Friday, April 4, 2008

On the perils of watching too much television

The virus is still having its way with me, which is not what I would call fun and leaves me not a little bit cranky. So JD wasn't exactly surprised to find me yelling on Thursday night, but was a bit surprised to find that I was yelling at the TV. I crawled upstairs in time to catch the tail end of Countdown with Keith Olberman-- normally the one and only TV news program I watch, and then, stupidly, left the TV on. Over the next hour I mostly read blogs but I did, once in a while, tune in to what the talking heads on TV were saying. The program that follows Keith is called Verdict with Dan Abrams.

The bits I caught weren't bad, until they got to their second to last segment, on the transgender man who is currently more than 6 months pregnant. I could now tell you all the things that were wrong with it, from the sophomoric reaction of the host to saying in a teaser that the couple talks about being discriminated against by a number of doctors, but choosing to, in the body of the segment, to play clips of their Oprah interview that have to do with the mechanics of home insemination and focusing their commentary on the ewwww factor. But if I did that, this would be one looooooooong post. So instead I tell you that it was bad enough to cause me to shoot off the following email to the show (and I never ever do things like that).

I was extremely disappointed with yesterday's segment on the pregnant man. The host declared that he didn't know where to begin with this story. How about "a man and a woman marry and want to start a family. Unfortunately, due to prior medical condition, the woman had a hysterectomy some years ago. Luckily, the man happened to have the necessary biological machinery to conceive and carry their child."?

Much, much worse were your so-called experts, one of whom declared and the other agreed that "the real father is missing." Under what rock did you find these "experts"? Millions of couples in the United States and all over the world facing the diagnosis of the male factor infertility have turned to donor insemination as a means to build their families. Would your experts tell these couples that the "real father" is missing in their families as well? Would they tell children conceived with the help of donor egg that the woman who gets them dressed and fed every day is not their "real mother?"

Your whole segment was sensationalist and unworthy. This family, as any other family, deserves dignity. Instead of turning their story into the circus that you did, you could've focused on the unfortunate treatment they received from many members of the medical profession. You could've tried to educate. Instead you chose to gawk.



What do you want to bet they won't read this one on the air?

14 comments:

Tash said...

I have half a mind to tune in just to see if they do! Awesome letter! And you're starting to hit on some of my queasy-ness, and I don't mean from the sensationalist news, but from my FAMILY. Because they get that language somewhere. Bleh.

Rachel said...

I'm so glad you wrote in to the show. I missed the show but I don't understand this extreme fascination with the physical body of this mother/father. It's also interesting to read about since the country I am currently living in requires an individual to be sterilized before their gender change will be recognized by the government in order to prevent situations like this. I can't see a policy like that being too popular in the U.S., but it's certainly not because we as a country are more mature in dealing with these situations.

My Reality said...

I am so glad you wrote this. I hope it will, at the very least, get to the family. They need to know that there are people who see this for what it is - building their family. Period. And not for the sensational bullshit the media has made it out to be.

christina(apronstrings) said...

i love it. it made me sick too. it's awful. why is that we refuse to accept transgender people and find that it is ok that treat them like circus freaks? unacceptable.

niobe said...

I wonder if, when the couple agreed to participate on Oprah, they had any idea how they were going to be depicted. I would guess not.

The Town Criers said...

I love your note--thank you for writing it.

jo(e) said...

This is why I watch very little television. The bottom line for most shows is that they do whatever brings in the most advertising dollars -- sensationalism almost always wins out over education.

Bon said...

i first heard about this story, of all places, on a BabyCenter board. the level of discussion made me want to cry...there was a lot of the "ick" factor you describe, which just seems so juvenile and sheltered to me, and even worse a bunch of people who were actually unable to comprehend the physical mechanics of it even after it was explained. so many stupid, stupid, proudly ignorant people. and tv makes the worst of it, if it ain't mainstream.

wannabe mom said...

i'm glad you wrote that email.

LAS said...

Good for you! I'm glad you wrote that - I never have the guts to do anything like that, but I wish I did!

Anonymous said...

That you for posting a great letter! I didn't see the show and I'm upset. My family was created with the use of donor sperm and I have a delicious 2 yr old as a result. My husband would be devastated to be told he wasn't a 'real' father!

I was just matched this past week on www.donoroffspringmatches.com with the DONOR! My husband is ok with this. He'd like to meet the man who helped create our son but make no mistake-this child is ours!

I think I'll write a letter as well and hope it can be 1/2 as good as yours!

CDE said...

Honestly, I don't watch television news any more. Unless you count "The Daily Show." Sensationalism brings in ratings, but doesn't do a whole lot as far as actually informing the public.

Antigone said...

I always end up arguing with the tv when I watch the news and for good reason.

kate said...

OK i just read that story, and i have to say it is *really weird*. Gawk factor indeed.

Those are such stupid things for the so-called 'experts' to say. I'm glad you wrote a letter.