You know what’s missing from society today? A good old-fashioned stigma toward out-of-wedlock pregnancies, that’s what.
But not to worry — The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has got it covered. In a debate for the American Enterprise Institute panel, Mr. Douthat argued that all of this new-fangled acceptance of moms who get pregnant outside of marriage is leading to the breakdown of society and let’s be honest, we’d be much better off if we went back to banishing them to nine-month country “visits” once again.
If we want to promote stable families, he argues, we need to start with idealizing a monogamous, two-parent unit as “the norm,” but also attach some sort of stigma to those who deviate from that norm.
Next, he goes on to compare what a successful stigmatizing campaign would look like, i.e., in America’s quest to end smoking. Not only did we end the sin of smoking by pointing out the obvious damaging effects that smoking has on our health, but we succeeded in ostracizing smokers by pushing them to the limits of society — in our public places, in our restaurants, in our parks.
Great point, Mr. Douthat. You’re absolutely right to compare bringing a human life into the world to smoking and you’re absolutely right to exemplify how we could all make women like myself, who commit the ultimate sin by conceiving outside of marriage, feel like they are a bane to society. And that would definitely stop us from getting pregnant!
Of course, he points out, gender stigmas are bad for “obvious reasons,” but then in the next breath, he maintains that if we want to change things about society right now, with all of the irresponsible childbearing going on, some sort of stigma needs to be attached to out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
Now, I’m curious as to whom exactly Mr. Douthat feels should be stigmatized, since it’s not exactly easy to stigmatize the man responsible for impregnating a woman. He is free to walk away, deny his child or simply enjoy the luxury of not having a living scarlet letter emblazoned upon his body for nine months and counting. Who then, is left to be stigmatized?
Oh, that’s right — the woman. How original.
Here’s a thought, Mr. Douthat. Perhaps instead of focusing on all the ways that women are ruining the world by getting pregnant, how about we cast our hypocritical eyes on the issues that place women at risk for unplanned pregnancies, like, oh, I don’t know, domestic violence, abuse and poverty? Or maybe if we get really crazy, we could practice a little thing that Christians like to call love and acceptance and support women and children who are left high and dry by the stigma-free men who played an equal role in the impregnation process with resources like paid maternity leave, a living wage, access to education or quality child care so that all of the negative effects you’re so afraid of from out-of-wedlock pregnancies can improve. I would agree with the point that ideally, all children will be brought into the world in stable, perfect and loving families, but stigmatizing the mothers of children whose conceptions are less than ideal is not the answer.
So the next time you want to try to stigmatize anyone for having an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, call me first so I can introduce you to my daughter. Who happens to be six this year and thankfully, is part of the next generation that won’t be promoting judgmental and useless “solutions” for improving the state of our nation.