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(http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/hugh-hefner-older-father/hugh-hefner/)Given the recent announcement that a geriatric Hugh Hefner has just loosened the leash on his lounging gown to receive yet another nubile young wife, one wonders if more than love is in the air.

Is Hef out to reclaim his reputation for virility at 84 by fathering a baby bunny or two?

Suspicions have to be raised–especially in light of brother-in-elderly-celebrity, Elton John, having been recently initiated into the patriarchal clan at 62. Ergo, I thought it fitting to post this commentary, written in 2009, about “good old celebrity-dads” who never seem to get knocked for knocking-up a young chick (in vitro or in flagrante delicto):

It’s official. The double standard has been blessed by our medical gurus and enshrined by a compliant media.

The sour, disapproving face of a global Hypocrisy—along with a pointed finger singling out older mothers for legal fetters, social chastisement and a demand to submit to the insultingly titled “fertility MOT” (alluding to a mandatory UK test for automobile roadworthiness–see link below)—has been exposed.

Ironically, Professor William Ledger—the renowned head of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine and Fertility at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, in the UK—who has accused aging career women of “sticking their head in the sand” (http://www NULL.newsoftheworld NULL.co NULL.uk/fabulous/features/519511/fertility-mot NULL.html), can be found pitching his pearls of wisdom regarding male fertility at BBC Health online (http://www NULL.bbc NULL.co NULL.uk/health/fertility/experts_index NULL.shtml#professor_william_ledger).

In a video (http://www NULL.bbc NULL.co NULL.uk/mediaselector/check/health/tv_and_radio/acaao_experts_ledger?size=16x9&bgc=AFD8D0&nbram=1&bbram=1) offering more than six minutes of delicately presented scholarly advice regarding the adverse effects on male fertility of every ill-omened vice from smoking to recreational drug use, Professor Ledger does not once mention the pitfalls of male aging.

It begs the question: How can the professor, a “member of fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority”, fail to warn of the virtual shopping mall of potential disasters, birth defects and disorders that can befall the partners and offspring of aging men and the fading efficacy of their sperm?

What’s true for the goose getting on in years, must also be true for the old gander—and it’s time the double standard as ancient as Methuselah himself is consigned to the archives of myth and fables.

Otherwise the latest wave of talking heads in the fertility pundit gallery must be branded liars and fools.

The evidence in the case against men fathering children while basking in the twilight of their gum-sucking years is already fecund—and quickening thick and fast.

In fact, the increasing risk factors to the children of aging scions with sperm sprinting past its use-by date is getting longer than my laundry list.

Could the moralizing hard-right have been snoring in their pews when the medical journals started producing studies hand-over-fist that demonstrated potential damage to kids with sperm from dads old enough to be granddads?

Suddenly, the media are breathlessly reporting that it appears “men, as well as women, have a biological fertility clock.” (http://www NULL.medicalnewstoday NULL.com/articles/44641 NULL.php)

The reality is that as early as 2004, the British Medical Journal (http://www NULL.bmj NULL.com/cgi/content/full/329/7474/1070?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=schizophrenia&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT) published scientific evidence that there’s a significantly increased risk of schizophrenia in the children of older men.

During April this year, the New York Times (http://parenting NULL.blogs NULL.nytimes NULL.com/2009/04/03/your-old-man/?scp=1&sq=men%20reproductive%20sperm%20schizophrenia&st=cse) published an article citing a panoply of research conducted over the last decade, indicating that babies from older fathers are the benefactors of an unsuspected legacy from Father Time—they are more likely to be born a few I.Q. points short of their peers, develop bipolar disorder, and become autistic.

If that weren’t enough to inspire these little old men to put a lid (or condom) on it, in 2008, a French study (http://news NULL.bbc NULL.co NULL.uk/2/hi/health/7492323 NULL.stm) showed that, after 40—not only does men’s fertility take a nose-dive—but their aging sperm increases the chance of miscarriage in their partners.

So where’s the fanfare? The call for a ban on procreational bed-bouncing for men over 40, or perhaps 50…what about 70?

Where are the clowns? Send in the clowns.

Don’t bother—they’re here.

They’re here every time an aging woman gives birth instead of submitting gracefully to menopause and putting out for pasture grazing.

The general lack of concern or acknowledgment (and implied double standard) about the serious risks of old mens’ sperm on the health of our children is, like James Dean put it, “tearing me apart” (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=kJO1jFi3Hvo).

Instead, when an old timer hits paternal pay-dirt, they’re positively slapping the old boy on the back (http://www NULL.dadmag NULL.com/tonyrandall NULL.php) and breaking out the congratulatory cigars, like he’d just Babe Ruth-ed it out of the ball park.

Yet, when “the world’s oldest mother,” Maria del Carmen Bousada died this year, the medics (http://business NULL.timesonline NULL.co NULL.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/public_sector/article6382806 NULL.ece) and journalists (http://www NULL.miamiherald NULL.com/living/columnists/ana-veciana-suarez/story/1165323 NULL.html) alike joined in the hue and cry to restrict IVF fertility treatments based on woman’s advanced age, further perpetuating the perverse (and inaccurate) stereotype of older mothers (http://www NULL.lilsugar NULL.com/3986483) as gray-haired old ladies cradling bonny-faced babies.

This provocative, common sense-defying double standard evokes more questions than answers.

Why aren’t the aging celebrity dads paraded before the media like witches to be tarred and feathered as selfish, self-indulgent and the parents of afterthought or accessory babies?

Why aren’t the ‘procreational ageists’ demanding that we start sending middle-aged and old men for a “fertility MOT” before they can plant their plonkers? (For the protection of future generations?)

For that matter, why aren’t they mounting their soap boxes, pointing the finger, and shrilling the call to ‘write-your-congressman’ with the demand to Legislate Larry?

After eight marriages to seven women (http://www NULL.nypost NULL.com/p/entertainment/tv/meet_larry_king_jr_eUo3YCumTEdqtBJuNbtR8J), one of our most venerated media scions in the mediation of public opinion, Larry King (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Larry_King), fathered his most recent offspring just before he turned 67.

His last two children are now ten and nine years old. Do you think old Larry is going to be catching mortarboards at their college graduations?

And what about Eric Clapton (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Eric_Clapton), Jack Nicholson (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Jack_Nicholson), Warren Beatty (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Warren_Beatty), David Letterman (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/David_Letterman), Tony Randall (http://www NULL.dadmag NULL.com/tonyrandall NULL.php), or Saul Bellow (http://www NULL.infoplease NULL.com/biography/var/saulbellow NULL.html) (who may in fact hold the official title for World’s Oldest Father, fathering a child at 84)?

There’s a case to argue that old farts are fathering children like it’s an emblem of elderly manhood, just like boy scouts who used to collect badges for walking an old lady across the street (only now it’s laying a young lady across a bed and knocking her up if you can).

Like the common accusation made against over-40 mothers, did they happen to “forget” to have a family also? Or is it that one is just not enough?

And this is a point with lots of stretch in it.

For example, what about the boy-faced and becoming middle-aged actor, Tom Cruise (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Tom_Cruise)? Isn’t he getting up there too? His baby Suri was born when Tom was pushing forty-four—well into the medical risk age group.

Why make a simple meal out of it where there’s a veritable smorgasbord to be had?

Because, eventually, the whole exercise becomes blatantly farcical, even to the morally blinkered.

The truth in my soapbox is that I’m neither judge, jury (nor presiding clown) in the choice for men or women to conceive children when either or both parents are at an advanced age.

But we need to go through the motions of inverse finger-pointing to get to a state of prenatal epiphany:

When it comes to legislating conceptions for the masses, the world becomes Ayn Rand’s (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand) impossible dream, replete with a glass menagerie of houses rich and poor, famous and humble, young and old.

Those who throw stones will find themselves re-building again from scratch.

To conceive, or not to conceive, is a decision that must be weighed, valued, and made individually—not by some pompous ass in a pundit suit.

Notes for this blog:

Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/) (www.flowerpowermom.com (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/)), a regular blog featuring news, commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40.

Ref: “fertility MOT” (http://www NULL.fertilitymot NULL.com/go/page/about-fertilitymot-team)

Hugh Hefner’s engagement: http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2010/12/26/2010-12-26_hugh_hefner_engaged_to_crystal_harris_playboy_founder_to_marry_playmate_60_years.html

2 Responses to Good Old Dads

  1. Tweets that mention Good Old Dads – Flower Power Mom -- Topsy.com (http://topsy NULL.com/flowerpowermom NULL.com/hugh-hefner-older-father/?utm_source=pingback&utm_campaign=L2) says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Flower Power Mom, Flower Power Mom. Flower Power Mom said: Why Hugh Hefner's engagement opens an old would, and double standards for older parents. http://flowerpowermom.com/hugh-hefner-older-father/ (http://flowerpowermom NULL.com/hugh-hefner-older-father/) […]

  2. […] Richard airs the issues of how we can be “socially marginalized” because we don’t fit into mainstream cliques. She sheds light on the “glaring double standard” of how men like Elton John or Larry King are given a big slap on the back for fathering children well after the age of 60, despite that fact that aging sperm is loaded with genetic risks. […]

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