Tuesday, February 10, 2009

8 Thoughts on Race, Sex, Babies, and Fertility

I have seen so much online discussion about the woman with the octuplets [or "octopluts" as I wanted to spell it for a few insane moments] that I figure my two cents won't change much in the dogpile.  I don't even really have a coherent argument of any sort.  Maybe I wish I did.  

1. I think there is an overindulgence in passing judgment on this woman (and I'm not not excluding myself here), to the extent that it seems pretty clear that she is not even seen as an individual ("wow! what a wacko! anyway, pass the cereal") but as a larger-than-life symbol of What-All's Wrong With This Society.
1. Having produced one kid myself, I think she is probably nuts for having 14.  Heck, I think I may be nuts for considering a second one myself!
2. Having produced a kid myself, I don't know how I would feel about having to "reduce" embryos.  I am pro-choice, but luckily for me have never been in a situation where I've been faced with that choice myself.
3. I read today that at least part of the backlash against this woman is because she is a woman of color.  (How can I have not known that until just now?)  Certainly this is likely to play into a lot of standard social-stereotypical fears.  Perhaps this explains the mythic (as opposed to individual) status she seems to embody for so many.  After all, giant White families are just plain humorous, right?
4. I can't help but feeling sympathetic to a lot of her motives, even as I read how she thinks this family will make up for her childhood of loneliness, or something along those lines.
5. I can't help but feeling some outrage at whoever thought that fertility treatments were okay for someone who already has produced 6 kids.  However,  we don't (yet) live in a society where the number of our children is limited, so who am I to decide what the number should be? Yeah, I think this is probably too much for her, or for most people even in ideal situations.  But what I'm saying is, I'm not the decider.  (As it were).  I don't get to make choices about someone else's body, except those of my own child, and even those are limited in some ways.
6.  It would be great, even ideal, if every child in the world could have two parents, but that's not the case. I also don't get to decide that for anyone else, and I don't even want to try.
7. Okay, now I'm going to go see some actual images.  I haven't seen many yet--mostly just text.
8.  Weird, she talks about "projecting my own wants and needs onto my child" like it's something she heard in therapy and then kind of misinterpreted as something kind of positive. She doesn't seem to be really hearing herself say it.   Of course, right after I gave birth to just one kid I was pretty mood-swingy, so who knows how she's feeling.  Also, I had to stop at the part where she said "I wanted to do the very best I could as an incubator for these babies..."

Well, I guess my overall reaction now is: Tempest in a teapot. This is not a fad, or even becoming worrisomely common.  I think the really interesting part is how we are reacting to this woman and to her situation.

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