Jason Tseng

It came from the bog... it's OCTO-MOM!!!!!

Filed By Jason Tseng | February 19, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media
Tags: Angelina Jolie, heteropatriarchy, Octo-Mom, patriarchy, succubus, Suleman

To say that the media blitz surrounding Nadya Suleman and the recent birth of her eight children (of fourteen) has been monumentous would be an understatement. Accusations of everything from an unhealthy obsession with motherhood and clinical insanity to criminal negligence has been levied against the infamous baby mama.425.suleman.jolie.020609.jpg

It's clear that deciding to give birth to fourteen children with no means of supporting them is unusual, jarring even - not to mention ethically questionable. But I find it ironic that a woman who has fully and whole-heartedly embraced the role of mother and caregiver which the heteropatriarchy has demanded from women for millenia, has been discursively transformed into this unimaginable, inhuman, grotesque demon-mother succubus, seeking to drain men and their civilization of its essence to sustain herself and her ever-spawning brood.

Additionally, the associations with Angelina Jolie takes an interesting turn. Allegations that Suleman went on this baby craze after being inspired by the famous actress, who has also come under fire for her nontraditional multiracial multinational family, seem tangential at best. Both women have been ridiculed for their desire for children which defies the presumed order of heterosexual reproduction. While Angelina has obviously had children biologically with Brad Pitt, she had adopted her first two children long before starting her relationship with Brad.

In addition, her conscious choice to adopt children who are non-white whilst resisting the pressure to marry that was heavily heaped upon her by the press and media, are all clear transgressions upon the western heteropatriarchy. She, understandably has become more amicable to the idea of marriage, but at the prompting of her children not the media or external forces.octopus193902-03.jpg

All of this, I believe, stems from a deep fear instilled in our society of unbridled female reproductive power. In the same way that abortion and right to choice activists frighten the Powers That Be, Octo-mom and Angelina Jolie terrify those in the status quo, with their insistence on making families without the supervision or permission from men. It is clear that female reproductive power is a key resource which requires a firm hand. Unfettered control over women's reproductive potential in the hands of women, whether to have or not to have children, fundamentally strikes at the viability of a prolonged patriarchal power structure. The notion of women making children outside of the confines of marriage, or even the need for a male participant is an even more frightening prospect. Women producing children with no men in sight? I believe that's called Themyscira.

Suleman presents an interesting philosophical question on the ethical questions which surround motherhood. The majority of the criticism levied against her is that since she can't possibly support them financially, she is being criminally negligible in putting her children at an undue risk for all sorts of ailments and threats associated with poverty. However, to argue that Suleman is being negligible based on her lack of means enters very rough territory. If we are to apply the same criteria to all childbirths presents a very real problem.

It becomes difficult to condemn Suleman for her choice to have children when there are hundreds of thousands of women of little means who have children every year. We don't license individuals for the right to procreate based on their ability to care for their children, then how can we accuse Suleman of such negligence?

Let it be known that I think the lady is bat shit crazy. I am deeply concerned for her children and their well-being. While it is clear that Suleman has the emotional tools to give affection and care for her children, there is little evidence that their more material needs will be met.

Doubly unfortunate, most other large volume births which receive significant media attention benefit from the invasive interviews with significant donations of child supplies from the public. But due to the controversy surrounding Suleman, no major corporation has signed up to donate baby supplies. And it is even more unlikely she will be receiving a swell of individual gifts. We are punishing the children for the (perceived) sins of the mother.

(originally posted on BelowtheBelt.org)


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It's mostly conservative Christian religion that demands to have complete control over women having children. Notice that they are the ones who argue against abortion and birth control. It used to be that conservative Protestants would allow for birth control, but now they are coming over to the Catholic position. The more children, the better -- it extends the religion's control over a country. More believers, more soldiers to fight for any causes, etc. But it has to happen within the confines of religious marriage.

When Spain had a fascist Catholic government, the government used to offer an annual prize to the woman who had the most living children. I believe that a few other Catholic countries have done the same thing. But this had to happen within the confines of Catholic marriage.

"Unfettered control over women's reproductive potential in the hands of women, whether to have or not to have children, fundamentally strikes at the viability of a prolonged patriarchal power structure."

That quote made me think about a sci-fi novel I read when I was like 13 or 14, The Ruins of Isis by Marion Zimmer Bradley. While searching for a link to a synopsis of the book just now, I noticed it received really bad reviews. Well, I was mad about it when I was 13. Of course, I was/am a sci-fi geek, and I probably enjoyed a lot of books other people thought were ridiculous.

I agree that Suleman could benefit from a powerful psychotropic cocktail and a time out. However, it is a bit of a double standard that Suzeman gets a scarlet octopus slapped on her forehead while there are countless men running around who have fathered 20 kids they don't even know exist. To wit,

virtually every episode of Maury Povich.

well put, elian.

no ones is bustin' the chops of excessive fatherhood. It's only excessive motherhood that is unthinkable.

I'm sorry, but this woman is a nutjob. She's lied about everything possible under the sun to begin with. Add in the sheer irresponsibility of aiming for that many children in a multiple birth and you get someone with some serious attention needs who gave no thought to the well being of her children beyond the basics the taxpayers will provide.

I personally have a problem with ANY parent who gives birth to children without the means to support and raise those children. Why must they bring children into the world that others must finance? Why, as a single gay man, do I have to pay so much in taxes to support other people's children?
I don't complain, because I know that if we are to live as a society, we need to help those who are less fortunate than we are. But it still doesn't keep me from being annoyed and frustrated at the selfishness of others.
To me, this woman is just being selfish. She should not have given birth to the first 6 children if she didn't have the financial means to take care of them. And it was incredibly irresponsible to then bring 8 more children into the world.
There is a reason for laws on pet spaying or neutering. Perhaps we need the same for humans?

Vince,

I understand where your frustration comes. And I also agree that I don't think Nadya should have decided to be implanted with 8 additional embryos on top of her current six children.

But your comment:

There is a reason for laws on pet spaying or neutering. Perhaps we need the same for humans?

I found deeply disturbing and fundamentally classist and racist. As I said in my post, utilizing a woman's means and her ability to afford children cannot be used as a criteria on which to judge her. To say that is to basically argue that poor mothers are unfit mothers, which is frankly not true.

If we were to implement "spaying and neutering laws" for humans is a textbook example of eugenics: the self-direction of human evolution through selective breeding, sterilization and abortion/infanticide of undesirable children.

Eugenics was an international scientific, political, and moral ideological movement which was at its height in the first half of the 20th century. Eugenicists believed that by encouraging "desirable" partnerings and by discouraging or eliminating "undesirable" partnerings, humanity could improve itself by removing the imperfections from the human race. Unfortunately this kind of thinking led to mass crimes against humanity. Not only was eugenics a driving force of the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews, Roma, Homosexuals, etc. but also the mass sterilization of people of color, people with mental disorders and illness, poor people... the list goes on and on.

Not 50 minutes from my college in Richmond, VA, was a special colony set up by the US Government, explicitly for the forcible sterilization and euthanization of poor white men and women because they were deemed "degenerates."

So, I'm sorry Vince, but I have to whole-heartedly disagree with your sentiment. We don't need to be moralistically judging the fitness of motherhood based on their means. Rather, we should be concerned on the health and the happiness of their children, whose incidence of their birth was not in their control.

Crazy story. I don't know much about the ethics of this, but it does seem like some people in the media are asking for the government to implement a minimum income for the right to breed, you know, to keep the riff-raff from reproducing.

Which works out for those commentators and journalists, since they have lots of money.

Jason, you forget a few differences between other mothers who may be financially unable to care for their children and the octomom. The octomom is a SCAMMER! She lied to get school loans to support herself & her kids; she lied to her mom about being pregnant, she lied to Disability in claiming total disability and yet having six children; she lied to welfare about not having any other source of income to get food stamps and other assistance AND she's soliciting the nation for donations. She lied to Dr. Phil about understanding how wrong she has been; she agreed with him to get the HELP! The HELP that will allow her to KEEP THE MONEY BEING RAISED BY SOLICITATIONS! THAT is the difference! Any monies she gets should pay back the State of California, the School Loans, Disability, Welfare and her own parents. DO NOT DONATE TO THE OCTOMOM; FILE A FRAUD COMPLAINT WITH THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA AND YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A RESIDENT OF CALIFORNIA TO FILE A FRAUD COMPLAINT!