2011 March 07 Monday
Single Natalie Portman Pregnant: Bad Or Good Thing?

OneSTDV disagrees with Mike Huckabee over the issue of just why Natalie Portman should be criticized for getting pregnant out of wedlock. Says OneSTDV: Huckabee Criticizes Natalie Portman and Gets It Totally Wrong. Huckabee does not want rich, single, highly successful women making babies and setting an example that poorer women will follow. OneSTDV criticizes the materialistic slant of Huckabee's criticism:

In denouncing Ron Paul and ideological libertarianism as well as opining on the Ground Zero mosque controversy, I've lamented the rise of abject pragmatism. Our society increasingly ignores the "spiritual" and emotional concerns of the populace, both in a personal and collective context. In our pursuit of materialism (not the philosophical kind) and status, we too often focus on the quantitative and tangible. As in Paul's economic obsession over cultural importance, we ignore what enlivens the soul rather than invigorates the bank account.

Huckabee's entirely practical denouncement of single motherhood fits this perfectly. Notice that he doesn't discuss the need for fathers from a spiritual perspective, how having a supportive male role model makes a child (especially a boy) feel, how fathers provide a type of guidance and love that a mother can't, how a child can only know his entire self through his father's lineage and not merely from his mother, and how a mother and father pair enrich a child's life in a way that a single mother can't duplicate. He doesn't speak on the happiness of a family, the togetherness, the support of a close collective. No, he merely notes food stamps, poverty, and throws in an appeal to limited government politics. It's all about money, jobs, and healthcare.

Okay, they both make fair points. Visible celebrities serve as role models. Kids deserve loving dads. Fair enough. But I'm going to come at this from a totally different place: Smart women making babies are rare enough that we should celebrate their pregnancies even when they are single. Their babies will be smarter than the babies of the average single mother. We need smarter babies for the next generation.

To put it another way: The odds of smart women making babies are already too low. If we demand they find a guy who they find acceptable to marry who will make babies with them then today we might just be setting the bar too high.

Update: Commenters wonder why I assert that Miss Portman is smart. Well, as another commenter points out the Wikipedia page on Natalie Portman provides plenty of evidence for her braininess. Ever since we've escaped from the Malthusian Trap the selective pressures for higher IQ during the Malthusian Trap era have probably stopped and even reversed. This threatens the long term health of Western Civilization.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 March 07 08:11 PM  Human Nature Mating


Comments
sestamibi said at March 8, 2011 9:48 AM:

Not when they're competing with men in the workplace. Not when they still demand we subsidize them through parental leave, public day care, etc. And not when they pick bad boy fathers who aren't particular "smart" (by your definition), suggesting that the offspring might not be either.

Check It Out said at March 8, 2011 2:16 PM:

1. Why are we assuming that Natalie Portman is smart? Because she is successful in a particular industry?

2. What exactly is a "smart woman"?

3. What evidence is there that children of smart women will also be smart?

4. If Natalie Portman is pregnant in or out of wedlock, who cares?

5. If Natalie Portman doesn't or cannot get pregnant in or out of wedlock, who cares?

6. If Natalie Portman enjoyed or didn't enjoy getting pregnant, who cares?

7. If Natalie Portman's baby is born dumb or smart, WHO CARES?

B.B. said at March 8, 2011 3:24 PM:

Check It Out said:
Why are we assuming that Natalie Portman is smart?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natalie_Portman#Education

Randall Parker said at March 8, 2011 6:16 PM:

sestamibi,

You competing with Natalie Portman in the workplace?

You seem to be missing the point: Very smart women who reproduce do us a big favor. Their smart kids will generate more in tax revenues than they cost to society.

I see I have to update the post.

Check It Out,

I'm not assuming Portman is smart. She speaks a few languages, graduated from Harvard, and shows other indications of being a lot smarter than average.

Dan said at March 8, 2011 7:12 PM:

Natalie Portman is very smart, there is no doubt. Note her pursuit of, and success in, hard science. She could have been a good scientist but for her acting success.

That said, if we want her to have more children, we should root for her to be married. A brilliant single woman may have *a* child, but a large family? Almost never!

Dan said at March 8, 2011 7:29 PM:

Those who want more Jewish people (am I sensing that?) because they are often very bright and make big contributions should really be rooting for the orthodox style. A single baby here or there is hardly going to cut it.

Orthodox families were common in the early part of the 20th century, and most American Jewish population growth comes from that time, with almost no growth ever since.

I am not Jewish, just an observer.

Mercer said at March 8, 2011 7:58 PM:

"Smart women making babies are rare enough that we should celebrate their pregnancies even when they are single"

The problem I see with thinking that about Portman is that Hollywood has a big influence on what is accepted and fashionable and most of the people it influences are not smart.

I think Huck is on target when he says that Hollywood is making being a single mother seem more glamorous then the reality. Most single moms do not get extensive dance lessons and fancy costumes to strut around on TV like Bristol Palin did. Hollywood is presenting a fantasy that many young women will think is reality.

Randall Parker said at March 8, 2011 9:13 PM:

Mercer,

My real point is that we need a culture where people state right out loud that it is better for smart people to have kids.

Check It Out said at March 9, 2011 11:50 AM:

"Natalie Portman is very smart, there is no doubt" Woa, this is the kind of dogmatic statement that makes anybody sound like a priest or religious minister. "there's no doubt" So much certainty always stinks. Dan must know her so first handedly.

"She speaks a few languages, graduated from Harvard, and shows other indications of being a lot smarter than average" Yeah, so does my sister...

So we are to think that we ponder intelligence in accordance to languages spoken and being a Harvard grad, right? Randall, pleeeeaaaase... Hey the president of Mexico is also a Harvard graduate, ha, ha, ha How's that for "smart". (Perhaps you're ready to defend president Calderon's intelligence) And there are many idiots who speak many languages. Now I don't know whether Natalie Portman is smart or not, all I'm saying is that intelligence is not meassured by the number of languages you speak, being a Harvard grad or the money you are able to make in your life. The reasons you give for intelligence simply do not stand as such.

We do love dogmatism, don't we. Somebody tells us Portman is smart and we're ready to believe it, and if so...

And B.B., wikipedia? for this kind of info? really?

Check It Out said at March 9, 2011 11:52 AM:

Who cares?

Dan said at March 9, 2011 7:50 PM:

Check It Out...

She was a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search, which is *the* national high school science competition. All this while being Queen Amidala and much else. She wiped the floor with dweebs across America who pour their life into that science competition, even while science was a side attraction to her main entree of acting.

Harvard doesn't impress me as much as that.

WJ said at March 9, 2011 9:29 PM:

On the one hand, it's important to stress how tough it can be to raise a child, and how important it is to have a father there. Portman has a father there, I understand, and they intend to marry. It's best, though, if you have that contract signed and sealed before you get pregnant, especially if you don't have her wealth.

On the other hand, one reason intelligent people don't have more children is that we sometimes stress too much the difficulty of it. It can be demanding, but not that demanding - heck, homo sapiens has been doing it for 200,000 years or so. It's also easier to do when you have the energy of youth and live surrounded by family and friends who can lend a hand. A mobile culture, older parents, single parents, less religiosity - just about every cultural habit is trending against the things that make it easier to bring up a child, and that make it easier to have larger families. I should also mention the increasingly high cost of finding a "non-vibrant" neighborhood in which to raise a child.

One reason we connect single or teen parenthood to delinquent children is because of the people who tend to be single or teen parents - impulsive, wreckless, less intelligent. For the pregnant teens I knew in high school, pregnancy was often an honest mistake rather than the result of habitual promiscuity (SFAIK). They continued their pregnancies because they were Mormons and considered abortion immoral. The ones who got married are still married (15 years on) and appear to be raising happy, intelligent children.

It's sad though that a person with Portman's high profile, who just won an Oscar, may send a message to more successful women that fathers aren't all that important - even if she eventually ties the knot. Women don't need yet another message that men are unimportant - nor do men.

Big bill said at March 10, 2011 9:57 AM:

More importantly from a Halachic Jewish perspective, did she breed with a Gentile or a Jew? Will her baby be a mamzer or otherwise unmarriagable in Israel, her national homeland?

blue said at March 10, 2011 5:15 PM:

Randall,

I'm really surprised that you are supportive.

Natalie Portman is very pretty and could have easily found a good man to marry, and then had children with him.

What she is doing is especially wrong because she is from a solid upper middle class background. She knows better than this.

There is just no excuse for her behavior.

Randall Parker said at March 10, 2011 11:09 PM:

blue,

It is more important for smart people to make babies than for people to first get married to make babies.

WJ said at March 12, 2011 4:58 PM:

Randall, are you talking about a smart person making a choice that results in them squeezing out the random kid, or making the choice that maximizes their fertility?

I'd guess that if they're married before having kids they will eventually, on average, have more children than those who bear out of wedlock. Meryl Streep has been married 33 years, graduated from Yale, and has 4 children. Have a child before making a commitment and I'd guess there's a higher chance you won't marry the father and will eventually still be looking for that special someone while raising a kid. That may be fine for Portman, who is rich, beautiful and famous. But for the smart person without quite so much money it won't be easy. When I was still single I was wary about dating divorcees with kids. It's not so much that I didn't want to raise someone else's kid as that I worried that a woman who already had a child wouldn't want to have more, or as many. (Note to any divorced/single mothers: if you're interested in a man who you think wants to have a few kids, and you want more, too, express that feeling early on. It will reassure him.)

I'd have to dig up the stats but, iirc, there's a fairly strong correlation between marriage and fertility rates. Mormons and Catholics tend to have larger families, and Hispanic immigrants are more likely to be married and have larger families than their American-born kids, who have higher out-of-wedlock birthrates.

Randall Parker said at March 12, 2011 5:57 PM:

WJ,

Smart women have very low fertility rates. 1 is more than 0. 2 is more than 1. I'm for whatever raises the fertility of smart women. The random kid: That is 1 > 0. Still not as good as 2. 3 is much better because it increases the frequency of higher IQ genes in the next generation.

Randall Parker said at March 12, 2011 6:03 PM:

WJ,

Your point about married people having more kids: Probably true for a few reasons. Though one of those reasons is economic. Well, Miss Portman can afford nannies.

Meryl Streep is an outlier in many ways. One of course is her enormous acting talent. But staying married 33 years as a major actress is extremely rare. What are the odds that Natalie Portman will stay married that long to the guy she's currently engaged to?

WJ said at March 12, 2011 9:26 PM:

Whether Portman has any children herself is irrelevant (except to her), and doesn't seem to be your real concern. Lower fertility rates are caused by cultural changes, and they can be fixed by cultural changes. Telling smart women to have children out-of-wedlock isn't the solution. They need to be more realistic in their expectations. They need to marry at somewhat younger ages. I think another problem is the oversexualization of the dating scene. People today now roll into bed after only a few dates. They often stick with incompatible people, in part, because of the sex. That increases the time it takes to find the right person.

Having that first child out-of-wedlock probably reduces the chances of an intelligent woman having more children. It makes single life more difficult, and it scares off other men. I can understand a late-30s woman hearing the ticking of her biological clock and saying "what the hell," but Portman isn't even 30, and she has no right to claim that she can't attract successful men, of just about any race, creed, profession or income she desires.


Comment Monster said at March 15, 2011 3:13 PM:

She's not smart enough to 1) care or understand how much better it is for her baby to have two parents with a stable relationship and 2) realize what a horrible message she's sending to dumb celebrity-worshipping women who fantasize they're as cool as Natalie Portman.


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