Many of us participate in dehumanizing Nadya Suleman, depriving her even of her own name by virtue of using the term ‘Octomom.’ Suleman has few people on her side of the ring, partly because she embodies what both conservatives and liberals hate most. Suleman recently made news again on charges of welfare fraud; she may spend up to eight years in prison. If Suleman does go to prison, I hope she ends up where I work so I could tell her what I really think: that America’s hatred of her has more to do with them than it does with her. And I’d remind her of God’s mercy and compassion: something I think has been absent from this discussion.
We recognize the name Nadya Suleman, yet how many people recognize the name Michael Kamrava? Kamrava was the doctor who injected Ms. Suleman with twelve embryos which earned him a suspension of his medical practice. Why is Ms. Suleman not known primarily as a victim of medical malpractice?
Because the only thing that angers America more than medical malpractice is ‘welfare queens’:
“Initial offers to help quickly dried up as outrage spread about the births and knowledge that Suleman was unemployed and had been collecting welfare before the children were born.” (“‘Octomom’ charged with welfare fraud.” Will Rogers. Associated Press. January 13 2014)
Suleman, perhaps the ultimate right-to-life advocate, forfeits conservative sympathy by virtue of her ‘welfare queen’ status.
Yet Suleman finds no sympathy from the self-righteous left either. Her blatant celebration of life and the act of giving life earns her the ire of a political faction that reduces feminism to the successful regulation of the reproductive act. This explains the routine condescension found in Internet comments such as, “She should have thought about it before she had all those kids.” As the left’s glamorization of teen motherhood would have it, one is rewarded for holding it together despite all odds. By not controlling birth, Suleman forfeits their sympathy too.
Contempt for her is possibly the only thing that unites our political factions, but our debt to Suleman does not end there. Her attempts to support her children have revealed the true moneymaking ventures in twenty first century America. What types of choices are rewarded with the most money?
Porn and circus.
Our society has exploited this woman and reduced her to a groveling dog; a slave to its sexual perversities. Every time Ms. Suleman signs up for another dehumanizing yet lucrative stunt, we know very well that the only motivating factor was her support of her children. Yet our scorn is reserved for her, not the exploitative porn mogul.
Suleman needs two things: a lot of money and a lot of counseling. There are plenty of shady businessmen willing to “help” if she’ll pose topless against a backdrop of baby clothes on a laundry line. My concern is the counseling; the compassionate ear. It is not necessarily the number of children she has that is problematic, but rather my strong suspicion that she craved being loved and needed.
Tricia Pethic is a Muslim prison chaplain in New York state. She blogs at http://www.thecivilmuslim.wordpress.com and has started a mosque consulting service, http://www.muslimcommunityconsultants.com