Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fecundophobia: Growing Fear of Children & Fertile Women

We have become a quite weird people. When I take my many children to the park people ask if our family is "blended" or if we have friends playing with our children. It would have been much more acceptable to many people we have talked to for us to have said we had children inside and outside of wedlock with multiple parties involved than to have told them we got married and had children inside that union. The most common complaint is "How can you pay for all these children?" Below we see that money doesn't seem to always (often?) be the concern. If an NFL quarterback is being singled out for his family size, what is the real cause?

Until very recently (not even a visible sliver in the pie chart of the history of human civilization) people had children with some regularity. How do we go from "A good family with many well-behaved children in tow at church every Sunday." to "My mother had five children and I had one when I was 38. He isn't at church this morning because he has hockey." Both of these are actual sentences I've heard from parishioners recently.

Last week Deadspin ran six sentences and a picture under the headline “Philip Rivers Is An Intense Weirdo.” The final two sentences about the San Diego Charger quarterback were blunt:

And he’s also about to have his seventh kid. There are going to be eight people with Rivers DNA running around this world.

Ah yes. How “intensely weird” it is for an NFL player to be having his seventh kid. Except that it isn’t weird at all for an NFL player to have his seventh kid. It’s only weird for an NFL player to have seven kids with his one wife.

Take former Charger and current New York Jet Antonio Cromartie. He’s fathered at least 12 children with eight different women. In fact, when the Jets picked the cornerback up from the Chargers, they provided him with a $500,000 advance so he could make outstanding child support payments. (You can watch him struggle to name some of his children here.)

Or what about Travis Henry, a former running back who last played for the Denver Broncos? He’s fathered at least eleven children to ten different women. But yes. Philip Rivers is the weirdo.

And yet this procreation — whether the resulting children are raised by their own married parents or not — is the real outlier.

Two stories coming out of the NBA this year are instructive. The first was a supremely weird and horrifying tale of a 2007 contract drawn up by lawyers representing NBA player J.J. Redick and his then-pregnant ex-girlfriend Vanessa Lopez. The document discusses how Lopez’s abortion of an unborn child should be handled, including that Redick was not admitting paternity.

Deadspin wrote it up but did not declare Redick a weirdo for his involvement in this story.

Last month’s New York Times wedding announcement for Faith Rein and Miami Heat player Udonis Haslem revealed that the two have two children and have been together for some 14 years. The Times cheerfully shared the news that earlier in their relationship, they had an abortion because, well...
Complete article here.

1 comment:

  1. I offer absolutely no defense of the treatment of Rivers (and Sarah Palin before him) but I would guess that urbanization is a large driver of the trend towards smaller families. My grandmother gave birth to 10 children and 5 lived to adulthood. But those five only produced a total of 12 children. I don't think it's a coincidence that my mom, aunts, and uncles were the first generation to grow up in the big city. Large numbers of kids don't "contribute" much in the materialistic sense in an urban environment, especially when the threat of infant mortality is reduced. Small families make sense if one proceeds from materialist premises.