Me and my X-rated fantasies
By Katharhynn Heidelberg
Psst! Wanna know a secret?
Married people are morally superior to single people! And, guess what else? Married people with kids are morally superior to everyone!
Whaddya mean, you already knew that because it’s been beaten into your head since the time you were first aware of having a head? Well, I guess some recent studies — and reactions to those studies — just aren’t going to impress you the way they’ve impressed me.
In July, the Pew Research Center released its findings on the priorities of married people. Having children, it turned out, ranked ninth on a list of 10 things spouses thought were important to their marriage.
Horrors, the National Marriage Project cried. People marrying for reasons other than procreation? Oh, woe, woe, woe. And managing, as often as not, to stay married? Time for damage control!
Obviously, that isn’t what the NMP really said. No, what Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, co-director of NMP, really said was much worse.
“The popular culture is increasingly oriented to fulfilling the X-rated fantasies of adults. Child-rearing values — sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity — seem stale and musty by comparison.”
Whitehead set the tone. She said these values are explicitly “child-rearing” values. They are not “values some people who raise children happen to have and values other people happen to share.” They are, by her definition, exclusive to parents and, implicitly, to married parents.
Guess who got a lot of play in the nation’s newspapers? Uh-huh. Guess how many of them exposed her statement for the idiotic propaganda that it was?
Instead, we were treated to the giddy repetition of a quote that dissed every childless or unmarried adult. This often took the form of some candy-coated “babies are so precious” gusher, of the sort offered by none other than Cokie Roberts and her husband, Steven, in a syndicated column.
Of course children are magical creatures. But I’m pretty sure I could grasp the simple majesty of a golden orb rising above the sea without some tow-headed tot pointing to it and saying “ball.” Apparently, though, an accomplished journalist like Cokie Roberts would have been incapable of appreciating it without her granddaughter there to utter a precious saying. Or at least, the experience would’ve been diminished in importance. Kinda like your funeral, if you selfishly die childless. Who, the Robertses ask, will cry for you? And, yes, they were serious.
The clincher in the Robertses’ column was this: they claimed to “respect” people who “chose” to be childless, then set about showing what a bad, bad choice this was.
Real respect would’ve been acknowledging that the world is full of both good and bad people, and parents occupy both categories. It would have been respectful to acknowledge that, once people have children, many prefer that to their formerly childless state, which is OK — in fact, if you do indeed have kids, it’s ideal.
But parenthood does not automatically confer moral superiority
Michael and Iana Straw of Nevada are parents. They’re accused of neglecting their children to the point of starvation. According to media reports, the Straws were “maturely” playing video games all the livelong day and “sacrificing” by never getting off their duffs long enough to feed their two kids, or clean the cat pee out of their baby daughter’s hair.
The example, though extreme, is sufficient to undercut the idea that parents, by virtue of being parents, are intrinsically better than adults without kids, or that they possess a unique set of values.
People with kids are supposed to sacrifice for them. Sorry — doing what’s demanded of you isn’t a virtue. If you have kids, taking care of them is a clear and basic part of the bargain; it’s not fodder for your sainthood candidacy.
But let’s not stop there. Here’s more proof, in two words, that marriage plus babies do not necessarily a stable, mature life make: Britney Spears.
Another example: Polygamy. Talk about fulfilling an X-rated fantasy! In fact, the way it usually works, polygamy combines the perverted fantasies of adult males with the institution of marriage, and throws an unhealthy dose of religious intimidation into the mix.
Those who have escaped this inherently misogynistic lifestyle tell stories of Dumpster- diving to feed their brood because the “man” of the house couldn’t give a damn. And most of mainstream America is by now aware of what “bleeding the beast” means. Certain polygamist sects openly advocate sucking taxpayers dry by sticking their dozens of children and junior wives on welfare.
Where, exactly, are those good child-rearing values of dependability, maturity and sacrifice? You’ll have to tell me. I’m just a singleton who’s selfishly childless; therefore, I am clueless and in need of guidance.
Now, please excuse me as I trot off to immaturely shop for groceries, so I can clean the house before bedtime and get up in time to go to work and there fulfill my cheap, X-rated fantasy of paying my own way — plus the taxes that benefit the children of all the Barbara Whiteheads out there who presume to judge my life. I’m just undependable that way.
Katharhynn Heidelberg writes from Montrose, Colo.