The Sun-Times Has Mommy Issues
By Margaret Lyons in News on Dec 24, 2007 11:33PM
What's the Sun-Times editorial board smoking today? Whatever it is, it sure reeks. Of paternalism.
Let's start with the studied take on one Miss Jamie Lynn Spears.
At 16 and knocked up, Jamie Lynn Spears won't be scandalized for her condition like teen moms of yesteryear. At least she is having her baby and not aborting it or denying responsibility. Let's just hold our breaths and hope she has learned from her big sister Britney: how not to be a mom..... [W]e're glad she chose to have her baby because we know she had a choice.
We'd argue that Ms. Spears has indeed been shamed for getting pregnant at 16. And why the "at least she's not having an abortion"? Hundreds of thousands of American women gets abortions every year. It is legal. Wasn't the Sun-Times supposed to be our progressive newspaper? Women can choose to terminate or not terminate their pregnancies, but it's hardly the Sun-Times's role to congratulate or demonize those choices. Especially when only a third of teenage mothers complete high school, 1.5 percent graduate from college by the time they're 30, and children of teenage parents are incarcerated at higher rates than children of older parents--we have no idea what the definition of "denying responsibility" is, but maybe the lesson she could have learned from her sister, or from countless unfit parents in America, or from the thousands of struggling teenage parents is don't have children yet. [Stats]
But maybe more frustrating is the short-sighted piece, "Who we have to thank for keeping America's future bright may surprise you." You might be surprised that women have a little something to do with our nation! Shocking.
[American] women are determined to have children. U.S. fertility rates dipped in the 1970s as a result of widespread access to birth control. Since then, the rate of births to unwed mothers has shot up. Nearly 40 percent of births in 2006 were to unmarried women. .... American women aren't getting any breaks, either. They don't get state-funded child care (France does); 18 months of paid maternity/paternity leave (Sweden does); liberal paid leave (the United Kingdom does), or a one-time payment to have a second child (Italy).
It says something about American women that even though they don't have husbands or governmental support, they are so determined to have a child they will make the sacrifices necessary. Sounds like the makings of a good mother to us.
But while American women are making it work, they shouldn't give up their quest for more support and balance. That means having an education, a good job, a baby -- and a husband.
You've come a long way, American women! Rather than use this editorial space to advocate different kinds of family-friendly policies, we'll remind you that the most important thing a mother can do is sacrifice. Let's align martyrdom with motherhood as much as possible--c'mon, we all know it's not supposed to be easy. And it wouldn't be an ass-backwards editorial without a heteronormative ding right at the end.
Jamie Lynn photo via Tasteful Society