Motherhood, malice & the media
Published Feb 19, 2009 8:29 PM
Nadya Suleman, the mother of octuplets born on Jan. 26, immediately ran into a
well-orchestrated cacophony of vitriol. Much of the furor has centered on the
33-year-old California woman’s mental stability or lack thereof in
bringing eight more children into the world on top of the six she already has.
All were conceived as a result of fertility treatments.
The right-wing media frenzy had its intended effect: it whipped up outrage
centered on this single, unemployed woman of Iraqi descent. It gave the
manufacturers of public opinion a diversionary tactic to sideline the real
news: the deepening capitalist crisis. The anti-poor, anti-woman bias of the
attacks is the real outrage. Suleman has become a scapegoat for those who want
to blame the victims as millions are being cast out of their homes and jobs by
a full-blown capitalist economic crisis.
It has been reported that Suleman receives $490 per month in food stamps for
the family as well as Social Security disability benefits for three of her
first six children. Currently more than 31.5 million people—more than 1
in 10—are receiving federal government food stamps. Food banks across the
U.S. have seen a tremendous increase in need along with fewer resources to help
people meet their basic nutritional requirements.
In the meantime, as we have reported in these pages, the number of people
receiving public assistance checks is at a 40-year low, even as millions of
workers lose their jobs and are in dire need of assistance for their survival.
Tent cities are growing and more people are being harassed for trying to live
in their vehicles.
Soaring poverty and unemployment take their worst toll on the most vulnerable
members of society—children. The media are asking how Suleman will raise
her 14 children without a “welfare handout” from the state.
The malicious depictions of Suleman and her children, who have received
numerous death threats, are characterized by misogynistic ideas about what a
“real woman” should be. The comments of reactionary media
pundits—and others who could be called “moderate”—are
rife with anti-woman and anti-poor venom. They won’t be repeated
All women should have the right to bear children if they choose, not just rich
women, just as they should also have the right to terminate a pregnancy if they
want. It is the legally established duty of the government to provide for those
who cannot provide for themselves. Welfare and funding for all social services
need to be increased, not cut back to levels that make life a living hell for
those in need.
During a time of economic crisis like the one currently engulfing the U.S., it
is no surprise that the corporate media have found a diversion to take
people’s minds off the real travesty occurring in society.
Corporate welfare—and welfare for the banks—has been doled out to
the tune of trillions of taxpayers’ dollars. This is the real scandal.
The workers and oppressed have every right to demand living wage jobs and/or
income, along with housing, health care and all of life’s necessities, as
the capitalist economic crisis worsens.
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