Friday, January 30, 2009

My New Name For A Blog

What Ericka Said.

It's just another indication of how far we have to go: how free "good liberals" felt to rip Sarah Palin a new one over her child bearing choices. And, trust me, I'd have probably agreed w/ Son and DiL and moved to Ireland if Palin had been elected. There were a million and one policy reasons to want Palin to lose the election. Yet a great way to get yourself blasted on a number of v liberal blogs was to suggest that if Palin wanted to deliver her Downs Syndrome baby in Alaska, that was her choice.

But everyone in America, and I mean everyone, feels free to criticize women for their reproductive choices. Why? It's a way to keep women down and fighting w each other instead of fighting together against patriarchy. The "helicopter moms" can feel superior to the woman who gives birth blackberry-in-hand, and the women who choose not to have children can spend their lives explaining their choice to relatives who think those women are "selfish." Women who breast feed can look down on women who don't, and women who don't have a second child can spend their lives explaining why they "denied" their child a sibling. No matter what reproductive or child-rearing choice a woman makes, someone, somewhere, can criticize her for it. It's interesting how this sort of criticism always seems to focus on the woman, isn't it?

As Ericka notes, the latest target is a woman who gave birth this week to octuplets. I'm a huge advocate of population control and I'd probably go along with measures to remove the "tragedy of the commons effect" of big families that would give a lot of liberals pause. I think that we should, at the least, be doing everything that we can, educationally, socially, etc. to convince people to limit the size of their families. I can almost, in the words of the song, hear the planet groan every time it registers another birth.

But choice means choice. If society and the government can tell me not to have more children when I'm poor or whatever, then they can tell me to have more children than I want if that's what the government -- which we've all seen is way too vulnerable to take-over by Christianists -- decides that it wants to do.

And I refuse to engage in the game of tearing down and criticizing another woman --whatever her religion, politics, financial situation, class, etc. -- for her reproductive choices. I want to support other women, not tear them down. Shawna Carol's lyrics:

"When you look in your sister's eyes,
Praise her, praise her,
For she's been laid down
For centuries, "

ring v true for me. We'd be a lot better off if all the energy devoted to hating on this woman went into changing the pressures that society puts on women to make them believe they're incomplete w/o a baby.

And, requisite disclosure: I love kids. I had one who is, still, 35 years later, the absolute best thing that ever happened to me in a life blessed every day by mystical joy I don't even know how to describe, a great career, financial success, a circle of amazing witches, poetry, art, gardening, tea, and great and good friends. (Perhaps part of my great commitment to choice is the realization that many would have said that, at 17, uneducated, spinning out from a dysfunctional family, poor, I shouldn't have been allowed to bear. Yet Son turned out to be a wonderful, kind, caring man with a sparkling sense of humor. He's a wonderful lawyer who does amazing pro bono work and complex litigation. He got an Ivy League education and married a wonderful woman and lawyer. My reproductive choice was better left to me; how can I say less for any other woman?) Spending time with his son is the absolute high point of every week for me and I've been looking forward all week to taking him to the nature center and library tomorrow. I was at a sister-witch's house on Sunday and playing with her bright three-year-old. When I said that I had to leave to go to work he said, "But I will miss you!" and snuggled up next to me. All week, I've remembered that moment fondly when I was pulling all-nighters at work or slogging through the ice and snow. It's possible, really it is, to, at the same time: love kids, want there to be fewer of them, and support other women in their reproductive choices, even if I wouldn't have made the same choice.

So, What Ericka Said.

Picture by Anne Geddes found here.


clymela said...

I admit to feeling all sort of judging when I heard that the young mother who gave birth to octuplets already had six children at home. I still wonder how she will do it and why she wanted to be in this position. I wonder if she isn't influenced by the tv show about the family who have twins and sextuplets and if she understands what her life will be now.
I didn't blame Palin for having her little boy-seemed to me in harmony with her philosophy and I doubt that childcare, diapers, etc will be hard for her to come by.
I am horrified by the reaction of the "news ladies" who are going to turn her into the new version of the "welfare queen". Women are so under attack right now particurly by the tv people who represent the upper middle class-ugly very ugly

mamiel said...

Hear, hear. I hate the self righteous who proclaim that no one should reproduce, or that they should only have X number of kids.

I must say, however, I was disgusted by how the right-wingers were gushing about the "blessing" of Bristol Palin's pregnancy. Black teen moms have been endlessly pilloried and blamed for every social ill- but when it's a evangelical, Republican teen mom, it becomes a "blessing". Whatever.

nanoboy said...

I'm thinking that there should be blame, but I think that it needs to go out to more than just the mother. I think it was irresponsible of her to seek fertility treatment after six children. I think it was irresponsible of the father to go along with such a thing. I think it was irresponsible and possibly malpractice for the doctor to prescribe the fertility treatment. Yeah, there's the choice aspect. Sure. But there's also the responsibility to one's family, one's community, and one's society. As they say on (among other places) "It's a vagina, not a clown car."

I'd also like to add that some of the more obnoxious right-wing Christian groups seem to have this whole more reproduction equals more womanly virtue thing going on. Be it conservative Catholics, FLDS, or others, it seems possibly abusive and morally dubious. After hearing the text of the woman's note for the public, I think that she is likely involved in such an institution.

Persephone said...

I have to agree with nanoboy: rights involve responsibility. Hecate, you took responsibility for your son and made the best life possible you could for the two of you. The mother of the octuplets seems to not have a sense of responsibility or recognition of the strain she is placing on herself, her parents and her children. The father is apparently not taking any type of responsibility, although we don't know that for sure; he does not seem to be in the picture. The doctor was irresponsible, failing to follow guidelines that were set for very good reasons.

Multiple children, especially large multiples, often have health problems that will prevent them from having a normal life. This is why it is recommended that no more than two embryos be implanted at a time, especially in a woman under age 35.

The mother's father is having to go back to work in Iraq to help to support these babies. What will happen to this family if he is killed? It was the mother's mother who filed bankruptcy, not the mother. Obviously, though, there are serious financial issues involved.

There have been a number of cases of women with the mental capacity of a 12-year-old or younger, who have children, often quite a few. These women are not prepared to have children or care for them properly. Because we find it abhorrent to interfere with childbearing, nothing is done to stop them, yet these children often end up in foster care.

Arguing that a woman should be free to bear as many children as she wants without taking responsibility for them, places children on the level of chattel, nothing more than extensions of, accessories to, the parents who bore them.

ERGG said...

thanks muchly for the linky, hecate.

Lee said...

I would like to go back to the SP issue. As a total feminist lefty I did not criticize her choice to have her baby rather than abort it. And I assume that she has enough help, from the baby's father and other sources, that the child will get the love and care he needs even as she works a full-time job.

I did criticize the rights fawning over Bristol's pregnancy and the rallying of her family around her. I have no doubt that if the Democratic VP candidate's daughter had been pregnant and unmarried we would have heard endlessly about the decline in family values and the influence of sex education etc.