In the news and social media

Just need to quickly mention a few things on my mind:

1. In the news you may be hearing about the “three-parent” fertility treatment in the U.K. — a treatment involving the nuclear DNA of a mother and father and mitochondria from a donor. I used to be in the magazine world in the city and know a little about how things get sensationalized and I can picture the meetings during which the term “three-parent” came about and I just want to say, you suck, you people. “Three-parent” is not even close to accurate in any way. Thanks for the hearty dose of stigmatization, right off the bat.

2. In social media, I came across an article written by a woman who went to visit her friend, a friend who lost a child. The woman who lost a child is of course entitled to say anything whatsoever she wants to say to her writer-friend (what she experienced…no words, no way to get into it here, the worst kind of horror), and she said to her writer-friend, while describing what she went through/ is going through, “You know, you’re a mom.” And this writer then wrote a short lyric sort of “article” in which the recurring refrain in each paragraph is, “I know, I’m a mom.” The article is basically about how this writer has super-power-level capacities for empathy and understanding of all things child- or loss- or pain- related because, and only because, she is a mom. She even says that she has a special ability to understand the pain of women going through fertility treatments because she is a mom. At the end of the article, she says to the reader, essentially, “But you know what I mean—you’re a mom, too.” I was so upset reading this. Not just because it is so completely othering, but because it is so blindly and completely othering. This writer meant no harm, her earnestness is coming from a place of trying to connect, not gloat, not separate, but she unintentionally creates a piece of writing that puts her in the superior, gifted camp and all of those who are not moms in the sad-sorry Other camp. I’m also bothered by the fact that she takes advantage of her friend’s painful story to write about her own specialness—again, blindly. This way many woman have of blindly talking about motherhood—man, it really has to stop! I know I’ve been a mother for only two months now, and yes it is a new experience and I’m encountering lessons and emotions I haven’t before, but that does not mean I have some special access to wisdom/empathy/understanding, or even connection to children, that women who are not mothers could never have. Not true, and not okay to create this dividing line that is so, so painful to women who have gone through or are going through infertility and pregnancy loss.

3. The New York Times magazine recently published an article about Korean adoptees returning to Korea. I need to finish the article, so will not comment on it until I have done so (some year). What I can comment on are the photographs. The adoptee featured (born in Korea, adopted by Midwesterners, had contentious relationship with parents, went back to Korea to find her culture/birth mother) had her adoption-case number tattooed on her arm. If you are just breezing through the magazine, glancing at photographs, as I often do, you would come away with one thought: This Korean adoptee’s experience is akin to her being a Holocaust survivor. This thought might not come to you in words, but it would most likely be there, in the back of your mind. Again, my magazine days come back to me. The power of one photograph in a hugely popular publication can have cultural effects for years, decades (or longer). This young woman’s story is interesting and it’s not that I’m judging her or even the magazine for publishing what they did the way that they did—it’s just that I’m aware of the stigmatization re: adoption, especially international adoption, such images can create.

Okay, that’s all for now.

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  1. I just saw Bill Maher turn this ‘three-parent’ story into a big joke, equating it with “genetic engineering.” The worst part is that he clearly did not understand it, and neither do most people, but now that he’s done this little skit portraying it as a freak show, that becomes the ‘truth’ people believe…smh.

  2. Yes yes and yes.

  3. Side note: I was just reading about a clinic here in Toronto that’s running a trial where instead of using mitochondria from a donor, they use some from stem cells that are apparently located in the patient’s own ovaries. It’s early days yet, but it sounds potentially exciting!

    And yeah, as a general rule, I’ve discovered the media does NOT get infertility.

  4. Kali

     /  March 25, 2015

    Hi there TUT. It’s been a while. I related to your story in number 2–BFF had that attitude, she “knew better” since she’s already a mother, and it contributed to the deterioration of our relationship. We are in a holding pattern now, and perhaps will someday be able to connect as we used to.

    I don’t think anyone can know in advance how trauma can lead to changes in relationships that you thought were rock solid.


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