable for this task especially when Molly was not 100 percent healthy? Alex not being held responsible for painting the nursery completely reinforces the idea of Molly being held responsible solely because she was the woman and mother
    • 27. Gender Roles in the Trial 2. The second point that the prosecution made against Molly was that Molly returned to work after Jason was born while Alex was a stay at home dad The gender role that this violates is that new mother’s should want to stay at home so they can bond with their newborn By Molly returning to work, the argument that she didn’t love Jason or resented him, was perpetuated
    • 28. Gender Roles in the TrialThere are several issues with this being evidence for motivation to harm her son: The first issue here is that Molly was told to return to work by her husband and both her step-parents This is so important is because both Molly and Alex were employed by Alex’s parents and even though Molly wanted to be home with Jason, her step-parents forced her hand to return to work This could be argument that Alex may have wanted to harm Jason because he made it so he was alone with him so often Another issue is that Molly returning to work could have been more beneficial for Jason in the long run Even though both Molly and Alex were employed by his parents Molly made more money than him. She gave the impression that she was ok with returning to work so they could make more money, so Jason could be better provided for
    • 29. Gender Roles in the Trial3. The final point made against Molly in hertrial concerning gender roles was the idea that“Mother Knows Best” The gender role that Molly allegedly violated here was that a mother should know when there is something wrong with their child
    • 30. Gender Roles in the TrialThis supposed violation of gender roles workedagainst Molly in two separate but similar ways. 1. She should have known how sick Jason was when she first saw him on February 24th, and not wasted time by going to the physician and going straight to the ER 2. If she wasn’t committing the abuse herself, she should have known that Jason was being harmed over time and known about the numerous broken bones
    • 31. Gender Roles in the TrialThe issues with the first idea of Mother Knows Best are: On the day that Jason was taken to the hospital there was a large gap of time between when Jason arrived at the children’s hospital and when he first showed symptoms of being ill The argument here is that because she was Jason’s mother she should have sensed the severity of his injuries and taken more drastic measures sooner The problem with this logic is that Jason’s regular physician didn’t see the extent of his injuries upon his examination, so how was a post-grad law-student supposed to know? As stated in a previous point, Alex should be just as responsible for the welfare of his child Just because Molly is a female and identifies with the woman gender does not mean that skirts Alex of his parental responsibilities
    • 32. Gender Roles in the TrialThe issues with the second part of the argument of “Mother KnowsBest” are: There were accusations of Alex being the abuser of Jason and that’s why he wanted to stay at home If this were the case it would be very easy for Alex to hide the broken bones of Jason. If he cause the injuries he would easily be able to make an excuse for them The other issue here is that Molly loved and trusted her husband. So even if Jason had been acting strange on other occasions, if Alex said everything was fine, Molly probably believed him Intuition, no matter how strong, can be snuffed out by putting your trust in another person
    • 33. Conclusion
    • 34. ConclusionCourt cases are often extremely complex andvery seldom are simply black and whiteThe case with Molly Midyette is no exceptionAs complex as the case seems it could beargued that the conviction was made based onpre-existing ideas of gender roles that werepresented by the prosecution
    • 35. ConclusionThe gender roles that Molly supposedlyviolated were: Mother’s should nest for their newborn Mother’s should want to spend as much time with their children as possible, and stay with them instead of returning to work right away Mother knows best
    • 36. ConclusionIt would be irresponsible to say that theoutcome of Molly’s case was based solely ongender roles, however, if these pre-existinggender roles did not exist in the minds ofsociety Molly may have not been charged asseverely for a crime that I don’t believe shecommitted
    • 37. References"7NEWS - Alex Midyette Given Maximum Sentence Of 16 Years - NewsStory." 7NEWS. N.p., 15 May 2009. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. <http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/alex-midyette-given-maximum-sentence-of-16-years>."Discrimination Court Cases Over the Years." RI ACLU: Featured Court Cases.N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <http://www.riaclu.org/CourtCases/sexdiscriminationcs.html>.Warner, Joel. "Molly Midyette, a Mother Sentenced to Sixteen Years for theDeath of Her Son, Speaks out." Molly Midyette. Westword News, 06 Apr.2011. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. <http://www.westword.com/2011-04-07/news/molly-midyette-speaks-out/>.
    • 38. 1984: Planned Parenthood v. Board of Medical ReviewSuccessful challenge to state lawrequiring husbands to be notified before awoman could have an abortion.(PARAPHRASE DONT KEEP THISWAY)

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