Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Clare the modern girl heroine?

Clare Edwards is a young Perth woman who loves children - she wants 11 of her own. She thinks a reasonable way of achieving this aim is to advertise in her local paper for a sperm donor and then raise her children on welfare as a single mother.

She's already had one child this way and has now advertised for sperm for a second.

She hasn't exactly been discouraged by those around her. Her grandmother has supported her on the grounds that she has made "a considered choice". Grandma, it seems, has picked up on the modernist idea that what counts in deciding whether an action is moral or not is "agency". The overriding good, in this view, is my autonomy as an individual; therefore, it's not so much what I choose that matters, but that my choice is informed and uncoerced.

Clare has also been supported by her local paper, the Subiaco Post, which has praised her as representing the "independent and can-do spirit of her generation, young people unbounded by the conventions of older generations".

Here we descend even deeper into liberal autonomy theory. According to this theory, we must be self-determining to achieve a full human status. This rules out a great many things: we can no longer be defined at all by our sex or ethnicity, as these are qualities we inherit rather than choose for ourselves.

Similarly, convention will be thought of negatively as a constraint on self-determination, rather than being judged in its different parts as being of positive or negative value.

So Clare appears to some as a heroine: as someone who makes her own choices, who is independent of men, and who is unbounded by convention.

She is so immersed in modern culture that she appears to be unconscious that anything might be amiss in what she has set out to do. Not only does she believe that she's "not denying her children anything" (such as a father), she's stated that she has chosen the sperm donor on the basis of his "strong family values".

Clare believes in strong family values, but accepts single motherhood supported by the state as an ideal model of family life. She is backed in this belief by other members of her family, by her local paper and even by the Government, which has sanctioned the ideal of a fatherless family by funding IVF treatment for lesbian couples and single women.

There are still some voices raised in protest. Bettina Arndt has written an article on Clare Edwards for the Herald Sun, which defends the convention of "Believing that children are better off with two parents" and which points to the disadvantage of children growing up without fathers.

The problem is that Clare is acting in line with the underlying principles of modern society, so Western culture is likely to continue to shift her way until these principles are effectively challenged.


  1. It's hard to be a single mother, even if you're being supported by the government meal ticket.

    I predict "Clare" will abandon her grand project around baby #3 or so.

    What a moron. Or, as Bugs Bunny used to say, what a maroon.

  2. What's the point of choosing a sperm doner with "strong family values" even if the concept wasn't an oxymoron anyway?

    I think I should point out to those who have never ventured to Perth that Subiaco is a very "trendy" area full of "vibrant" cafes and restaruants, and is consequentally quite expensive and filled with what was once called the "yuppee" and "dink" types. It's a little like Balmain in Sydney, St Kilda or Fitzroy in Melbourne or Islington in London (I don't know quite enough about changes in US cities to cite an example there).

    The woman's family are much more likely to be lefties from the "sixties revolution" than in other parts of Perth, and it is to be expected that they, and the local rag, would support her.

    As it happens, I do know a Perth girl with a single child. All she wants to do is get married, and she hates being a single parent, as all the responsibilty falls on her and her alone. Nor is the state pension all that good. Those who imagine that a Rudd Government (God forbid) would significantly increase it should think again. It has come under attack in the first place not because the Federal Liberal Party "hates" single mothers but because the cost of the welfare bill is simply getting too much. I predict that a Rudd government would put a higher priority on "humanitarian immigration" than on single mother support, and hence any additional money put into the welfare system would rappidly be eaten up by the incoming poor.

    Clare will either have her "supportive grandmother" become a surrogate mother for her children, or else she will repent of her folly. I suspect the former will be the case (in which case it will be the grandmother that may, finally, come to regret her shortsighted idiocy).

  3. Very interesting points. You're a great writer. Thanks for the post!

  4. "Strong family values" means that he values every persons right and desire to have a family. Not that he thinks every family should be the perfect nuclear family. Families can be two mothers, two fathers, sole fathers or sole mothers. The old ideals need to be thrown out the window if we really want to have an equal society where every person, and every family is accepted, instead of judged as inadequate.

  5. seriously leave the girl alone if she wants kids let her. I had 4 on my own and i worked and got benifits come now are you all prudes?????