Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Anti-Family

Recent Harvard graduate Madeleine Schwartz writes an essay about an MTV television reality show:
I don’t think a female running a house is a problem, a broken family. It’s perceived as one because of the notion that a head is a man. Two parents can’t raise a child any more than one. You need a whole community — everybody — to raise a child. … the little nuclear family is a paradigm that just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for white people or for black people. Why we are hanging onto it, I don’t know. It isolates people into little units — people need a larger unit.
- Toni Morrison, quoted in Nina Power’s One Dimensional Woman
Teen Mom, which entered into its fourth and final season this summer, presents a picture of the family you won’t see anywhere else. Where most representations of the family on television stick with traditional, two-parent models, the family structures in Teen Mom are incredibly dynamic and diffuse. In the face a simple nuclear construction, an ever-changing cast of characters enter and exit the screen—grandmothers, friends, uncles, boyfriends, step-parents, step-grandparents, in-laws, ex-in-laws. Teen Mom curiously and carefully represents one of the greatest contemporary trends in American social life of the last few decades: the gradual diffusion of the household, or the anti-family. ...

MTV documentaries take the visual style of reality television and apply them to instances of quotidian life. ...

In presenting these relationships in with dignity, Teen Mom acknowledges what it viewers may not wish to know: this is the shape of the family in America today. The show does not attempt radical advocacy, but it does understand that the most fundamental patterns in American life can’t be covered up. Teen motherhood, single motherhood, unmarried cohabitation — these are not plagues or social ills that pose a threat to the otherwise normal structures of everyday life. They are our new social reality.

What the show doesn’t get to is that this is a good thing.

There is nothing wrong with teenage or single motherhood. The things children need: economic livelihood, emotional support and an education, are not dependent on a nuclear family structure. Poverty is poverty whether it’s endured by two people or four. A couple cannot raise a child better than one can. Once we get rid of the idea that marriage is the privileged form of cohabitation and that women cannot raise children without the help of a man — ideas that the Left has been working to eradicate for decades — there is no reason that a teen should not be financially and emotionally assisted for her choice to have a family. The potential diffusion of the family (as the New York Times recently reported, it doesn’t look like the trends will stop anytime soon) is one of the most exciting things to happen to the American social pattern since sexual liberation. It means the end of what were just decades ago universal truths: every household must be headed by a breadwinning man; only when married will a woman have social value.
Teenage motherhood may be a feminist ideal and a tool for destroying the American family, but of course Harvard students are not moms. They postpone motherhood as long as possible.

There is overwhelming evidence that a married couple can raise a child better than one can. More of our social ills care traceable to single moms than any other source. Nobody pretends that a teen mom can rear a child. She needs to "be financially and emotionally assisted for her choice". And we need to build more prisons for when her kids grow up.

You can tell that Schwartz is a Harvard graduate because she uses phrases like "instances of quotidian life", and gets her view of that life from TV shows and feminist textbooks.

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