The Good Sideshow Freaks…
“That much media coverage of the Duggars focuses on their normality and stability is in sharp contrast to the coverage of another large family in the media spotlight, the family of “Octomom” Nadya Suleman. Suleman’s motives, parenting skills, and even mental health were the topic of months of debate after she gave birth to octuplets in 2009, making her the sole parent of fourteen children. As a nonwhite, unemployed single mother, Suleman evokes cultural anxieties concerning welfare and female-headed households, whereas the married, debt-free, and Christian Michelle Duggar continues to be the darling of the Today Show, repeatedly appearing on the program to announce pregnancies, births, and baby updates. This divergent response to these two mothers speaks to the class, race, and heteronormative standards that inflect ideologies of “good motherhood.””
— Laura Harrison and Sarah B. Rowley. ‘Babies by the Bundle: Gender, Backlash, and the Quiverfull Movement.’ Feminist Formations 23.1 (2011). doi:10.1353/ff.2011.0012 (via deadgeraniums)
One of the things that fascinates me about the reaction to the Duggars is the undertone of “Good sideshow freaks” in all the media coverage. Oh yes, the overt reaction to them is kinder than to Suleman, but there’s an ongoing undertone that is uncomfortable to me. I’m not a fan of the Quiverfull movement, but being pro choice means not judging people for having lots of babies either.