In “Yes, Katy Perry, Babies Need Daddies,” D.C. McAllister wrote about Katy Perry’s declaration to Rolling Stone that this is 2014 and she doesn’t need a man to have a baby. But McAllister just touches the tip of the iceberg on both Perry and children’s need for fathers.
Perry is being more callous to her future child than the typical woman who realizes that she wants a baby, doesn’t happen to have a partner, and, therefore, for her convenience decides that she doesn’t need a man to have a baby. Perry left her marriage to Russell Brand a few short years ago because he was ready to have a baby and she wasn’t. From a piece I did in 2012 on pop rock and the hookup culture:
Perry saw her husband’s desire to start a family as trying to force her to slow down her career when she didn’t want to. To be perfectly blunt, she chose her career over her marriage and her future child’s ability to have a father. She doesn’t have the typical excuse that she was unlucky in love and is now hearing the ticks of her biological clock pound in her ears.
In her movie Part of Me, Katy Perry addresses her divorce, essentially stating the Love Myth. “I thought to myself, ‘When I find that person that’s going to be my life partner, I won’t ever have to choose [between my partner and my career].”
Before anyone thinks that this is just the silly and self-centered musings of a Hollywood starlet, this notion of easy love that never requires compromise passes for thoughtful feminist discourse these days.
I note that she also mentions in Rolling Stone that she doesn’t think she will need to have a baby without a partner. She expects that her life partner will come along, any day now probably. (I suggest she produce a takeoff of the viral 29/31 song by Garfunkel and Oates. [Warning: language]) If she doesn’t learn how to compromise, then she will find that all of her romances are temporary. Compromise comes to all partnerships. She even sang a song about this, illustrating that we do not need to understand the words that come out of our mouth in order to sound good.
According to McAllister, the women of The Five on Fox were supportive of Perry:
Dana Perino said she “totally” gets what Perry means. “I love the father-figure idea, but maybe there just isn’t enough research or time yet to see if women like Katy Perry can make it work.”
Actually, the research is in and has been in for about 10 years. Best outcomes for children: 1. Intact family, 2. Shared parental custody, 3. Paternal custody, 4. Maternal custody.
The only reason the conventional wisdom thinks that mother care is the best for children is because divorce custody law and precedent were formed back when the only social research we had was on orphans and mother bonding. We didn’t study—we didn’t need to study—father bonding and their value to children until the ’80s when there were suddenly many children of divorce to study.
A father is a terrible thing to take from a child.
McAllister correctly notes that these debates rarely consider the good of the children. Turns out, we don’t have to imagine what the children think. There is a place where they tell us. The Anonymous Us Project is about giving voice to the donor conceived. They have an anonymous testimony board. It’s hard reading. I’ll excerpt one [unedited]:
I had a single mother by choice, she has been the only mom I know and the only person I will accept as my parent. she had no issues telling me that I was conceived by a donor and although it was ‘normalized’ for a moment, as I grew up with questions about my origins it wasn’t as normal any more…
I look at history, and there are dads, I look at wildlife, there are dads, I look at society and there are dads. Dads are everywhere, maybe its media but I feel like I’m missing out. I feel like I will never know what it’s like to be in the arms of a man who loves me unconditionally in a innocent non-sexual way, and who will be my other half. I will never know what it’s like to bond with my other genetic parent, I will never know what it’s like to look at the rest of nature and know I was conceived the way I was suppose to be…you know, outside a science lab….and not on a dish to be shoved into a refrigerator.
But these feelings make me feel like I’m a bad child; I betrayed my mother, and some of her feminist friends who praise her for being a single mom, and not taking help from a man. On TV the Cryo Generation seems just fine, and because they aren’t screaming out “I want a dad!” I feel as though my feelings are invalid and selfish. But then I think “shouldn’t kids’ feelings come first?” But then I think “no because our parents made us, so we should always be grateful for whatever they do.” But then I think “that’s not fair, why bring a kid into the world just so you can be happy?”. But then I think oh shit, I’m being selfish and betraying my mom again!
She’s nice to me, yet she made my dad anonymous on purpose so I could never find him, even though she had both a dad and a mom, and she’s even close to her dad. Do you know what it’s like to hear her stories about the awesome dad she had, and all the great things she did with him, that I will never have? It burns. It burns so hard I can’t talk because I choke.
I can’t say I’m for or against sperm donning, because I guess some kids don’t mind… but what people tend to forget is what about the kids who do mind? Do we matter? Why should our childhood and our feelings be sacrificed, so our folks can have the parenthood experience of their dreams? I thought parenting was about the cute babies, not the parents.. I just feel weird about it. I’m sure Im just some terrible daughter and I probably don’t matter… I mean, if I did, my dad would probably want to see me, but whatever. My dad is a stranger, who jacked off to woman-trashing porn, and sold his sperm to a woman he doesn’t know on the Internet, for sixty dollars. Thats the dignity of my conception, two strangers exchanging money for ‘materials’ over Craig’s list, and that’s all I will ever know about him.
image via shutterstock / : Debby Wong