Monday, February 11, 2008
[still from the film “Superbad” released 8/17/2007]
The movie “Superbad” is a movie about three average American 17 year old boys and their first attempts to have sex. The movie is a comedy and it fairly realistically portrays a stage which most American boys today go through, with some unlikely but very funny situations added in to make the movie more entertaining.
The truth is, this movie is not much different from what ultra-Orthodox boys go through as well and at about the same age. (Many Hassidic boys marry at 18.) There is a lot of nervousness, embarrassment, excitement and misunderstanding. The movie felt strangely familiar in some ways. People are people, whether in secular New City or neighboring Hassidic New Square.
There is however something bad about Superbad.
What about the children?
Sex produces children. Children are people. They are the next generation and represent the future of mankind. This should be a paramount issue.
In an Orthodox setting, before the couple meets, references are checked to try to make sure that the couple is compatible for a long-term relationship. After meeting, the couple doesn’t touch each other until after a public commitment has been made – the wedding ceremony. Divorce is permitted in Judaism, but strongly discouraged except in cases of wife beating or adultery. When they do have sex, any children conceived will have a father and mother to care for them until maturity.
Let’s compare that to Superbad.
Other than some fumbling around for a condom, the issue of children is never considered. The selfishness and cruelty implied is staggering.
What will happen to children conceived in these situations?
Let’s check the statistics. About six million women become pregnant every year in the US. About 1.2 million fetuses are aborted. Another 800,000 are miscarried or still born. Therefore about four million are born alive. Of those born alive, about 40% will be born to an unmarried woman. Interestingly, this percentage has been rising for decades in spite of the availability of birth control. Birth control may at best decrease the likelihood of pregnancy, however sexually active women still get pregnant.(For more details on the effectiveness of birth control, see Knocked Up, by the same producer as Superbad.)
In any case, out of about 6 million babies conceived every year in the US, about 2.4 million will be born alive to a married woman. What about the future of those lucky 2.4 million? Seemingly, each one has about a 50% chance of seeing those parents still married when he finishes high school. And divorce has catastrophic effects on the children involved. “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study” by Judith S. Wallerstein explains in great detail the emotional problems and mental anguish suffered by children who grow up in divorced homes. The father often disappears or provides the children with minimal emotional and financial support while he goes on to establish a new family. The mother is busy working and seeking a new mate. The children are basically abandoned; the unwanted products of a relationship which failed. The younger they are, the more they are affected. Their pain is translated into anger and sadness, which may lead to self-destructive behavior for decades afterwards and also poor choices in their own relationships.
Studies have shown that children living in single parent families are far more likely to suffer from many social and economic problems compared to children in intact families.
So perhaps one in five people conceived today in America will be raised to maturity by two married biological parents. Interestingly, this about equals the percentage of Americans who attend church services weekly.
The picture, which seems to emerge is that, if you are an American embryo, you should pray that your parents belong to one of the remaining, small religious communities. Otherwise, you’re goose is probably cooked. You will almost certainly be killed, abandoned, badly neglected or abused. And that’s superbad.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 11:10 AM