Posts

Nadya Suleman: Taking One For the Team

Since we’re still talking obsessively about Nadya Suleman, or "Octomom" as she’s been called in the press, let’s talk about non-traditional families and the way they are demonized in American popular culture. Make no mistake, I wouldn’t have fourteen kids. … Read More

By / February 22, 2009

Since we’re still talking obsessively about Nadya Suleman, or "Octomom" as she’s been called in the press, let’s talk about non-traditional families and the way they are demonized in American popular culture.

Make no mistake, I wouldn’t have fourteen kids. But if I did, I wouldn’t deserve hyper-scrutiny, public ridicule, and a contant drone of judgment. Suleman wanted to have a lot of kids. Her reasons are complicated. Why is it anyone’s business? Women have had fourteen kids and more for centuries. Women have chosen selective reduction and "killed" their fertilized eggs since IVF became viable. 

It’s called the right to privacy. It’s called the relationship between a woman and her doctor. If her doctor broke the law, fine. But the world is on fire. The alleged 1.3 million dollars American taxpayers will have to fork over to support Suleman and her brood is nothing compared to the twenty billion dollars American CEOs have stolen from the TARP bailout in incomprehensible bonuses. 

But Nadya Suleman is the new, collagen injected version of the "Welfare Mom." She’s that single, lazy mom putting the squeeze on our shrinking wallets. She’s an educated, but unstable and irresponsible "gold-digger."The state should hold her accountable, but Madoff, who bankrupted humanitarian organizations all over the world and is at least tangentially responsible for at least one suicide, isn’t in jail.

Right.

I edited One Big Happy Family to support people who make nontraditional choices, whether to be a single mom or to give birth at home without a midwife. I edited it because traditional nuclear families end in divorce half the time, and often drive one or more members to Valium, infidelity, bankruptcy, or something far worse. Which is not to say nontraditional families are better than traditional families, but it is to say that all of us are trying to figure this family thing out, and people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. 

Unless we’re talking supporting all families with health insurance, on-site childcare, healthy food, and affordable and high quality education, we should recognize pathologized mothers like Suleman as the whipping women they are. They are targets used to reinforce the normative of the heterosexual, married, upwardly mobile, and let’s face it, usually white family that’s disappearing before our very eyes with the erosion of the middle-class and looming impossibility of the American dream.

Truth be told, Nadya Suleman is taking one for the team. As long as we think she’s crazy and irresponsible, we think we’re perfectly sane. 

Tagged with: