Mike Huckabee thinks Natalie Portman’s baby bump is hurting America

Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied hold hands on the Oscars red carpetNatalie Portman just won the highest honor in her field, she’s gorgeously pregnant, and she’s engaged to possibly the most beautiful man in the world. Yeah, I’m jealous. Mike Huckabee, shockingly, has a different take. He thinks Portman’s setting a bad example by rubbing her unwed mother-ness in our faces.

On Monday’s The Michael Medved Show the host bated Mike Huckabee to go after Portman:

MEDVED: [Natalie Portman] got up, she was very visibly pregnant, and it’s really it’s a problem because she’s about seven months pregnant, it’s her first pregnancy, and she and the baby’s father aren’t married, and before two billion people, Natalie Portman says, ‘Oh I want to thank my love and he’s given me the most wonderful gift.’ He didn’t give her the most wonderful gift, which would be a wedding ring! And it just seems to me that sending that kind of message is problematic.

Huh? They’re engaged, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when there’s a non-church-approved pregnancy? But I guess the guy is supposed to give that “gift” of the ring before the gal gives him her “gift.” (Gag)

Huckabee had plenty to add with his own attack on Portman and all single mothers:

HUCKABEE: You know Michael, one of the things that’s troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine.’ But there aren’t really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie. And I think it gives a distorted image that yes, not everybody hires nannies, and caretakers, and nurses. Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that’s the story that we’re not seeing, and it’s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock.

Mike HuckabeeThe hypocrisy is overwhelming. It’s the Mike Huckabees of the world who want contraception and abortion to be inaccessible and want to destroy government assistance. I guess he only wants there to be one version of the story of what it’s like to be a mother outside of traditional marriage to pare with the one right way to be a mother (married, of course). And he’s gotta be a big fan of shipping off unwedlocked mothers to hide the shame.

Something I’m not seeing mentioned in a lot of coverage of this story is the subtle Huckabee-brand race-baiting thrown into his comment:

HUCKABEE: You know, right now, 75 percent of black kids in this country are born out of wedlock. 61 percent of Hispanic kids — across the board, 41 percent of all live births in America are out of wedlock births. And the cost of that is simply staggering.

Oh right, the problem with baby making out of wedlock is all the black and Latino single mothers leaching off the state. And there’s the racist topper to Huckabee’s reason why Portman should be hiding her sin-sex belly.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

Read more about Jos

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/deafbrowntrash/ deafbrowntrash

    And how about Bristol Palin, Mr. Huckabee? What do you got to say about her going on “Dancing with the Stars” and appearing on front covers of tabloids? Isn’t she making single motherhood “glamorous,” too?

    Oh right… the Palins are untouchable.

  • http://feministing.com/members/athenia/ athenia

    Huckabee’s words are really quite telling—he thinks that somehow marriage prevents poverty.

    But it doesn’t.

    You know what would prevent poverty among women and children?

    Ending sexism.

    But that would be too much for Huckabee because he ignores the history of what marriage actually has been.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kaelin/ Matt

    Clearly we can jump all over his assumption that having children outside of marriage is somehow worse than having children inside of it, that somehow a marriage provides something that a committed relationship does not. However, I would like to go after a few highly practical points:

    He could increase of participation of marriage by pregnant or would-be-pregnant women by allowing same-sex marriage (relevant when women who have same-sex partners undergo in vitro fertilization), providing children comprehensive sex education, and giving women greater access to birth control. On the topic of baby bumps in particular, not unnecessarily constraining access to abortions would allow women (generally unmarried) to end unwanted pregnancies that would have led to such “unwholesome” baby bumps. However, Huckabee has priorities besides just curtailing the rates of pregnant people who are unmarried (or is unmarried people who get pregnant?) He also advocates for his brand of Christianity that is often at odds with many of his stated goals/concerns, and any sort of opinion base needs to establish what the priorities are, and what consequences or trade-offs it is willing to pay to work towards each of its goals.

    One more set of points deals with his interest in the racial minority statistics, because history is very relevant. Until 146 years ago, Black people in the US were usually slaves. For them, they did not have rights. They were not in control of their relationships with each other, and any legal notion of marriage was controlled by their masters. For many reasons, marriage was not as desirable to slaves as it was to free White people. Even when slavery ends, Black people were still subject to abuses by White people and the government, and it is not unreasonable that they would not have fully warmed up to participating in the White man’s construction of marriage — and submitting forms that would potentially draw the government’s attention to them. It’s really not until the Civil Rights of the 1960s where racial minorities gained more serious protections that such people would be mostly safe to participate in this institution, but there is still a terrific amount of cultural inertia that leads to the disparity we see today. Marriage wasn’t a real option for so long that it simply lacks the relevance and significance to Black people that it generally has to White people. Of course, there are also confounding factors that can contribute to this disparity (wealth, education [wealth-segregation contributes to quality disparities here], a mass media obsessed with differences), but culture is pretty powerful stuff.

    It doesn’t surprise me in the least that Huckabee hasn’t thought that through — I hadn’t even really thought about it until ~a couple years ago myself. But then, I don’t have my own opinion show.

    DBT: That’s a rather telling omission, isn’t it? The Internet has jumped all over it, and I don’t think Huckabee is going to be able to outrun this idea.

  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    Because I have a Republican father, and heard stuff just like this my whole life, I understand the logic of this particular attitude. But it’s more a tone-deaf assumption that all single parent situations are similar and inherently detrimental. And it’s a romanticism of the old ways where one parent worked and another stayed home. That’s increasingly a thing of the past, just as marriage itself no long resembles its former self.

    But before you can criticize single-parent African-American households, we have to talk about the culture of incarceration among black men, and the legacy of generations of economic inequality. And the same basic economic inequality applies to Latinos as well.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rachelsholiday/ Rachel

    I just read about this on the Huffington Post this morning. I had a similar reaction to you so I looked up some statistics. According to the Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support:2007 study, 97.5% of single mothers are gainfully employed. 50.2% of single mothers are white (meaning European descent) while 27.8% are black, and only 18% are latino.

    Here’s the link to the “highlights” page of the study. http://www.census.gov/prod/2009pubs/p60-237.pdf

  • http://feministing.com/members/heatheradair/ heatheradair

    Man, I so didn’t want to be disappointed by this guy. But to say:

    “Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that’s the story that we’re not seeing, and it’s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock”

    That’s ridiculous, it’s arrogant, it’s ill-informed and it’s an out-dated way of thinking. With the divorce rate as it is for our generation, better believe there are plenty of HARD-WORKING, employed, single-moms living WELL above the poverty line, CERTAINLY not relying on public assistance and doing just as well as any other mom out there.

    Let’s talk deadbeat dads, shall we? Stop demonizing mothers, Huck.

    • anyadnight

      Snaps to this comment! I know and know of far more fathers not paying child support or even involved in their kids’ lives than mothers having their kids out of wedlock who fit Huckabee’s characterization.

  • http://feministing.com/members/gregc/ Greg

    I must admit that this article struck me as poorly written insofar as there was virtually no attempt at serious, concerted analysis.

    Huckabee’s engaged in an ad hominem attack, that much is obvious. However, I’d point out that the person who posted this article is in turn resorting to an ad hominem attack as well, albeit on a more subtle level.

    This is quite obvious towards the end of the article in particular, when the author comments – quite sarcastically, too – upon the race issue that Huckabee brings up.

    I’m quite surprised that there was no analysis of Huckabee’s rant, and why his numbers are wrong (assuming they are). In choosing to not engage Huckabee’s comments, however reprehensible, critically, the author’s suggesting that his comments are not important, when the opposite is exactly what the author’s pointing out.

    I’ve been a long-time ‘lurker’ here, and I’ve always enjoyed the critical commentary and analysis that often accompany pieces here on feministing, and I sincerely hope that my comments will be taken in a positive light: an ad hominem attack does not cancel out an ad hominem attack, but merely perpetuates it.

  • http://feministing.com/members/probablywriting/ Amanda

    How dare she he happy to be having a baby at a time she has decided is right for her?! Oh, wait, that’s actually a healthy thing. She didn’t come out and say, “you know, every woman at any age should get pregnant right now. Even teenagers. Because everyone’s life is going to be just like mine.” She’s just expressing happiness in her own life. She clearly has the resources and support to take care of a baby (it really does take a village), and that’s what matters. Not the wedding ring. Obviously I don’t know Natalie Portman personally, but from what I can tell her baby will be born into a nurturing, loving, safe environment. That’s the best that any baby can have.

  • http://feministing.com/members/gordon/ Gordon Cash

    “Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that’s the story that we’re not seeing, and it’s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock.”

    heatheradair quoted this same line above, but for a different reason. My reaction is, This from a man who is an implacable foe of both abortion and contraception??!!

  • http://feministing.com/members/eadske/ Katherine

    Huckabee was a minister. He might still mistakenly believe that sex is and should only be used for procreation.
    And (even though I don’t agree) maybe Huckabee does have a point about single motherhood and being poor. But if that is the case we need to tackle the issues about what makes the mothers poor such as low-paying jobs, men who will not pay child support or even acknowledge they spawned children, we need to overhaul welfare and create an environment that helps these mothers rather than condemn them. If we tackle these issues maybe in the future there will be fewer single mothers.
    There are very few women who Choose to be single mothers and I don’t think many politicians, including Huckabee, understand this.

  • beet

    Yeah srsly, if Mike Huckabee is so concerned about all the poor single mothers out there and sees that kids will starve and go without health care without government subsidized services, he might want to consider ditching the political party that wants to cut precisely these things.

  • http://feministing.com/members/toongrrl/ Jessica “Jess” Victoria Carillo

    What is it Mikey? The incredibly talented and charismatic Natalie have a big baby belly and ain’t in the kitchen with shackle-wackles? Suck it up!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • brianna-g

    Huckabee strongly supports government assistance programs, in the traditional Christian sense (it’s why he is unlikely to get the nomination). He wants to privatize things like social security to some degree, but to guarantee they are there. He supports TANF, energy assistance to poor families, and funding for social services, and has looked to increase TANF funding at times. So while I agree that his point is still wrong, it’s unfair to paint him as not supporting single mothers.

    Huckabee has many flaws, but he is consistent to the teachings of his church, including helping the poor. He is naive enoguh to think private programs will carry most of the burden, but he does acknowledge that the government has a responsiblity to help.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kenia/ Kenia Perez

    @Rachel – THANKS for the link! I had been seriously wondering about the statistics when I read this. I was wondering if it was actually true that, “Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job.” Obviously, it is not.

    Seriously though…I’m not understanding why he thinks that marriage will suddenly bring someone out of poverty, who was single and in poverty to begin with. Sadly, people rarely mix with others outside of their own economic class, so even if a poor, single mother did get married, it would most likely be to a poor man. (Although, this is just as assumption based on observation…I have no hard data to back me up, but it seems to me that poor moms rarely marry well-off men.) And while it makes sense that two incomes would fare better than one, that hardly guarantees that the family will not be poor.