Spun (#206)

You may have noticed some outrage on my page these days. And those are only the public messages, not the private ones. Some people are seriously pissed at me for writing posts that do not laud childbearing.

To which I say, why? Why is it so important that we revere pregnancy and procreation?

I’m gonna go with the marketing of Big Religion. Once birth control went mainstream, women suddenly had the option of not spending their lives trapped in an endless cycle of what The Women’s Room termed “[baby] shit and string beans.” More and more women saw they’d been denied the opportunities of their male counterparts. They got angry. They demanded the pill and equal rights.

Big Religion pushed back, utilizing Christian conservatives. Religious types blasted feminists as harlots and undesirables, while praising traditional, stay-at-home mothers. Conservatives labeled women shrill. Ball-busters. And don’t think this ended in the 1970s. Rush Limbaugh is still obsessed with Hillary Rodham Clinton, mocking her 70s pants, hair, and glasses this century.

Much of America couldn’t get past the avalanche of conservative spin. The Bible Belt certainly couldn’t. Hillary Rodham took Bill Clinton’s last name. She ditched the glasses, dyed her hair blonde, and traded in her pants for pink suits with skirts.

It worked. Arkansas embraced her. America embraced her.

And Hillary bided her time until she thought America had evolved enough to accept a strong woman in pants.

Turns out, we hadn’t. 53% of white women voters went for Trump instead. A guy who bragged about assaulting women.

Last week, 63% of white women in Alabama went for alleged child molester Roy Moore. Were we going backwards or what?

Not all of us. If you break down the numbers, those women think of themselves as Evangelical Christians. The same group that went for Trump. How can two such sinful men get so much of the so-called Christian vote?

Religious spin, of course. (Racism, too, but that’s another post.) The same Big Religious Patriarchy that went all in on feminist harlots went all in on abortion. They made the embryo the most sacred of all cows, and motherhood the holiest of all callings. (Once you have a kid, though, it can starve to death or die from lack of medical attention, especially if it’s poor or not white.) And the southern states bought in, big time. They ignore other issues, because abortion is murder and murder is bad, and you don’t vote for what is bad and that makes voter research quick. It’s a win for the lazy voter and religion, a loss for the country.

Big, Religious Patriarchy has been effectively spinning for years. The more kids their adherents have, the more their power religious leaders wield. No wonder the womb is sacred. Of course religious leaders praise women for fulfilling their “traditional” roles and being “obedient and “feminine.”

And even if you aren’t religious, this reactionary spin seeps into our media, our culture, and our bones.


Spin is everywhere. Even here, on my pages. On my previous posts, where I list reasons not to have children. That doesn’t mean those reasons aren’t legitimate, mind you.

And I still think people should think – long and hard – before having kids. I wish we all hit puberty with a form of birth control. Then humans would have to consciously opt in to have children, rather than consciously having to opt out.

But, perhaps like the religious right, some of my spin came from fear. Big Religion fears women gaining power, realizing they’ve been complicit in their own repression, and screaming “I’m outta here!”

I feared being a terrible parent, with a terrible temper, like my father. I feared that, like my mom, I’d be worn out, an emotionally empty vessel after all the years of taking care of children. I feared I wouldn’t be able to give a child all that it needs.

I got past those fears — mostly. I came to terms with adopting a child in need. Singular. One kid only, I could manage. But then my husband didn’t want to adopt. He wanted that one child to have half of my genes, and half of his.

And that’s even more terrifying. That’s goddamned genetic roulette.

Especially if your family has some, er, atypical genetics.

Like mine.

Starting with triplets. Yes, triplets. On her second pregnancy, my mother’s overachieving ovaries released three eggs. THREE! There were complications, including one stupid male doctor. Mom lost all three embryos, plus a fallopian tube and an ovary. (Don’t worry, she rallied and made up for it by having another five kids.)

There was no way in hell I could be a decent parent to 3 infants at once. Andy and I were on our own. We couldn’t afford a nanny. I told Andy that, in case of triplets, we would offer two of the babies up to two of my girlfriends who were planning to adopt. He thought I was joking.

I wasn’t.

He came around, grudgingly, when I pointed out that the alternative was not having kids.

But that still left us with one other genetic issue:

Asperger’s syndrome.

Asperger’s runs – nay, GALLOPS — in my family. If you’re familiar with Asperger’s, then you know it’s not officially called by that name anymore, but you’ll also know  the type of high functioning autism spectrum disorder that I’m referencing.

If you aren’t familiar, the character of Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory is probably the best example of Asperger’s in pop culture. Enigma code breaker Alan Turing is an excellent historical example.

“Aspies,” as some self-label, are characterized by being brilliant thinkers and social nightmares. Like one of my nephews, they might teach themselves to read and do long division by age three. Like one of my sisters, they may spend kindergarten in a corner, reading a book, painfully aware of their classmates’ ridicule.

They miss social cues. Their speech is sometimes flat, sometimes grating, and often alienating.

Aspies often require early, intensive intervention in order to fit in with their peers and make friends. Until recently, most Aspies didn’t get that intervention.

My father certainly didn’t. He’d never heard of Asperger’s until I informed him that he clearly had Adult Residual Asperger’s. I don’t think he believed me until one sister, her son, and another grandchild were officially diagnosed a few years later.

Dad had manners and social graces pounded into his head by his mother, though. He learned to fake neurotypical behavior well enough to achieve some career success (aided by being a white male with familial connections). Conversations with Dad often devolve into lectures, however, with the focus on HIS thoughts about HIS favorite topics.

That’s not surprising. Perseveration and one-sided conversations are two common indicators of Asperger’s.

It’s not just my genetics that are problematic, though. Do you remember who else on this blog perseverated relentlessly? On everything from doors to male grandchildren? And lacked the slightest bit of social grace or awareness?

Andy’s father Jay. There’s no way that man did not also have Adult Residual Asperger’s.

I pointed this out to Andy. Andy agreed.

I asked, once more, “Are you sure you want our own kid? We could have triplets. All. With. Asperger’s.”

Andy is an optimist. He said, “Or we might have one sweet, charming little girl.”

I snorted. “First, I already told you, we’d have a boy. Boys are something like five times more likely to be on the spectrum. Second, the Bossy Ashbough Tyrant gene is dominant. Are any females in my family sweet and charming?”


“She was only an Ashbough by marriage and you know it. So let me ask again: are you absolutely sure you want to spin that genetic roulette wheel? Because there’s a good chance it could land on a red three.”

Andy’s a gambling man. He set his jaw and said, “Yes.”

And we spun.

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Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

31 thoughts on “Spun (#206)”

  1. So how do you really feel? 🙂 I am troubled by a lot of the conservative religious. I have one in my family and believe me it’s a “do as I say not as I do” situation with men at the top of the pecking order. Moving onto kids. It’s a personal decision. I have always thought that eggs should be doled by the gods after a test. I didn’t have children and I blame my brother’s child for that. He was a temper prone child (who grew up to be normal but that took decades). The other piece is that I wasn’t in the right relationship when my eggs were alive. Having said that, one of my stepkids is an (undiagnosed except by me and his birth mom) aspie. He lives in another state so we rarely see him. Very poor social skills. Far worse than Shelden Cooper and without the “something” that makes you like Sheldon. Looking at my gene pool, it gets scary. Perhaps that’s why people have kids so young while you still believe all babies are wonderful and easy. I am neither pro nor anti-kid but if you have one you should be prepared to make the commitment to parenting so they grow up to be well adjusted people. They are not purse poodles and you can’t take them back to the shelter.

    1. Exactly. I’m more troubled by people who have kids without thinking because they think it’s just what you’re supposed to do or that it’s easy.

      My friend JM’s father used to say, “When you make a choice, imagine the worst possible outcome. Then multiply it by ten. Can you live with that?”

      Some critical thought to decisions that massively impact other people is never a bad idea. In both procreation and voting.

    1. Soon. I know that’s kind of vague, but Andy still can’t drive and it’s the holidays. Sadly, the blog is falling further behind. Thank you for your patience and I love your enthusiasm, though. It is my fuel. 🙂

  2. Last week, 63% of white women in Alabama went for alleged child molester Roy Moore.

    Innocent til proven guilty, surely? Otherwise you wouldn’t have had to include alleged.

    1. Yes, technically innocent until proven guilty, though the overwhelming preponderance of evidence — including statements from mall security guards and police officers in his hometown — makes his innocence highly unlikely.

      Perhaps I should have instead focused on the fact that Roy Moore publicly stated that he believes we should get rid of the Constitutional amendments that 1) ended slavery, and 2) gave women the right to vote.

      Or we could talk about him waving his gun around on stage and abusing Sassy the horse.

      There’s no shortage of undesirable qualities when it comes to Roy Moore.

        1. #NotAllWomen because Black Women can get this shit right reliably. It’s only religious white women who are too brainwashed/ racist/ stupid to even vote for their own self-interest. So maybe they should be the ones required to take a literacy test at the polls…

  3. Roy Moore was/is a nightmare, and I cannot comprehend anyone… man or woman considering that that person for any office.
    Nor can I understand women complicit in religious Patriarchy. Yet, here we are. Thank GOD for the black vote! Lol. I know you’re not religious, either.
    Congratulations for being one of the few women I know who actually questioned all the womanly “shoulds” and made your own choices. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story!

    1. Thank you! Yes, women — or anyone! — voting for Roy Moore or Donald Trump often feels unfathomable.

      I think you really have to consider the cultural and religious brainwashing when it comes to white women in the Bible Belt. There’s so much emphasis and praise on being “a good girl” and not questioning men or God, and especially not men of God. All children are sponges until age 6, too. It’s very hard to go against your entrenched community when you want to belong. No matter how many irrational or hypocritical knots you have to tie yourself in!

      And then you have to add in racism. Racism is as inextricably tied into religion as misogyny in the south.

  4. I just wanted to say thanks for the great blog! Having kids is quite the difficult choice, I emphasize since I too had to deal with partner that wanted kids much more than I did. We did think long and hard about having kids, and were financially prepared to do so.

    I concur that voting for D. Trump or R. Moore defies rational thought. I don’t understand how even with the plethora of incriminating information on those 2 dotards, people still feel they are leadership material.

  5. I’m just waiting to see what happens next with you and Andy.

    Speaking of what might happen next, have you signed up with MoveOn.org yet for the Mueller firing rapid response march?

  6. Wow, there’s a lot going on in this post. But the one question that floats above the rest for me: Your mom had SIX kids? I somehow didn’t know this. I knew you have lots of siblings and step-siblings…how many is it in total?

    1. I need the Powerpoint chart for this stuff. 6 kids and something like 8 pregnancies for my mom. My dad and my First Ex-Stepmother also had two more kids. So 7 siblings related by blood. 3 Ex-step-siblings. 2 step-step (is that a word?)siblings from my Ex-Stepfather’s Current Wife. And 2 current step-siblings from my father’s Current Wife. So something like 14 siblings showing up at weddings. Apparently no one ever gets jettisoned from my family. We just keep adding siblings.

      1. This is insane. Have you written about all the siblings? For some reason, the way you write about them I always thought you had like four or five siblings. I guess it’s hard to tell since they’re not named

            1. God, no! Too much work. That one of the reasons I use adjectives instead of real names. So you don’t have to remember the real name of the sister who is a doctor or the one who is a lawyer, or the one who steals the boyfriends, or the singer, or the space cadet…

  7. What, you also got personal hate mail for voicing out not deciding to have kids. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and choice. It is interesting to see how America is making choices these days. How much can you go backwards until you don’t know how to move forwards anymore is beginning to look like a possibility.

    And so you spun…. Ahhh. Your cliffhangers!

    1. Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion and some people are of the opinion that their opinion is paramount. Don’t worry, the nastiest stuff was blocked by WordPress. They do a better job than Twitter, for sure. 🙂

      At least I don’t have sex offenders from North Carolina stalking me? 😉

    1. Oh, I think that’s already been done. In November a whole slew of articles came out about how because women do more (i.e., ALL) the housework, emotional labor / planning, and childcare in marriage, less women are getting married. They’re staying single and they’re happier.

      Men, on the other hand, now want to be married more than women. Here’s just one of the articles about the study.

      And I get it. By doing the cooking and the marketing and being handy around the house, Andy is way more helpful than a lot of husbands. He’s not perfect, but believe me, he rocks compared to most entitled American husbands.

  8. You know here in Europe they make fun of characters like Moore ever since news arrived from over the Ocean regarding his “special interests”…Few years ago some people did research on politicians and for one it ended badly due to his sexual misconduct, though he was a one of the high ranking ministers of one of the states here he had to step down and face trials later on -> what about Moore? Nothing at all so far, it is just sickening, not to even start with Trumpy.
    Sure here we also have our wicked people but thus far it worked well to keep them away from positions of power.
    I believe people/ men use Religion just as an excuse to be “dominant” over women. What right a man has when it comes to the female body especially when considering for example abortion?? As one German comedian said ones “Religion was invented when a con man met the first dumb person”. Well enough of my rambling, guess the whole Christmas time makes me just more annoyed by everything.

    1. Normal people here mock Moore as well. How can you not?! as for stepping down, well, that only works if you a) know that the consequences for NOT stepping down will be worse, or b) have the slightest sense of shame. Our Republicans are in power, so there will be no consequences until the next election. And a man without a conscience can feel no shame.

      And yeah, Christmas is magical — sometimes — but also very stressful, especially with a growing family.

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