Thursday, March 26, 2009

Alfie Patten Not the Father

The awaited DNA results for the "schoolboy father" Alfie Patten have finally been reported to the press, and it says that he's not the father after all. Alfie Patten was announced to be the father, at the age of 13, last month in a media firestorm that swept the UK. Conservatives decried the country's slipping moral standards, people expressed concern for all involved, social workers swooped in and supposedly didn't provide enough support, and some people made or stood to make a whole lot of money from courting the media and perpetuating the blitz until a wise judge put a stop to it.

Let us reflect on what made this story such a sensation after all, and the real problem with society that had a hand in creating it. Teen pregnancies are not such a rare occurrence that they inspire swarms of journalists to go out and pay handsomely for exclusives and in-depth coverage, and interviews--much less inspire the levels of corruption and exploitation that occurred in this case. Throughout this whole affair, it was the adults who acted with indiscretion, not the two youth in question. The mother of the baby, Chantelle, gave birth to a child, fathered by some young man. From this fact, the whole thing was blown out of proportion as almost every adult in the picture rushed in to capitalize on the UK's ageist reactions to this news to emotionally crushing levels. We can only hope that Alfie is able to pull through this after the devastating let down he's been forced to be dragged through.

He's been demonized and picked on all over the world, made a symbol for all that is wrong about society, and all because his "young looks" were selected based on their ability to "sell the story" to an age-suppressed society like the UK. Furthermore, now that it is known for sure that Chantelle has not been faithful to Alfie, she'll be demonized not only for having unprotected sex, but for having sex with multiple partners. It's clear though, that none of this should of ever happened--not so much the pregnancy itself, but the media firestorm surrounding it. Teens get pregnant every day. They are biologically capable of this. The only thing this proves is that though teens may not always be ready for the social responsibilities of parenting, neither is the modern world ready for teen parents.

Let's act cordially and extend our best wishes to this now undetermined family, to Alfie, and the families involved. Let's also hope that going forward, this whole incident has taught us, as a society, a valuable lesson in respect.

1 comment:

  1. While reading about this story, people commented that a 13 year old doesn't know anything about being a parent.

    Indeed, and neither the 20 year old or the 32 year old or the 45 year old know anything about being a parents. The point is that you learn how to do something doing it.

    It is actually at the foundation of ageism. The hypocrisy of pretending to believe that people should already be master in something before they attempt it. The hypocrisy is that adults, like anyone else, learn by doing and don't apply to themselves this absurd beliefs they apply to young people. There are a lot of terrible adult parents but when teens want to become parents people project far more expectations on them (making them believe parenting is harder than it really is) than they usually do on other adults. And all of this just because of a stupid meaningless number on a birth certificate. Might as well judge people competency by their hair color.

    The point about ageism is that at some point, the parent or oppressive adult accepts a leap of faith and consider the "child" ready. But readiness doesn't exist. We humans learn by doing something. We start something totally ignorant (i.e. playing piano) and become proficient doing it. So what actually the various prejudices and laws expressing "readiness" do, is allowing a person to get involved into something he or she knows nothing about. He she might have got involved into it several years before, getting the same results, which comes from actually doing something.

    We could manipulate the myth of readiness to the point of proving that 40 years old are too young to do a lot of things, they might instead become able to understand and master starting at age 41. That's how people really believe that you magically become competent on your 18th or 21th birthday. Because by withdrawing your ability to get involved into something and allowing it arbitrarily someday, they generate the illusion that a person indeed was not reading for something and magically has become ready by age alone.

    That's completely tautological.

    Why you're not ready? Becase you don't know much about the thing you want to get yourself involved with.

    Why you don't know much about it?
    Becuase you're not ready.

    It's pure circolar reasoning and the magic of finally allowing a persona to get involved with something, and hence learning from doing it, creates the illusions that the concept of readiness and competency is true and not a big mythological manipulation of people.