The Modern Day La Llorona

La Llorona is a Mexican folklore about a beautiful indigenous mother named Dona Maria. Due to a twisted fate, she has drowned her two children fathered by a Spanish general who has abandoned her for a Spanish lady from a noble family. After a sharp blow of humiliation, she suddenly sees the children as getting in the way of the love of her life. According to the myth, the soul of La Llorona now spends her nights weeping and wandering the streets of Mexico in search of her deceased children.

This morning, as I flipped through the telly while grabbing breakfast, the hot buzz of the Casey Anthony trials was all over the news. The images of La Llorona seem literally projected over the high-profile courtroom as the single mother on trial weeps while the court shows the pictures of the child’s remains.

Apparently, in the United States, there are about 189 women on death row for murdering their own children. Despite this, the Anthony case has disproportionately overblown and received a ton of media attention, making national headlines . Unfortunately, sensational stories like this one do sell. At a cursory glance, it seems so easy to judge what is right and who is wrong. But is it?

Despite the public demonization, she is still a very young woman and more importantly, a struggling single mother, without the support of the father of the children. If anything, the case highlights the demands and responsibilities of motherhood. We are quick to demonize Casey Anthony but we should also consider the lack of resources and support accessible to these women and the double standard placed upon mothers. Though this is not at all a legal or a moral justification, Anthony wanted life and there was not much of room for a fresh start in her position.

In the original folklore, the lonely soul of Dona Maria, the mother and the bereft lover, is condemned to the streets of Mexico for eternity but what of the male lover and the father of the children? He is married happily ever after to a fine Spanish lady after disposing his lover? Women bear harsh consequences of being in love and then, mothers are judged for wanting to maintain a romantic life. Of course Anthony definitely deserves some legal consequences. But the blood-thirsty public reaction, with fights breaking out along the line to the courtroom, shows that we are no better than her.