April 21, 2024

Twitter storm over Anderson Cooper’s surrogate baby

Famous novelist takes dim view of erasure of women from baby’s life

This is not exactly an only-in-America story. It’s more an “only amongst the rich, famous and well-coiffured” story. The face of Anderson Cooper, the 52-year-old CNN anchor and correspondent for 60 Minutes, is known around the world. He is also “the most prominent openly gay journalist on American television,” according to the New York Times.

With the help of a surrogate mother, last week he acquired a son, Wyatt. “On Monday, I became a father,” he announced on Instagram. “I've never actually said that before, out loud, and it still kind of astonishes me. I am a dad. I have a son.”

The parenting arrangements for little Wyatt are peculiar. Cooper did have a partner, 47-year-old Benjamin Maisani, but they split up on friendly terms in October 2018. However, he told talk show host Stephen Colbert that Maisani was “going to be a co-parent to Wyatt even though we're not together anymore.”

They’re not together, but they are “family”.

Nor is Cooper taking paternity leave — because the coronavirus epidemic is too important for him to neglect his professional responsibilities. “This is not some story, this is life and death,” he said. “This is as serious as it gets. It's more important than ever before that things be true and accurate. That's one of the reasons why I'm not taking time off.”

So who will be taking care of Wyatt?

The gossip magazines occasionally mentioned a “nanny”, but this ghostly figure never materialised in photos of Cooper and Wyatt.

Nor did the mother who gave birth to Wyatt, although in a TV interview he did thank the “remarkable” woman who “carried Wyatt, watched over him, lovingly, tenderly, and gave birth to him.”

Not good enough, said one of America’s leading novelists, Joyce Carol Oates, on Twitter. Women are being erased from the life of the baby. “You'd think that somehow dear Anderson was both father & mother. (how strange for the mother who'd been pregnant for 9 months, delivered a baby, presented Anderson w/ the baby & is now — gone).”  If Oates had expected agreement, she was mistaken.

A Twitter storm erupted –: “senile abuse”, “homophobic”, “vile”, “loony tunes”, etc. One tweet summed up her ignorance: “Just as single women have been both mother and father when needed, Anderson will be both father and mother. Capeesh?”

A thought-provoking example of differing views about surrogacy: “essential for gay would-be dads” versus “reproductive slavery”.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge

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