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"Serial monogamy" and "domino dads"
April 5, 2011 8:50 PM   Subscribe

A University of Michigan study has found that 1 in 5 American women have had children by several different men. Time Magazine dubs the phenomenon "domino dads". The study is the first of its kind to survey Americans from all walks of life, and it finds that the practice can be found across economic classes. But is its publication putting an unfair spotlight on black women?
posted by shii (63 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Clearly, because men certainly had nothing to do with it!
posted by Miko at 8:57 PM on April 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


they tripped and fell.
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 PM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, when should we expect the article on dads having multiple kids with more than one mom?
posted by marsha56 at 9:00 PM on April 5, 2011 [47 favorites]


Way to stir up that gene pool.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:02 PM on April 5, 2011


It seemed to me the study suggested that of women who've had more than one child, 1 in 5 of those women has had children by different men, rather than saying that 20% of women in America. The wording in the FPP is a little misleading.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:02 PM on April 5, 2011 [17 favorites]


Wow, my bad. I was basing my headline off the MSNBC headline, which is clearly inaccurate.
posted by shii at 9:10 PM on April 5, 2011


One in five of all American moms have kids who have different birth fathers, a new study shows. And when researchers look only at moms with two or more kids, that figure is even higher: 28 percent have kids with at least two different men.

Is it the amount of cider I consumed during karaoke, or does ths not make sense as written? Are they somehow implying that mothers who have less than "two or more kids" can have kids with different birth fathers?

(on preview: also taken from the MSNBC link)
posted by immlass at 9:11 PM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I had to read that first paragraph four times to understand it. It's saying:

* 20% of all American mothers have two or more kids with different fathers.
* Of American mothers who've had more than one child, 28% of those women have two or more kids with different fathers.

In other words, the OP is correct but the article is confusing.
posted by yaymukund at 9:12 PM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait, I think I'm chasing my own tail here.
posted by yaymukund at 9:13 PM on April 5, 2011


So, when should we expect the article on dads having multiple kids with more than one mom?

That might be harder to study, given that women more often retain custody of their children. Not impossible, just trickier.

Anyway, is this really worth anything other than a shrug? I feel like half the families I know are "blended" in one way or another. So in my anecdotal little world, this isn't news.
posted by Forktine at 9:13 PM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sure somehow it can be traced to the homosexual agenda and its efforts to destroy heterosexual marriage.
posted by hippybear at 9:17 PM on April 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


From the last link - "issuing cautious glances to the report"

Wha-?
posted by codswallop at 9:18 PM on April 5, 2011


The post should be fixed or removed.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:19 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. Did Time cast value judgement all over this study, or what? Good grief.
posted by hippybear at 9:25 PM on April 5, 2011


...and White Noise takes another (baby) step in its long march from postmodern fiction to slice of life documentary.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:42 PM on April 5, 2011


Okay, although the reporting is bad, it turns out that Ghidorah's comment is inaccurate. I just pulled up the actual study, and it opens with: "Almost one in five middle-aged American women has experienced serial parenting during her life. When limiting the sample to mothers, the percentage of women who have been serial parents rose to 22%. And, among mothers with two or more children (e.g. those who have the possibility of MPF), the rate of multiple partner fertility was over one in four, or 28%.".
posted by shii at 9:43 PM on April 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


Indeed, hippybear.


Some woman have a child with one man and later at some point, have at least one child with a different man. In no way does that mean men are cycling in and out of these children's lives, and in no way does it automatically indicate a loss in father involvement.

In fact, some people get married, have a kid or two, and divorce after some time. Having a child with the new spouse isn't uncommon. My own sister is in grade school now. Dad had another kid later in life when he was more mature.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:44 PM on April 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


This isn't a new phenomenon, except in the very recent past and in certain segments of the American population. For most of recorded history, the death rate meant that step-brothers and step-sisters (and of course step-parents) were fairly common. Hell, even richer (and royal) families had a high chance of the either the mother or father dying and the other remarrying.

Now, it is interesting that now we have the same effect but often the fathers aren't dead, so though they may not play an active role in their children's life, the children may know that they're out there somewhere. What would be more interesting to study is the changing rate of parental involvement of fathers when the mothers end up finding new partners and having kids with them. The article somewhat touches on it, but other than saying "it's a bad thing", it doesn't really delve much into one of the more obvious questions.

Oh, and by the way, "domino dads"? Not everything needs a tagline.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:16 PM on April 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh, and by the way, "domino dads"?


For seriously. What, do they knock each other over on the way out?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:23 PM on April 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


That TIME article is so full of overwrought predictions of doom that I had to check the byline to make sure it wasn't written by Chicken Little.

This isn't a new phenomenon that needs to be studied and then blamed on someone. Families have been shifting and blending like this for thousands of years. How many fathers died during WWI, WWII, the Civil War even? How about the men that left families behind during westward expansion, the gold rush, and never returned? How many of those left-behind mothers remarried, had more kids?

On preview, everything Lord Chancellor said.
posted by palomar at 10:25 PM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the label, domino Dads, maybe it's a I-wish-I-was-hip reference to the petshop boys that fails on it's face?
posted by NiteMayr at 10:41 PM on April 5, 2011


Also in any culture some percentage of people are not the biological children of their mother's husband. I'm not sure how much that percentage varies from culture to culture but I'd be surprised if it weren't a relatively static figure for all humans, not moving much with religiosity, marital practices, or cultural status of women vs men.

I'd speculate that the social role of "extra dads" in many children's lives will be much like the role of uncles. Assume children X, Y and Z share a common mother A, but their fathers are B, C, and D (current partner of A) respectively. Also assume a relatively normal level of sociability and parenting instinct in these people. It's reasonable to expect that X, Y, and Z have some common sense of siblinghood, and the older ones look after the younger to some extent. D will have some parental responsibility for all of the children. C can be expected to have developed some responsibility towards X in his time as X's stepfather. If B spends time with X, his own biological child, he probably spends some of that time in the company of Y and Z as well, and it's reasonable to expect him to not completely ignore them (for example, if he buys a Christmas present for X, he may well buy some smaller presents for Y and Z).

It's just another form of tribal child-raising, which is the stronger and safer method. Two-parent nuclear families that take sole and complete responsibility for their children are rare in human cultures - they are the social aberration.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:47 PM on April 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


shii, if that's the case, my bad. What I wrote was my impression of the Time article, not the study itself (at work, no time to read the whole thing). As always, it's safest to blame Time.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:56 PM on April 5, 2011


Oh, hey, Mom, there's this article about you on the Internet? #truefax
posted by liketitanic at 11:30 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Considerig the divorce rate in America is hovering at 50% is this a surprising result?
posted by PenDevil at 12:31 AM on April 6, 2011


Oh, and by the way, "domino dads"?

It's supposed to be Domino's dad.

Pizza man!
posted by pracowity at 12:47 AM on April 6, 2011


Much ado about nothing.

"If I was a betting woman, I would guess that many people will point to this fact as an example of the decline in American morality and the cause of a great number of societal ills," said Winfrey Harris, who is based in Indianapolis. "And because our society likes to police the sexuality of women -- especially women of color -- these troubles will be laid at our feet." - Tami Winfrey Harris

This is exactly what's going on. This is a false problem manufactured solely to police women's sexuality. It doesn't matter if a woman has two different children by two different fathers. Or even two children by one father, and one child by another father. It's called life, it's called breaking up, it's called divorce. It happens. Why are we judging women in this fashion? This is nothing more than slut-shaming couched in fancy words.

Words like "pervasive" used by the AUTHOR OF THE FUCKING STUDY would lead me to believe that rather than taking a neutral observational POV as befitting a researcher, she's judging the everliving fuck out of these women. See also: Dorius "was surprised at the prevalence [of multiple dads]" and then Time goes on to infer that she is surprised, but "not in a good way".

If women of color are the majority of women who engage in this "pervasive" kind of childbearing, then negatively framing the results of this study, as Dorius is doing, also portrays women of color negatively.

The Time article is also massively false concern-trolling ~for the children~. They paint this portrait of scads of interchangeable fathers, then turn right around and invalidate that supposition by writing that "only 10% of the kids are conceived with a man the mother doesn't really know". Most of the women are with a partner or married when they have their first child, likewise for the rest of their children. Where is this actual "domino dad" phenomenon? It doesn't exist.

marsha56: So, when should we expect the article on dads having multiple kids with more than one mom?

Exactly. It's so strange that we manufacture shame and blame for children by multiple men as an albatross to hang on women's necks, when men are just as capable of fathering multiple children and can do so much more readily than women.

Rather than policing how or why poor women have children, or how many children they have or with whom, when it's really none of our business, we should be focusing on other factors. Lack of sex education, lack of education, lack of funding for higher education and lack of economic opportunities play a significant role in making these women disadvantaged. What's the difference between having two children with two men and two children with one man when you're poor and life is bad? It's a matter of degrees, not a new phenomenon.

We suddenly care that women are having children with two different men, but let's continue to ignore what's causing women to be disadvantaged in the first place. All I have to say to that is: fuck you Time and fuck you Cassandra Dorius.
posted by i feel possessed at 12:53 AM on April 6, 2011 [62 favorites]


Can't favorite i feel posessed's comment enough.
posted by seanyboy at 1:01 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suspect that this is a product of a highly unequal society. People who are habituated to insecurity about survival-level things like food, housing and employment, or the prospects of their children, adapt their behaviour instinctively to make the best opportunity, and go for what biologists call "fast breeding" strategies: have lots of children, invest as little in each as possible and hope that some make it. Women having children by different fathers is an extension of this (if a number of men share genetic investment with you, those are bonds of kinship). This is nothing new, and has probably been the norm for the bulk of humanity throughout history, with the middle-class "norm" of having a few children and investing a lot in them being anomalous (to say nothing of the subtext that 1950s suburban bourgeois sexual morality was in any way normal).
posted by acb at 2:36 AM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ha, this is nothing new. If anything the statistics are trending higher in recent years as evidenced by this story.

Sperm Wars' statistics were something like 1 in 10 so thats pretty extraordinary rise in just under two decades.

The reason this is focused on women is because of the way sperm competition works and the biological obfuscation that is a reproductive woman - essentially making it easy for women to "play the field" for good genes without getting caught as easily as men due to their hidden genetalia and the work required

It's all in the book.
posted by AndrewKemendo at 3:02 AM on April 6, 2011


The reason this is focused on women is because of the way sperm competition works and the biological obfuscation that is a reproductive woman - essentially making it easy for women to "play the field" for good genes without getting caught as easily as men due to their hidden genetalia and the work required

"Hidden genetalia [sic] and the work required" and "It's all in the book" indeed.

Wow. Worst book recommendation ever. Seriously?
posted by anniecat at 3:46 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kevin Federline is having his fifth child.

Five children, three different women. Has the guy considered a vasectomy? I'm sure Britney Spears would be willing to pay for it.
posted by anniecat at 3:57 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, FFS. We do, in fact, have lots of evidence that your pater may not, in fact, be your pater. Every time any research suggests that this is the case, it seems to take folks by surprise. There was research done about the families who broke open the "Great American Desert" in successive generations, where marriages of convenience, and "aunts" and "uncles" were surprisingly common.

C'mon, people. They've had to remove the blue-eyes X blue-eyes example for teaching recessive genetics in some science curricula because two many brown-eyed kids were looking at their parents eyes for homework and coming to the obvious conclusion.

I'm glad someone is trying to do a conclusive survey of this, but what let's not get all hand-wringy over the results. Ever has it been, and ever will it be. It is the nature of human relations.

Not to mention that the moment you place a huge cultural burden of marriage and morals on top of human sexual expression, you are going to get emergent behaviour that may surprise you.

The fact is that every generation you go back, you can be less and less sure your old dad is really your old dad. And that's ok, in most cases.
posted by clvrmnky at 4:52 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


They've had to remove the blue-eyes X blue-eyes example for teaching recessive genetics in some science curricula because two many brown-eyed kids were looking at their parents eyes for homework and coming to the obvious conclusion.

Wasn't the middle Brady boy the only one with brown eyes? All the rest were blue. I've always wondered if he was really a true Brady.

And my brown eyed grandmother and blue eyed grandfather had a blue eyed boy and a brown eyed boy. But they also had a green eyed boy. I haven't asked aloud about that one.

My brother has had children by two different women, who each have had children by two different men. There is a string of half siblings and step siblings that runs from Minnesota to Georgia. And you know what? I am not sure how he could have avoided it. You can go into a situation with all the facts, eyes wide open, and sometimes shit still happens. This shows it happens to a lot of American mothers.
posted by Monday at 5:25 AM on April 6, 2011


Wow. Worst book recommendation ever. Seriously?

You don't like the book or my particular way of recommending it?
posted by AndrewKemendo at 5:29 AM on April 6, 2011


They've had to remove the blue-eyes X blue-eyes example for teaching recessive genetics in some science curricula because two many brown-eyed kids were looking at their parents eyes for homework and coming to the obvious conclusion.

Also, eye color inheritance is polygenic.
posted by Jpfed at 5:35 AM on April 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Crouching penis, hidden genitalia.
posted by Splunge at 5:43 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


You don't like the book or my particular way of recommending it?

I am not yet convinced of the book's overwhelming awesomeness, based on that odd recommendation.
posted by Forktine at 5:54 AM on April 6, 2011


Um, I have half and step siblings all over the place. The only one of my parents to not have children with more than one spouse is my stepmom. We're not exactly Rockefellers, but everyone involved went to college. In many cases this is just a "life happens, we do the best we can" thing.

Not to say that true "parade of Daddies" households are a good thing. But that "20% of all women" statistic is being misused here.
posted by SMPA at 6:12 AM on April 6, 2011


Ha, this is nothing new.

Not that I agree with the rest of your comment, but it's true it's nothing new. I'd say that, if anything, century by century these stats are trending down. In the 19th century almost all families were blended, due to early adult mortality.
posted by Miko at 6:57 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


only 10% of the kids are conceived with a man the mother doesn't really know

Only?
posted by straight at 7:22 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Considering, 1 in 4 of every woman experiences domestic abuse in her lifetime, I seriously have to wonder how many of the women this study focused on were women who left a domestic abuse situation and eventually remarried or partnered with someone who was not abusive and had later children with that person.

And exactly what is there to be concerned about that?

Overall, I just cannot understand the value of this study. What is the study's stated purpose? To me, it seems rather pointless and limited.
posted by zizzle at 7:53 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Considering, 1 in 4 of every woman experiences domestic abuse in her lifetime, I seriously have to wonder how many of the women this study focused on were women who left a domestic abuse situation and eventually remarried or partnered with someone who was not abusive and had later children with that person.

And exactly what is there to be concerned about that?


Depending on whom you ask, women leaving their husbands in any circumstances, or behaving like autonomous beings and not the chattel of some male, may be a shocking lapse of "family values".
posted by acb at 8:01 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


>What's the difference between having two children with two men and two children with one man when you're poor and life is bad?

From the MSNBC link:

This phenomenon is important to study, Dorius says, because there are consequences to both the mom and her children. Women with children from multiple fathers tend to be disadvantaged compared to other moms. “They are more likely to be under-employed, to have lower incomes, and to be less educated,” Dorius says.

Further, this type of family structure can lead to a lot more stress for everyone involved, in part because the women need to juggle the demands and needs of more than one dad.

“Everyday decisions are more complex and family rules are more ambiguous,” Dorius says. “Families need to figure out who lives with whom and when, who pays for things like clothing, who is responsible for child support.”

From the Time link:

Multiple partner fertility, as the phenomenon is called in academic circles, is a cause of concern among many sociologists, since studies have shown that growing up in a home in which different men cycle in and out is not good for a child's health or well being. Think of these families as having domino dads, with each one's departure putting pressure on the next.

"Multiple partner fertility is an important part of contemporary American family life, and a key component to the net of disadvantage that many poor and uneducated women face every day," Dorius said.

And it's a vicious cycle. "Raising children who have different fathers is a major factor in the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage," Dorius said. "Juggling all the different needs and demands of fathers in at least two households, four or more pairs of grandparents, and two or more children creates a huge set of chronic stressors that families have to deal with for decades."

---

There are a lot of miffed reactions here as though Cassandra Dorius (who comes from this sort of background herself) were spreading a canard. It seems paranoid and uncharitable to me to decry this woman's research for not being about absentee or promiscuous fathers, or about lack of opportunity and education instead; indeed, it seems that discussing the scope of this issue is a good way to draw attention to all of those things.
posted by millions at 8:51 AM on April 6, 2011


I guess I'd like to see more information linking multiple partner fertility to being poor and disadvantaged. Because throughout my life, I've known family groups in which a father has died or a divorce has happened and after remarriage more children came along, and they weren't in any way poor or disadvantaged families.

And, as was pointed out upthread, having blended families used to be more common due to adults dying younger. I guess that we don't have as many women dying during childbirth these days, so there's no study being done about men who have children by multiple women and are raising them within a single family unit.

At its core, there is a pedestal placement of the "traditional marriage" canard present in this study which I'd like to see teased out, or to have better discussion of the supposed link with being poor and disadvantaged.

In the end, it ends up reading as moralistic and classist, with a base assumption that only women who can't keep their knees together and can't afford to be having children to begin with are the ones who find themselves with offspring from multiple fathers. And while I know it's only a few anecdotes, my life experience doesn't necessary back that up.
posted by hippybear at 9:31 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Time article is horrendous and a perfect example of yellow journalism. Belinda Luscombe should be fired.
posted by domo at 9:36 AM on April 6, 2011


I just checked her page, and they are all like this. It looks like she is trying to gain notoriety by offending people.
posted by domo at 9:38 AM on April 6, 2011


Stepparents can be scary. (I can say this because I am one.) The likelihood of stepparent abuse is the highest there is: stepparent/de facto stepparent > adoptive/foster parent > biological residential parent. There are too many permutations to say why, but it does indicate that people are somewhat less likely to abuse their genetic offspring.

Now that that's out of the way, this study is pretty meaningless if it doesn't compare multiple partner fertility NOW with THEN. I suspect this isn't new, or even rising- the only component that has probably shifted is if the relationship was ever made legal, or ended by death rather than a breakup.

Also, 59% of African American mothers who have 3+ children have at least two baby daddies? So a minority of a minority of a minority then- most Black American mothers have one or two kids.

And another thing: really, where are the dads in this? Out of my sprawling family, I know two women who have multiple baby daddies, and four men who have multiple baby mamas, including my own husband. To ignore where men fit into this is to make this study pretty uninformative.

I know a woman who is under 35 and has six children by six different men. Honestly, she was pretty smart about it- all her baby daddies have only one child, so she gets six relatively substantial child support checks. Was she mercenary about it? Maybe. But she loves her kids and takes very good care of them. I can't speak to whether or not they were planned, but they certainly were all wanted. It's not like she can count on the state to help her out. I don't fault single parents for finding a way to make it in a DINK oriented world.
posted by Leta at 9:46 AM on April 6, 2011


I'm always bothered by studies like this. I've got a personal perspective that I know is odd, but it's not so far out there. My mom had three different kids by three different dads. She married and divorced 9 times (I think - it may have been more, but certainly not less).

Not even a few paragraphs into one of the linked articles on something which sounds kinda sorta like it might have applied to me, once upon a time, I run across this:

"Multiple partner fertility, as the phenomenon is called in academic circles, is a cause of concern among many sociologists, since studies have shown that growing up in a home in which different men cycle in and out is not good for a child's health or well being."

The tacit assumption there, of course, is that all the kids always stay with the mom. I didn't. My dad raised me. I wasn't subjected to any such man cycling, and my dad didn't remarry (or even really date much - despite futile adolescent hijinks to hook him up with my best friend's mom) until I was in college.

I read stuff like this and wonder how rare it is for dads to have custody - much less full custody! Much less full custody of (gasp) a daughter! - and where the studies are on the absent mothers and the weird relationships that develop between half siblings kept apart by familial dramas and the other things that I might be able to read and go "huh, so there's other folks out there in my weird situation".

I know that's just me, though.

Slightly more on topic to the situation being studied, I really do think that it's not that big a deal. People marry. People get divorced. Some people, like my mom, do it a lot. For her, I believe that marriage was the only route to legitimize her relationships - many of which were the hasty fall in love over a weekend kinds of things that fade after that initial rush of endorphins. She also had a lot of evidence that this was the way to go, from her family. Even my maternal grandmother was married and divorced four times, and my great-grandmother twice. I applaud these women for getting out of situations that were bad for them. Back in the day, divorce was still stigmatized, and so it must have been hard. It's just a shame that they had to go through it multiple times, perhaps due to bad relationship choices. If ask.metafilter had been around then, they would have been getting a lot of "DTMFA!" advice before they hooked up, I suspect.

The cry of "but think of the children!" irritates me. Having more people in your life who count as family is not necessarily a bad thing. It's not necessarily good, either, but it certainly broadens your exposure and potential support network.
posted by lriG rorriM at 10:18 AM on April 6, 2011


I don't think the STUDY will unfairly put the spotlight on minority mothers, but the Time woman sure seems to want to. I don't think we should blame science or scientists for conducting studies and reporting the data.

But only seeing one side could certainly skew the perspective of people hearing about this study. It only focuses on the Moms.

So, how are the nonresident Dads holding up their end of the bargain, as far as supporting and being involved in their children's development?

According to this study on low-income households with toddlers where the fathers were nonresidents, white fathers were much less involved than minority fathers, regardless of other factors like education and employment status.

So, to me, that needs a lot more attention drawn to it than the FPP study.
posted by misha at 11:04 AM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


>"In the end, it ends up reading as moralistic and classist, with a base assumption that only women who can't keep their knees together and can't afford to be having children to begin with are the ones who find themselves with offspring from multiple fathers."


I'm not seeing evidence for that assumption in the links myself. But rather, from the MSNBC link:

The new data, pulled from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, shows that this kind of family structure is found at all levels of income and education.

And from the Time link:

It's not just an issue among the poor and unmarried. In fact, it struck very close to home: "I was a year into this project before I realized that my mother was one of these women," Dorius said. "We tend to think of women with multiple partner fertility as being only poor single women with little education and money, but in fact at some point, most were married, and working, and going to school, and doing all the things you're supposed to do to live the American Dream."


---

There's a link to the abstract for a peer-reviewed study about the effects of multiple partner fertility in the Time article, and a few more under "related items" there, for what they're worth. I should say that I don't mention any of this to wave the standard for "traditional marriage", by the way. But the links make a fair case for multiple partner fertility introducing specific challenges into a family. The claim that "Raising children who have different fathers is a major factor in the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage," seems like a valid enough concern to justify research, and if it isn't, maybe it would help to show some evidence that multiple partner fertility is a generally negligible factor in the transmission of disadvantage when compared to single partner fertility (regardless of whether the latter refers to "traditional marriage", single parenthood, remarriage, or non-traditional marriage).
posted by millions at 11:19 AM on April 6, 2011


I'm not seeing evidence for that assumption in the links myself.

Fourth paragraph from the msnbc link: "This phenomenon is important to study, Dorius says, because there are consequences to both the mom and her children. Women with children from multiple fathers tend to be disadvantaged compared to other moms. “They are more likely to be under-employed, to have lower incomes, and to be less educated,” Dorius says."

Fifth paragraph from the Time link: ""Multiple partner fertility is an important part of contemporary American family life, and a key component to the net of disadvantage that many poor and uneducated women face every day," Dorius said.

I mean, if Dorius didn't want to paint the study in a classist way, then she should have framed her interviews with these news sources differently. The basic framing is, this is a minority and low-income/low-education problem, but oh! look! it also occurs outside those groups.

Either it's not a class/education issue, or it is. But Dorius is saying both things in both interviews, and is either trying to be politically correct about something which she feels is a class/education issue, or she is personally confused herself about what her results mean.
posted by hippybear at 11:33 AM on April 6, 2011


Or it could just be a human nature issue. Just sayin'.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:54 AM on April 6, 2011


Why can't it be that it is an issue that, despite occurring at all levels of income and education, occurs more often at lower levels of income and education? Why does it have to be either isolated to one limited demographic or evenly distributed across all of them? And why does noticing that a particular issue unequally affects a demographic with lower income and less formal education make it "classist"?
posted by millions at 12:04 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


A University of Michigan study has found that 1 in 5 American women have had children by several different men more than one man.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:52 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem is not multiple partner fertility. It's this in the context of a general lack of support for parents and families: ie, lack of paid parental leave, lack of affordable high quality daycare and problems with health insurance availability. Not to mention the breakdown of the *extended* family. I think the Scandinavian countries have rates that are at least as high—but they also tend have generous benefits and nearby extended family members. This mitigates problems associated with lack of support for parents like child abuse and high stress which can lead to all manner of adult problems. These countries consistently rate amongst the happiest in the world as well as the best educated, most productive, and lowest in crime and violence— "despite" low marriage rates, high numbers of out of wedlock births and multiple partner fertility.

We blame individuals for problems that really aren't about their own "morality" but about our failure to provide adequate support for children.
posted by Maias at 3:11 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Monday: And my brown eyed grandmother and blue eyed grandfather had a blue eyed boy and a brown eyed boy. But they also had a green eyed boy. I haven't asked aloud about that one.

According to this description of human eye color genetics, it's totally possible for those children to all be from those two parents. If the grandmother is heterozygous for the bey2 and gey genes (the grandfather must be homozygous blue-blue for both genes to be blue eyed), any child of theirs should have a 50%/25%/25% chance of being brown/green/blue eyed.
posted by JiBB at 3:14 PM on April 6, 2011


I am not yet convinced of the book's overwhelming awesomeness, based on that odd recommendation.

Oh, well I wouldn't take a random comment with vague reference to the book on an article he hadn't fully read as a book review.

It is IMO a life changing book though - if you are an unattached person in their twenties. changed how I approached "romance" back then...
posted by AndrewKemendo at 3:33 AM on April 7, 2011


AndrewKemendo - That book contains a lot of hypotheses that have since been disproved. Sperm don't actually fight other sperm. And as for letting it influence your love life - well, that's kind of depressing.
posted by domo at 11:26 AM on April 7, 2011


... and when I say "pater" I actually mean "genitor." If you are going to invoke the anthro gods in a comment, you better get the nomenclature right.
posted by clvrmnky at 3:33 PM on April 7, 2011


domo, I am unaware of studies which have disproven the concept of sperm competition, in fact I am pretty sure it is firmly supported but I would be happy to read whatever materials you have.

As for the results of my love life I would say I was pretty successful taking a woman from her previous suitor, marrying her and having a genius child. So I think my results are fairly well bared out...
posted by AndrewKemendo at 3:16 AM on April 8, 2011


@AndrewKemendo, the problem is that observed behaviour that is attributed to "sperm competition" has been reported with extreme gender bias. The literature is rotten with reports of sperm attacking and subduing competition for the passive ova, all of which has been shown over and over to be a preconceived (ha!) notion where the reporting has more to do with romantic notions of western gender stereotypes than actual science.

References (off the top of my head): Emily Martin, "The Egg and the Sperm ..."
posted by clvrmnky at 4:10 PM on April 8, 2011


I would argue that the ova isn't as passive as would be indicated.

I am confused by your statement - there is wide agreement on the different types of sperm (blocker, swimmer, attacker) and that their non-agnostic purpose once they are "on the trail" so to speak; they explicitly have the chemical goal of seeking the egg.

I agree with the over dramatization of human behavior causally resulting from this biological interaction, however I think the proof is in the pudding with the expected human behaviors actually bearing out. There does seem to be a lot of mate shopping if you watch Maury...
posted by AndrewKemendo at 7:03 PM on April 8, 2011


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