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Feb 04 2009

Sure, eight is enough, but lighten up already, raging ethics debatists!

When PhysioProf said in an off-topic comment on a previous post — a post which, though it contains words, is fairly devoid of philosophic value, hence, one assumes, PP’s inclination to suggest a more tantalizing tangent — “Hey, TF, what’s your take on the fucking octuplets?” I said to myself, “Twisty,” I said, “what is your take on those fucking octuplets?”

I used that cuss word because PhysioProf’s pottymouth is contagious. Blamers like TwissB give me shit for using “fucking” as an adjective, averring that it is unseemly for a radical feminist to resort to expletives describing dudely actions that degrade women, but goddammit, TwissB, I’m only sub-human. In the post-patriarchal utopia, there will be no dirty words degrading women, because women will be human then.

But I digress.

I have consulted myself, and here is my much-anticipated take on the fucking octuplets.

All this shit about whether it is “ethical” for poor, single women to have litters of babies is a red herring. What’s really going on here is “Hey, let’s rip on this mentally ill woman because she has appropriated her personal uterus to flout social convention!”

Before this goes any further, let me briefly recap the official Twisty position on human reproduction of any kind. It is this: there can be no justification, under the present conditions of an already unsustainable human population, looming catastrophic climate change, peak oil, inequitable access to resources, caste systems, religious delusions, and all other aspects of the megatheocorporatocracy, for having any kids at all.

It would be nice if people listened to me, but they don’t, so you can count on women, whose reproductive functions are owned by both the state and whatever cultural conditioning they happen to have internalized, to have babies all the time. Likewise, you can count on this:

Whether it’s one kid or eight, once the placenta is buried (or eaten — yipes!) women are reviled. They get isolated in nuclear family situations. They suffer postpartum depression. Child-rearing is unpaid, low-status work. They can’t advance in the workplace. They are denigrated as “soccer moms” or MILFs. It’s a crap deal.

But I digress again. The conditions under which a woman may become pregnant and undergo childbirth are rigidly monitored by the megatheocorporatocracy; these conditions are entirely rooted in keeping a firm hand on the sex class. You must be married to a man, have money and religion, and submit to medical authority. Also, you may only spawn one or at the most two babies at a time, and you must stop spawning when you’ve reached your community’s ick-saturation point — any more than three or four, for example, begins to make you look weird. The slightest deviation is aberrant — for instance, if you’re a pregnant teen slut, or you want to bring an “abnormal” fetus to term, or you want an abortion, or you have a glass of wine while pregnant, or you want to eat your placenta with fava beans and a nice chianti, or you’re a single woman seeking in vitro, or you’re on the dole, or you’re queer, or you already have 6 kids, or you have no money, or you’re a single woman with 6 kids and no money having wine and octuplets — bada-boom! The cold claw of community censure claps you upside the head, and people write blog posts on whether you should be allowed to mingle in polite society.

On PP’s blog, a commenter suggested that the octuplet mother, as punishment for having an abnormal number of babies simultaneously, be barred from enjoying any of the bling lavished upon her by fascinated citizens; it should all go to pay back society for the incredible strain her aberration has placed on it, and she should “never see a dime of it.”

The acceptable conditions for motherhood are disingenuous bullshit. If you’re going to allow single births, what’s the diff if some woman has octuplets?

But she can’t afford eight babies! She’s got six kids already! She’s irresponsible! She’s crazy!

Big whoop. Irresponsible crazy poor women with six kids have babies all the time. The only difference is, nobody’s deathly concerned about their health, or putting themon TV all day long.

75 comments

  1. PhysioProf

    On PP’s blog, it was suggested that the octuplet mother, as punishment for having an abnormal number of babies simultaneously, be barred from enjoying any of the bling lavished upon her by fascinated citizens; it should all go to pay back society for the incredible strain her aberration has placed on it, and she should “never see a dime of it.”

    Twisty, thanks for the link! I hope you don’t mind if I just clarify here–in case some of your readers don’t click through to my blog–that it was a commenter, and not my blog post on the topic, that took this position, and that my blog post actually abstained completely from taking any ethical position at all vis a vis the actions of the mother (or her fertility physicians) and only sought to point out a likely societal influence on her actions. (Dang, that was a long fucking sentence!)

  2. Twisty

    Quite, quite, PP. I will amend the original post for the crystal clarity you seek.

  3. PhysioProf

    Thanks! You’re my favorite spinster aunt!

  4. josiemysourceofmostfrustration

    Twisty, I agree fully with your position regarding the dearth of good reasons to reproduce. I think that if women were allowed to make this choice in a pressure-free environment, there would be far fewer mothers around. However, as a 35 year old childfree married lady, I can attest that there is a gargantuan amount of subtle and not so-subtle pressure directed at adult women to breed. The media exalts an idealized form of motherhood, most families are sorely disappointed or perplexed by one’s choice not to breed, all of one’s peers are seemingly baby-crazy and want to talk about nothing else. If you are not a mom, you, your interests, your life and your choices are seen as less serious and important. In my experience, it is really hard to be a childfree holdout once you hit your mid 30′s, which probably explains why so few women even consider doing it.

  5. dawn coyote

    This brings up something that’s been bugging me for awhile, namely that some fucking fuckwit on dailyfuckingKos, reviewed the photographic history of Sarah Palin and her family and concluded that the grotesquely fecund Palin had not actually borne a fifth child of her own, but had pretended to do so to cover for her daughter, Bristol, who may or may not have been pregnant by her own father, Todd, Palin’s husband. The story hinged on Palin’s plane-trip home from some Republican hoe-down, leaking amniotic fluid all the while, which is, of course, hideous beyond bearing. That “diary” has been scrubbed from the otherwise high moral ground on which dailyfuckingKos plants its flag.

    May Markos donkeyfucking Moulitsas and the fucking fuckwit author of that diary be afraid to leave their homes lest they be pelted with expelled placentas of mothers who gather daily for the purpose.

    (caught in moderation – I know)

  6. dawn coyote

    Incidentally, did you know that Bristol and Chelsea are only an hours’ drive apart?

  7. Donna

    In your inimitably eloquent and obstreporous (sp?) way, Twisty, you have captured my own feelings on the matter. I consider it an isolated incident involving a mentally ill woman. Hardly cause for a raging ethical debate. I also detect a tinge of racism in the overblown hostile reaction to this woman. It seems quite at odds with the way the Duggars and Jon and Kate litters have been received.

    Twisty, I agree fully with your position regarding the dearth of good reasons to reproduce. I think that if women were allowed to make this choice in a pressure-free environment, there would be far fewer mothers around.

    What josie said. Motherhood is the default for women, which makes a woman who deliberately opts out of it, by definition, a social deviant. It needs to become OKAY not to reproduce. That alone would make a huge difference.

  8. Courtney

    Actually, my thoughts are about the kids. They didn’t ask to be born…do they really deserve to be brought up by this woman?

  9. Twisty

    “Actually, my thoughts are about the kids. They didn’t ask to be born…do they really deserve to be brought up by this woman?”

    Ah yes, the kids. Being raised by a bankrupt crazy woman whose support system is non-extistent is indeed a bad scene. Not to diminish the assorted horrors that they will undoubtedly suffer, but as the offspring of a disenfranchised woman they are by no means unique in the world. The fact that millions of children — 40,000 of whom die of starvation and curable diseases every day — are born into even more egregious circumstances than these octuplets is an excellent argument for zero population growth. At least the octuplets will be able to parlay their octupletness into something of a profession until something better comes along. Run of the mill single babies born to marginalized women don’t deserve to suffer, either, but somehow this is tolerable to Westerners.

    I don’t mean you personally, Courtney!

  10. Jonathan

    I think the octuplets are getting so much press because our misogynist media wants to raise the number of acceptable children to an FLDS-approved eight or fourteen.

    The MSM wants octuplets to be a household phrase. They want it to be the new hideous ideal for everyone in the sex caste to aspire to, regardless of the amount of misery and suffering that would result if every woman had eight kids (as if they ever cared about mothers or kids in the first place, more soldier boys for the elites!).

  11. tinfoil hattie

    People are turning the same patriarchal eye of judgment on this woman as was turned on Andrea Yates. So what else is new? If you’re a woman, you officially suck. And not in the good way that het men like.

  12. thebewilderness

    There are some ethics at issue here. Medical ethics. Journalism ethics. Criminy!

  13. BadKitty

    I would just like to know who is paying for all the medical treatment here. All the IVF, the delivery, the intensive neonatal care for 8 newborns. And the only reason I want to know is because, if she’s got health insurance paying for all this, I want the name of that insurance company because I’ve got to get in on that action. I can’t get my insurance to pay for a stupid prescription.

  14. bean

    Long time lurker… just need to say thanks for this and all the fine blaming over the years.

    Oh, and, on a personal note, my recently passed Mom affirmed my choice not to breed thusly: “It made me very happy to bring you and your sisters into the world, but it (motherhood) ain’t all it’s cracked up to be and if your heart isn’t in it, you shouldn’t do it.” She was a strong and lovely person.

  15. Rebekka

    “Actually, my thoughts are about the kids. They didn’t ask to be born…do they really deserve to be brought up by this woman?”

    WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?????

  16. Rebekka

    “Actually, my thoughts are about the kids. They didn’t ask to be born…do they really deserve to be brought up by this woman?”

    WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?????

  17. Wendy

    When women are born and raised to first, be married and then secondly, to have children, then it doesn’t surprise me that some women want those things. Why not? This is what is normal and acceptable. But of course there is a limit to socitey’s tolerance. Why tolerant it at all?

  18. Squiggy

    Twisty thought of them eloquently. Scroll up.

  19. greg

    the Catholic church is correct as usual, IVF is wrong…

  20. yttik

    This woman has challenged several patriarchal concepts, she’s unmarried, has no job, doesn’t even have a father for the babies, they were all made in a lab. Then she doesn’t even have the decency to be properly ashamed after the first six, oh no, she goes out and deliberately has eight more. Then to really offend everybody, she plans to profit off of them so as to support herself and all these children. She’s absolutely horrified every patriarchal sensibility we have. Where are the men in her story? She’s rendered them completely irrelevant. Not only that, she’s pushing the idea that child rearing should be a for profit enterprise. For the mother! Seriously, the patriarchy is just all in knots over this outrage.

    That said, I find it absolutely atrocious that a woman would be used as a medical guinea pig, used to experiment to see what happens if a human being is implanted with a litter of 8. It’s a horrible thing to do to women and to the children. The news seldom tells us all the stories with unhappy endings, the deaths, the permanently disabled children born too premature, the life long physical consequences to the mother, etc. The whole reproductive industry just horrifies me. Then again, medical ethics when it comes to women has probably always been an oxymoron. Considering all the lobotomies and hysterectomies, this is nothing new.

  21. feral

    “The conditions under which a woman may become pregnant and undergo childbirth are rigidly monitored by the megatheocorporatocracy; these conditions are entirely rooted in keeping a firm hand on the sex class. You must be married to a man, have money and religion, and submit to medical authority.”

    I agree completely. I’m sure many are familiar with the following story. Why do so few of the mainstream object when this woman from Arkansas raises 16 children? http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060105/news_lz1c05duggar.html
    Why, it’s because she had the blessings of the megatheocorporatocracy to do so (ie, she is white, uber-Christian, and not poor). Some view her decision as strange but I’ve never seen a major news report denouncing her actions as socially irresponsible and damaging. In other words, she is a mother who serves her state, her religion, and her family with “restaurantlike [sic] precision at mealtime.”

  22. rootlesscosmo

    The acceptable conditions for motherhood are disingenuous bullshit.

    Eloquent and true. Thanks, Twisty.

  23. wisewebwoman

    We assign this woman the same respect we accord any other woman, fecund or not, bringing to term or not, choosing a sperm donor or lab-sperm or turkey baster. This is pro choice.
    My big question of the week is:
    Where are all the patriarchal godbags who assert their rights to all uteri (uteruses?)all the time, but reach terminal syphilitic fever pitch at the thought of desecration of the contents of any of these internal breedy-bags?
    Should they not be having a parade for this woman? Shouldn’t they have their wallets out to fund the care and feeding of her fourteen live births?
    Just asking.

  24. Donna

    This woman has challenged several patriarchal concepts, she’s unmarried, has no job, doesn’t even have a father for the babies, they were all made in a lab. Then she doesn’t even have the decency to be properly ashamed after the first six, oh no, she goes out and deliberately has eight more. Then to really offend everybody, she plans to profit off of them so as to support herself and all these children. She’s absolutely horrified every patriarchal sensibility we have. Where are the men in her story? She’s rendered them completely irrelevant. Not only that, she’s pushing the idea that child rearing should be a for profit enterprise. For the mother! Seriously, the patriarchy is just all in knots over this outrage.

    Dayum! I never cease to be amazed by the searing insights of IBTP. yttik, I think you really put your finger on why so many people are unsettled by this story. Well done. I must admit that my first visceral reaction upon learning that the woman had 6 children before she had the octuplets and that she wanted to cash in on her brood was to cluck my tongue over her audacious profligacy. But I think you are right about how disapproval of women being seen as profiting from their offspring in any way, without being under the appropriate ownership and supervision of a man, offends patriarchal sensibilities. This is the root of the resentment of divorced and/or non-custodial fathers of paying child support. (Not that mothers profit from child support at all, but that’s the perception that is out there.)

  25. Hattie

    Y’know, what I don’t like is that this woman had Kaiser Medical. I have Kaiser. All this folderol and nonsense of some mentally ill woman having eight kids at once is going to cost me. My premiums just went up again.
    If we did not neglect people so badly, this kind of obscenity would not happen. It’s all about neglect. There is not a good thing you can say about this mess. It has nothing to do with rights, lack of rights, women’s rights, motherhood, single or otherwise–it’s just crap. We don’t want to face the simple truth here, that crap has happened.

  26. blue milk

    “Hey, let’s rip on this mentally ill woman because she has appropriated her personal uterus to flout social convention!”

    Absolutely agree, that is exactly what is happening here.

  27. Barn Owl

    That said, I find it absolutely atrocious that a woman would be used as a medical guinea pig, used to experiment to see what happens if a human being is implanted with a litter of 8. It’s a horrible thing to do to women and to the children.

    What evidence do you have that the woman was “used” as a “medical guinea pig”? My understanding is that she wanted to have all her precious frozen balls of undifferentiated cells, generated earlier by IVF, implanted at the same time, so that they wouldn’t suffer a horrible painful godless death in the liquid nitrogen tank. IOW, science and advanced medical procedures enabled this woman to exercise her reproductive choices, however ill-conceived (hahaha) they might have been. The woman refused to consider selective ablation of some of the embryos, even after being counseled that pregnancies with multiple fetuses always have a higher risk, especially for the babies themselves.

  28. LJ Dugan

    I would love to hear what Twisty and the Blamers–great band name?–have to say about The Duggars. I watch that insipid show, “17 and Couting,” for the train wreck that it is. The mom is forever smiling, chirping the praises of her “wonderful husband Jim Bob,” and ‘ol Jim Bob himself is busy knockin’ up his wife after baby #18. The hair, the dresses, the brainwashing, all in the name of Jeebus.

    To wit, it makes my head explode. What say ye, Blamers?

  29. Twisty

    yttik, exceptional blaming! You’ve been on fire lately. I venture that the main man in the story, the fertility doc (anyone who would do that to a woman has to be a dude, right?) would be front and center waiting for a piece of the octo-pie if he didn’t think he’d done something pretty reprehensible.

    And Hattie, I agree completely agree that crap has happened, and that nothing good can possibly come of it. But I disagree with you here: I contend that when crap happens at the epicenter of which you find a disenfranchised woman, her uterus, babies, 42 doctors, and a nationally televised controversy, it merits some radical feminist scrutiny. Analysis of these kinds of things nearly always reveals institutionalized misogyny, which definitely does have to do with women’s rights, or, as I prefer to think of it, women’s liberation.

    I always hope these extreme situations will hip people to the essential ludicrosity of the way misogyny is practised on a smaller, more invisible scale in their own less extreme lives. I always hope it, but it doesn’t happen much.

    Here’s a question: what if it had been quintuplets instead of octos? Would the outrage have been less because quints barely rate page 6 of the National Enquirer these days?

  30. Amananta

    A little reality check from the screaming headlines:

    The woman did not do this to get on talk shows and show off her marvelous reproduction skills: in fact she didn’t want her name made public at all. Her family provided her identity to the media against her wishes.
    All these doctors giving their opinion about whether or not she was infertile or why she did this are not her personal doctors and do not know her medical history. I suspect they just want to get their name up in lights for being an expert. They don’t even know who this woman’s doctor is.
    She is NOT on public assistance of any kind. Your taxes are not paying for her children. Your insurance also does not go up because one single person on your insurance has an expensive treatment. We also do not know how much of this her insurance decided to cover. Possibly she and her family have to pay for a good deal of this.
    The only person who claims she is “mentally ill” is her mother, who is clearly very unhappy about her choices concerning child bearing. Even if it is somehow “true” objectively, do you not believe “mentally ill” women deserve to have children? Should they be forcibly sterilized? Do you believe every woman deemed “mentally ill” by the medical industry is incapable of caring for her own children?
    Her request that all of the remaining embryos be implanted was because she did not want them destroyed. This is perfectly in line with the unscientific religious position loved by anti-abortion right wing godbag wingnuts, that every embryo is already a human being with as many (or more) rights than its mother. I blame the patriarchy, not her, for this ridiculous idea.

    At any rate, she does not plan to have any more children, so you people can rest easy at home in knowing that she will not flout your beliefs on how she should use her personal uterus any further.

  31. VibratingLiz

    Thank you, Amananta, good points well said. Excellent blaming all around!

  32. Tina H

    Beautiful blaming. Oh how I love it.

    My uterus. Mine. Get your damned megatheocorporatocratic hands off.

  33. TP

    I have another, darker suspicion about the hubbub about women having “litters” of children, or being scientifically implanted with angelic little right-wing beloved fetuses: It make women into animals who are bred by scientists who dispassionately observe these less-than-human experimental rats in their sterile laboratories.

    The full horror is once again how women are so completely “other” and beneath men. The trauma of women seeing another woman treated like a lab rat, the horror of men seeing a woman validating their contempt by animalistic behavior – by having a litter instead of births.

  34. CLD

    Can we please not call the octuplets a “litter”? It’s already obvious that the Patriarchy does not see us [women and children] as human beings; let’s not help the big P along any more by referring to human children as a passel of animals.

    That said, I hold no judgment on the mother. I wish her well and hope she and her children succeed far beyond wildest limits of the Patriarchy’s nightmares.

    I do hold her doctor ethically responsible, though. He’s a true turd.

  35. Twisty

    “Even if it is somehow “true” objectively, do you not believe “mentally ill” women deserve to have children?”

    Amananta, I don’t know to whom you’re directing your comment, but I’ll bite: I’ve already stated that nobody should be having children at all, and I am uncomfortable with the idea that anybody “deserves” them.

    I used the term “crazy” in an effort to underscore the antifeminist notion that all women are nuts, but apparently was unsuccessful in delivering this viewpoint with the proper tone.

  36. Tupe

    Jonathan -

    The Mormons and Quiverful Movement people want hetero-married, quaintly domesticated, white Christian women to have 8-10 kids. This woman is an unmarried, poor Muslim who didn’t even have sex with a dude to have all her kids. As yttik said it, she made the question of men irrelevant. And that will not stand.

    This is such a perfect example of racialized, classist gender roles. White America — even non-Christian/fundie White America — is just *fascinated* by the Quiverfuls. But as soon as you’re a) poor b) a person of color and/or c) not Christian/fundie, your bodily activity is pathologized.

  37. Hattie

    Well, I got to say I look down on this woman. I think women are responsible for their behavior, just like men. What she has done is a personal and social disaster for a whole lot of people. Now, she had accomplices, right enough, who no doubt got lots of money for helping her with her scheme. Some of you seem to be saying this woman had no agency. How can that be true?
    With people dying in the streets, as they are today, that this woman should get any kind of praise or sympathy for what she has allowed to happen to her is just beyond me. What a waste of necessary resources she is causing. Her kids are going to be filling the landfills with their crappy diapers for years.
    I hope there is a lot of follow up on this case. Maybe a reporter can come around and interview her while all eight kids are screaming at once. I’ve seen less exaggerated versions of this hooey, and it never ends well.
    People are a damn nuisance, especially kids. I’m glad I had my two and I’m glad my two have had their two, and we are happy to let it go at that. But shucks, I’m just one of them members of the reality based community, I guess. This woman has her “facts on the ground,” for sure, in the form of all those squalling infants. Well thank god it isn’t me. I got troubles of my own, such as being old!

  38. April

    I can’t thank you enough for this post! You said it all for me. Brava, brava, brava!

  39. Claire (CJ)

    Hattie -

    We can’t know what really went on in this woman’s head or life to lead her to this.

    The point is, though, it’s not our business. It’s her life, her body. She gets to do as she pleases, just like the rest of us. She gets to fuck up and do shitty things, just like the rest of us.

    Your judgment of her is unnecessary. You had children. You had children when the world was overpopulated. Why is it okay for you to have children, but not her? Because you had less? Because yours were of a certain class and certain color?

    There is an awful lot of unacknowledged stuff in your comments regarding this.

    This woman is human. She has agency. She has the right to do with her body what she pleases, whether the lot of us agree with it or not. Our agreement is not the point. Her *humanity* is the point.

    Great blaming, Twisty, as usual. :)

    CJ.

  40. Hattie

    (Rant alert)
    Well, sure it was OK for me to have children. It was fine. It was not OK for her to have all those kids. So there. You can’t put her behavior and mine in the same category. That’s crap. Sure, I had the number of kids I could afford to raise, fed, clothed and educated them properly and all that. But gee, you know, I thought that was what you did when you had kids. Silly me! I must just be one of them know-nothing middle class moms who does not “get it.” Such as how this lunatic had eight babies because she is such a victim or just needs her freedom to whelp, whereas I’m just a pampered know-nothing bourgie female who doesn’t understand about the beliefs and “lifestyles” of others!!! I’m been hearing that nonsense all my life, about how cute it is to be insane, and this grandma has had it up to here!!!
    Look. We need people who have had good upbringings. It is NOT OK to have children you can’t do right by!!!
    But we sure hate to think in this country. And this woman provides us a perfect example of where the lunacy not thinking things out leads us to. It’s not a matter of whether I agree with her or not! Geez. With this level of insanity finding any defense at all, I officially give up on my fellow Americans. Enjoy providing all the public assistance this family will need, folks. Or maybe you can exercise your freedom of choice by not paying your taxes.
    (End of rant)

  41. Valerie

    Hattie- There are some ways in which I agree with you; I think a lot of people on this thread are willing to conclude that she’s really hurt these kids by deciding to have all of them at once with no prospects for feeding them.

    But I think the sheer self-destructiveness of her actions really proves her craziness. And I think that it proves she’s too crazy to have much agency here. And I think that the craziness is further evidenced by her belief that not getting every single embryo implanted amounted to killing someone. And I think that the religious flavour of her crazy has something to do with a certain type of brainwashing she’s been enduring since birth, which makes me angrier at the brainwashers than at her. After all, they’re not crazy; just evil.

    But then again, I’m just a stranger with too much internet time on my hands.

  42. slownews

    She’s actually put herself in a position where she couldn’t qualify for state licensing as a day care center. The required ratio in my state for infants is two babies per caregiver.

  43. slownews

    p.s. also, I just love how all the TV coverage had the wordmark “Kaiser Permanente” front and center. What were those pr people thinking? That no one would ever find out who the anonymous mother was? Give me a break.

  44. derrp

    It is NOT OK to have children you can’t do right by!!!

    Patriarchy being the context in which women make our “choices” about childbearing/rearing, no woman can ever “do right by” her children because that power is denied us. We can’t even control whether or not we get pregnant because even if we do everything within OUR power to avoid it, men can still rape us.

    I agree with you that we hate to think in this country (the U.S., I presume) and that this is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing. But the woman in question here is not an example of that. She took repeated, difficult, and expensive affirmative action to create these children. I guarantee you she thought about it.

  45. goblinbee

    Claire(CJ), For me there’s a world of difference between having two children and having fourteen, especially when eight of those fourteen were at the same time. My “ick-saturation point” is not at the exact same place as someone else’s, but I own it. I am creeped out by huge families. Even if it’s not PC, it’s how I feel.

    Tupe, I think lots of people are icked out by Quiverfuls and the like.

    CLD: “…let’s not help the big P along any more by referring to human children as a passel of animals.”

    Humans ARE animals, more’s the pity.

  46. slythwolf

    I have to wonder what would happen if, instead of demanding that children be removed from the care of parents who are deemed too poor and mentally ill to care for them, people started showing up on said parents’ doorsteps and offering to help out.

  47. Twisty

    “I have to wonder what would happen if, instead of demanding that children be removed from the care of parents who are deemed too poor and mentally ill to care for them, people started showing up on said parents’ doorsteps and offering to help out.”

    You have just described the post-patriarchal child-rearing society.

  48. K

    Slythwolf and Twisty, I am weeping inside with desire for a society like that.

  49. Barn Owl

    In light of the recent NBC interview with Nadya Suleman, in which she states that she *chose* to start a huge family for the “connection”, I’d like to point out the ignorance and/or deliberate dishonesty of asserting that this woman was a “guinea pig” or a “lab rat” unwittingly manipulated by Teh Evul Scientistz.

    Congratulations! Your lack of knowledge and willingness to lie make you a perfect tool of the patriarchy.

  50. antiprincess

    “I have to wonder what would happen if, instead of demanding that children be removed from the care of parents who are deemed too poor and mentally ill to care for them, people started showing up on said parents’ doorsteps and offering to help out.”

    You have just described the post-patriarchal child-rearing society.

    Excellent! Here’s my doorstep:

    51 Elmhurst Street, West Hartford, CT USA 06110.

    C’mon down!!

  51. MLH

    Those who are the quickest to lambast this woman (she’s going on the dole and we all have to pay for it, etc) are also the most furious pro-lifers, I am sure.

  52. Jezebella

    I have read that she didn’t actually intend to have 8 babies, but rather, all of the leftover IVF embryos were delivered to her uterus, with the expectation that only a few would actually implant. It is normal to have leftover embryos after an IVF procedure, but she did not want her them disposed of. And then, because she does not believe in abortion, she could not bring herself to selectively terminate any of the fetuses, which is what ordinarily would happen in such an situation. You can’t FORCE a woman to terminate or reduce a multiple pregnancy, at least not in the US, not right now, not legally.

    So, it seems to me that an IVF octuplet pregnancy is the logical end-result of godbaggy fetus-worship.

  53. Anna Belle

    Good point, Jezebella. I wonder if any godbags are among the folks screaming outrage over it.

    I have to say I’ve been surprised by some womens’ reactions, even supposedly feminist women. That some are outraged by the number and others by their fantasized fate of said children suggests to me that some women are pissed off because they played by the rules (limited their offspring) and they now realize (maybe too late) they didn’t have to.

    Surprisingly, I understand this sentiment. I’ve gotten over it, but I get how they feel. A friend of mine has–I swear I am not lying here–32 siblings, because his father was a ghetto hound dog. Three of them were born on the exact same day to three different women. When he told me this story, I got righteously pissed off that I’d held myself to one child and then had my tubes tied. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have had ten and built a small feminist army with them.

    But like I said, I’ve gotten over it. Agency…everybody has it. Or should.

  54. the baboon

    Twisty, I respect the blame. However, isn’t the judgment that you yourself passed on her uterus (and on the collective uteruses of all of us who have borne children) — that it is irresponsible and wrong to have children in the first place — another way of arguing for control over another person’s body?

    I believe your line of argument is as follows: just as when women wear stiletto heels and giggle submissively when verbally attacked on the street, having children is merely a way of capitulating to the patriarchy as a means of self-protection. When women do this, although it is intended as a means of self-protection against punishment by patriarchal power, their perpetuation of this behavior serves to further instantiate it as something required of all women. Thus, although it is intended merely defensively, it has an indirectly oppressive effect on all women.

    If you think that having children is basically akin to wearing stilettos, then I see your philosophy as having some fairly drastic implications for all women who want to have children. Namely, that their desire to have children is not their own, but just a form of submission. In this model, no children are truly wanted because they are all simply the product of following patriarchal instruction. If all of our children disappeared – or couldn’t be conceived – this would be a good thing because it would lessen the burden on women.

    I’m sure you don’t actually agree with this outcome, not least because you write about your niece — indeed, you describe yourself, frequently, as an aunt; you define yourself, ironically or not, in reference to a child. This is the tension that all adult women I know experience. It is extremely challenging to reconcile the love for children and the desire to have children in your life with the problem of women’s oppression, but it’s real. It’s a critical thing to figure out, I think. Pretending it would be better if there were no children, for the sake of philosophical consistency, doesn’t really do any of us any favors.

  55. Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D.

    A small aside here, on the issue of whether this woman was or was not being used as a guinea pig.

    I do not know to what extent this is true for medicine and society as a whole, or for medicine and men in particular. But I do believe there is plenty of evidence that many “treatment” protocols for women have, in essence, been experimental and turned out in the long run to be quite dangerous. Hormone Replacement Therapy jumps immediately to mind. Early versions of The Pill. (Hmm. My examples both seem to deal with reproduction. Wonder what that means?)

  56. Twisty

    “Pretending it would be better if there were no children, for the sake of philosophical consistency, doesn’t really do any of us any favors.”

    You misconstrue me. I propose 2 arguments, which admittedly but unavoidably sort of contradict each other. One is that, from the perspective of the cold, indifferent cosmos, anything short of a 1000-fold decrease in the human population is likely to have disastrous consequences for all earthly life as we know it. That’s why I’m theoretically against reproduction.

    The other argument acknowledges that nobody is going to put an end to reproduction any time soon. Assuming for the purpose of feminist theorizing that human reproduction’s net effect on the environment is null, I posit that patriarchy, in conjunction with biology, places an undue double-whammy of a burden on women in the baby department. What I mean is that patriarchy puts women in an untenable position, not that I don’t like babies. Absent the environmental and patriarchal implications, I’m all for babies. I’m sort of surprised that I even have to make this statement.

  57. LaRubia

    yttik: “The news seldom tells us all the stories with unhappy endings, the deaths, the permanently disabled children born too premature…”

    Yes. So sad for these babies for so many reasons, not the least of which is because, if they all survive, they are sure to suffer health consequences that we do not hear about. [I won't get into a debate about me being an "ablist" deciding quality of life issues for potentially disabled people - this is not really that.]

    Amananta – not sure where you’re getting your information.

    Hattie – I dig your rant.

    I’m confused. I have many judgments on this, but will refrain from most. However, isn’t [the patriarchy in the form of] the medical/fertility establishment profiting off the desires of this woman, and other women like her? So, in that way, she’s used more as a marketing tool, as opposed to some free-thinking, independent, patriarchy-toppling warrior? And then she’s left to be vilified and judged – the scapegoat, regardless of who gets their license pulled, is this woman. Even if she may be ‘wrong”, she is surely showing others that – hey – in vitro works! She’s the distraction from the real issues, all of which have been laid out here and elsewhere. So this woman is a big ad for in vitro, and will only make the fertility docs wealthier and more in demand, thereby feeding the machine.

  58. My Thoughts

    Did you SEE the Today show this morning? They showed pictures of the Octuplet house, and it was (gasp) dirty! There were unmade beds and things not hung up in the closets. Heck, if they judged every woman in America by how clean our houses are, we would all fail! Can you say “June Cleaver”?

    Interesting that one mom has a master’s degree and the ubermom Lula Mae Duggar (or whatever the hell her name is) has a high school education — but she wins, she wins, she wins — because her house is cleaner! (And she irons . . . ) Just saying.

  59. Hattie

    Heh, heh. Are you blamers all headed out to help that poor woman raise her kids? Change those crappy diapers? Fix those bottles? Wash and clean? C’mon.

  60. Jezebella

    Michelle Duggar’s house is clean because her army of daughters spend their days cleaning house, while the boys spend their days riding four-wheelers, shooting shit, and making messes.

    Thanks for the lovely moment of anti-southern bigotry – Lula Mae? Really? Was that necessary?

    It just irks the crap out of me sometimes that it’s still okay to make fun of Southerners. Just, you know, fucking cut it out, y’all.

  61. saltyC

    I still can’t figure out why it is that it’s OK to implant a bunch of embryos because you expect most of them to die by themselves, but not OK to terminate a few for the health of the survivors.

    If it’s not OK to kill them because you’re interfering with God, well implanting them in the first place isn’t very natural either. creating embryos you know will die is not much different from killing them.

    I’m with Hattie all the way here, How many of you are showing up at already needy mom’s doorsteps to help out? What’s stopping you? The patriarchy?

    My heart totally goes out to the grandmother in this situation, when she says “how could she do this to us?”

    Anyway, I’m off to stay away from this blog, too much swearing makes me feel like I have to watch where I step or get poop on my shoes.

  62. saltyC

    “Run of the mill single babies born to marginalized women don’t deserve to suffer, either, but somehow this is tolerable to Westerners.”

    Yeah, comparing the right of having 14 children with IV fertilization to the rights of poor women to reproduce at all is another reason I won’t step on this steaming poop-pile of a blog.

  63. Courtney

    We can’t even control whether or not we get pregnant because even if we do everything within OUR power to avoid it, men can still rape us.

    Isn’t that what birth control is for?

    Aside from my non-agreement with the Zero Population Movement (and that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax)….

    given that there is reproduction….

    here’s my two cents (and I have no clue how this fits into the whole feminist thing):

    1) Having children should be a privilege, not a right. I understand that you get into the whole “who watches the watchers” bit, but I still feel this way.
    2) You are morally obligated to be a perfectionist in child-rearing. You brought a helpless being into the world, whose entire wellbeing depends on the quality of your care. “Good enough” or “half-assing it” doesn’t cut it.
    3) I believe in mandatory birth control for both sexes. Children are too fragile and precious to be accidental.
    4) I believe in sterilization and required abortions for those who somehow managed to miss 1-3.
    5) For those idiots who decry abortion, let them follow the edict of the local pound: “adopt one until there are none” When we have no children in foster care or orphanages or under the watch of Child Protective Services – then we can talk about having big families. Media glorification of big families makes me nauseated – the Duggars and the Gosselins are morally bankrupt, in my humble opinion.
    6) I believe that IF you decide to have a child, then you should have mandatory child-rearing education, assistance, and support. I believe that 24/7/365 quality childcare should be as readily available as the police or firefighters, and considered just as much of a basic necessity. In fact, if after you have a child, you feel that you can’t handle it, you should have the right/obligation to place that child with trained, quality, eager care providers.

    But hey, what do I know….

  64. jael

    courtney: having children can be neither a right nor a privilege. for women without access to birth control, social and cultural pressures to reproduce, anyone who is unable to conceive – children can be something that just happen.

    2) You are morally obligated to be a perfectionist in child-rearing. You brought a helpless being into the world, whose entire wellbeing depends on the quality of your care. “Good enough” or “half-assing it” doesn’t cut it.

    there is no parent on earth that was a perfect parent. no parent. everyone gets it wrong, someway or another. even just a little wrong. More over – even aiming for perfection, there is no way to be a perfect parent. What is the right was to provide learning to your child? what about discipline? what do you do when your colicky baby cries through 10 consecutive nights? if you’re at work when your child is under five, does that mean you’re a selfish cow that’s not committed to your baby? you’re going to start your child at pre-school when? OMG, you let them play with *those*?! what kind of parent are you!??!

    Have you met a no carbs after midday, macrobiotic diet, organic fibers only, learning toys only, no sugar, structured playtime, only approved friends, and 4 different extra circulars before preschool parents? Been exhausted by them? Wondered how their kids cope with all of that? the idea that you can being a “perfectionist” parent is admirable goal has sent thousands of parents into regimes like this; and yet, they can never quite catch up with the Joneses – whatever will happen to little Mary is we can’t quite get there? Will she miss out and be condemned to mediocrity forever?

    Please – cut people with kids a little slack; where they are might not be a lifestyle choice, or their failings as a parent the product of anything less than the very best they can possibly do. While for middle-class westerners, it can be difficult to see children as not a lifestyle choice, for billions of people around the world, children are an end, in and of themselves. And raising kids is hard. Really, really hard. Really, really, really, really hard.

    Can we all keep that in mind when we’re getting down on people who reproduce?

  65. Courtney

    Remember, what I said was “should”….as in, this is the way I want it to be, as in, I know this is not reality.

    I am actually a pretty tolerant human being, in everyday life. However, I have zero tolerance for people who whine, “I did the best I could” about, oh, say, beating their child badly enough to need stitches. Having spent the last decade of my life raising the product of “I did the best I could” in child-rearing, I can comfortably say – your best just isn’t good enough.

    Remember, I didn’t say you had to be perfect, I said you had to be a perfectionist. I already assume that you make mistakes as a parent – what matters is that you learn from those mistakes.

    What is the right was to provide learning to your child?

    Define learning. Does that mean your daughter gets to spend hours on her knees every day praying to God for forgiveness for not being male? Does that mean your son spends all his free time studying for school? No, I don’t think that parents should have the sole right to provide “learning” for their children, unmonitored with regards to the child’s well being.

    what about discipline?
    What about it? It’s the law in my state that you can do anything you want to your child as long as you don’t leave bruises. Is that ok? I sure as hell don’t think so. I think it’s pretty damn clear that there are good ways and bad ways to discipline your child.

    what do you do when your colicky baby cries through 10 consecutive nights?
    Ideally, you’d go get help. You’d have someone there with you experienced in colicky babies who can help figure out what’s wrong so your child doesn’t have to suffer. And yes, I believe in co-nursing. I believe that you should have helper parents so you can get a good night’s sleep occaisionally, too.

    if you’re at work when your child is under five, does that mean you’re a selfish cow that’s not committed to your baby?
    Not if your child is in a good, quality daycare with good, loving _consistently_ available caregivers. In fact, I firmly believe that in many cases children are _better off_ in daycare than they are at home.

    you’re going to start your child at pre-school when? What’s the difference between preschool and daycare again?

    Have you met a no carbs after midday, macrobiotic diet, organic fibers only, learning toys only, no sugar, structured playtime, only approved friends, and 4 different extra circulars before preschool parents? No, but I’m sure they exist.

    Will she miss out and be condemned to mediocrity forever?
    Those are simply idiots who pressure their kids to be anything but happy and healthy. If you truly love and respect your kid, you don’t force them into an artificial competition with others – nor do you enter into an artificial competition with other parents.

    Please – cut people with kids a little slack
    No. I won’t. That’s how we end up with this ridiculous notion of children as property, how we end up with the “right” to have children, how we end up with “they’re doing the best they can”, how we end up with insidious child abuse and child poverty and children in this, the richest country on Earth, wondering where their next meal will come from.

    their failings as a parent the product of anything less than the very best they can possibly do And I firmly believe that there are those who simply fail at parenting, no matter if it’s the best they can do or not. Those people have no business having children. Remember – mandatory birth control, abortions, and sterilization.

    for billions of people around the world, children are an end, in and of themselves
    I am well aware of that. Tell me, if everyone in the city of San Francisco jumped off the Golden Gate bridge, would you jump too? Children should be cherished for themselves, not seen as retirement insurance or extra income.

    And raising kids is hard. Really, really hard. Really, really, really, really hard. I am also well aware of that. I’ve done it. In fact, I’ve spent the last ten years raising other people’s mistakes – now that’s a difficult parenting job. When was the last time you spent a decade raising the product of physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, with permanent brain damage from in utero drug consumption, with increasingly visible mental illnesses, with physical aggression towards you and vulnerable others? Tell me, is it OK to let that mother keep having kids? Because she did, and she still wants more, to abuse and damage.

  66. K

    Courtney and Jael, it seems like one of you is talking about pathologically troubled families/parents/children/people, and one of you is not. There’s not much point in comparing the two. Comparing

    “I did the best I could” but now my child needs stitches because I beat h/h

    to

    “I did the best I could” but sometimes I just buy the kid the goddamn ice cream cone, even though it’s full of fat and sugar and it’s almost h/h bedtime

    –what’s the use in that?

  67. Jezebella

    Courtney, you’re coming off as a eugenics-proponent fascist, are you aware of that?

    Also, totally judgmental and entirely lacking compassion. I’m not saying that’s *who you are*, I’m saying that’s *how you sound* in this exchange.

  68. Twisty

    SaltyC: “I won’t step on this steaming poop-pile of a blog.”

    saltyC is a poopy-head!

  69. Courtney

    K: See also: slippery slope argument

    Courtney, you’re coming off as a eugenics-proponent fascist, are you aware of that? Also, totally judgmental and entirely lacking compassion. I’m not saying that’s *who you are*, I’m saying that’s *how you sound* in this exchange.

    *chuckle* It’s very kind and tactful of you to say it in such a way. However, you’re right – I am judgemental and I do lack compassion for people who “accidentally” have children when they have the ability to do otherwise. I am judgemental and I do lack compassion for people who suck at parenting. There are some things in life that “the best I could” just isn’t good enough, and having kids is one of them. I reserve my lack of judgement and compassion for the children of aforementioned parents.

    I understand the whole “eugenics-proponent fascist” comment, I really do. It’s kind of a scary concept, to limit childbearing. Hence my “who watches the watchers” aside. But, in a way, we already do that by limiting access to resources for quality childrearing to those on the top of the social heap, in a nearly Orwellian manner. Stupid slum kids? No big deal – we’ll never ask them to run a country, but lots of cheap labor at McDonalds is always handy. Methinks that if there were vastly fewer children in the world, then those children would become more precious and cherished precisely because of their scarcity. Perhaps the difference is that facists are open in their goals?

    There’s a great book by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy called Mother Nature, and in it she details what happened to unwanted babies before the advent of formula. So, is it better to keep them alive and suffering, or die young and suffering? What about the middle ground, where they outlive formula, but die of starvation later? (AKA, the 2 billion or so of us who are food insecure, as they call it.) Wouldn’t it be better for them to just not have existed at all? If you had your choice between a psychotic, abusive mother whom you couldn’t escape and to whom all laws gave parental rights and non-existence, which one would you choose?

  70. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Good blaming here. That said, even folks in this comment thread seem so EAGER to nurture their inner despots that I worry for humanity. I mean, I know the world would be such an efficiently run place if only I were in charge, but, damn.

    That is all. Carry on.

  71. jael

    tell me, courtney, how do those kids who’ve spent their childhood playing to the sky fairy, so they really, really, really believe they cannot use contraception/have an abortion: how do they fit into all this? is it still their *fault*? what about… say… a woman in the third world without access to good healthcare, should she be obligated to get her abortion, if she doesn’t think it’s safe? woman whose husband would beat her if she used contraception? that she can’t afford contraception? where is this woman’s agency? What choice, what control does she have? and I say woman because this whole house of pain your brining down SHOULD fall on both parents, but it won’t – those ‘reject kids’, society blames mama. Moreover – mama is the one who has to have the abortion. never papa. the burden for your new world order falls all to heavily on women.

    Wouldn’t it be better for them to just not have existed at all? If you had your choice between a psychotic, abusive mother whom you couldn’t escape and to whom all laws gave parental rights and non-existence, which one would you choose?

    This isn’t a choice. It’s like when 12 year olds scream I never asked to be born!!! It’s idiotic. No, you didn’t ask to be born. It’s possible that you don’t ask for 78% of what happens in your life. Life is pain. Suffering. You don’t choose between a shit life and never having existed (if it was a shit life and not existing, you could always kill yourself) – if you didn’t exist you couldn’t mkae the choice. So who the hell are you to make that decision, the decision as to wether or not someone would chose to exist for them, which is what you are doing by presenting a question to which you already have the answer.

    Actually, the idea that your parents are obligated to you because they had the privilege of Wouldn’t it be better for them to just not have existed at all? you life is a very western, individual centric philosophy. In the east (and i’m talking here India eastward, it may well be further west, i’ll just stick to what i’m sure of) it’s more along the lines of : no matter what you do, you can never, ever repay the debt you have to your parents that springs from the movement they gave you life. Nothing you can give them could ever possibly come close to the gift of life (well, buddha said getting them enlightened would crack it, but that’s the only thing). Nothing they can do could ever diminish the magnitude of your obligation to them. and yes. this includes the junkie parents, the parents that beat you, the parents that heap physical and emotional abuse on you. you can leave, but they have not negated their gift; you are not free of your debt. no matter how bad they are. life is a gift that trumps all.

    But last of all:
    Who gets to decide who gets the forced sterilization’s? And the mandatory contraception and the like? You? Child protection? the police? the courts? who? what?

    Ok – this is last. I actually have sympathy for your intellectual position; I can understand why it does seem attractive to mandate sterilization for truly bad parents, but you want to look at a slippery slope argument: this who set up is one that crys out to punish women and those without resources. I mean… do we get to sterilize people whose religion we dont’ believe in, or only if they make their kids pray? what if the fetus has downs syndrome? should the be mandatorily aborted? Blind? Deaf? A family history of genetic defects? what about a family history of mental illness? As soon as you open it up for “bad parenting” – the issues of who is a bad parent emerge; then you have to start asking for who is it better to “never have existed”. And that really is a slippery slope to hell.

  72. kate

    Well, what a discussion, if anyone is still reading this thread.

    As for the octuplets, the latest news that the media is bleating is that the mother does receive assistance and that for at least three of her past children she receives SSDI because they in fact have some disabilities.

    She apparently paid for her IVF treatments with a settlement she received for a workman’s comp claim. Also, her parents begged the doc who performed that previous fertilization services to not service her again, so she found another willing to patronize her breeding dream.

    My outrage with how this entire story is played out in the media is that very little effort was made on part of the press to find and put heat on the doc who implanted her with the six embryos. Sure, she had her wingnut ideas, but that doesn’t let the doctor off the hook; he should have known something about her history prior to even considering working with her and once knowing, could have made the decision to not contribute to what is obviously a very dysfunctional environment.

    I mean hell, people have to go through years of testing and interviews just to be considered good enough to adopt one child, but some doc seems to think its ok to plant this mom who already had 6 young children under her sole responsibility with more? One household visit and conversation with the primary caretakers would have elicited a different decision, might it have?

    Which also leads me to her parents. Although they claim they cried out for her to not do it, she did it anyway. She lives at their home, apparently they have agreed to and accepted assisting her in caring for her first brood. Why? Isn’t that enabling this woman to behave like a 13 year old girl? Why is everyone surprised when she was told not to bring home that pony but did anyway?

    Not only this women, but this entire family has serious issues going on with eachother and these children are the result. But hell, if I had a dime for every adult who has kids, or marries that asshole next door, or does some other life changing event simply to spite the parents, I’d be rich right now.

    As to Courtney: Good thing you didn’t know me when I was a young mother. Although I met many like you who clucked their tongues at my young personage with three yougun’s in tow.

    I’m sure you would have hated me and judged me unfit as I struggled in my old ragged clothes with my barely kempt, raggled children, struggling off to the AFDC office, or to pick up my WIC vouchers or struggling with my screaming wild middle child in public. Yes, I’ll bet it was even you or your shadow personage who came up to me with finger in my face at the bus stop and harangued me in public because you drew the conclusion from your own astute observation that my middle child was being tortured as she wriggled like a convulsing worm at the end of my arm whilst screaming like a pained lemur monkey. Yes, it was you who accused me of child abuse and told me to hurry up and stop that right now or you’d call the authorities.

    You didn’t even notice that my daughter immediately stopped her wriggling performance and stood upright and silent in awe at your surprising intrusion on her effort to gain pressure me by force of will to allow her unlimited access to swing on the rope barriers the along the city hall building.

    Maybe it was you who sequestered my two daughters in junior high school from class, to grill them on their immediate family’s lifestyle choices. Was it you who had to know right then and there and put my children under threat of punishment, whether or not their mom was doing drugs or alcohol? Whether mom had a job? What did mom do at home in her free time? Where was dad, was he in prison? Where was their brother (who I informed the school upon my response to this unauthorized Q&A Session that I had removed him from the district but it was no surprise she didn’t know as they’d neglected to ensure him a proper education in that district)?

    Maybe it was you Courtney who advised the Republican party since Ronald Reagan to make blaming poor women with children a cornerstone of their domestic policy? You must have applauded when Newt Gingrich and others wrote the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 as the legislation that would Change Society as We Know It, build bridges, bring world peace, send astronauts to Mars, keep people employed, bring up the economy and make poor women rip out their uteri and donate them to Baptist churches across the country.

    Yes, it was you.

  73. kate

    Ok, I was pissed. I apologize. But your rage is misplaced.

    To be angry at the persons who abused children needlessly does not necessitate rage at all persons who seem to possibly meet the stamp of potential abuser.

    Who are we to judge will abuse children? All poor women? Poor white women? Poor black women? Children of illegal immigrants? Women who don’t have an IQ of x? Women who are unmarried, women who aren’t wealthy?

    And what about the men who spawn irresponsibly? The men who impregnate young women, the other woman, their third wife, the sixth woman they’ve shacked up with?

    What about the upper middle class who hide in large houses in neatly kept neighborhoods who dine with the mayor or lobby the senate? Don’t they abuse children also?

    The real shame in the octuplet story in my mind, is not just the doc, who frankly, made a nice chunk of change implanting this woman’s uterus, but also the community. Doesn’t this family live in a neighborhood of other people? Doesn’t anyone know them? Why do these people feel so alone? Where was the support that could have steered this woman’s quest for whatever she felt she needed into something healthier for her?

    The child abuse rampant in our western culture is a direct result of the nuclear family; which of course is the construct of the patriarchy; where women are isolated from one another and communities do not exist in real, tangible means, but only in some fantasy dream through televisions and internet.

    The nay-sayers would have left me alone if I had only followed convention and abandoned my children at sub standard daycare to pursue a paying career, a career to pay enough to buy a home to lock my children and my dirty secrets away behind an acceptable lawn and a nice car.

    I applaud you Courtney and all those like you, but your anger is misplaced. Blame the patriarchy, not the bad mothers who would have been less likely to exist or to have harmed their children had there existed a real community around them.

  74. jael

    The child abuse rampant in our western culture is a direct result of the nuclear family; which of course is the construct of the patriarchy; where women are isolated from one another and communities do not exist in real, tangible means, but only in some fantasy dream through televisions and internet.

    kate, i’m interested in exploring this a little further. in what way do you feel that child abuse is the direct result of the nuclear family/social ostracisation? there is also significant child abuse in communities with extended family set ups; indeed, many disciplinary styles used in other cultures would be easily classed as abuse here.

    that the patriarchy causes child abuse, i completely agree with. I’m just somewhat more hesitant at placing at the feet of a particular family model; it occurs without regard for social class/family model. while lack of support is one cause of parents abusing their children, it’s not a necessary or sufficient reason (though absolutely it can contribute significantly, i’m not denying that); often enough well supported parents do the same, sadly.

  75. MarilynJean

    Gee, why was I surprised to read that Vivid Video is offering the octuplet mom $1 million plus one-year of health insurance in exchange for her doing a porno with them?

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/eonline/20090225/en_tv_eo/101589

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