Nadya Suleman, Octomom!
I must say, I am fascinated by our media and personal responses to the recent news that a single mother gave birth to eight premature babies. The Suleman Octuplets are a medical miracle and are already the longest lived octuplets living today.
Now, I have to admit right up front that I am often fascinated by stories that catch on like this one. We receive snippets of information, but not the whole story. We hear a variety of self-righteous and outraged opinions even when the facts are not there. We have a zillion assumptions about the mother, her lifestyle, the sperm donor, the doctors, the future of the children. The conclusions are often dire and melodramatic.
A few feminist bloggers I'm aware of have highlighted Suleman's right to choose to have children. Here are some that impressed me:
Rene from Womanist Musings writes an article entitled Nadya Suleman and the Choice We Never Respect
She was not forced to carry these babies to term; it was an active decision on her part. If, as feminists, we can argue that women have the right to choose to have an abortion, then the right to choose motherhood should be equally validated; furthermore the right to privacy extends to Ms. Suleman’s decision as well.
MZBitka at What a Crazy Random Happenstance writes Have babies, but only the right way
This is just another example that no matter what women chose to do with their bodies, if it’s viewed as the correct way, people will be there to criticize and shame them for it.
Ouyang Dan at Random Babble writes Ms. Suleman's Uterus and Our Perceived Right to Decide for Her.
A woman’s right to choose is exactly that, and it doesn’t matter how squicky you feel about it. The only fucking thing that matters is that woman and what she wants w/ her body. This woman has a plan, based on her own interview, and we may not like it, we may not all agree w/ the way she is doing it, but tough. It’s Not. Our. Call. Her right to become a mother is just as sacred as any woman’s right not to. That is worth defending.
I want to add my voice to these three women and say that, regardless of our personal feelings on the matter, we defend Suleman's right to make her own reproductive choices. She wants to have a lot of children, she believes she can be a good mother, I'm not going to make the assumption that she cannot do so.
So how did things turn so nasty toward Nadya and her decisions? Here's a good take from Brendon O'Neill at Spiked Online called And Act of Extreme Fecundity
When Nadya Suleman gave birth to six boys and two girls in five minutes on 26 January, it was greeted as a ‘midwinter miracle’, a story that ‘cheered recession-hit America’, a ‘welcome relief from bailouts and bankruptcies’. Now, with the eight babes barely one week old, it has become a shrill parable about overpopulation, resource depletion, the dangers of fertility treatment and the problem of ‘poor mothers’. The story has shapeshifted from a ‘ray of sunshine for a nation in the grip of economic meltdown’ to a ‘tale of seedy self-indulgence’
Yeah, this is what really hits me. Why is it that everything turned around so fast? Is it because Suleman is single? Is it because we are suspicious of the fertility industry? Are we really going to forget the horrors of population control and pretend we are concerned with her family's carbon footprint?
Nope. Not really buying that shit. Leave the woman and her family alone. Go pick on somebody your own size or bigger. Take one tax loophole away from an oil company and you'd have funds to feed all the children of the world, including the Suleman's.
The way these stories distract us from doing good activist work and making a difference in the world today is truly sad.