Friday, June 20, 2008

A model that could actually work really well?

The small town of Gloucester in Boston is in the news. A group of girls at the local high school made a pact to get pregnant and raise their children together. Seventeen girls are pregnant at the school, all of them under the age of sixteen. The fathers, one of them a homeless man, are in their mid-20s.

It has been suggested that the school has gone too far in accepting teen pregnancies:

The high school has done perhaps too good a job of embracing young mothers ... teen parents are encouraged to take their children to a free on-site day-care center. Strollers mingle seamlessly in school hallways among cheerleaders and junior ROTC.

But what about feminists? What attitude are they likely to take? Will they blame older men for having sex with underage girls?

Well, our own Australian feminists appear to approve of the situation. At Hoyden about Town, the feminist writer Tigtog claims that the girls are smart to take advantage of the "support structure" provided by the school and by each other and concludes:

This is a model that could actually work really well for these girls.

Lauredhel added in the comments:

I agree that I felt a little radical cheer when I heard of their plans to support each other. And I think this is exactly what the mainstream finds threatening about it. Women supporting each other, raising families, deliberately and clearly saying “We can do it”? Nothing like a hint of something that might look a little like radfem separatism to get the Patriarchy frothing at the mouth.

Beppie found this silver lining to the story:

The radical aspect of this is ... that they are planning to actually support each other– to create non-traditional family units.

Mary Tracy has the following high hopes:

I hope the girls form a commune and grow up to be badass radical feminists.

It's odd. These feminists spend a lot of time trying to pin the rape label on the average male. Here is one case where a group of men really have committed statutory rape ... and the feminists cheer.

The HaT feminists are very keen to see the destruction of the traditional family. So much so that they are heartened by some very young girls getting pregnant to older men and relying on their high school, instead of a husband, for support.

If you see society, as patriarchy theorists do, as being a contest for power and autonomy between a dominant male class and an oppressed female class, then you won't warm to the idea of a traditional family. You will want women to remain autonomous of men, which means being supported by social welfare rather than by a husband or, as an even more radical option, you will prefer women to live apart from men.

Separatism might involve a commitment to fatherless families; it might extend all the way to support for lesbian communes.

And what of the Gloucester girls? Have they really found, in teen pregnancy and single motherhood, a "model that could actually work very well".

Not according to Barack Obama. He has observed the effect of fatherless families on black communities in the US and he believes that it represents not progress but social breakdown:

BARACK Obama has demanded fathers, especially black men, shoulder their responsibility to heal broken families and restore hope in crime-ridden communities.

... The senator amplified one of his campaign themes in condemning absent fathers who have "abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men''.

"You and I know how true this is in the African-American community,'' Senator Obama said, recapping government statistics showing more than half of all black children live in single-parent households.

Such children are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school and 20 times more likely to end up in prison, he said.

"And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it,'' said Senator Obama ...


  1. Great post!

    I wonder what the feminists' response would be if someone made the point that if our society were really "patriarchal", it would have none of these lavish support programs for unwed mothers?

    Could there be any better demonstration of how un-patriarchal our society has actually become?

  2. John, thanks.

    You make a good point. It's an odd sort of a patriarchy which goes to such efforts to undermine fathers.

  3. This post illustrates something that I've felt for a while; whilst I am a conservative rather than a libertarian, a libertarian economic approach could eliminate a great deal of social disfunction.

    It's pretty clear that without the "support structure" around them such as school day-care center, welfare payments and unconditional approval of their every act by people in positions of authority these girls could not act as they do. All of these things are provided by an enlarged and militantly liberal state using taxpayers money. These young women will most likely be net beneficiaries from tax revenue for most if not all of their lives. The young men who go to school alongside them (whilst being vilified as patriarchal oppressors) will most likely be net contributors.

    Why do we have so much social disfunction? Because we are paying for it. Worse still these young men will be forced to pay for it their entire lives and still be treated as de facto criminals.

    These stories come so often and from so many sources that it can often seem as if nothing can be done but all of these weeds have one thing in common. They are watered from the same source - taxpayers money. Turn off the tap (i.e. elect a genuinely small government party) and the weeds will wither and die with no additional action needed.

    Hard to do - but not an impossible dream.

  4. Whilst I in no way approve of the choice these girls have made (they're not old enough to think straight IMHO), the support structure provided by the school looks a lot more reliable than that capable of being provided by a man. Any wonder they made the choice?

  5. Whilst I in no way approve of the choice these girls have made (they're not old enough to think straight IMHO), the support structure provided by the school looks a lot more reliable than that capable of being provided by a man.

    Really? Tell that to the girls when their babies are up sqwarking at 3am every night and won't go back to sleep.

    Well, I seriously doubt there's anything that we can afford (like live-in nannies) which would support me better than my husband at such times.

  6. Deusexmacintosh,

    If you don't approve of their choices, how can you approve of the support system which enables and even encourages that choice?

    Marriage and family are positive things in their own right. They aren't to be approved or disapproved of in terms of "reliability" or any other indicators by which state provision is measured.

  7. If you don't approve of their choices, how can you approve of the support system which enables and even encourages that choice?

    Because I would rather enable them to have a successful pregnancy, develop good parenting skills and complete their education than have them think their lives are ruined and be treated like pariahs of the community. Go watch The Magdalene Sisters.

    A conservative social environment didn't prevent unmarried girls becoming pregnant prior to the advent of contraception or legal abortion. My objection is that their age means that they are not competent to make the choice. I have no problem with the choice itself.

    Congratulations on finding a good husband lyl (I wouldn't mind one of those myself). Am not sure what difference there would be in a single girl getting up for her baby at 3am because there's no-one else to do it, or a married woman getting up for her baby because her husband is pretending he's still asleep.

    Don't get me wrong - I'm pretty traditional. I agree that the IDEAL structure for bringing up children is a married couple who've made a deliberate choice to have them, with additional support from their own parents. That doesn't mean that it is the only successful one. I was raised very successfully by two women ... not actually that unconventional. My properly married mother was abandoned by her properly married husband and had to move back in with her mother. My grandmother played 'wife' and brought me up/kept the home whilst my mother went back to work to keep the household going. So I'm afraid personal experience ads to my cynicism about the 'reliability' or otherwise of fathers, whether married or not.