Who Needs Science Or Feminism When There's Jenny McCarthy?

Illustration for article titled Who Needs Science Or Feminism When There's Jenny McCarthy?

Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon puts her finger on host of problems that come along with not getting your child vaccinated because former Playmate and Singled Out host Jenny McCarthy says it causes autism.

Marcotte's piece is tied to the recent measles outbreak in San Diego that sickened 11 children and was touched off by a couple of Whole Foods shoppers who refused to vaccinate their children out of fear over a disproven link between thimerosal (which hasn't been added to any childhood vaccine since 2001) and autism. Luckily, neither the yuppies' kids nor the infants that had yet to be vaccinated died.

Marcotte points out that by deliberately refusing to vaccinate their children, anti-vaccine parents are relying on the efficacy of mass vaccinations to protect their own children — risking the health, naturally, of other people's children who are either too young to be vaccinated or, perhaps, come from countries that do not regularly vaccinate their children — for the sake of making what is, in effect, a political point that they don't trust the federal government's oversight of the pharmaceutical industry.


Marcotte also points out that the loss of universal vaccinations means a resurgence in the need to quarantine children and their families when outbreaks do occur. Some, if not all, of the anti-vaccine advocates might be able to afford not to work outside of their homes, if they work at all, and the burden of caring for and quarantining a sick child for three weeks might not be untenable. But for single-parent (usually female-headed) households or two-income households, taking three weeks off of work to comply with a government-enforced mandate made necessary by the parents who won't vaccinate their kids might not be tenable.

This brings me to an interesting and quick observation made on the show, which is that child quarantines worked just fine in pre-vaccine communities where most women with small children were housewives and could handle being stuck at home for 3 weeks. But nowadays, most mothers have outside employment, and maintaining a quarantine is nearly impossible. If the anti-vaccination people had their way, and we got rid of vaccines and childhood diseases started to run rampant again, we would only be able to control it through quarantine. And that would mean a whole lot of women would lose their jobs because they couldn’t handle both quarantines and holding down a job.

Marcotte is suggesting that the return to quarantining would mean, for many women, a forced return to traditional stay-at-home parenting roles, which is something feminism (and medical progress, for that matter) was supposed to prevent.

Anti-Vaccination = Anti-Feminist? [Pandagon]

Related: Thimerosal In Vaccines [Federal Drug Administration]

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I have no problem with the to-vaccinate or to-not-vaccinate debate, but I don't like the "Jenny McCarthy is a former Playmate and hosted Singled Out and therefore she's dumb and her opinions are invalid" tone. Can't former Playmates research the hell out of something and offer new suggestions to old ideas? As a mother of an autistic son who she spent years personally rehabilitating, I think she's got some right to an opinion on this topic.