Open Thread: Could there ever be an Octodad?

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The news has given more publicity to Octomom than it’ll ever give to someone who achieved something that actually requires effort, and she’s even fielding offers for a TV reality show. I have no intention of trying to defend her actions. According to my personal moral compass, having more children than you can really nurture and guide (as well as provide for) is just plain wrong.

But here’s a question: how many men have fathered eight or more kids they’re taking even less responsibility for than Octomom’s taking with hers? When will one of these guys get singled out to be the source of a thousand headlines, so we can all revel in our moral superiority at them?

Comments

  1. says

    You know, the only case I think of that made it to the news was a few years ago, when a fertility doctor inseminated MANY women with his sperm and was sued in court for fraud (among other charges). And darn it, I can’t find any information on that case on Google. I could be using the wrong keywords.

    I think he biologically fathered over twenty babies (in the 80s?)

  2. says

    CNN posted this interview with the Dugars (the family with 18 and counting children) about the “octomom”. I hate that. “Octomom”. It makes her sound like evil Dr. Ock in the Spiderman comics and movies.

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/TV/02/20/duggar.parents.qanda/index.html?iref=werecommend

    The Dugars actually come out of the article looking pretty good. They don’t take the interviewer’s bait to deride or make fun of Ms. Suleman or her decision, but the interviewer pointedly remarks how they’ve managed to stay out of debt and so forth.

    It does make me respect the Dugars a bit for not taking her (the interviewer’s) bait. At least, I don’t think they took the bait to badmouth Suleman.

  3. says

    It does make me respect the Dugars a bit for not taking her (the interviewer’s) bait.

    Well, they’re probably canny enough to realize that it would not just be, but *look like* howling hypocrisy from them…

    The thing about the good-old-still-going-strong Double Standard is, it established that 1) men’s all-important virility is proven by siring many children, 2) male parental responsibility stops at the garden gate, so to speak. Many thousands of folksongs have been written on this topic – thus any man who sticks around even sorta and contributes in the least way to the raising of his offspring is regarded as already having gone Above And Beyond, and to be treated as a saint and a hero.

    It’s the job of the biological mother to look after the actual *work* – or, if like my mother, she gets bored as soon as they’re no longer cute and cuddly, “stale” as my mother used to joke [sic] about each of her babies in turn, then it’s the job of the older daughters, each in their turn (not the sons, of course, tho’ they might sometimes babysit – boys “need their freedom” I was told as a resentful sister) to raise the younger children, from the moment they can first stagger around without dropping a baby or change a diaper without sticking the pin into themselves.

    (Paternal involvement beyond yelling at the older daughters to do the babyminding right is, again, Above & Beyond & saintly heroics and all that. )

    That’s just The Natural Order of Things, per our still-tres-conservative society.

  4. Soma says

    Old Dirty Bastard, 13 kids last I counted. Of course, he’s treated humorously and with the familiar kind of maybe-I’m-joking-but-it-kinda-makes-you-think title of “pimp” most of the time.

  5. says

    I remember watching a documentary about semen donation and fertility clinics, and how one guy who sounded really egotistical said he donated because he felt he had good genes and that it was necessary to spread them. He was a rich white dude with children by at least three women in my memory (white and WoC), and he seemed to have the financial background to support them all, even being involved in their upbringing (he would bring all mothers and children together so they could do stuff with him, or something). I think the documentary said something like, he had eight kids whom he knows and is involved with, and 20-odd others from sperm donation.

    Wish I could remember the name of the documentary, but it was several years ago.

  6. says

    I do think there should be a limit for how many times a man’s sperm can be used to inseminate women he doesn’t know. And I think sperm donating gives yet another message to boys/men that their own contribution doesn’t “mean” anything.

    And the man you mentioned…I don’t know what I think about that. He sounds like he collects kids and women.

    There are women who don’t WANT any male involvement in the raising of their child or children, and I suppose they have their reasons, good and bad (came out of an abusive relationship, for example, don’t want to deal with custody issues). I dunno. It’s easy enough to have a one-nighter and end up with a child that way.

    Are sperm donation clinics really a good thing, or not?

  7. SunlessNick says

    But here’s a question: how many men have fathered eight or more kids they’re taking even less responsibility for than Octomom’s taking with hers? When will one of these guys get singled out to be the source of a thousand headlines, so we can all revel in our moral superiority at them?

    The best point anyone’s made on this entire subject.

  8. says

    Gategrrl, the inseminating OB-GYN has been a plot on several L&O eps, and it sounds familiar to me, too. But I can’t find the particulars either.

    I’d say it’s safe to assume a man who wants to spread his genes around is a narcissist, whether to a pathological degree or just a neurotic one. Psychologically normal people with really good genes don’t go around thinking “I owe it to the world to bestow the awesomeness of my genes on the next generation.” In fact, most people don’t think they have good genes even if they do, because it’s human nature to assume the grass is greener someplace else.

  9. says

    great discussion point.

    another point that i heard somewhere else ( don’t remember where, i’m sorry, maybe Jezebel?) was that Nadya combined both a highly detailed plan for conceiving 8 kids but not any time at all in caring for them afterward. which is bizarre.

  10. says

    Gategrrl: Sperm bank or ONS?

    Hmmmm… well, with a ONS, you don’t have to deal with all those forms and paying money. It would definitely be easier. But it would be sticky because some men get so hurt at the idea of being used as a sperm bank.

    Sperm bank, I believe at some clinics you get to sort through a catalog of sorts to check out superficial traits like hair colour and stuff, to medical history. But I could be wrong. If I’m not wrong, then knowing your child’s potential problems later in life could be useful to said child.

  11. sbg says

    I’m actually quite horrified that people are calling her Octomom. I hadn’t heard the term. (I quickly got tired of all the “news” surrounding this particular story and have been avoiding it.)

    But here’s a question: how many men have fathered eight or more kids they’re taking even less responsibility for than Octomom’s taking with hers?

    Probably a lot more than I want to even think about. I used to do HR/payroll for an outsourcing company and, well, there were lots of garnishments and lots of requests to help track down “deadbeats.”

    The talk about sperm banks is very interesting and all, but I’m not sure it’s that close to the same thing. Making donations doesn’t mean the donor is the father beyond biology, (Unless like that one weird example he is purposely and actively spreading his own quote unquote superior genes. I hope that doesn’t happen often! ) and will most likely have no fiduciary, or any, responsibility for however many children come from his donations.

  12. says

    SBG, The sperm bank deal IS a little different. And yet, I think it’s a valid point that sperm banks – far better known and more common than egg selling – promote the idea that men and their offspring don’t need to have any connection beyond genes. I would be so profoundly freaked out by the idea that I could have genetic offspring running around that I know nothing about. Conversely, I can count on one hand the number of men who’ve ever expressed ANY concern about it to me. It never seems to occur to them that if they’ve ever had sex with someone and NOT kept in touch with her for nine months after the last encounter, they could have a kid and not know it. (This is one of the great social separators we construct to keep men and women from relating meaningfully – women are encouraged to worry about stuff like this to the point of taking preventative measures, and men are occurred never even to consider it.)

    [Dave], I personally think a person’s got to be mentally ill to think it makes sense to have gobs of children simultaneously. And on a side note, after one doctor refused to do any further implantations for her, she found another who was less ethical, and that person bears some responsibility here. Doctors who are privy to a patient’s thought process are supposed to evaluate it for signs of mental issues (such as addiction patterns or very low self-esteem) influencing their decisions, and recommend counseling. That seems not to have happened here, and I think it probably should have.

  13. SunlessNick says

    I personally think a person’s got to be mentally ill to think it makes sense to have gobs of children simultaneously.

    Is there any indication that she deliberately tried to generate a massively multiple pregnancy? As I understand, they usually put a lot of embryos in with IVF, because most won’t attach – and the sexts, septs, and octs are an occasional resulting accident.

    If that’s what happened then what she really chose was not to abort any (which in the case of octuplets almost always kills them all, so it’s a choice of debatable wisdom) – but every article I’ve read seems to be written as if she planned to have eight right from the start.

  14. says

    This whole thread also brings to mind a recent case where a couple had had IVF, but, being Christian, did not allow their fertility doctor to abort (or winnow down) the number of fetuses the mother was carrying in order that the remaining ones could have a fighting chance.

    They had six infants. Only one survived.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19431394/
    http://www.startribune.com/local/11591371.html

    Women are simply *not meant to carry litters* of children.

    • The OTHER Maria says

      I think one of the great points that came up in Feminist Law Prof’s post on the controvesy is that Suleyman’s also being punished for being inappropriately heterosexual — she doesn’t have a man to justify her reproductive desires.

  15. ginmar says

    There was just a guy on Dr. Phil—I’m a masochist for watching that jerk—who had fathered ten kids and was whining about his kids’ moms. Then there was another guy, married for the second time, whining about why did he have to pay half his ex’s daycare costs when his new wife couldn’t afford to stay home with his new kids? In all cases, there was the expectation that the mom didn’t deserve a penny of money for raising the kid day-to-day, and furthermore, the kid should wear cheap clothes and used shoes if not just go naked for all the dad cared. The degree to which these guys just dispense with fatherhood once they’re no longer getting anything out of it is extraordinary. And they all seem to want a cookie if they don’t just abandon the kid.

    There’s also been a couple of cases where men who’ve sired ten or so children have been ordered to have vasectomies. Offhand I don’t remember how those cases worked out, but the blame always falls on women: Men just naturally want to sew their wild oats, you know.

    These guys have plenty of enablers who accept without question the notion that raising a kid is cheap and womens’ work, and therefore should be done for free and without respect. Dude with ten kids whined about the court system, when he didn’t bother to show up, blew off court dates, and hadn’t contacted anybody to re-do arrangements. Of course he had an MRA lawyer who had all the arguments lined up.

    Bottom line is there are plenty of these guys out there but even if you do find one, the onus will be on women to keep her legs shut even though if she does she’s probably a feminazi or something. Who needs to get laid. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t, and it’s always the woman’s fault.

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