August 8, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
When I was a little kid, one day I heard my parents talking and they used the term “poetic license.” I thought that meant you had to get a license to be a poet. It seemed strange that you had to be licensed to write poetry the way you need a license to drive a car, but then, there was much about the adult world that seemed strange to me. Truth to tell, there still is.
But that incident came back to me when I read this teaser for a Rolling Stone Magazine interview with singer Katy Perry (Rolling Stone, 7/30/14). Too bad no one required Perry to have a license before she shot her mouth off on topics about which she’s clearly ignorant. Perry’s cover photo makes her look like Barbie the instant before Ken ran over her driving his Tonka truck, i.e. not one to encourage deep respect for the opinions of the person so depicted. That’s probably a good thing.
Specifically, Perry went off on a tangent about the prospect of having children and, in keeping with the zeitgeist of the 1980s when single-motherhood was championed by all and sundry as “just another lifestyle choice,” delivered herself of the opinion that, when she decides to become a mother, she won’t “need a dude” to do it.
She’s right of course. She won’t need to do anything but pay a visit to a sperm bank and she’ll be on her way to a narcissist’s dreamland, one in which Baby is hers and hers alone, just the two of them with no one to interfere. And, unless she’s really incompetent, she’ll have plenty of money with which to hire armies of nannies and whoever else might be needed to do those icky and tedious jobs parents are so often called on to perform. So what could possibly be the problem?
Well, one thing is that while Perry may not “need a dude,” baby definitely does. It seems she overlooked that little matter, but hey, it’s something anyone can do. When one is as important – or self-important – as Katy Perry, I’m sure it’s all too easy to forget that when one has a baby, it’s actually another person, not just an extension of oneself, but a real living, breathing, autonomous human being.
And that’s the thing about children; their needs are so often different from those of their parents. Perry wouldn’t dream of reading a book on the subject, but children really do need two parents in their lives. The rest of us have known that for decades, but Perry seems not to have gotten the memo. It’s not only true that children without fathers exhibit a wide range of social and personal deficits that children with two parents don’t. It’s not just that those deficits recur across every demographic category including race, class, income, education, ethnicity, religion, etc. And those deficits aren’t just a function of the lack of money single parents tend to suffer. In fact, there’s sound social science that father absence isn’t merely associated with those deficits in children, but a cause of them.
That may be because fathers and mothers tend to parent differently and the two together create a synergy that is uniquely beneficial to the development and well-being – both short- and long-term – of children. Mothers’ parenting tends to teach self-acceptance; fathers’ parenting tends to teach self-reliance and empathy for others. Both, and many more, are required for a child to mature into a healthy, happy, well-adjusted adult. Perry seems to know none of that.
Will her child become a mass murder? Probably not. I’m sure Perry will be the best parent she can be, just like most mothers and fathers. But that doesn’t mean that the conscious decision to bring a child into the world without a father is smart or beneficial to the child. And if she starts with those misconceptions about children’s welfare, who knows where else she might go? After all, this is the person who, in addition to saying she doesn’t “need a dude,” also informed Rolling Stone readers that “we are living in the future.”
Meanwhile, maybe we should revisit the idea of licensing people like Perry, i.e. people with more public exposure than brains. Maybe those folks should be required to stick to what they do best, which in Perry’s case is singing. Maybe, before we allow them to opine on important issues, we should make them get a license, the requirements of which would include demonstrating at least a passing knowledge of the subject. After all, people like Perry have influence far beyond their abilities. The impressionable among us may even look to Katy Perry as a kind of role model and take what she says as the gospel truth. Among those impressionable folks number lots of kids, you know, the ones she thinks don’t “need a dude” in their lives.
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