Thomas Frank Will Not Buy Your Baby!

Via IOZ, I see that Thomas Frank is troubled by the fact that women are allowed to form contractual agreements involving their own reproductivity:

When money is exchanged for pregnancy, some believe, surrogacy comes close to organ-selling, or even baby-selling. It threatens to commodify not only babies, but women as well, putting their biological functions up for sale like so many Jimmy Choos. If surrogacy ever becomes a widely practiced market transaction, it will probably make pregnancy into just another dirty task for the working class, with wages driven down and wealthy couples hiring the work out because it's such a hassle to be pregnant.

Frank is talking about Alex Kuczynski's much-criticized New York Times Magazine story on her experience with infertility. He finds it interesting that Kuczynski only quotes "the surrogate mother" three times. I find it interesting that Frank can't bother to call the surrogate mother by her name (it's Cathy Hilling) and chooses to disregard those quotes Kuczynski does include. He seems to find the lived experience of surrogate mothers irrelevant to his thesis. Here is Hilling, paraphrased:

The experience of having a baby for the New Jersey couple, Cathy said, provided her with a deep thrill, and the feeling that she was needed in a profound, unique way. There might always be other willing foster parents, she said, but there would not always be willing, able surrogate mothers.

Perhaps this is simply what one is supposed to say to prospective parents, but I think it's fair to assume that Hilling doesn't see herself as performing a "dirty task" and would find that framing offensive. On the other hand, Hilling seems aware that she is performing a service worthy of payment, precisely because it is a "hassle to be pregnant." This transaction is so controversial in part because women are not supposed to acknowledge that pregnancy can be a burden; rather, it's "what we're made for," "deeply fulfilling." "You're glowing!" men say, patting you on the back for a job well done, an evolutionary purpose fulfilled. Surrogacy exposes pregnancy for what it is: work. 

To her considerable credit, Kuczynski didn't spend 6,000 words trying to signal all the officially sanctioned feminine emotional responses. She writes:

As the months passed, something curious happened: The bigger Cathy was, the more I realized that I was glad — practically euphoric — I was not pregnant. I was in a daze of anticipation, but I was also secretly, curiously, perpetually relieved, unburdened from the sheer physicality of pregnancy. If I could have carried a child to term, I would have. But I carried my 10-pound dog in a BabyBjörn-like harness on hikes, and after an hour my back ached.

Obviously, this kind of thing is not allowed. The acceptable reaction would be an expression of profound loss at the inability to experience the Most Important Day of a Woman's Life; angst at the fact that she was forced into the position of spectator, jealousy of the lucky woman growing heavy with her child. Such dishonesty would not have done justice to Hilling and the work she performed, but it probably would have appeased many of Kuczynski's critics.

[Crossposted at KerryHowley.com]

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  • </||

    I thought you were supposed to be off at school.

  • ||

    As much as Frank comes off as a misogynistic asshole here, his real beef is with there being a transaction. I seriously doubt he'd be complaining if this was a test tube baby scenario.

    In Frank's mind, only someone desperate (therefore poor) would ever become a surrogate. He is therefore implicitly conceding that it is a hassle, and is annoyed that some people are wealthy enough to pay to get out of it, and of course are "exploiting" someone poorer to do so.

  • Abdul||

    But I carried my 10-pound dog in a BabyBjörn-like harness on hikes, and after an hour my back ached.

    I find that far more disturbing than surrogate motherhood.

  • Warty||

    We miss you, Kerry! I promise to be less of an obnoxious sexist pig for a little while if you post more often. Well...I promise to try. Or at least to try to try.

    Ah fuck it, I won't do shit.

  • ||

    Frank's op-ed was idiotic, but so was Kuczynski's story in the NYT Magazine. If I were to write a dystopia about the rich outsourcing pregnancy to the poor, I would model it on this article. She has a picture of Hilling, literally, barefoot and pregnant on the porch right above a picture of her and her child, with a black "baby nurse" standing in attention behind her. Plus there was this juicy tidbit:

    Her answers were not handwritten in the tiny allotted spaces; she had downloaded the original questionnaire and typed her responses at thoughtful length. Her attention to detail was heartening. And her computer-generated essay indicated, among other things, a certain level of competence. This gleaned morsel of information made me glad: she must live in a house with a computer and know how to use it.



    Seriously, WTF? 78% of American households own computers (and presumably know how to use them). Pretentious bitches like her are why most people hate rich people (I don't hate rich people, I hate pretentious bitches like Alex Kuczynski). I think that's the missing piece of your analysis, Kerry, a wholly unlikeable subject.

  • ||

    HI KERRY! :)
    Great to hear from you again. Can't get enough of you, your reproductive organs, and your demands that you be permitted to rent them out.

    What Warty said.

  • ||

    Adoption: Good for gay couples, not good enough for rich journalists!

  • ||

    The problem the left has with the world is money. All evils descend from it, and all goods can be purchased with it. Women should have complete and utter control over their bodies... unless there is money involved, in which case prostitution and surrogate motherhood must be banned, and all abortions (and all forms of healthcare) must be free.

  • ||

    I've pointed this out in drug discussions.

    Cathy Hilling owns her own body.

    This is unique to this thread.

    Thomas Frank can go fuck his luddite, anti-freedom, paternalistic self.

  • ||

    Excellent, Kerry.

  • ||

    *steeples fingers*

  • ||

    oh thomas frank, how i wish the journal had picked any other liberal to be their village idiot. his opinions and columns are nauseating.

  • economist||

    Thomas Frank: Lefiti's alter ego?

  • ||

    Would Tom Frank had found it less objectionable if the author held, say, the Bergen county police beat? Or if she and her husband owned only one home in White Plains? Or if she had endured 10 more years of infertility treatment before opting for surrogacy? I envy Kansas for having rid itself of this fool.

  • Steve||

    Great post!

    Would you like a Link Exchange with our new blog COMMON CENTS where we blog about the issues of the day??

    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

  • economist||

    I'm just saying, the coherence of Frank's arguments tend to mirror Lefiti's tripe.

  • ||

    wealthy couples hiring the work out because it's such a hassle to be pregnant.

    Right. Because no one cooks anymore, it's too much of a hassle. They just order up what they want from the house Mexican. (For those who don't know, home-prepared meals are much more common among the upper 20% of the income distribution than they were 20 years ago. Slaving away in the kitchen is now a "hobby.")

  • </||

    I was going to adopt some of those Chinee babies that seem so popular these days until I found out you have no claim to their post-18y/o earnings, much less their children.What kind of return on investment is that?

  • economist||

    "Because no one cooks anymore, it's too much of a hassle. They just order up what they want from the house Mexican."

    Duh. Unfortunately, Juanita quit because apparently room and board isn't sufficient payment.

  • ||

    Thomas Frank Will Not Buy Your Baby!

    "Your women. I want to buy your women. The little girl, your daughters...sell them to me. Sell me your children!"

  • economist||

    Epi,
    I merely want to hear the lamentations of their women.

  • phalkor||

    I heard Juanita has picked up a wicked coke habit as of her post this morning. She was last seen trying to get someone to pay her to get pregnate for them. Wait, no, it was probably just for sex.

  • Fluffy||

    The term "commodify" is really, really stupid and anyone who uses it does not deserve to be taken seriously.

    There's one way, and one way only, to "commodify" a human being - and that's to enslave them. If you are selling your own time, that's not commodification. If someone else has subordinated your will to their own using violence and sells your time and keeps all the proceeds, that's commodification. Autonomy and commodity are mutually exclusive concepts.

  • ||

    I heard Kuczynski on NPR talking about how she came off as a rich bitch in the NYT article. According to her, she didnt pick the pictures, the photo editors did, and she recognizes how they make her look. She actually seemed like a pretty nice, yet rich, lady.

    I'm so glad we have people like Frank to stick up for the poor like this. We need more liberals to stop the poor from getting jobs that they think are beneath the poor. Nevermind that they will continue to be poor because they are prevented from doing jobs they can do and people are willing to pay for. No, its much better to leave them with their dignity, broke.

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    The Blues Brothers. Greatest musical ever? Can it be doubted?

  • economist||

    Fluffy,
    But teh werking klass iz beeing eksploited!

  • rap||

    Seems to me it's normal for those with $ to hire the services of those who want $ to perform tasks that the hirers want done but don't want to do themselves. I've done lots of those "dirty tasks" and been glad for the work. Sometimes I'm on the other end too. What's the problem here?

  • eknmst||

    Sarry, shood hav sed 'eksploytedd""/.

  • .||

    Kerry still has a constituency in these hard times? This says much for...something...

  • tom||

    kan i haz mor puzzykat pleez?

  • ||

    The Blues Brothers. Greatest comedy musical ever? Can it be doubted?


    Fixed. ;-)

    This is number 2.

  • !||

    We're on a mission from god . . . .


    not quite as funny when W says that though

  • ||

    The Blues Brothers. Greatest musical ever? Can it be doubted?

    Uh, it's not a musical, dude. It's a documentary.

  • ed||

    Uh, it's not a musical, dude. It's a documentary.

    We're on a documentary from God.

  • bubba||

    My wife absolutely hates being pregnant, and it's the primary reason we won't be having any more kids.

  • ||

    It threatens to commodify not only babies, but women as well, putting their biological functions up for sale like so many Jimmy Choos.

    That's, like, the oldest "commodification" in the world.

    (Coming Soon: Pink Light Districts)

  • Paul||

    There's one way, and one way only, to "commodify" a human being - and that's to enslave them.

    Fluffy,

    You're not keeping up with progressive thought. When money is exchanged, pressures are placed upon the least powerful half of the transaction and as such, are effectively 'enslaved'.

    It's all about choice, really. Until a $ changes hands, then the person in power blah blah blah.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    This transaction is so controversial in part because women are not supposed to acknowledge that pregnancy can be a burden; rather, it's "what we're made for," "deeply fulfilling." "You're glowing!" men say, patting you on the back for a job well done, an evolutionary purpose fulfilled.

    Kerry,
    Since you mentioned evolution, let's talk about throwing out the baby with the bath water, so to speak. From your earlier writings, I glean that you distrust evolutionary psychology's explanations of psychological differences in gender (as statistical generalities, I mean). Please consider two points on this:

    1.) How can EP at its most intellectually disciplined--rather than the mediocre stuff--be dismissed as "just-so stories" without suggestion of a repudiation of evolution in general? Since I wouldn't expect you to be a creationist, I'm asking for some epistemological integrity here.

    2.) If you're worried that EP will be a front for sexist agendas, I hope you'll consider the gender-related cruelty that can arise from the "blank slate" theory of mind that serves as EP's politically correct alternative. As a boy in America's un-American school system, I was expected to exert infinite willpower to endure the bureaucratic tedium of school. I was labeled "hyperactive" in the late '70s or early '80s. Now it's called ADD, but the point is that more boys than girls get this scarlet letter for refusing to stay in their seats. Haven't I earned the prerogative of whining about de facto discrimination against males? If so, doesn't a sophisticated appeal to evolutionary psychology strengthen, not weaken, the case against an oppressive system?

    I've got more where this came from. In a few days, I'll finally fulfill my promise to blog about your "Lipstick Libertarians" show on Bloggingheads.

    (Crosscommented at KerryHowley.com)

  • Paul||

    My wife absolutely hates being pregnant, and it's the primary reason we won't be having any more kids.

    ditto. I mean, well, my wife hated being pregnant too. Really felt that giving birth should involve some sort of 'pill' and online ordering system. Maybe some text messaging. And breast feeding? Don't even get my wife started.

  • Egosumabbas||

    "My wife absolutely hates being pregnant, and it's the primary reason we won't be having any more kids."

    Huh, my wife actually liked it. Delivery was a mixed bag.

    Of course, getting pregnant is the most fun, waka waka waka!

  • ||

    Episiarch, you fool, it's a musical documentary.

    I lived in Chicago. I know.

  • Mad Max||

    Frank criticizes something which ought to be criticized, but of course he does it primarily from a left-wing perspective of aesthetic revulsion at people with lots of money paying people with less money (not "poor" people, in this case, just less money) for services. Frank predictably misses the more valid criticisms of the rent-a-womb business.

    Kuczynski, in her article, boasts of being a Catholic, but of the "liberal" persuasion. In other words, she's a member of the "I'm-A-Catholic-But" club. She mentions how a priest criticized what she was doing, but a woman staffer at her parish affirmed her behavior.

    Notably missing from this article by a New York Times journalist is a discussion of the actual teachings of her own church on this issue.

    First, the good news (for Kuczynski): Her son is being raised by two parents who are married to each other, a situation which, according the the Catholic Catechism, is the best set-up for children. Unfortunately for Kuczynski, the Catechism goes on to say that medical procedures separating procreation from sex are wrong:

    '2376 Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses' "right to become a father and a mother only through each other."167

    '2377 Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children."168 "Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses' union . . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person."169'

    The liberal Catholic woman to whom Kuczynski talked was correct to say that every child is a gift. However, the Church teaches this concept with a different connotation than this woman gives to it:

    '2378 A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The "supreme gift of marriage" is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged "right to a child" would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right "to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents," and "the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception."170'

    As to Kuczynski's tragic infertility, the reason she went in for rent-a-womb in the first place:

    '2379 The Gospel shows that physical sterility is not an absolute evil. Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord's Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others.'

    Since Kuczynski chose to mention her membership in the Catholic Church, she owed her readers an explanation of the Church's teachings, and an acknowledgement that she (Kuczynski) disagrees with these teachings. Instead, we get no references to the Church's specific teachings, only a brief counterpoint between the churlish priest who disagreed with her decision and the liberal parish official who agreed with it.

  • Egosumabbas||

    When I first saw that article on my wife's Sunday Morning Reading Pile I though to myself "why didn't these people just adopt"? (@Mad Max: maybe it's the residual Catholic in me talking)

    Fools and their money are soon parted I guess--though there should be no government prohibition from that happening.

  • ||

    Since Kuczynski chose to mention her membership in the Catholic Church, she owed her readers an explanation of the Church's teachings,

    lol, oh yes indeed, she absolutely does owe them an explanation of the church teachings, it an absolutely essential part of an article about personal experiences with surrogacy, god forbid this article should sway the stupider catholics into thinking that surrogacy is ok.

  • Jennifer||

    I have to second Mo's opinion here. I fully support a woman's right to sell her body for surrogate services if she wishes, but the author of that NYT Magazine piece was the absolute worst person they could've picked to make the issue sympathetic. I actually wondered if the editor opposes the idea of surrogate motherhood for pay, and chose the author with that in mind.

  • ||

    If surrogacy ever becomes a widely practiced market transaction, it will probably make pregnancy into just another dirty task for the working class, with wages driven down and wealthy couples hiring the work out because it's such a hassle to be pregnant.

    This is the part I didn't get. If this becomes much more popular among the rich and demand goes up, how does that drive down wages? And how much lower can the wages for pregnancy get (seeing as it's $0 in virtually every pregnancy)?

  • ||

    Episiarch, you fool, it's a musical documentary.

    I will accept this definition. Because I am feeling generous today.

  • ||

    That, or you fear the wrath of the Penguin.

  • ||

    When money is exchanged for pregnancy, some believe, surrogacy comes close to organ-selling, or even baby-selling.

    Because it's the welfare state's job to exchange money for pregnancy. Spluh!

    It seems Mr. Frank has some significant issues with discerning a service from a product.

  • Warty||

    Spluh!

    That's my shtick. *narrows eyes*

  • Paul||

    Nice post, Mad Max.

  • Paul||

    oh yes indeed, she absolutely does owe them an explanation of the church teachings, it an absolutely essential part of an article about personal experiences with surrogacy,

    Val, I think Mad Max's point is still well made. When people voluntarily open a salvo with "I'm a catholic" which is made for the very purpose that religion may be germane to the topic, then they should be prepared to clarify how it's germane to the topic.

    Reasonable people can disagree. And I disagree with Frank's critique here. But I also find Kuczynski's position muddled.

    Either she's a Catholic, or she ain't. If she ain't, fine, be on your way. If you are a Catholic, you might want to peruse the teachings of your chosen religion.

  • ||

    Surrogacy exposes pregnancy for what it is: work.

    Not to mention the really painful part, followed by the issuance forth of what looks like a hairless monkey covered in Crisco, which you are supposed to pretend to think is "the most beautiful baby ever" and which you can't make go away for, like, 18 years without a bunch of paperwork and questioning by hard-eyed men in uniforms.

    Or so I've heard.

    But, yeah, joys of parenthood blah de blah.

  • Mad Max||

    'lol, oh yes indeed, she absolutely does owe them an explanation of the church teachings, it an absolutely essential part of an article about personal experiences with surrogacy, god forbid this article should sway the stupider catholics into thinking that surrogacy is ok.'

    Too late - a lot of stupid Catholics - they're euphemisticly described as "liberal Catholics" - already believe this. Others know it's not ok but do it anyway - but those who don't know represent a failure on the Church's part.

    The relevant part of the article:

    'THE PREVIOUS WINTER, a Catholic priest, upon hearing of our impending birth and my plans to raise the boy in the same liberal Catholic tradition in which I was raised, sniffed and said to me, "You know, the church frowns on science babies."
    'After the birth, his comment struck me as terribly misguided. In my way of thinking, science is the ultimate expression of nature; nature and science derive from the divine. It is hard to suspend belief in the divine when you see my child. To me, he is astonishingly beautiful, with his bald cue-ball head and blue eyes and my husband's button nose. The miracle of his existence speaks to the generosity of humanity - and to the magical, unified coordination of more than a dozen people in the act of his creation.
    'On Easter, I spoke to the parish life director of our church in Idaho. She swept her hands across the congregation and looked me in the eye. "Every child is a gift from God," she said. Then she added that without technology and turkey basters, half the children poking through the snow for pastel-colored eggs probably wouldn't exist.'

    Because we all knew that before surrogate motherhood, IVF, and other technological marvels, Catholics had really small families.

    Another noteworthy thing about this NY Times-versus-Thomas-Frank squabble is that it's a civil war within the ranks of liberalism. The *Times* notoriously caters to higher-income white liberals who either live in New York or wish they did. The lady who wrote the *Times* article says she felt a feeling of reassurance when she and her rent-a-womb lady both supported Obama - it was part of the bonding between them. A humorous Web site covering the lifestyles of affluent white liberals Stuff White People Like, found so much confirmation of its points in NY Times articles that - due to the embarrassment of riches - at one point it even stopped linking to the Times. Shooting fish in a barrel, and all that. Type "New York Times" into the search feature of that site and see what I mean.

    The affluent NYT audience is liberal, but cultural liberalism really turns them on - hence stories like this. Frank is more into the old tub-thumping, populist economic liberalism. So is the *Times,* of course, but the Times is more Janus-faced about it.

  • ||

    When people voluntarily open a salvo with "I'm a catholic" which is made for the very purpose that religion may be germane to the topic, then they should be prepared to clarify how it's germane to the topic.

    Oh please, the whole article details, her personal experiences and emotions. It's not a philosophical or theological treatise on some perceived moral hazards of surrogacy. Hence a blurb about her religious inclanation and a personal experience anecdote with a priest. Just admit why this rubs you the wrong way and be done with it

  • Mad Max||

    Another issue about creating babies in a lab and implanting them in a woman's womb is - sometimes this requires the creation of "excess" embryos - in case the pregnancy doesn't take the first time? What happens to these surplus babies? Keeping them indefinitely in cold storage would almost be a best-case-scenario for them, since the alternatives are to flush them away or destroy them for medical research. *South Park* had an amusing episode where Cartman (or one of those guys) tried to buy fetuses from pregnant woman so that they (the fetuses) could be killed and experimented on in order to find a cure for Kenny (if I recall correctly, though, Kenny died).

    And what if the rent-a-womb lady decides to abort the surrogate baby she's carrying? Does the biological mother or father get to sue? If the surrogate mother aborts, is this a breach of the surrogacy contract - after all, the surrogate is getting paid to carry a baby to term, not to abort it, so a clear contract violation seems made out here. Or what if the surrogate mother wants to have the baby, but the biological parents decide they want it aborted (they find out the baby has Down's Syndrome, or the gay gene)? What if there's a contractual stipulation *requiring* abortion in the event the baby has some defect? Will that contractual stipulation be enforced?

    Best not to go down this particular road.

  • Mad Max||

    val,

    The author's account says how some priest tried to play into her hangups and criticize her decision, but she reassured herself (with the help of a nice Catholic lady at the local parish) that it was all OK. No mention of the fact that the priest was correctly stating Catholic doctrine. Catholic doctrine was simply presented as an unsupported assertion by one priest, followed by lengthy rebuttals about how it was all OK and God liked it.

  • Fluffy||

    This is the part I didn't get. If this becomes much more popular among the rich and demand goes up, how does that drive down wages? And how much lower can the wages for pregnancy get (seeing as it's $0 in virtually every pregnancy)?

    Perhaps this is Frank's unwitting acknowledgement that the fact that it's currently illegal to pay for surrogacy allows surrogates to charge black market rates, and/or to engage in extortion while the process is underway since contracts controlling the transaction can't be enforced.

    If it was legal, the number of practitioners would rise, and their ability to engage in extortion would fall. Frank may think this will depress surrogacy "wages" more than an increase in demand associated with legalization will raise them.

    And what if the rent-a-womb lady decides to abort the surrogate baby she's carrying? Does the biological mother or father get to sue?

    Yes.

    If the surrogate mother aborts, is this a breach of the surrogacy contract - after all, the surrogate is getting paid to carry a baby to term, not to abort it, so a clear contract violation seems made out here.

    Yes. She still has a right to get an abortion, she just wouldn't get paid, and the donor couple would have the right to spell out damages for nonperformance in their contract.

    Or what if the surrogate mother wants to have the baby, but the biological parents decide they want it aborted (they find out the baby has Down's Syndrome, or the gay gene)? What if there's a contractual stipulation *requiring* abortion in the event the baby has some defect? Will that contractual stipulation be enforced?

    Sure. The easiest way to enforce it is to allow the donor couple the right to refuse delivery.

    See how easy that was? That took about two minutes of my time to work out. Wow, what a tough, tough road to go down, so many quandaries...

    Catholic doctrine was simply presented as an unsupported assertion by one priest, followed by lengthy rebuttals about how it was all OK and God liked it.

    Tough luck. As far as I am aware, the term "Catholic" is not trademarked and can't be trademarked, so if I want to declare myself the Fluffy Catholic Church, shorten that representation down to the minilabel "Catholic", and spout whatever I want as "Catholic doctrine", no one can say shit about it.

    Since there is more than one church using the word "Catholic" in its name, and there are doctrinal disputes between those churches, there is no such thing as "Catholic" doctrine.

  • Paul||

    Just admit why this rubs you the wrong way and be done with it

    Why what rubs me the wrong way? Women selling their shit doesn't rub me the wrong way. In fact, sometimes it rubs me the right way (in theory). I merely found Mad Max's perspective on her allusions to Catholicism interesting. I suspect Mad Max and I disagree profoundly on the (admittedly) main point.

    For instance, I want to kill kittens everytime I hear some 'progressive' say "I'm all for freedom of speech, but..."

    What that means is, you're not for freedom of speech at. all.

  • ||

    I heard Kuczynski on NPR talking about how she came off as a rich bitch in the NYT article. According to her, she didnt pick the pictures, the photo editors did, and she recognizes how they make her look. She actually seemed like a pretty nice, yet rich, lady.

    Robbie,
    As I noted, it wasn't just the picture that made her come off as a rich bitch, it was the things that she wrote as well. She frequently dehumanizes Hilling to cover up for her insecurities.

    Because for every person who told me surrogacy was a worthy, noble venture - just like the Old Testament story of Hagar, who gave birth to a son for Abraham when Sarah could not

    Is she really comparing herself to Sarah and the surrogate mom to Hagar? Did she ever read the Bible? I think Mad Max was right about the state of her Catholicism.

  • Paul||

    declare myself the Fluffy Catholic Church, shorten that representation down to the minilabel "Catholic

    For instance, you call yourself Fluffy when really, what's 'Fluffy' about you?

  • Bingo||

    Fluffy, I think I love you.

  • Paul||

    Val,

    Let me be a little more clear since you seem to be convinced that if one gives a hat tip to another's point, one must wholeheartedly agree with their entire thesis.

    I agree with Jennifer's post.

  • Mad Max||

    'Since there is more than one church using the word "Catholic" in its name, and there are doctrinal disputes between those churches, there is no such thing as "Catholic" doctrine.'

    Kuczynski made quite clear that the "Catholic Church" to which she belonged was the one most people refer to when they talk about the Catholic Church. If it were otherwise, she would have said so. Thus, when she said, "Catholic priest, upon hearing of our impending birth," she would have added "he's not a priest in the Catholic Church that has a Pope in Rome; he's the Grand High Foofaw of a different organization, the Catholic Church of Blog Posters." When she referred to the "liberal Catholic tradition in which I was raised," she would have added "I refer, of course, to the Pastafarian Catholic Church, which has a liberal wing, just like the Pope-headed Catholic Church with which it is often confused."

    "Yes. She still has a right to get an abortion, she just wouldn't get paid, and the donor couple would have the right to spell out damages for nonperformance in their contract."

    If she has a right to violate a contract, she can't be made to pay damages (especially not liquidated [prearranged] damages). If it's a right, then the person who exercises the right is free of legal penalties. You may as well say you have a right to trespass on private property, as long as you're willing to pay the criminal and civil penalties.

    And I notice that you make no mention of damages if the surrogate has the child when the contract calls for an abortion. Shouldn't damages be available in such a situation, as well? If the contract provides for prompt abortion if the baby is not up to standards, followed by another impregnation of the surrogate, then if the surrogate breaches - by carrying the baby to term - the biological parents have wasted time and money, and instead of getting the product they paid for, they get inferior goods forbidden in the contract.

  • Mad Max||

    You might say, "the surrogate mother could always carry the defective child to term, and if the contract requires her to get pregnant again at that point, she can do so."

    But what if the contract specifies a particular time for delivery of the goods (birth of a healthy child) - say, within a year. The defect in the first pregnancy is discovered within a month or two, enough time for the surrogate to get an abortion, get re-impregnated, and still deliver the second baby on schedule. But the surrogate thrown off the schedule by carrying the defective baby to term, in violation of the contract, and after the defective baby is born (and handed over to foster care or whatever), the surrogate won't be able to finish the second pregnancy by the contract deadline. Missing contractual deadlines is a serious thing - it is a breach of the whole contract.

    And suppose that the surrogate mom figures that the money she got wouldn't be enough to compensate her for carrying the defective baby and the healthy one on top of that? (It would have been cheaper to abort the defective baby in the first or second month, instead of carrying it to term). The surrogate might decide not to get impregnated a second time, even though the contract specifies it - thus putting the biological parents to the trouble and expense of getting a new surrogate mother. Surely the biological parents would be entitled to damages for that breach of contract!

  • ||

    Presumably, the surrogate would be smart enough to specify. As it said in the article, surrogates did say whether or not they would be willing to abort a child born with a birth defect. If you don't put it in the contract, you're an idiot and nothing is enforcable.

  • Bingo||

    The Catholic Church is an organization based around very sound logical conclusions derived from a document of dubious historical accuracy (the Holy Bible, of whatever translation is in vogue at the moment).

    I'm pretty sure that what the Catholic Church thinks should have zero impact on either everyday life or political policy.

  • Mad Max||

    (addendum - the surrogate might argue that her violation of the contract was an efficient breach - that is, that it was economically advantageous to the community for her to breach the contract and she should be allowed to do so. She would still have to pay some compensation, but we could then speak of a "right" to breach. Even if the jurisdiction accepts the efficient breach theory, it's doubtful it would find the breach of a rent-a-womb contract to be econcomically efficient. The whole point of efficient breach is to separate contract remedies form moral judgment of the person doing the breaching, so the morality of abortion wouldn't be allowed to come into the discussion. From an economic perspective, how could it be efficient to bring a defective child, which its biological parents don't want, into the world?)

  • ||

    Mad Max,

    The United States, all 50 of them, have systems to sort out contractual disagreements. It's called civil court. Nothing you describe is any more difficult to adjudicate than a bitter child custody dispute.

  • Mad Max||

    "I'm pretty sure that what the Catholic Church thinks should have zero impact on either everyday life or political policy."

    Replace "the Catholic Church" with "the New York Times," and I agree.

    Incidentally, just to be clear, when I speak of the "New York Times," I refer to the newspaper of that name published in New York, the one that was founded around 1851 and which Jayson Blair used to work for. I am not referring to the "Niew York Times" of Amsterdam, with two "i"s and a silent "q."

  • Mad Max||

    "Nothing you describe is any more difficult to adjudicate than a bitter child custody dispute."

    I am describing the moral problems. I am sure that the law could come up with an answer which, to paraphrase H.L. Mencken, was simple, easy to understand, and completely wrong and immoral.

  • Mad Max||

    Just like it did in many child-custody situations.

  • ||

    You know, the Penguin is Catholic.

  • Kolohe||

    You know, the Penguin is Catholic.

    Does he also shit on the icefloes?

  • Kolohe||

    The common element of most bitter child custody disputes is that more than one party wants custody of the child. One of the things that gives me pause in Fluffy's 7:25 series of hypotheticals is the case where no one wants the child. Otoh, other scenarios of 'unwanted' children are common enough now that there is a system (however imperfect) to deal with it. And any caused by the surrogacies being discussed I cannot imagine would be anything but a marginal, more likely miniscule, addition to the existing problem.

  • ||

    The Penguin is most assuredly not a "he". Most nuns aren't, you know.

  • Kolohe||

    But not all

  • Paul||

    She has a picture of Hilling, literally, barefoot and pregnant on the porch right above a picture of her and her child, with a black "baby nurse" standing in attention behind her.

    Mo, I wanted to make note of this post earlier, but I couldn't.

    You, sir, have completely mischaracterized this picture. You are wrong, and what you imply is, quite frankly, disgusting to me. She is not, as you say "standing at attention". She isn't doing anything even closely representing "standing at attention". She is clearly standing at parade rest.

    Your assertion completely mischaracterizes the relationship between the adoptive mother and the "baby nurse" or "nanny". Your assertion suggests that they have some sort of cold, leader/subordinate relationship. The picture betrays that this couldn't be further from the truth.

    For instance, I'd bet my bottom dollar that as soon as the picture was taken, Kuczynski undoubtedly yelled "Diissssssmissed!" (after handing the noisy, smelly baby over).

  • MNG||

    I'm going to admit to not reading Mad Max's comments, so if in relation to them I make a point or miss something already covered I apologize. Max is a bright fellow for sure, but the comments were just so long and there seemed to be all this Catholic stuff that I just turned away (this is a religion which actually believes they are munching on their Lord regularly and that this is a way of honoring Him).

    Part of me says that women not under economic distress should be able to bargain for this. But part of me says "ick" and a few rational thoughts accompany this ick though I'm not sure a full argument is at hand.

    If a person sold their ten week old kid would that be wrong How about ten year old kid? How is this different than selling your newborn? How is surrogacy different than that?

    What is someone sold their newborn for 10 dollars or a hit of crack. Wouldn't we think there is something wrong with that which should be prevented by the government? Is it better when the child is sold for thousands? Perhaps anyone who could sell their child should be prevented from having one.

    I think motherhood has been rightly mystified and glorified in our society since mothers have to really do some selfless shit and we all at one time depended on them. To the extent we commodify this and de-mystify I worry about the effects on society.

  • Mad Max||

    "I think motherhood has been rightly mystified and glorified in our society since mothers have to really do some selfless shit and we all at one time depended on them. To the extent we commodify this and de-mystify I worry about the effects on society."

    Excellent point - wish I'd said that.

    (Voice of Oscar Wilde - "don't worry, you will.")

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Part of me says that women not under economic distress should be able to bargain for this.

    Whereas those who are under so-called "economic distress" would have no recourse whatsoever to get themselves out of their situation.

    You're such a swell guy, MNG.

    Wouldn't we think there is something wrong with that which should be prevented by the government?

    Why? Would you want to have been raised by "parents" who gladly trade you away for $10 worth of crack? At least someone values the kid more than 10 bucks.

    To the extent we commodify this and de-mystify I worry about the effects on society.

    I do not know why you skipped over Mad Max's comments; you two are pretty much relying on your own faiths to justify government intervention...yet again.

  • Paul||

    What is someone sold their newborn for 10 dollars or a hit of crack.

    So what you're saying is we need to keep the kid in the house where the mom would sell him for a $10 hit of crack.

    No I'm with you. Better he grow up in that environment than in the household with a parent who actually wants the kid.

    Remarkable how close to the age-old abortion argument this thing comes.

    Conservatives: No, you must NOT give up the child! It must stay in the household with the crack mom who can't afford to care for it. Because that's MORAL!

    Is it better when the child is sold for thousands?

    No, much better if it goes for the $10. That makes it easier for poorer people who can't have children to get into the adoption game.

    I think motherhood has been rightly mystified and glorified in our society since mothers have to really do some selfless shit

    I uhh, never mind.

    To the extent we commodify this and de-mystify I worry about the effects on society.

    I don't, really. Any more than I worry about the effects of society from legalized abortion.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    You're not keeping up with progressive thought. When money is exchanged, pressures are placed upon the least powerful half of the transaction and as such, are effectively 'enslaved'.

    It looks like Paul summoned MNG at 5:09PM. I should have seen this coming.

  • Head||

    better late than never. Does anyone else think that Brian Sorgatz' post displays a particularly pathetic form of passive aggressive mendacity?

    Kerry, I've liked everything you ever wrote for Reason - and this was no exception. Wear "lipstick libertarian" with pride - there are few enough that can pull it off.

    If I had a thing for you like Brian did, I'd probably just ask you out.

    If I did.

    Not saying I don't.

    If there's a chance, that is...

  • Mad Max||

    "No I'm with you. Better he grow up in that environment than in the household with a parent who actually wants the kid."

    I can see depriving someone of their parental rights if they handed over the kid to a stranger in exchange for crack. That would seem to come under "neglect."

    I *don't* see having the person who was willing to buy the child having a preferential option for becoming the adoptive parent.

  • Mad Max||

    "I don't, really [care about the effects of disrespecting and demystifying motherhood]. Any more than I worry about the effects of society from legalized abortion."

    This is why libertarians are such a political powerhouse. Attacking motherhood - a masterstroke! Can apple pie be far behind?

  • zoltan||

    I think motherhood has been rightly mystified and glorified in our society since mothers have to really do some selfless shit and we all at one time depended on them. To the extent we commodify this and de-mystify I worry about the effects on society.

    Yuck, mysticism. Motherhood would be more appreciated if it wasn't shrouded in mystery and ignorance. Knowing the difficulties and biologically enforced bonds and everything else that goes into it in a logical and emotionally intelligent fashion does it much more justice.

    As for what Sorgatz said, of course women are designed by evolution (please excuse the incorrect causality in this sentence) to be child incubators and subsequent partners in child-rearing. That is the is of this equation. Should all women feel or be expected to feel that they are fulfilled by it? Certainly not and that's what Howley is saying.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Mad Max -

    Since when is not caring about the effects of "demystification" an attack on motherhood?

    Unless you are claiming the only way motherhood has power is if it remains "shrouded", which is basically saying "You gotta have faaaaaaaaith..."

  • The Angry Optimist||

    This is why libertarians are such a political powerhouse. Attacking motherhood - a masterstroke! Can apple pie be far behind?

    uh oh, everyone! Better not analyze anything, because......ignorance is better? Ignorance is popular?

    Color me confoozed.

  • Paul||

    I can see depriving someone of their parental rights if they handed over the kid to a stranger in exchange for crack. That would seem to come under "neglect."

    Already illegal. So where are we going with this?

    Attacking motherhood - a masterstroke! Can apple pie be far behind?

    Attacking motherhood? Since when is 'mystifying' motherhood 'respecting' it? No one seems to be concerned with 'mystifying' my role as a father.

    Please, it's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that any woman with a $10 crack habit can crank out a baby. Let's put the incense and the 'goddess bless' bumper stickers down. It's what comes after the kid is brought into the world that makes the mother... or the father for that matter.

  • Max D.||

    J sub D | December 10, 2008, 4:19pm | #

    I've pointed this out in drug discussions.

    Cathy Hilling owns her own body.


    Oh, no she doesn't, any more than I own my own body. See, if the government says that I can't sell any part of MY body, then guess whose body it really is.

  • Mad Max||

    "Yuck, mysticism."

    Let us discuss your "yuck" reaction. Did you only have that reaction after giving a full rational analysis to this particular case, weighing the pros and cons, and deciding that in this particular instance, mysticism is wrong? No, you have conditioned yourself to have this reaction, based on a whole range of life experiences, reading, reflection, etc. The lesson you learned from your life experiences, reading, reflection, etc. is that mysticism is wrong. Having assimiliated that conclusion, you now have an instinctive revulsion to anything you regard as mysticism.

    If it's OK for a person to condition himself or herself to have certain instinctive attitudes, then the only question is, *which* attitudes? I would suggest that the culture should condition people to respect motherhood. This need not be an "irrational" process, any more than your experience and study leading to your anti-mysticism views was irrational.

    By respect for motherhood, by the way, I refer to such basic things as *not* making children the objects of purchase, sale or rental. I would like Americans to have an insinctive "yuck" reaction against such things - a "yuck" which is as automatic and healty as your "yuck" toward muysticism - based on having been taught the *truth* about motherhood through appropriate education and life experience.

  • Mad Max||

    To promote commerce and the free market, it's necessary to know the true basis of the free market. If the public thinks that socialism is cool, such attitudes - being at variance with reality - will lead to unrealistic policies which harm the market. Similarly, if the people get the idea that human beings are proper objects of bargain, sale and rental. Considering human beings as commodities is such a fundamental error that it tends to interfere with *true* commerce. Many civilizations (like the Southern U.S., before the Civil War), had a large slave sector in the economy, based on the idea that human beings could be commodities. Coincidentally or not, these civilizations often had problems developing economic growth and dynamism. At least, this what mean leading U.S. Founding Fathers concluded about slavery (Thomas Sowell says the problem was that there was a bad quality of white people in the South who didn't respect the commercial virtues, but having a slave population in their midst was hardly calculated to inculcate support for the commercial virtues - and as Sowell himself acknowledges, there has been a growth in the commercial virtues among Southern whites, coincidentally enough after slavery was abolished).

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Mad Max states two point, both of which are pretty devoid of substance:

    1. He wants mysticism to remain around mothers. No reason why.

    2. He seems to be drawing some sort of false or bad analogy between selling one's eggs (or very young babies) and full-grown adults. Yes, Mad Max, those two things ARE the same.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    based on having been taught the *truth* about motherhood through appropriate education and life experience.

    What's this divine truth, sir? Is it the Third Secret of Fatima?

  • ||

    TAO,

    Mad Max states two point, both of which are pretty devoid of substance:

    1. He wants mysticism to remain around mothers. No reason why.

    2. He seems to be drawing some sort of false or bad analogy between selling one's eggs (or very young babies) and full-grown adults. Yes, Mad Max, those two things ARE the same.


    My view is that perpetuation of the species trumps Liberty. Not sure that's mystical, but might account for MM's reverence.

    Are you saying that selling eggs = slave trade? Or that MM is wrong to conclude this?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    That MM is wrong even to draw an analogy to it. That's like saying selling plasma = slavery.

  • Mad Max||

    TAO,

    I was referring to the Seventeenth Secret of Fatima, which can now be publicly revealed for the first time: Many H&R posters say idiotic things. They seriously want thing that trafficking in human persons (who are *not* consenting adults) is a form of liberty which must be upheld by the government.

    In addition to endorsing rent-a-womb contracts, some posters have been endorsing outright sale of babies - a mother selling her child for ten bucks of crack money. As if denying her that "right" means she gets to keep the baby! On the contrary, the attempt to sell your kid for drugs is not a right, it is evidence of unfitness. And we may assume that the mother in that scenario scoffs at the mysticism of motherhood. Would it not have been better if that woman had been taught due reverence for motherhood?

    If one wants free markets, one needs to understand the boundaries of what is and what is not a legitimate subject of commerce. Children fall under the heading of *not* a legitimate object of commerce.

    "2. He seems to be drawing some sort of false or bad analogy between selling one's eggs (or very young babies) and full-grown adults. Yes, Mad Max, those two things ARE the same."

    They aren't the same, because it can often be legitimate for full-grown adults to sell their time and labor. It's not appropriate to do that with young babies.

    If a society's conception of commerce is so messed up that baby human beings are regarded as a legitimate subject of sale, then how long will we have freedom of *legitimate* commerce? Would you trust someone to engage in a complex commercial transaction involving, say, bread or textiles, if that person was capable of selling his own children? How would you know he regarded the sanctity of contracts any more highly than the sanctity of motherhood and childhood?

    Commerce has a *huge* moral component. The sanctity of contracts, an underpinning of classical liberal theory, is not a premise which can be re-examined in every transaction, to be discarded if one party thinks it inconvenient. Kick out the moral props, and see what happens to your system of freedom of commerce.

  • Mad Max||

    The importance of reverence is understood even by authors in Reason: "property is held *sacrosanct* in America not to protect the rich and powerful, who always make out all right, but to protect the poor from the predations of the rich and powerful . . ."

    "Sacrosanct" means:
    '1 : most sacred or holy : INVIOLABLE 2 : treated as if holy : immune from criticism or violation (politically sacrosanct programs)'

    So an author in Reason was citing, approvingly, the fact that Americans treat property (or should treat it) as if it were "holy." I would simply like to extend this treatment to motherhood.

  • ||

    Mad Max,

    I was trying to throw you a bone, but I have to say I'm on hte other side now. I re-read the thread, and I don't see anyone suggesting anything coming close to

    They seriously want thing that trafficking in human persons (who are *not* consenting adults) is a form of liberty which must be upheld by the government.

    Nor have I ever heard a libertarian on this site ever assert that someones ownership of self ever be subordinated to someone elses right to own them as property.

  • Mad Max||

    domo,

    You seem to have missed the following exchange:

    MNG (Dec. 10, 10:36 PM): "What i[f] someone sold their newborn for 10 dollars or a hit of crack. Wouldn't we think there is something wrong with that which should be prevented by the government?"

    TAO's reply (11:48 PM): "Why? Would you want to have been raised by "parents" who gladly trade you away for $10 worth of crack? At least someone values the kid more than 10 bucks."

  • Mad Max||

    If that's not "trafficking in human persons," I would like to know what is.

  • ||

    I see. But he's not suggesting that the transaction means the kid becomes a slave.

  • ||

    Or that the kid is property. Trafficking implies an exchange of property. This transaction is clearly not that.

  • ||

    We object in the strongest possible terms to the commercialization of the baby trade. It would be manifest injustice...

    scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch snurf

    ...for babies to be available only to those who have significant financial resources, and the opposable thumbs necessary to carry out the transaction. I mean, sure, stripping the occasional jacket from a meal is one thing, but have you ever tried to stroke a check with dog paws?

    With our grassroots organization, you can expect that the continuation of this trend will raise howls.

  • ||

    continuation of this trend will raise howls.

    Was this a pun on Kerry's name.

    If so, that's pretty good.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    yeah, Mad Max, who the hell said anything about making the child a slave?

    If someone came up to me on the street and said "I have this kid right here for 10 bucks. Do you want him?" I would say "Hell yes", because that kid does not need to be with that fucker one second longer.

    That doesn't mean I *magically* enslaved a child.

  • Mad Max||

    "who the hell said anything about making the child a slave?"

    I have commented on other civilizations which regarded human beings as articles of commerce. These other civilizations are slave civilizations. There are other ways to make human beings into articles of commerce - like selling your baby for ten bucks.

    You said the government shouldn't do anything to prevent the sale - and the hypo, by the way, was someone buying the baby for ten bucks or a quantity of crack. If the government does nothing about the transaciton, then the purchaser gets to keep the child, and neither party to the transaction is punished.

    I would say that someone trying to sell their child has provided evidence of unfitness and should be subject to proceedings to terminate their parental rights, as well as criminal proseuction. Similarly with the guy who buys the child, unless (as in your alternate hypo) the purchaser is a benevolent rescuer who (presumably) reports the matter to the police and the child-welfare authorities.

    The original scenario said nothing about the benevolence of the purchaser, simply that the purchaser provided ten dollars *or crack* in exchange for a baby. Why presume good faith in such a case? The best way for the purchaser to show good faith would be to promptly turn over the child to the proper government authorities and make a full report of what happened, with a view toward taking proceedings against the parent who sold the child. But that's a scenario you rule out by denying that "there is something wrong with [the transaction] which should be prevented by the government."

    It is possible that you meant only that the government should not return the child to the negligent parent, and I agree. But there are other things the government would need to do - like prosecute the negligent parent - as well as the purchaser, if that person was actually trying to deal in human beings instead of being the benevolent rescuer of your hypo.

  • Mad Max||

    You also seemed to suggest that the purchaser should be the one to raise the kid, but I may have misinterpreted you.

  • ||

    In that case I agree. But then we all agree. Slavery is wrong, selling humans as property is wrong. But "buying" a child to save them from a crack mother is ok, and the buyer probably needs to notify the authorities (and should probably request that their "purchase price" be returned to them as it was really more like a ransom. Oh - and the purchaser probably doesn't get to presume that they will keep custody of the child, though presumably they could petition a family court for custody rights.

  • ||

    And I think that the "purchaser" could make a pretty good case, since they have demonstrated care for the child. I think there is no issue here for libertarians.

  • MNG||

    Mad Max has made all the points I would make here, though yes TAO I don't support making it legal for people under economic coercion to "bargain" to do horrible and hurtful things, like to enter into a contract for a pound of flesh or to sell their child. We don't have to go through this again but I would have some serious doubts about how voluntary such an agreement would be. And I only respect voluntary agreements between consenting adults.

    You won't make the kid your "slave" but you will make it "yours" in an exchange of money. As MM has thoroughly pointed out that is a sale of human being.

    And let's just say they don't offer the kid for 10 dollars, but now for 100, or 1000. And someone who wants to raise them says "deal." That's not selling humans? And how is that different than 30000 for your infant?

    Mystifying motherhood, which just means holding it in high social regard and socially reminding people of that, most assuredly including but not limited to religious instruction as to the importance and sublimeness of motherhood (and probably legally recognizing this reverence in many ways) is a utilitarian thing. Societies that don't do this are in for a very large drop on their overall welfare, considering that good motherhood is from a self-interest de-mystified standpoint is not a terribly "attractive" deal.

    "That's like saying selling plasma = slavery"

    Yeah TAO, because the relationship between a mother and the baby she just had is a lot like the relationship between a person and his plasma. That's a really apt analogy. Not.

  • dhex||

    Mystifying motherhood, which just means holding it in high social regard and socially reminding people of that, most assuredly including but not limited to religious instruction as to the importance and sublimeness of motherhood (and probably legally recognizing this reverence in many ways) is a utilitarian thing. Societies that don't do this are in for a very large drop on their overall welfare, considering that good motherhood is from a self-interest de-mystified standpoint is not a terribly "attractive" deal.

    see, i tell people all the time that noble lies are very, very important. people need mysticism. they need gods. they need justifications and mytho-poetic concepts; even secularists comes up with variations on "natural law" and other belief systems to underpin their transactions with each other. concepts like "rights" and other myths become true - or at least true enough, most of the time - if you can get other people to play along.

    naked reality, if it's even possible to view, is incredibly unpleasant. so like children dreaming of a playground that never ends, we create worlds with consequence and romance and all sorts of checks and balances that have little to do with reality.

    pretty glosses are the glue which keep society together. noble lies are possibly more important than any other social function formed by huge collections of disparate people. to use this thread's general theme, it's why cardinal law isn't in a jail somewhere - or more fitting, lynched by the people whose trust he betrayed.

  • Mad Max||

    I would simply add that many of the factors making motherhood *unattractive* are just as subjective and mystical as the factors making motherhood *attractive.* The attitudes which some people have *against* motherhood are not necessarily any more "rational" or "realistic" than the much-maligned reverence for motherhood.

  • Mad Max||

    Nor would I call motherhood a "noble lie," jut to be clear.

  • dhex||

    "I would simply add that many of the factors making motherhood *unattractive* are just as subjective and mystical as the factors making motherhood *attractive.*"

    both have tangibles and intangibles, to be sure. most people are high off their ass on some crazy drug or another, be it jesus or the fiction of dashiell hammet, anyway. i'm fairly sure i had too much nabokov last night, myself.

    giving birth is what it is. mothering children is what it is. "MOTHERHOOD" (usually in the service of the volk or the state, or both) is a noble lie. (well i don't think it's particularly noble, but that's as good a shorthand for "socially necessary myths and fables" as i've ever found.)

  • Mad Max||

    "noble lie. (well i don't think it's particularly noble"

    Perhaps that's why you think it's a lie? If you thought honoring motherhood corresponded with the fundamental truths of human nature, maybe you wouldn't think it was a lie. But then, you give "rights" as another example of a noble lie, so perhaps I'm reading too much into your remarks.

  • zoltan||

    And now Mad Max conflates honoring motherhood with mystifying it. One can have the utmost respect for something without considering it "mystical". The word itself makes me cringe, more from a thorough evaluation of what it means to consider something mystical than a gut reaction. Of course, internet omniscient that you are, you know exactly how I reacted in my first post and exactly where it came from. Again, you show how full of shit you are, especially when it comes to women.

  • dhex||

    "Perhaps that's why you think it's a lie? If you thought honoring motherhood corresponded with the fundamental truths of human nature, maybe you wouldn't think it was a lie. But then, you give "rights" as another example of a noble lie, so perhaps I'm reading too much into your remarks."

    ahh, i kinda wrote that wrong. or perhaps one of us is playing basketball and the other is playing cricket. i was riffing on the "noble" part - there's nothing noble about the concept of being a baby-making machine in service to the state or church.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_lie

    to expand: the concept of some kind of innate rights are clearly a noble lie, and one i fully support. obviously, there is no innate right to anything, or else evil would not triumph, children would not get murdered, women would not get raped, and so on and so forth. there would also be a visible source of these rights, which does not exist - god does not hold press conferences or otherwise provide concrete evidence of these rules, and neither do high-minded political philosophies for that matter. but a lot of people believing that they have these rights and IN TURN everyone else has the same rights, that's not such a bad thing. a noble noble lie, in contrast to an ignoble noble lie i suppose.

  • dhex||

    ok weird posting error:

    birthing and caring for babies is hells of neat and it's a good thing we are biologically compelled to do so for the most part, with much success and some failure. enshrining the concept may be necessary for some populations (?), but it strikes me as having gross implications (i.e. women are their wombs), especially if you get around to some full on kind of mystification, as if people need to be lied into it. i don't think it's necessary, but i guess that would depend on what kind of society you're trying to build and how you're trying to direct the lives and energies of others.

  • Mad Max||

    I agreed with another poster who deplored the demystification of motherhood, and the replacement of that attitude with the idea of motherhood as a commodity to be bought and sold - like children. I was thinking of mystery in the theological sense - there are certain divine truths about male and female that cannot be fully within our grasp (like referring to God as "He," or the Incarnation of the Lord in the womb of a woman). Many aspects of the matter, of course, can be grasped by reason and do not rely on concepts of the supernatural. The growing disrespect for motherhood, and the devastating consequences, are becoming so obvious that even sociologists notice it. I should have known my audience - any evocation of mystery triggers residual memories on those who were weaned on Ayn Rand - to whom "mysticism" was a devil-word alongside "altruist" and "Kant."

  • Mad Max||

    "baby-making machine in service to the state or church"

    I'm sure there are those who hold this, but the Church takes the opposite view. It is the duty of the state to support and bolster the institution of the family, as explained in the Catholic Catechism:

    2207 The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society.

    2208 The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help. It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world."12

    2209 The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of supporting the institution of the family. Following the principle of subsidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the family's prerogatives or interfere in its life.

    2210 The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society13 entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family. Civil authority should consider it a grave duty "to acknowledge the true nature of marriage and the family, to protect and foster them, to safeguard public morality, and promote domestic prosperity."14

  • zoltan||

    I was thinking of mystery in the theological sense - there are certain divine truths about male and female that cannot be fully within our grasp (like referring to God as "He," or the Incarnation of the Lord in the womb of a woman). Many aspects of the matter, of course, can be grasped by reason and do not rely on concepts of the supernatural. The growing disrespect for motherhood, and the devastating consequences, are becoming so obvious that even sociologists notice it.

    This just makes me laugh. In what way are you even going to set about proving there are such "supernatural aspects" of maleness and femaleness. There certainly isn't a difference that can't be pinned down to hormones and brain development. If you think waving around your Edith Hamilton book and saying women and men are a certain way because of things we'll never understood you're not going to get very far. Of course, the growing disrespect for motherhood has nothing to do with a scientific understanding of the biology of it. I would say that creates ever more respect for it. To say it is every woman's fertile womb's destiny is definitely a step down. I don't think anyone but you really gives a shit what some fake rulebook says.

  • Mad Max||

    "To say [motherhood] is every woman's fertile womb's destiny is definitely a step down."

    Against whom are you arguing? Not against the Church. See the Catholic Catechism:

    "2231 Some forego marriage in order to care for their parents or brothers and sisters, to give themselves more completely to a profession, or to serve other honorable ends. They can contribute greatly to the good of the human family."

    See also paragraphs 922-924.

    In fact, the Church has been criticized for denying fertile women their biological destiny.

  • Mad Max||

    Translation of the caption:

    "She belongs to the church, she belongs to Satan. Both are lost to the German race."

  • wizard of oz books||

    With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

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