Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Katrina goes to . . .

"A fifteen-year-old saw the movie Juno and saw a TV show about [a girl having a baby] and it all looks so glamours," huffed Kim Gandy on last week's To The Contrary looking like a bigger idiot than usual and that's really saying something at a time when all of Kim's stress-eating has finally caught up with her.

All of Bonnie Erbe's guests won the Katrina this week: Kim, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Sophia Nelson and Genevieve Wood. They did so because an increase in rates of pregnancy led them to trash women -- all women. The teenagers, the twenty and thirty year-old women.

The US is involved in two wars and in the midst of an economic crisis. Historically, wars and poor economies impact reproduction rates (they tend to increase) but the women couldn't discuss that. Discuss? They couldn't even raise the issue.

They were too busy trashing women -- all women -- who got pregnant in 2007. And they were all so busy raving like lunatics.

Here are some basic facts. Sharon Jayson (USA Today) reported last week, "Birth rates are up for women in their 20s, 30s and early 40s as well as for teens 15-19, according to a government report based on 2007 birth certificates." Erik Eckholm (New York Times) offered, "The 4,317,000 births in 2007 just edged out the figure for 1957, at the height of the baby boom. The increase reflected a slight rise in childbearing by women of all ages, including those in their 30s and 40s, and a record share of births to unmarried women." Based on little more than that, the panelists launched into an attack on women.

Now we weren't surprised by conservatives such as Wood and Nelson launching the attacks. We expect that from them due to their beliefs. But it was shocking to see Kim and Eleanor Holmes Norton join in.

The feminist position was supposed to be "every child a wanted child" but you couldn't tell that from the remarks from Kim and Eleanor. Instead they appeared to advocate every child must be born to two parents -- and they made no effort to include same-sex parents in that equation.

It was the most reactionary nonsense that managed to insult pretty much every liberal position.

Eleanor, trying to see a silver lining near the end, offered that it might, if nothing else, help 'save' Social Security. Eleanor apparently was in such a rush to make the taping she packed nothing but right-wing talking points. Social Security is not in danger -- except from foolish politicians like Eleanor eager to slash it to pieces.

Watching Kim huff and puff, we suddenly grasped why she was attacking movies: Her immense weight gain means she can't sit in a theater, she's too large for the standard sized seats.

So we got Kim vexed as she snarled, "If you watch TV it looks like it's" normal. Normal? Pregnancy normal? Heaven forbid!

Gee, Kim Gandy, you really are working to trash your image in your last days as president of NOW, aren't you?

Pregnancy is normal. It isn't an illness. But Kim was still furious about having to stand in the lobby with her jumbo Coke, bucket of buttered pop corn and nachos, so we all had to suffer.

"A 15-year-old saw the movie Juno and saw a TV show about [a girl having a baby] and it all looks so glamorous!"

Uh, Kim, what TV show? Help us out there. What TV show is focusing on unwed mothers -- of any age? Help us out. And Juno?

We believe all the extra cellulite Kim's packing has invaded her brain cells. That's the only explanation for her insisting that teenagers are having babies and becoming single mothers to be like Juno. Kim, Juno gives her child up for adoption. Did you not hear the ending from the lobby?

We remember when Phyllis Schlafly attacked Juno, insisting it was "the triumph of feminist ideology". So to hear Kim attack it as well went a long way towards explaining how NOW (and Kim herself) became such an embarrassment in 2008.

Kim may want to try to pull in Knocked Up or some other films after the fact. To that we say, she specifically named Juno and only Juno. Had she named Knocked Up we would have had to take a pass because, unlike Kim, we don't generally weigh in on films we haven't watched.

Eleanor wanted to talk about how birth rates go down with education. Uh, Eleanor, did you just call all the women who gave birth in 2007 stupid?

Birth rates go down. Yes. They are not eliminated. No study has found, "Women with X-years-of graduate school have zero babies."

To the women of America who gave birth in 2007, we (Ava and C.I.) say congratulations. If you kept your baby, we're sure you'll try very hard to be the best mother you can be. We don't know you, so we have no reason to create motives for you or your decision.

Pregnancy is not "unnatural." It's a normal part of life. Not everyone wants children and those women who chose not to have them earn our applause as much as those women who choose to give birth. And what of those women who adopt?

We really felt sorry for those women because they were largely left out of the discussion. If you're a single adult woman who can meet the qualifications for adoption, you're apparently still not allowed to adopt in Kim and Eleanor's books since they gave the impression that only a man and a woman together could raise a child. (Again, no same-sex couples were acknowledged.) Sophia Nelson was frequently offering the most advanced (or what passed for it) points during this discussion and she raised the issue that she might adopt as a single parent. If you think Eleanor or Kim rushed to support her on that, think again.

The women earned their Katrinas because they didn't know what the hell they were talking about.

Kim was rushing to blame the entertainment industry (try a lack of honest sex education in this country, Kim) and Eleanor was apparently auditioning to fill in for Judge Judy when Judy goes on vacation.

Here's reality. The study found a 1% increase in the number of births to teenage females. One- percent. Kim's attacking the entertainment industry and Eleanor's getting all prudish over one-percent.

The four panelists apparently never heard of demography. (At one point, host Bonnie Erbe attempted to raise the issue of population explosion but the four guests weren't interested in that either.) Teenagers today would have been born when? The 1990s. 1990 itself was a boom year for pregnancy (6.78 million births). It would slowly taper off throughout that decade but pregnancies were on the rise. So possibly when discussing today's increase in teenage pregnancies, we might need to consider the increase in the number of teenagers?

To make this as simple as possible for the non-scientific, 50 teenage pregnancies in 2007 may seem huge compared to 30 teenage pregnancies in 1992. However, if you find out that there were twice as many teenagers in 2007 than in 1992, the rate of teen pregnancy would have fallen.

As basic as we think the above created example is, we still fear it flew over Kim and Eleanor's heads.

"We know best," that was the attitude Eleanor and Kim sported. To single mothers everywhere in the US, especially single teen mothers, we say, "Look no further than the White House." Barack Obama's mother was a single mother, a single teenage mother. Will your son or daughter become president? Maybe. Someone has to fill the office unless it's abolished.

It's one thing to caution (all) mothers and mothers-to-be about how hard it will be, it's another to push some lie that you must be in a relationship (with a man) in order to raise a child. If that were true, when a spouse died, government authorities would show up and remove children from the homes of widows and widowers.

Things are tough and raising a child is tough. That's regardless of if you have a partner or not, regardless of whether you're a teenager or not, regardless of whether you're economically struggling or not. There are huge responsibilities to being a parent. It would be very easy if all the problems that come with parenting could be solved by age. If there was a 'magic age,' the Congress could just pass legislation outlawing pregnancies until a woman reaches a certain age. There is no magic age and a woman of 16 may turn out to be a better mother than a woman of 34. It's the luck of the draw. That's the reality of parenting.

There are things that can better prepare people. We don't see marriage as one of them. We see mandatory parenting classes in high school as something needed. We also see daycare facilities set up in high schools as something needed. For the young mothers to put their children in while in school? Sure, that's fine. But that's not why we support it. We think every high school should provide low cost daycare (a) because it's needed and (b) because high schoolers need to be around children. Not their brothers and sisters that they can ignore as they may want to or not. But children whose care they're being graded on. Want someone to discover they're not up to be a parent before pregnancy? Putting them in a room with a demanding two-year-old for an hour or two Monday through Friday will go a long way towards making that point.

That's a concrete example so none of the four gas bags offered it or any other. They didn't feel the need to use this topic to address the need for daycare, the need for increased funding of public programs or the need for the creation of new programs.

If you think, "Well they just weren't interested in real life women," stop yourself. They were. There was time to rag on real life woman Angelina Jolie. We know Angelina and we're not really in the mood to watch Kim and Eleanor act like stereotypical harpies at a koffee klatch but that's what happened. It was kluck-kluck-kluck.

In doing so, they not only demonstrated how shallow they are (apparently the only pregnant woman they know is one they know of), they also demonstrated yet again how limited their knowledge was.

As they snarled and hissed about single mother Angelina, we wondered if we should pick up the phone, dial up the Jolie and tell her how sorry we were that she and Brad had broken up.

Brad Pitt. Remember him?

He's been Angelina's significant other since for about four-years-now. They live together. Why is Angelina being brought into this discussion?

Do Kim and Eleanor not get how offensive that is?

They're now not just insulting women who choose to raise a child on their own or with a female partner, they're now also insulting women who raise a child with a partner but do not marry.

Let's sum up the Gospel According To Big Kim Gandy: The only way to raise a child is with a ring on your finger.

And people wonder why NOW is in so much trouble these days?

Repeating, Angelina has lived with Brad since 2005. That's longer than some marriages last. (And longer than her first or second marriage lasted.)

We don't believe you need to be married in order to be a good parent. We don't believe you need to live with a partner in order to be a good parent. We believe in free will and self-determination. We further believe that Kim Gandy needs to get to a fat farm. If she hadn't ballooned up so and wasn't filled with so much self-hatred over that, maybe she wouldn't direct it out at the world around her?

Congratulations to Eleanor, Genevieve, Sophia and especially Kim. They earned their Katrina.

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