Saturday, May 10, 2008

I Know I'm Cynical But...

...when I heard Michelle Duggar was pregnant with her 18th, I thought, "Mmm, if that was a woman of color pregnant for the 15th time, I think the media coverage would be a little different." So I asked my mom and my sister for their input and we are sitting around thinking what might be different.

I don't think there'd be a website for her on the Discovery Channel site.

I don't think people would want to hear about her "excitement and anticipation." I think we'd hear more words like "overburdened taxpayers" and "expenses" and "irresponsible."

From my sister: They wouldn't receive any widespread financial or physical help with maintaining home and family.

From my mother: They'd be saying she needed her tubes tied or a hysterectomy.

My sister brought up the difference in the public reception of the (white) McCaughey septuplets and the (black) Thompson sextuplets.

My mom thinks it unfair to the older children, especially the girls.

While my mom was talking, she shared something her mother-in-law had told her long ago. My grandmother told her to be careful of tubal ligations and hysterectomies. According to my mom, her words were something like, "All these tube tyings and hysterectomies they making black women have aren't really needed. They trying to stop us from having babies, but letting white women have as many as they want."

And I am floored. Because my grandmother, a long time ago, understood and articulated why reproductive rights aren't just about not having babies or choosing when you do have them, but enjoying the right to have them at all.


Giftie Etcetera said...

I think we'd hear more words like "overburdened taxpayers" and "expenses" and "irresponsible." -elle

I write on a mostly white, middle class message board about babies. We do have a few people of color on the board, but none of them wrote on this particular post. I must say, the words "taxpayers" and "irresponsible" came up, loud and clear, along with other, similiar turns of phrase.

I know you are probably talking more about the media coverage, and I tend to agree with you about that opinion. But I wanted to let you know that some white people out there are saying the same thing.

This white person is simply saying that anyone who squeezes out 18 children is mentally insane and should be committed. ;)

elle said...

I do find it ironic that one of the trivium about the family is that they are debt free. Millions of Americans are in debt, but it is necessary to point out that a family with children is debt-free because heaven forbid someone with children need assistance or be close to becoming that mythical "taxpayers' burden."

elle said...

*one of the trivium mentioned on the website

seitzk said...

Oh that is SO TRUE. Thanks for this post.

Unknown said...

They're only debt free because they have corporate sponsors and sell out to big box stores like Walmart. They also do shady financial seminars where they preach what they don't practice. Yeah, if they were black, people would be up in arms. Same reason people aren't up in arms about the white guys raping all those girls down in Texas in that cult. They're---the FLDS---committing massive welfare fraud but there's hardly a peep about it in the mainstream press.

Danny said...

I'd venture to say things would be pretty different if this were a black woman. On top of what has already been said I think comedians, late show hosts, and millions of average Americans would be making jokes about how many different fathers those children have.

Anonymous said...

This couple, by the way, who are part of the Quiverfull movement, claim to be debt free, but their wikipedia page said they were also claiming that back when they still had over a hundred thousand dollars in debt.

Also worth noting (I just dislike the dishonesty, I could give a shit about the supposed "moral" implications of debt - I had a lot of it, and was lucky to be able to file for bankruptcy before it drove me to homelessness, literally) - and more to the point of this post:

The Quiverfull movement is a bunch of fundamentalist Christian white poeple trying to populate the earth with as many white people as possible, because of a fear that white people are being "out-populated" by everybody else.

Why the fuck isn't this white supremacist aspect reported on? The articles are all "oh, tee hee, it's a happy mother's day for this lady with 18 kids, we know it's odd but what are you gonna do, this couple likes them some kids!"

Meanwhile, they are not JUST about loving kids or hating birth control. They are about white people creating the supposedly biblically perfect patriarchal community of only other white people.

Talk about people who need to be sterilized...

I really did try not to type that last line. I know it's wrong to even think that way, that anything that's wrong to do to any person is also wrong to do to any other person. I failed, I could not keep myself from typing it anyway. Sorry to be gross on your blog, Elle.

elle said...

Danny, my sister made that same observation.

Gin, I think people believe the welfare fraud is wholly the domain of "welfare queens," and we know what that's code for.

Joan, I've wondered about that, but they come across so butter-won't-melt-in-their-mouths on TV, I wasn't sure.

elle said...

Sorry to be gross on your blog, Elle

Yeah, I think forced sterilization has played out in horrible ways and I know you don't really think it's the answer--let's just hope these women decide one day that they don't want their bodies to be the proving grounds for their husbands' virility or the means by which the patriarchy you mentioned is literally birthed and sustained.

Orrin said...

If you want to see the creepy side of the Duggars show up on TV, catch the episode where the oldest son gets married. Holy crap, I'm sure the TV crew tried, but they couldn't hide it in that one. They have extra-special-creepy wedding vows.

Yeah, I don't think it's at all coincidental that the "quirks" of the right-wing white family are downplayed or disappeared.

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...