William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice


This article, by an author who has devoted over a decade to the study of women whom the law deems "bad" mothers, undertakes a more probing consideration of what truly separates the deviant mother from the "good" mother. In this article, she exposes the flaws in a binary classification of mothers as either "good" or "bad." She accomplishes this task by juxtaposing the stories, both legal and personal, of Vanessa, a woman whom society has judged to be a "bad" mother, and the author, a mother most in society would view as "good." In the end, the author not only offers alternative explanations for the death of Vanessa's child, but also a broader moral lens through which to judge Vanessa and perhaps mothers in general.

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