Earlier this year a woman residing in the rural Washington town of Warden by the name of Pamela Ortega was caught molesting her own children and broadcasting it live to men on the Internet. In addition to her own eight-year-old daughter and six-year-old son, the single mother had molested a two-week-old infant she was babysitting for a neighbor. She may never have been caught but for a European man who called authorities when Ortega attempted to arrange a rendezvous with him where he would rape her daughter, something police say she had done before.
When questioned she claimed “peer pressure” and loneliness forced her into these acts. Apparently the men she shared these videos with were doing the same thing to their children.
A couple of weeks ago I was reminded of this nightmarish case when I read KJ Dell’Antonia’s XX Factor post that complained bitterly about Michelle Obama’s boilerplate contention that her children are the center of her world. Dell’Antonia no doubt speaks for many in our society who feel like this:
Hanna, I have a confession to make, one which apparently condemns me to a life as someone our first lady wouldn’t even care to know: My children are not the center of my world. And when I hear world-traveling Michelle Obama, campaigner for kids’ health and a savvy politician in her own right, offer us a lame trope about putting her kids first as she did earlier this week, my back goes up. “Like every parent I know, my children are the center of my world,” she said. “My hopes for their future are at the heart of every single thing I do.” It’s a generic first lady line. But coming from someone who, before reluctantly donning the first apron, worked high-profile and demanding jobs with young children at home, it’s both disingenuous and troubling. Why do women, even women like Obama, feel compelled to pretend to embrace and then to saddle one another with this ridiculous standard?
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Publicly stating that you think it’s a “ridiculous standard” to put your children ahead of your career is drug addicted stripper raising 101. Even bad parents know enough to tell their kids they come first, because children need to feel loved and they don’t understand the subtleties of personality adults do. At 25 realizing your mother put her career ahead of you, but did the best she personally could is no doubt disheartening. At 15 it’s soul-shattering. At 5? It will destroy a person.
But for me the real problem with Dell’Antonia’s statement is the latent resentment of children it represents; a resentment that is common in America and isn’t specific to leftists. Society as a whole has accepted the idea that children are not just burdens, but that they are in the way of some grander ambition we should have. In the case of Dell’Antonia it’s her job, which she believes is more than just how she makes a living, but some part of her personal identity which she must protect from being despoiled by her children. For Ortega it was an online fantasy world of sexual depravity.
For Shana Brown, her children stood in the way of keeping her man, one Duane Calloway, who wanted Brown’s 13-year-old daughter to be his mistress and bear his children. When the child had the temerity to not cooperate, Brown began drugging the girl so her boyfriend could rape her while she was unconscious.