rants

My new mantra…

Yesterday morning, as my eyes cracked open to a windy new day, I spotted a Yahoo! news article about a pregnant black woman who’s being shamed because she’s about to have her fifth child. I was pretty dismayed to read the story, although I give the woman, Leslie Lewis, big props for basically telling her detractors to fuck off.

Okay… so she didn’t tell them that. What she did say was this:

Seriously… where do people get their nerve?

Reminding her critics that she’s a married adult and that she and her husband work very hard, Leslie Lewis took people to task for making offensive comments about her family planning choices. She claims that this is a “people of color” issue. Lewis brings up how TLC makes millions of dollars portraying huge white families in a positive way, yet when black families have a lot of kids, there’s the assumption that the home is broken or that the family is somehow on the public dole. She even got nasty private messages from a woman who assumed she and her family were on welfare and that she should be on birth control. Lewis notes that there aren’t any reality shows about large black families.

Perhaps Leslie Lewis is right about this attitude being a significant person of color issue. As a childless white woman myself, I don’t know from personal experience. What I do know is that people are far too concerned about what women, in general, do with their bodies. I have gotten inquisitive questions and rude comments because I don’t have children. One of my friends, who has just one daughter, commented that she got a lot of crap about not giving her child a sibling. And if you’ve read this blog for any time, you already know how I feel about the abortion issue and how people stick their noses into women’s uteri. It’s definitely rude, but it’s also kind of sick. Why is another person’s family planning choices anyone else’s concern? Especially when so many people who are pro-life also think that any social welfare safety nets should be abolished.

I decided to read the comments on the Yahoo! article. I don’t do that very often on Yahoo! articles anymore, mostly because there was a time when I read them regularly and the comments would make me feel horrible about the human race. So many ignorant trolls comment on Yahoo! But this time, I was somewhat pleasantly surprised… until I came to this comment.

No problem with large families if you can support them . . . However the minute you start asking for additional benefits and funds to help feed, educate or support them I’m out . . .pay your own way!”

Not to say that I think people who can’t afford children should have them, but life is full of surprises. Sometimes bad things happen. What does this person say when someone who had a good job and five or six kids suddenly gets laid off or very sick and needs assistance? Most people with this attitude think people who need help should turn to charities, particularly the religious based. But what if you’re not a religious person and you need help? Should you be forced to sit through a church service to get food or help paying the rent? Working people pay into the welfare system. It’s there for a reason. Anyone who has paid taxes has the right to ask for assistance if they need it. Plenty of people who need help also work and pay taxes. And if you really care about children– particularly if you think women should be forced to give birth– you should want children to get what they need to thrive, so they can grow up to be healthy and productive members of society. People need to stop judging others, especially when they don’t have all the facts about someone’s personal situation.

Birth control is expensive, requires a prescription (which means a doctor’s visit), and until recently was often not covered by health insurance. The Affordable Care Act now forces insurers to pay for at least one type of FDA approved coverage. However, our “pro-life” orange fuckwad “president” is currently trying to get this vital provision overturned. So, all of the conservatives out there who would shame a person for being pregnant and tell her she should be on birth control should probably do some thinking about what they care more about– money or their pro-life ethics. It costs a lot more to force women to birth children than it does to cover their birth control. I know… I know… poor people shouldn’t have sex, nor should they be eating cookies, steak, or shrimp… or otherwise finding any joy in their lives… /sarcasm… not until they’ve pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, right? Bullshit. Poor people deserve to enjoy life, too. Mind your own shopping buggy and your own bedroom.

Another person had this to say:

Unfortunately 49 percent of folks in this country do not even have an extra 1000. 00 in case of an emergency. My personal opinion is to have fewer children and be able to give them more, i.e. braces, good education, college fund, etc. People with large family’s [sic] do not seem concerned for the future nearly as much. They will assume family, church, or the government will come to their aid. To me this is selfish and not responsible. This applies to all races and ethnicities.

Okay, so you think it’s “selfish”. Sounds like a personal problem. What exactly do you expect to accomplish by sharing this opinion with someone who is already pregnant? Do you think that by telling her this, she’ll think of your opinion the next time she has sex and take appropriate precautions? Personally, I think it’s wise to have smaller families in these trying times. I always expected to have children, but now I’m glad I don’t have them. That doesn’t mean I feel the need to tell other people how large their families should be. It’s none of my business. It’s none of yours, either. As a matter of fact, I come from a large family myself, but one of my sisters and a lot of my cousins are childless. Quite a few aren’t even married, and some are even older than I am. But I have one cousin who has five beautiful kids. I’m happy for her, as it’s her choice.

Anyway, it’s clear that Leslie Lewis isn’t poor, nor does she have a bunch of “baby daddies”. She’s happy to be having her fifth child, and the baby is going to a great home with involved, hardworking parents. It looks like Ms. Lewis has a healthy family, and she and her husband are doing just fine. There’s no need for anyone to open their mouths or type a screed about their reproductive choices. In fact, just as it’s the case for anyone else, it’s no one else’s business how many children they have.

Which now brings me to the title of today’s piece, inspired by this clever BBC clip my friend Rebecca shared with me…

Fuck off. Stop judging women for their family planning decisions or questioning them about how many children they do or don’t have. It’s none of your business.

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