Friday, August 2, 2013
Abby Huntsman Displays Her Brilliance Again - on Childless Women
Well, you know it had to happen sooner or later. Abby Huntsman, who so acquitted herself as a moron on Bill Maher's Real Time back in April, has done it again. Yesterday as a first guest on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' - with the topic 'The Childless Life' (related to a new TIME special issue to come out Monday) and she couldn't help blurting:
"Well, how do you go about asking a woman if she's going to have children? Or when she's going to have children? I mean, it's what we do when attending social outings!"
At this dumbo blurt, TIME editor Radhika Jones (responsible for the Childfree Life investigation in TIME) had to constrain herself from erupting in mocking laughter. Instead, she put on her most professional air and responded:
"Do we really have to ask such questions? I can understand curiosity but perhaps the best thing is not to ask."
Spoken quietly and acknowledging it's a woman's personal matter and really no one else's business, and certainly not Abby Huntsman's.
This, despite the fact, as Ms. Jones noted, the statistics show an increased choice for childlessness over the past 4 decades. In 1976 there were 1 in 10 childless couples, now there are 1 in 5. The reasons for the increase are multifold, from economic (raising a child costs on average $230,000 today) to the choice of many professional women to delay it, to the honest acknowledgement that one may not be cut out for motherhood, or a couple may not be cut out for it.
Alas, despite the growing choice to be childless, a cult of motherhood persists as pointed out by Radhika Jones. This cult fetishizes parenthood and imbues our entire culture, unlike in Germany and Austria where citizens can "get a life". Its presence was echoed by Mike Barnacle on the same segment when he said that on learning a couple is childless "it just doesn't ring right - it's like a cultural disconnect."
The cult of motherhood is indeed so endemic that the insistent and pernicious demands have even migrated to the next level: whether a mother now breast feeds her child or not. Those who can't or won't are demonized or put down in much the same way the childless woman is. Why can't people, like Abby Huntsman, mind their own business instead of snooping into others' lives and setting artificial expectations and standards? Who knows?
Being childless by choice is a personal matter, but in a nation that not only harbors a cult of motherhood but a cult of child worship, what Barnacle noted can be a constant irritant. Despite that, my wife Janice and I have been contentedly childless by choice for our entire 38 years -anniversary on Aug. 9. We never once considered having a child of our own, or adopting any. We simply don't have the temperament for it.
I came from a family of five siblings and saw how our parents struggled endlessly, as income soon didn't match the needs of the children born. My dad's prolonged periods of unemployment didn't help and the only saving grace is that we still lived in an era where one salary was sufficient, and savers could thrive with 4-5% interest on passbook accounts.
Seeing such struggles confirmed for me the choice to never have kids. This meant, however, assiduously practicing birth control with whomever I seriously went with, and also with my future wife. It was because of the birth control proscriptions that I ultimately left the Catholic Church because I felt that to remain, receiving communion and all while engaging in "mutual masturbation" (assorted padres' phrase) was morally duplicitous.
For Janice, the choice was much simpler, since she'd never felt the motherly inclinations so adulated in our society, but often reflected in a disturbing lack of real care and interest for kids.
A single year's experience back in 1987-88 confirmed for us the wisdom of our choice. At that time we - for some reason - took in an American Field Service (AFS) student of 18. The girl had problems in all her other homes but from her own accounts we believed ours might provide the right one for her to thrive. We were wrong, way wrong. The whole thing turned out to be an unmitigated disaster.
On numerous occasions the girl exhausted my patience with her spoiled brat behavior, i.e. choosing not to eat the food cooked in our home but to go to the Barbados Hilton for "special" burgers instead, or to negatively influence our niece - who I was tutoring in CXC physics at the time, so she could pass and be eligible for higher level employment (she's now an assistant bank manager in B'dos). The AFS kid constantly told her I was trying to "boss" her and she didn't have to do any physics experiments on Saturday mornings if she didn't feel like it.
At some point, I can't say when, I just shut her out and stopped talking to her, period. This struck me as how I might well have dealt with similar situations had I actually been a parent. My wife and I agreed from then we wouldn't even consider adoption - it just wasn't right for us.
The bottom line here is that the choice to have a child ought to be each couple's own. Not to be second guessed by anyone else, or probed via clueless moron questions by an Abby Huntsman. In the same way I don't second guess anyone who has their own kids, or adopts them. It is not for me to say they did the right thing or not. They have to live with their choices and the possible negative repercussions arising from them, i.e. finding they don't have enough money to provide in a society that refuses to support families economically.
The amazing thing about Abby is how her media star continues to rise despite her on air blunders and dopiness. Now, it turns out she will be co-host on MSNBC's 'The Cycle'!
Ultimately, she is confirmation that looks trumps brains in our corporate media landscape.