It’s telling, and a bit scary, to watch Bristol Palin put MRA putzes and bourgeois-left handwringing pearl-clutchers alike into a royal fit by getting pregnant again. If we can strip away the vile political bullshit that has encrusted the Palin family since 2008, what we can plainly see is a young, energetic, reasonably well-adjusted woman of unusually secure financial means and from a large extended family choosing to spend her youth raising a school-age child with a younger sibling on the way. Realistically, her older child should be mature enough to help care for an infant sibling with normal guidance from parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and other adolescent and adult relatives.
How in God’s name is any of this inherently pathological? These are very low-frequency pregnancies for a healthy, sexually active young woman who is said to use condoms only sporadically and has apparently not used an IUD or chemical contraceptives. Concerns about her ability to provide financially for her children should be put to rest by the ongoing success she has achieved as a minor celebrity and the much greater success her mother has achieved as a major celebrity, and concerns about her ability to properly care for and socialize her children should be put to rest by her extended family circumstances. Full stop. She’s a fit parent who is choosing to conceive and raise her own children in a country with a roughly break-even birthrate and countless manifestly unfit parents.
The remaining objections to Bristol Palin’s parenthood, of course, are really salacious, politically motivated objections to her being sexually active and at least occasionally receptive to new life. She comes from a chaotic family, to be sure, but indescribably worse families air their dysfunction on television all the time. She’s made a fortune peddling a daft combination of abstinence advice and natalist encouragement of unplanned motherhood, but she damn well didn’t create the market for that barely coherent propaganda as the politically inert teenage daughter of a minor governor. That was a cottage industry in rude health long before she was even born; the Palins have merely been savvy and calculating enough to take advantage of it in order to, among other things, help provide for their family, which is unusually large, young, and reproductive for a modern American family.
The Palins are widely said to be white trash, and there’s some otruth to this accusation, but they’re rich white trash. This is a much more confusing concept than it should be. I personally became familiar with rich white trash long before I became familiar with its poor counterpart on account of my maternal grandmother’s vile old illiterate drunk of a boyfriend, who had a plasterer’s union pension, an Army pension, free and clear title to a two-bedroom house, a few dozen feet of lake beachfront for a time, and something like a quarter million dollars’ worth of stock holdings. This guy was a real piece of shit, much worse than anything I’ve seen of the Palins and their associates in public. The Palins have scandalously abused their power, but it’s hard to make a meaningful comparison between interference with the police by the governor and her family and a man with absolutely no political clout, even in town politics, impotently throwing his limited weight around with relatives and family acquaintances.
Bougie is pissed at the Palin women for setting a bad example with their profligate motherhood. It’s a disgusting thing to watch. The admonishment of young women for falling pregnant without proper sanction has moved from the religious right to the secular left. The religious right these days may be crazy and have ulterior motives, but at least it’s eager to give women some moral, social, and financial support when they unexpectedly become mothers in irregular circumstances. It’s the left–part hyper-K-strategic, part barren unto ages of ages–that is moralistically rebuking unwed mothers now. Bristol Palin is one of the most obvious flashpoints in this fight, the scion of a famous religious-right family who became a mother in her teens instead of staying in school and pursuing career advancement into her thirties at the expense of childrearing. She’s on track to turn forty with a grown child, maybe even a grandchild or two if her children follow suit. Her parents, after all, became grandparents in their mid-forties, just after they had their own fifth child.
Bougie does not want its spawn doing likewise. Having kids young simply is not the done thing. Seriously, this is the level of reasoning one hears on the subject from the bourgeois left. These people will never concede the perhaps inadvertent wisdom of having children naturally in the prime of youth rather than waiting until middle age to desperately try to conceive a precious snowflake. Bristol Palin’s unplanned out-of-wedlock pregnancies may look rash now, but they won’t look so rash when she’s fifty or seventy, her own grown children and perhaps grandchildren contributing to a rich, thick family tree, while her risk-averse, socially climbing peers muddle, with inexorably decreasing energy levels, through their haphazard efforts to alternately coddle and cajole one or two children apiece into appropriate academic and professional excellence.
Bristol Palin is living the provocative argument that unexpectedly early parenthood, even single motherhood, is not inevitably a nightmare of poverty and socioeconomic marginalization. This is absolutely not what BoBo parents want their children to assume. They want their kids to stay on the straight and narrow, get college degrees, get graduate degrees, and not even think about having children of their own until they’re well into the top income quartile. This is ultimately a category error: young parents aren’t marginalized because they’re too irresponsible to function in society, but because society chooses to marginalize them, and society makes this choice in large part because its more affluent and influential members are deliberately barren into their thirties, not prolifically reproductive in their twenties, as their equivalents were during the Baby Boom. The yuppie Red Queen’s Race is a vicious positive feedback loop, but it is not inevitable or insurmountable. It can be overcome, and Bristol Palin and her family are prime examples of influential people taking concrete steps to overcome it.
This may not be their intent, but it’s their effect. They’re providing a concrete alternative to the punishingly narrow prejudice that the only acceptable path to success is to spend one’s youth waging all-out professional war on one’s peers in the hope, or not, of one day being able to afford to raise children in affluence. Bristol Palin is not a failure. Her failure to be a failure pisses off the insecure, educated affluent. Glancing over photographs of her fully convinces me that she’s emotionally healthier than most of the coeds I saw around campus at Dickinson College, and that she’s more emotionally stable than I am. This is damning of the mainstream haute bourgeoisie, doubly so of the educational rat race it pressures its children into running. Bristol Palin is happier as a young mother than my peers at Dickinson were doing whatever the fuck it was that they were trying to accomplish; if it had been worth accomplishing, Dickinson’s alumni would include a lot more nurses and MD’s and a lot fewer bank executives and corporate lawyers.
The authoritarian religious-right social controls on private sexual behavior that the Palins have been endorsing as celebrities are bogus. Decisions about childbearing are properly left to individuals, not to meddlesome third parties, and everyone is best off if the sexually active are familiar enough with sexual health and mechanics to avoid unwanted pregnancies, especially in high volumes. Again, however, these decisions go from chaotic to disastrous when they are wrested from individuals, and the formally educated Western bourgeoisie has gone wildly overboard in its cryptoeugenic campaign to restrict parenthood to the aging affluent. God knows this country needs more young, energetic, healthy, fit parents like Bristol Palin. If she’s up to it, maybe she can help repopulate Europe, too.
More than a bit of the chiding of Bristol Palin comes from resentniks who tacitly wish that they were fucking her silly on the regular. Much of the rest comes from ones who wish they had been less cautious about their own childrearing or that the currently childless hordes of leftists were raising more kids and the Jesus freak Republican wingnuts fewer. This is much more pathological than any failure by Palin and noted sheep hunter Levi Johnston to use protection, or any decision on their part to get giggity in a tent. At Return of Kings, their tent sex is widely held to be probative of something. This is because RoK is a den of leering perverts.
The solutions to this salacious moralizing are twofold. If you lust after the girl, get thee to a whorehouse posthaste, even if the chick you end up hiring is not a brunette thicky trick. For the rest of y’all, go home yuppie scum. Take that shit back to CB East or Paly or New Trier or wherever you’re too damn scared to have kids of your own. Bristol wasn’t too scared to go through with it, so the least you can do is stand the fuck out of the way and let her, of all people, heed the Adults’ Hour.
Scott Simon is a Cubs fan, and I’m a Scott Simon fan, but I’ll say it again: Go Home Yuppie Scum. White Sox Nation is but a secondary beneficiary of this righteous program of asshat abatement. Does white trash nation benefit, too? Yes. But for the love of God, have your own children instead of begrudging the lower classes theirs.