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Liberalism and Children

John on May 25, 2008 at 9:44 am

Two stories I’ve come across in the last couple days that I think say a lot and, frankly, comport with my own experience. First off, if you had any doubt, know that Gore Vidal is every bit the self-obsessed dirtbag he appears to be:

In a wide-ranging interview in today’s Independent on Sunday New Review magazine, he addresses rumours that he fathered a child in the 1950s – at first denying the suggestion, but then seeming to confirm it.

“Possibly. I don’t believe so,” he replies when asked if the rumours are true. “The father was either me or a German photographer. I believe the mother is dead. The child was a girl. Every Christmas I would receive a picture of them all around the tree, and there’s the little girl looking like me. I could have a daughter, yes.”

Asked why he has made no attempt to contact her, he replies: “I sent her mother money for an abortion. Which she used to go to Detroit, where she found a rich man.”

Second, Rebecca Walker — daughter of novelist Alice Walker — describes her childhood for the Daily Mail:

As the child of divorced parents, I know only too well the painful consequences of being brought up in those circumstances. Feminism has much to answer for denigrating men and encouraging women to seek independence whatever the cost to their families.

My mother’s feminist principles coloured every aspect of my life. As a little girl, I wasn’t even allowed to play with dolls or stuffed toys in case they brought out a maternal instinct. It was drummed into me that being a mother, raising children and running a home were a form of slavery. Having a career, travelling the world and being independent were what really mattered according to her.

I love my mother very much, but I haven’t seen her or spoken to her since I became pregnant. She has never seen my son  -  her only grandchild. My crime? Daring to question her ideology.

Well, so be it. My mother may be revered by women around the world  -  goodness knows, many even have shrines to her. But I honestly believe it’s time to puncture the myth and to reveal what life was really like to grow up as a child of the feminist revolution.


Although I knew what my mother felt about babies, I still hoped that when I told her I was pregnant, she would be excited for me.

Instead, when I called her one morning in the spring of 2004, while I was at one of her homes housesitting, and told her my news and that I’d never been happier, she went very quiet. All she could say was that she was shocked. Then she asked if I could check on her garden. I put the phone down and sobbed  -  she had deliberately withheld her approval with the intention of hurting me. What loving mother would do that?

Worse was to follow. My mother took umbrage at an interview in which I’d mentioned that my parents didn’t protect or look out for me. She sent me an e-mail, threatening to undermine my reputation as a writer. I couldn’t believe she could be so hurtful  -  particularly when I was pregnant.

Devastated, I asked her to apologise and acknowledge how much she’d hurt me over the years with neglect, withholding affection and resenting me for things I had no control over  -  the fact that I am mixed-race, that I have a wealthy, white, professional father and that I was born at all.

But she wouldn’t back down. Instead, she wrote me a letter saying that our relationship had been inconsequential for years and that she was no longer interested in being my mother. She even signed the letter with her first name, rather than ‘Mom’.

That was a month before Tenzin’s birth in December 2004, and I have had no contact with my mother since. She didn’t even get in touch when he was rushed into the special care baby unit after he was born suffering breathing difficulties.

Liberal grandees who set themselves out as examples for how the rest of the world should behave often turn out to be the lowest possible creeps when it comes to their own personal world. There are many other names that come to mind including Rousseau, Shelley and Sartre.

[HT: Hot Air for the Gore Vidal story and Michelle for the Rebecca Walker story.]

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