Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The Today Show Still Doesn't Get It
Well, looks like The Today Show is at it again - pedaling their pronatalist viewpoints. This time, Matt Lauer is giving the third degree to a young man, Toby Byrum, who has formalized his decision not to have children by having a vasectomy.
Watch Matt throw some of the tired old "bingoes" out to the happily childfree guy: "What about passing on your last name?" "What if you change your mind?" "Did you bank sperm as an escape hatch?" (the assumption, of course, being that Toby surely doesn't know his own mind and that his decision is a questionable one).
Of course, The Today Show wouldn't be The Today Show without an "expert" therapist chiming in with advice and warnings for the poor, confused souls who may be considering such a dubious life choice - insultingly suggesting they receive therapy to uproot the causes of their desire to not have children. Could it be anxiety? Baggage or emotional wounds from childhood? Suggesting, of course, that the young man's choice is pathological and we need to make sure he really knows his mind and is making his decision for sound reasons and not because he's psychologically fucked up.
What I would like to see - just once - are prospective PARENTS given the same third degree as happily childfree folks. When is somebody going to question the prospective PARENT about his reasons for wanting kids? When is somebody going to ask him if he has really thought his decision through carefully, and whether he has really considered all the ramifications of his life-altering decision? When is somebody going to question his potential regrets and what "escape hatches" he might employ if he later discovers he made the wrong choice and hates being a parent? After all, unlike a childfree person who can always adopt or become a foster parent down the road if he changes his mind, parenthood is irreversible, not to mention the fact that plenty of people are not happy being parents (although parenthood-glorifying venues like The Today Show would love us to believe otherwise). In fact, The Today Show itself has run more than one spot on research showing parents are less happy and have lower levels of marital satisfaction than the childfree and yet they continue to put well-adjusted, intelligent people like Toby Byrum on the defensive for an obviously well-thought out decision that brings fulfillment and happiness to his life.
To his credit, Toby handled himself GREAT - and as a fellow happily childfree person - he makes me proud for the way he represented the childfree so intelligently and thoughtfully on that silly show. Thankfully he steered completely clear of the self-depricating and apologetic statements we've come to expect from childfree folks on the hot seat ("I'm too selfish to have kids", "I wouldn't make a good parent", "I admire people who have kids - parenthood is the best job in the world - I am just not cut out for it").
AND once again, The Today Show has disappointed me with their narrow-minded lack of imagination when it comes to any life choice outside that espoused by their target middle-American mommy homemaker audience.