Little People With Poor Deduction Skills

I admit that I find a lot of the discussions of parenting in the feminist blogosphere — which only seem to pop up when a prominent woman has, oh, anything to say about her kids in print — sexist and condescending. Mythago has this bit covered well in the comments at Pandagon, language about how women “pop out” or “shit out” kids, people who think children are more of an economic dearth than a possible pleasure, and the refusal to recognize that “kid-friendly” isn’t the opposite of “adults-only.”

Fellow feminists, I fucking hate the term “breeders,” and I’ll be goddamned if somebody attempts to tell me that they don’t hear that term used freely and often from those who work for the betterment of women’s lives.*

My identity is not defined by my parenthood, but my life is. Without a child I wouldn’t feel as obligated to work as much as I do, to avoid such debt, to secure meaningful assets, or to better myself or the world. I’m naturally one selfish wench who would rather not be bothered by real world ephemera, and I recognize that having my little one in my life makes me a better person even if he isn’t the only thing I strive for. As for other adults in my world, I hope that they have the decency to well-wish my child even if they don’t care for or love him. My parenting theory does not obligate a random adult to a stranger’s child, just hopes that they recognize that children are indeed little people who haven’t yet grown up and thus continue to make bad decisions.**

Not that I’ve turned into a philanthrope, mind you. I reserve the right to hate stupid adults.

Parenthood is no Hallmark card even if it is about legacy. We pass down the legacies of our experiences, our failures and successes, our environment and circumstances, our idiosyncracies and our greatest dreams, all of it, to our children, and this happens whether we are earth-mother hippies, corporate go-getters, or SAH Christian moms. Whether our children are enhanced or pinned in by these legacies, I suspect, we won’t know until it’s too late to go back. Our kids have their own experiences, they build their own legacies. And as Roseanne said, we all screw our children up in our own special ways.

In a nutshell, my theory of parenting roles is as follows.

Children: Little people making bad decisions.

Adults: Helping little people make less bad decisions.

Parents: Obligated to help, to the best of their ability, their little people make the best decisions they can.

During my brief tenure as a CASA there were several things that the mothers training alongside me had a difficult time processing, the idea that in order to satisfy the law we couldn’t impose our values on the children we were to look after. I remember one woman who thought that not having a phone in the house was a serious offense and another who thought that living in a house with a dirt floor automatically constituted neglect. My favorite was the one who maintained that teen mothers were inherently incapable of raising good children — I was twenty years old then with a two-year-old. Middle-class poverty-shock values imposed on all people who didn’t fit this mold or that, all volunteers white, all volunteers with the assets and time banks to afford the training to volunteer in the first place, me included. A lesson, that one. (Lesson two as a CASA, learning how to walk into other people’s homes while holding back my own shock and middle-class white values, learning that I wasn’t as unprejudiced and pure of heart as I thought, learning to hold back judgement in order to do the best for the children with whom I was charged.) I judged those women for implicating me as a bad parent, and oh, they judged right back.

At the end of that circle: all mothers tried, sentenced, and hung. No real abuse or neglect necessary. In the meantime, you’ve got a lot of kids hated on for having the audacity to not have grown up yet. Net effect on the little people, not so good.

My little person is going to leave for a week’s vacation with my family tomorrow and, instead of snuggling into his bed and dreaming of lakeside beaches and cool summer nights, is tossing in bed and singing his ass off in his best imitation of an operatic soprano. Contrary to those who think children are quite annoying (and they certainly can be) I think singing oneself to sleep like Miss Piggy is pretty cool. Good decision.

I call a truce. No more mommy drive-bys. In the absence of real danger inflicted on our children, we’re doing what we can to make our sometimes-charming, sometimes-irritating little people into productive and engaged big people and don’t deserve the extra shame and misogyny heaped on us by others who don’t have any interest in our lifestyles anyway. To each their own. How we raise our children — and how we feel about it — is always ripe for discussion, but I won’t pretend this mommy knows best.

UPDATE: Three related posts of note include Bitch PhD’s Feminism 101 and Moms at Work – Over There, and Molly’s Throwing the Baby Out With the Bathwater.

_____________
* This coming from Shocker Girl.
** Don’t push the Itsy Bitsy Spider button eighteen times in a row.


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315 comments for “Little People With Poor Deduction Skills

  1. August 11, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    You know, I really hate the dichotomy being pushed in the mainstream media: You either have to be a kid-hating “feminazi” or a kid-friendly “walk five paces behind husband” sort of woman.

    So I’m glad that people like you are writing about parenting.

  2. zuzu
    August 11, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    the refusal to recognize that “kid-friendly” isn’t the opposite of “adults-only.”

    That comes from both sides. For instance, there are parents who insist on bringing their kids to bars and then being shocked when the adults who thought it was an adults-only space cuss and drink and talk about sex. Then there are adults who are probably overprotective of spaces like restaurants (though I admit to asking to be reseated if there’s a loud kid nearby, or just up and leaving if there’s nowhere to go and the parents don’t make a move to quiet the kid).

    Mostly, I think it’s a question of respect, and there are unfortunately, from my perspective, a lot of parents who are overentitled (I do live in Brooklyn) and who let their kids run around restaurants or scream in movie theaters late at night, when adults should be able to expect a kid-free environment, especially in an R movie.

    But as someone on the Pandagon thread said, the problem is not that “kid-friendly” is the opposite of “adult-friendly,” but that the opposite of “adult-friendly” seems to be “kid-centered.” Which is a different thing.

    But I also think there should be some adult-only spaces.

  3. KnifeGhost
    August 11, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    nstead of snuggling into his bed and dreaming of lakeside beaches and cool summer nights, is tossing in bed and singing his ass off in his best imitation of an operatic soprano. Contrary to those who think children are quite annoying (and they certainly can be) I think singing oneself to sleep like Miss Piggy is pretty cool. Good decision.

    Fucking amen. When I have kids, I’ll remind myself as often as I have to that we find kids annoying largely because they haven’t had the life ground out of them yet. Sadly, I’m too old to sing myself to sleep, but I might try falling asleep to the soothing sounds of Converge tonight…..

  4. August 11, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    I definitely don’t disagree with that, Zuzu. There are times and places in which I don’t think children should be present, see horror flicks and fucking bars (bars!).

    Although I do think there are some unreal expectations put on parents regardless of the actual behavior of their children.

    An example: one of my single mommy friends and I took Ethan and her daughter out to Chef’s restaurant one night. It has a small kitchen and the dining experience is generally long, thanks to the large volume of tables with only three cooks in the back, but the kids were entertained with crayons and each other and were well-behaved enough that the table to my left remarked on how surprised they were that the kids could last two hours without a single complaint. On the right was seated a young couple who were obviously snottying it up for the night at the nice restaurant and shot evil glances at us for having the audacity for having the kids there. E and the girl were quiet and respectful the entire time and really enjoyed themselves — I was proud they behaved so appropriately for such a long time.

    Didn’t stop the people to my right for hating on them anyway, and hating us for being there with them at all.

  5. August 11, 2006 at 11:38 pm

    I mentioned this same phenomenon in my blog the other day — I tend to believe that it’s actually something of a conscious hijacking by the right wing to dichotomize women in the ways that Natalia mentions.

  6. August 11, 2006 at 11:50 pm

    What does CASA stand for?

  7. ilyka
    August 12, 2006 at 12:09 am

    For instance, there are parents who insist on bringing their kids to bars and then being shocked when the adults who thought it was an adults-only space cuss and drink and talk about sex.

    Oh yeah, I’ve actually seen that one in action. Fun, isn’t it? It’s especially great when it happens at 11:30 at night. The poor kid’s screaming from exhaustion and overstimulation, but no, the parent gives ME the evil eye for punctuating every third sentence with “fuck.”

    But I’m going to file that kind of thing under what Lauren said–“I reserve the right to hate stupid adults.” It’s a problem when those stupid adults become parents, not just for the childless people like me who have to put up with their behavior; but for the children of those parents, and all the parents out there who aren’t stupid, but still get to listen to me complain about “stupid parents” as if it were all of them in it together.

    What I get from this post is that I need to quit judging all parents by the worst of them, especially knowing that the criticisms tend to fall disproportionately on mothers. I can’t remember the last time I mentally labeled someone a bad father, but a bad mother?–That was Tuesday.

  8. August 12, 2006 at 12:14 am

    Then there are adults who are probably overprotective of spaces like restaurants…

    My pet peeves in this regard: 1) adults who say kids don’t belong on airplanes (what, you don’t get to see your family till the kid grows up, and if your parents get too ill to travel and die in the meantime, tough luck?), and 2) adults who think parents should be able to ditch their whole grocery shopping expedition and go straight home every time the kids fusses a bit. Oh, and then of course there’s the never ever breastfeed in public crowd, but that’s been covered on feminist blogs often enough.

    Pet peeve on the parent side of the fence: the parents who got my online role playing game booted from its server because their precious sixteen-year-old decided to use it for cybersex with other players, and then show them her logs of said cybersex when we wouldn’t let her take on the Technocracy single-handed and win. So, yeah, there are parents who do things that annoy the heck out of me, too. But that, for me, isn’t so much about small children in public spaces (most of the public places I want to go really should be kid friendly) as about people who think the whole world should be G-rated for the sake of the children. Or for the sake of the teenagers who need not to be corrupted by talk about sex.

  9. Betsy
    August 12, 2006 at 12:32 am

    Right ON. Though not a parent myself, I’m not sufficiently divorced from reality to believe that I myself was never a child (a la Trunchbull). But you’d think that some members of the “child-free” crowd have forgotten that. I don’t know if I will ever choose to have children; it seems daunting in many ways. But that in no way makes me superior (or inferior) to people who do choose have them.
    I hate the term breeder; it’s so mean, judgmental, defensive, and totally alientating to people that (one would think) we want to have on our team. Hello, motherhood can be an incredible consciousness-raising experience, and so many feminist goals have to do with the fact that the burdens of parenting fall disproportionately on women. Don’t we want better policies re: child care, parental leave, health care, schools, poverty? These things would benefit us all in the long run, even if we personally do not have children. And if we want them, we’ve got to get people with children to join us in fighting for them. And calling those people “breeders” is a damn fine way of slamming the door in their faces.

  10. Sara
    August 12, 2006 at 12:40 am

    *shrug* I don’t know, I kind of figure that if I can dislike mosquitos for buzzing and biting — you know, for doing what mosquitos do — then I can dislike children for doing what they do: being loud, messy, bothersome, etc. Especially if they’re doing it at an obviously obnoxious level in, say, my coffeehouse. Especially if they’re also pouring sugar packets on the floor and wiping their jelly-encrusted fingers on the windows.

    I’ve never taken it out on a kid, if that makes anybody feel better; mostly I reserve my ranting about whatever it is they’ve lately done to annoy me to my coworkers, who’ve also just had to put up with it and are in the mood to empathise. I also tend not to take it out on the parents — except in the more extreme cases, in which my position as a food service employee limits my appropriate reactions to rolling my eyes and snarling mentally — because I know taking care of kids can be hard work, and honestly, you can’t watch them all the time.

    I just don’t see why it’s such a Bad Thing to not like kids, especially if you haven’t got any of your own and aren’t negatively impacting the ones you do happen to come across.

  11. Cassandra
    August 12, 2006 at 12:56 am

    Okay first of all I love this post and think you are spot-on…

    …but I am very tired and was catching up on the blog and after this saw the Friday Random Ten where you listed a song by none other than The Breeders.

    This amused me because… see above re: tired.

  12. August 12, 2006 at 1:20 am

    I’ll be taking my 4.5 year old (with earplugs, naturally) to see Snow Patrol on Sunday, performing at an outdoor venue where there will be plenty of room to move away if either Augustlet or the adults get sick of the other. There will be adults swearing and sweating and he won’t melt.

    (Although, Jesus damn, a BAR?)

  13. Raging Moderate
    August 12, 2006 at 1:21 am

    Fellow feminists, I fucking hate the term “breeders,” and I’ll be goddamned if somebody attempts to tell me that they don’t hear that term used freely and often from those who work for the betterment of women’s lives.

    You should have seen the other thread at Pandagon this week where a mother of 14 children was called “a breeding machine”, “a farm animal”, and a “house negro”. Someone said “her uterus is a clown car”. And then they criticized her clothes and hair for good measure.

  14. M
    August 12, 2006 at 1:40 am

    My mom used to take me to bars all the time. My uncle would come with his daughters. They’d get us a pool table and some cues, showed us how to play, and let us get on with it. I think their friends had fun watching us have fun. They’d shout pointers or occasionally get up and show us stuff. These are some of my best memories.

    This was well after we’d left the infant/toddler stages, of course. I’m not sure what all my mom did with me during that point since we were hitchhiking around.

    I had a slightly colorful childhood.

  15. August 12, 2006 at 1:44 am

    I use the term breeder in reference to single parents, coupled (“mated”?) parents, and what my partner and I might be in the future. I’ve also used it in your presence on numerous occasions – didn’t know your strong dislike of the word. What do you find so offensive?

    I agree with you that a person’s identity is not automatically solely defined by being a parent, but it certainly is informed by that (oftentimes very salient) role.

    I of course have my own beliefs regarding parenting and children and families, most of which I’ve shared with you. Although ignorant of a parent’s day-to-day life as one may be if they do not have a child of their own, other people’s children do have an effect on the society in general. Parents are not raising children, they are raising individuals toward adulthood, all as you have said. Our culture has become so fixated on individualism that we feel we dare not say one word toward a parent regarding their child or their parenting (or lack thereof). A person’s/couple’s decision to have a child impacts all of us and we should be talking about all issues.

    Those without children should not be disqualified from entering the discussion because even we are capable of striving to better our lives and the world without the child incentive.

    Unless we refer to giving birth as shitting out a child. *Shudder*

  16. murphy
    August 12, 2006 at 3:31 am

    I’ve always heard the term “breeder” used in queer contexts, kind of as an ironic slur. But then, I mostly move in queer circles, so that would make sense. I mean, I have no problem with what you folks do in the bedroom, just don’t flaunt it in restaurants. Some of us are trying to eat in here!

  17. August 12, 2006 at 6:29 am

    I’ve never heard the phrase “shitting out a child” used in a way that wasn’t obviously tongue-in-cheek, but then I’m in Mississippi, and effective feminist activists down here are all congenial, no matter how hardcore they are.

    My sphincter does tighten up a little bit when I hear friends loudly and regularly drop the F-bomb in restaurants when there are kids at the next table. Not because I think it hurts the kids (I don’t see how it could), but because I think it shows a profound lack of respect for the parents. But then I don’t usually encounter that in my circlce of friends, because they tend to be pretty kind, sensitive people. I was at a get-together recently where one young woman brought her nine-year-old son, and while he was within earshot, we could have been a group of Carmelite nuns. The second he and his mother headed home, we were a pretty wild bunch. I think people should learn to operate in both worlds, just as I think people should know how to dress both formal and casual and learn how to speak more than one language: Intentionality. It’s nice to be able to move around in more than one world.

    But I do get the feeling sometimes that I’m a little too G-rated, and I’ve made a conscious effort lately to amend that just a little bit. For example, due to 28 years of mostly multigenerational, bar-free Southern socializing, I almost never say “fuck” in person–and even then it’s when I’m quoting somebody. I don’t bat an eye if anyone else says it in anything approaching an appropriate context, but I just don’t happen to use the word myself. I realized I’d gotten to be too much of a stiff when I was in a bar and a friend of mine dropped the F-bomb then immediately looked at me and said “Sorry!” At which point I immediately looked her squarely in the eye with a smile and responded in a calm, relaxed voice: “Because you know I never use that fucking word, right?” Entire table erupted into laughter. You really have to know me to realize why it was so funny, but it worked, and it visibly made her more comfortable telling me stuff after that. The word still isn’t part of my day to day vocabulary, but her reaction made me wish I’d dropped the F-bomb a long time ago.

    Cheers,

    TH

  18. Car
    August 12, 2006 at 6:47 am

    Very spot-on. I think part of the problem is that there is a different line in different places, and too many people don’t distinguish. Also, there’s a certain amount of disruption kids just do, and that’s ok, but running amok isn’t. Kid crying in family restaraunt: deal with it. That’s their environment. Kid crying in a bar at 11 at night: get the kid the hell out of there, he shouldn’t be there. Kid crying in an airplane: again, deal with it. You were a baby once too, and most probably cried a lot and bothered other people. Kid kicking the back of your seat through the whole flight: tell the parent to make the kid STOP.

    Most egregious example of overreaction I’ve ever seen: I was at a lecture by Stephen J. Gould at a university, in a lecture hall that seated about 700. He was just as long-winded in person as he was in his writing, and it went on and on. About an hour into it, a baby started to cry, and his mother immediately got up and started moving to an exit. He actually stopped in the middle of a sentence, complained about the noise, and asked for the kid to be removed. The baby made it an entire hour without a peep, the mom was TAKING CARE OF IT, and he still griped? Pompous ass.

    One other example: When my kids were toddlers we went to a restaraunt, not a fancy one. The waitresses started giving us dirty looks as soon as we went in, and the first thing ours said was to be sure the kids didn’t touch anything (it was one of those places with stupid crap and knicknacks all over the walls). They literally glared at us all night, made rude comments as we left, and the kids were angels the whole time. We’ve never gone back. The next month we went to a different place, a little more upscale, and one of my children tipped over his highchair, grabbing for the table and bringing and entire plate of spaghetti down on his head, the highchair, and the carpeted floor. I was mortified, but the waitress rushed over, cleaned him up while cooing over him, and brought more food, the whole time telling us everything was ok, this happens, etc. She got the biggest tip ever, and they got a lot of our business and recommendations.

  19. odanu
    August 12, 2006 at 7:11 am

    I have kids, and I like them, most of the time. Some of the issues going around are not kid vs. non-kid, but misbehaving kids vs. well-mannered kids. As they are toddlers, kids are expected to make noise and be unable to hold still and similar problems. But by the time they hit school age, children should be well socialized enough that, if the parent is making sure that the basics are met (kid not too hungry, doesn’t have to pee RIGHT NOW, and has had enough sleep), they can maintain through a typical dinner or even a lecture (smart parents bring distractions that are un-messy and quiet for those occasions, just in case).

    When my oldest son was a toddler, I was a welfare mother fleeing from a domestic violence situation. I had no way to leave him behind when I went anywhere, so I started socializing him early and carefully to have good manners. A restless child who says “can I please get up for a moment” is far more endearing than a child who screams at his parents “Lemme up! I gotta go!” While there are often choices about where a child spends her time (certainly it is rarely necessary for a child to spend time in a bar), even where there are no choices, it is important for children to be socialized.

    Admittedly, I have some privilege when it comes to child rearing. My mother had a college degree in home economics and was an excellent mother through my early childhood. I was raised in a somewhat chaotic family, but my broader environment was free from conflict. That said, I have known many poverty stricken mothers that insist on good behavior from their children, and so long as they’re consistent about it, they generally get it.

  20. kate
    August 12, 2006 at 8:22 am

    I couldn’t wait to read all the posts, so if its been said before, I’m sorry for redundancy.

    In the absence of real danger inflicted on our children, we’re doing what we can to make our sometimes-charming, sometimes-irritating little people into productive and engaged big people and don’t deserve the extra shame and misogyny heaped on us by others who don’t have any interest in our lifestyles anyway.

    AMEN AMEN Fucking amen.

    People seem to forget that children are the next generation to lead and will in fact be leading us when we are aged and dependent. Children are not toys, decoration, ego boosters, compliance factors (with a church or social group) to what have you. We as parents have a phenomenal responsibility to train, teach and guide the next generation to be responsible, loving, caring and emotionally balanced adults. There is no other job with more import for our and our planet’s survival.

    In my mind, that we have seemingly not gained much ground in the last one hundred years in progressing socially shows how this responsibility still remains largely ignored.

    Fellow feminists, I fucking hate the term “breeders,” and I’ll be goddamned if somebody attempts to tell me that they don’t hear that term used freely and often from those who work for the betterment of women’s lives.*

    A term I’ve seen most often among those who claim they will remain childless and/or claim that their feminity is not defined by motherhood. Fine.

    For those of you who use this term: Do not define my feminity by that alone when you see me with children since you not only reduce my function in the world to that of a womb on legs, but by doing such you also put into question the validity of your claim that you, as a woman should be allowed a different more flexible definition of self.

    Also, as being defined as ‘breeders’ women is reduced to the patriarchical appendage that exists to confirm masculinity by incubating a zygote. Woman as thinking, feeling entity does not exist.

    Middle-class poverty-shock values imposed on all people who didn’t fit this mold or that, all volunteers white, all volunteers with the assets and time banks to afford the training to volunteer in the first place,

    A FUCKING AMEN.

    All you white middle women who volunteer or think you’re doing good: listen up.

    When you come into my house and judge me, turn your nose up at me, when you dismiss the value of my life and that of my children, or our potential for future contribution to society, you just denigrated and made useless all the ‘help’ you purport to give.

    Living in poverty since my ex left my children and me high and dry (and with a pathetic child support enforcement system), my kids and I have had to endure being blamed for our poverty and every unattractive and unpleasant attribute thereof.

    My children internalized the devaluation and ostracization of them socially and even physically (being treated as if we don’t exist). I am still fighting with them to convince them to get going to college, to see that there is some value in participating and engaging in the social network/fabric of this country. To see that they have something to contribute and they have a right to compete without being unfairly knocked down or knocked out remains a struggle as their experience tells different.

    Food baskets, rental assistance, fuel assistance, advocacy. Yeah, all great for the moment, but what is the lasting effect of a social system that completely judges those in poverty based on standards they cannot possibly meet and then tics points downward on a scale from there?

    After years of being on the activist end and the receiving end of social services and going to school to train to have a career (cough – cough) in social services, my conclusion is that such activities, although helpful in the short run, do nothing but keep the social structure in place.

    In other words, white middle class volunteers/paid workers will always stand in the way of real change as such requires some sacrifice of priviledge from them. By the very nature of the helper/helpee relationship a power imbalance occurs. This imbalance often is the driving factor in drawing in volunteers and workers.

  21. zuzu
    August 12, 2006 at 8:25 am

    But you’d think that some members of the “child-free” crowd have forgotten that.

    Sigh. As long as we’re discussing overgeneralization.

    I’m childfree. But I don’t use the “shit out a child” or “breeder” thing, and I know few people who do — other than those who frequent a particularly vituperative childfree board. But the rest of us get tarred with that. I mean, give a dirty look to a parent whose kid is making noise in a nice restaurant or movie, and you’re lumped in with those people. That certainly seemed to be the case in that Pandagon thread — the instant someone said something about not liking kids, the “you ALL call us breeders and say we shit out children” accusation was leveled.

    However, hell yes I will call Michelle Duggar a babymaking machine. She and her creepy husband have been all over the media talking about the way they crank them out by having her breastfeed only six months and then turn the kid over to her overworked daughters, who are not given the choices she was.

    And hell yes I will criticize them because JimBob is actively seeking to get into public office and ban abortion and birth control so the rest of us don’t have a choice about how many children we have.

    And hell yes I will criticize their godawful hair and clothes. Because they’ve made no secret of the philosophy behind them, and it’s fucking creepy that they make all the kids dress alike and not cut their hair for some half-assed Biblical reason. And then go on TV and tell us how modest they are.

  22. Arianna
    August 12, 2006 at 8:49 am

    Zuzu, you stole the words out of my mouth.

  23. dharmadyke
    August 12, 2006 at 9:17 am

    If I may lapse out of postmodernism, and “speak as” for a moment:

    Speaking as a former child, I find it irritating when adults are intolerant and ungenerous towards children and their caregivers.

    And speaking as the child of a single mother–THERE’s NO FUCKING SYSTEM of CHILDCARE IN THIS COUNTRY, so the options are few for couples and even fewer for single parents.

    And speaking as a forever queer person, ‘breeders” was a term used ironically (and largely in the late 80’s) by queer people to counter-describe the people actively shoving a whole bunch of heteronormative crap down our throats and beating us over our heads with it too. I dislike its growing use as a term of contempt for anyone who has children.

    Returning to postmodernism, Bitch|Lab has over and over again written about how problematic this attitude is, in terms of race, class, family, etc. I’ve learned a lot from her as well as what I’ve learned reading here and at BitchPhd.

    yrs, a dharmadyke

  24. August 12, 2006 at 9:29 am

    When people who are “child free” start harping on “breeders” or women who “pop out” children, it’s not proactive, it’s reactive. So, this is a reaction to a reaction, which is always loads of rhetorical fun.

  25. August 12, 2006 at 9:38 am

    I’m slightly childfree(i.e. I consider myself too young to have kids, as I am 22, and I’m suspicious of dudes with kids- I’m like, why don’t you go take care of your kid instead of running after me? Oh yea, and I don’t do condomless sex, kicking ya to the curb, bro, you know?) and I hate it when people take 3 and 4 year olds to PG 13 movies. I don’t care if your kid eats something in the grocery store, but you sure as hell need to pay for whatever your child ate out of. I may not call folks breeders, as I plan to have kids when I am older and all that, but I do think there are limits. Now, it may be a little mean to make fun of OfJimBob as they call her on TWoP, but I think we can still all work together even if sometimes we do get a chuckle out of the antics of women in the public eye.

  26. August 12, 2006 at 9:57 am

    Wow. Thank you, Lauren. Thank you so much. I read through the threads on Alas and Pandagon last night, and was depressed and pissed off. I really miss the old HipMama boards, where it was a given that “feminist” and “mother” should/do go hand-in-hand. Most of the time, I feel like I’m getting a big, hearty “FUCK YOU!” in the feminist blogosphere—and I’m a feminist, damn it, even if I don’t fit the “mold” by being too working-class, too blue-collar, too “ethnic”—and being a mother.

    Anne, I know you weren’t talking to me, but I am offended by the term “breeder” because of the strong dehumanizing connotations. “Breeders” (as opposed to “parents”, “fathers”, and “mothers”) are like “dumb animals”, “popping out” or “shitting out” kids—damn! don’t “they” know what causes that?! I find it a very “othering” term, designed to set me and my child aside as being of lower status, and hence, less consequence. And as a working class woman, yes I am sensitive to such insults. And make no mistake about it; it is meant as an insult. It is meant to put me in my place. It is also inherently sexist, as the term falls on women.

    And thanks also, Lauren, for mentioning classism. See, I think that’s where a lot of this “hairy eyeball” business comes in—from the imposition of (Anglo-Saxon) middle-class values/practices onto those of us who aren’t. Let me explain: occasionally, I take my daughter (she’s six now) into a nice restaurant about a mile down the street from me. If this place was in a bigger, “hipper” city, it would probably be tagged a “bistro”, but as it is, it’s just a really good, tasty, medium, priced Latin/Mediterreanean place to eat (best margaritas in town!). It is also one of the few restaurants in town that was completely non-smoking from the very start (since then, many others have jumped on the no-smoking bandwagon. I’m not anal about cigarette smoke, but I don’t want to smell it while I’m eating). And yes, this place has an open floor plan; the bar is not enclosed in a separate room.

    And it never fails—despite the fact my daughter is very well-mannered, some asshole will have to suck her teeth when she sees us enter. And I think there are several assumptions going on here—that child=brat, that children are only supposed to eat shitty food at restaurants specifically designed for them, that “good mothers” don’t take their children out after 7PM (unless it is for a specific child-centered lesson or event), and that one is supposed to isolate one’s children from the adult public as much as possible.

    I think there’s a lot of culture clash on this issue, and it’s frustrating to me. For one thing, mothers are held—not just by friends of the patriarchy, either—to a higher standard than fathers. I consider the women performing the superiority trip on me for going out of my restricted bounds as a mother, to be internally oppressed. Yes, I allow my daughter to watch PG and R-rated movies. She listens to (and thoroughly enjoys) the same music I do—not the pablum I’m “supposed” to feed her. She eats real food, not the swill being served up at whatever mass-market joint I’m supposed to be taking her to. Yes, she is involved in “kid things”, but she is also involved in the adult world, because that’s the world she is going to be entering, dammit! My parents took me to picket lines and various labor/civil rights events growing up—not just the tavern. They were not only preparing me for the world I was to enter, they were exposing me to the world I was already in.

    And just like women are supposed to be the “gatekeepers” on sex, women are also supposed to be the “gatekeepers” on child-rearing practices. It tries my patience. And it further tries my patience when people who would normally make an effort to be “understanding” (even if phony) by at least pantomiming a “live and let live” attitude, don’t feel the need to put on those same social brakes when it comes to mothers and children. And when I visit the feminist blogosphere—which I am a part of—there are times and places where I feel some of my sister feminists have internalized the status quo when it comes to motherhood, rather than question it. That the “good mother” follows a certain path, and that those of us who dont’/can’t/don’t wanna take that narrow path are some form of enemy. No, I don’t resemble June Cleaver in the slightest. No, that doesn’t make me a bad mother.

    It’s OK to judge me and my kid. But judge us on our own qualities and behaviors, not on pre-existing stereotypes. Don’t limit your ideas on where mothers and children ought to be to “restaurants featuring cartoon characters, playgrounds, the children’s section of the library”—and that’s about it. It’s not about whether or not you, yourself want children, or even care for them much. I would just like me and my daughter to be given simple respect. Simple respect. That’s all. Does our presence unspeakably offend you? Then just ignore us. Period. It’s that simple.

  27. Kat
    August 12, 2006 at 10:53 am

    Wow, I love this post.

    Woman as thinking, feeling entity does not exist.

    Yes! so too for the children who are also reduced to nameless spawn.

    Didn’t stop the people to my right for hating on them anyway, and hating us for being there with them at all.

    My son is great on airplanes, always had been. Better than me in fact, I’m the one who gets antsy and bored. He’s in his zone on an airplane. On one flight we were boarding in Honolulu, standing in line at the ticket counter, checking in for a long-ass flight back East. He was 3 and standing quietly and politely.

    The woman in front of me turned around, took one look at him and LOUDLY sighed and said “oh great!” to no one in particular. Then she turned to me and said, “make sure he doesn’t kick my carry-on”. He hadn’t gone near it.

    On that same flight, the attendants kept trying to get me to have him give up his seat (which was paid for) because some man needed more room or some such thing.

    adults who think parents should be able to ditch their whole grocery shopping expedition and go straight home every time the kids fusses a bit

    Hell yeah. I am a single mom, the kids are in tow most of the time. As much as they would like to stay home, and I would like to do the grocery shopping, etc., in peace, they are with me. That is a fact of our lives.

    Besides, if you want a child to be comfortable and well-mannered in an environment and thus reduce negative behaviors, you must continually expose them to that environment. You teach them by rote how to behave in this environment or that by putting them in it and praising acceptable behavior and correcting unacceptable behavior.

    You can’t keep them locked up in the house until they are 18 and then suddenly set them loose on society and expect them to handle it gracefully.

    So if we all want socially-adapted adults living and working next to us someday, we all will have to put with children being disruptive in public settings today.

    Okay, and now MY pet peeve. Adults who throw your children in your face. Well you had ’em, deal with ’em. Uh yeah. I went on a family trip to Lake Tahoe. Got the flu. Was with my three-year old son. My brothers would not pinch hit for me with him because “well you had him”. Jesus.

  28. Kat
    August 12, 2006 at 10:58 am

    Oh, and one more thing…

    You have to expose them to dining/art/music experiences for the same reasons. I was the only one in my dorm in college who knew what Brie cheese was because my parents had actually taken us to some nice venues.

    How sad is that?

  29. Sniper
    August 12, 2006 at 11:33 am

    I have friends who used to call all straight people “breeder” whether they had children or not. Of course, that term went out of fashion years ago. Now I tend to hear it – usually from other teachers – in private discussions about parents (men and women) who have children but don’t bother to raise them. By this I mean the kind of parent who tells you to stop bugging him/her when you call home to mention that the child is failing everything and has missed 30 days of school in the first semester.

  30. August 12, 2006 at 11:37 am

    Zuzu in #21

    The thing about this Duggar post is that our disgust shouldn’t be about the children, it should be about the parent’s values. I personally believe that the parents’ values are fucking odious, but I will not lay that at the feet of their children (whom I hope will grow up and live far differently from their parents). But it’s difficult to tease out the pertinent arguments about the value systems of the parents when they’re mixed up in a bunch of kid hatred.

    By the way, I’m referencing the comments section in general, not picking on any one person who commented on either post at Pandagon. Thought that should be said.

  31. piny
    August 12, 2006 at 11:52 am

    I’ve always heard the term “breeder” used in queer contexts, kind of as an ironic slur. But then, I mostly move in queer circles, so that would make sense. I mean, I have no problem with what you folks do in the bedroom, just don’t flaunt it in restaurants. Some of us are trying to eat in here!

    Yes, I definitely think parents should refrain from giving birth in restaurants.

    I’ve heard the word “breeder” in queer contexts only. It’s not something I hear in my calling circle–except possibly ironically, and then only as a rare occurrence–because so many of us are either pregnant, parenting, or hoping to parent someday. There’s a lot of discussion about how being in a queer relationship (or a relationship where one or both partners are sterile) will change your approach to the having and getting of children, but I don’t see the same automatic marriage of gaymo and childless.

  32. piny
    August 12, 2006 at 11:59 am

    Plus, I get the sense that a lot of femmes are too…conscious to use the word breeder. The punishment they receive for their sexuality is distinct in some of ways from plain ol’ hatred of lesbians, in part because we still have trouble seeing femmes as properly lesbian. Femmes are hated for being sluts, bad girls, roundheeled women. The breeder archetype is far too close to that.

  33. August 12, 2006 at 12:26 pm

    Okay, so nobody knows what CASA stands for. GAAHHH I’m just trying to understand the POST!!!

    I completely agree with Lauren. How in God’s name people can call themselves Feminists and yet actively discriminate against MOTHERS WITH CHILDREN is beyond my comprehension. I have spent my adult life working in fancy restaurants/playing music and the fact is, the “nicer” the restaurant, the LESS you are going to get shit for having a child with you. It goes without saying that if an infant starts to scream bloody murder (actually, if ANYBODY in your party starts to scream bloody murder) you are expected to take it outside until a calm demeanor can be resumed…..I think the commentor above had an EXCELLENT point in that, EVERYONE was a child once, so get off your damn high horses, child-haters!

  34. August 12, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    DUh, I figured out that CASA was a link…excuse me please while I die off embarrassment…

  35. August 12, 2006 at 1:05 pm

    During my brief tenure as a CASA there were several things that the mothers training alongside me had a difficult time processing, the idea that in order to satisfy the law we couldn’t impose our values on the children we were to look after. I remember one woman who thought that not having a phone in the house was a serious offense and another who thought that living in a house with a dirt floor automatically constituted neglect.

    I think I have the spiritual twin of these people “helping” me at the moment. Half of my flat is in a state because decorating with an 8-month-old isn’t easy, so a friendly local volunteer organisation sent me a woman to help. She and her husband made a start, but when a snag came up she accused me of “wittering” because I had my own ideas about how it should be done and they thought a different way was better. Finally, I told them they might as well go home and get on with their own decorating jobs, and she threw in my face that they were trying to help my daughter and that she was suffering from insufficient stimulation (not sure how painting the living room was supposed to address that).

    I’m fairly sure it’s not a class thing in my case (I’m middle class by upbringing, although currently on a very low income in social housing), but it’s certainly a values thing. They imagine how they would be in my situation and inform me that I need to amend my behaviour accordingly without considering that I find different things harder than they do.

  36. Marcy
    August 12, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    In childfree circles, we often use terms like PNB (parent, not breeder) to denote someone who actually understands what childrearing involves, instead of people who unconsciously “shit out kids.”

    I believe that the choices to have kids or not to have kids are both perfectly valid when looked at from a feminist standpoint. HOWEVER, when looked at from the planet’s standpoint, having kids is a bad idea. If the earth could talk, she would say, “6 billion of you mother fuckers is enough! I’m so polluted I am barely hanging on.” Quality of life diminishes for everyone, EVERYONE, when there are too many people on the earth. Right now it’s just the poor slobs in 3rd world countries, but it will catch up to us, too, and then it’ll be too late.

    So, while it can be a feminist choice to have kids, it’s not a very responsible one, if one is looking past his or her own wants and desires and is being responsible for the planet.

  37. piny
    August 12, 2006 at 1:15 pm

    In childfree circles, we often use terms like PNB (parent, not breeder) to denote someone who actually understands what childrearing involves, instead of people who unconsciously “shit out kids.”

    …This is kind of like only referring to really swishy gays as faggots. The slur implicates all members of the group, whether or not it’s intended to.

  38. Kat
    August 12, 2006 at 1:23 pm

    I mean, I have no problem with what you folks do in the bedroom, just don’t flaunt it in restaurants. Some of us are trying to eat in here!

    Gosh, I never really thought of taking my children out to eat as “flaunting” them. I always considered it feeding them in the company of others of their own species. Often I find that the adult members of the species are harder to deal with in public. I much prefer the children. At least when they misbehave you can say they don’t know any better, and they rarely get drunk and loud.

    As for breastfeeding in public, once time we were at an extremely upscale restaurant (my brother was a chef there and we went at his invitation). My then 10-month old son started getting really fussy. I went out to the lounge and found a wingchair in front of a lovely fireplace. I thought I was being very private but looked up and who was sitting at the bar not 5 feet away but Paul Newman. No lie. While I was completely in awe my son was unimpressed and continued to nurse.

    To my knowledge, Paul had no issues with the presence of the child or the breastfeeding.

    But I suppose I am a bad mother because I guess this counts as taking my son to a bar. I’ll just put another quarter in his therapy jar and move on…

  39. August 12, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    So, while it can be a feminist choice to have kids, it’s not a very responsible one, if one is looking past his or her own wants and desires and is being responsible for the planet.

    Nonsense. There’s more to it than that. A childfree couple with a 2000 sq. ft. home and two cars, who fly to even just one vacation spot per year, take up a hell of a lot more “ecological footprint” than my daughter and I. Even a childfree single person can. Unless you make the assumption that childfree persons are all living austere lives of voluntary simplicity, this doesn’t wash. I live lower on the ecological footprint chain than 99% of childfree middle-class people I’ve encountered, yet I get the scorn. How, exactly, does that work?

    Unless it’s not really about ecology, hmm?

  40. evil_fizz
    August 12, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    Quality of life diminishes for everyone, EVERYONE, when there are too many people on the earth. Right now it’s just the poor slobs in 3rd world countries, but it will catch up to us, too, and then it’ll be too late.

    So it’s not just that I’m a selfish wench for wanting to have kids, I am now destroying the earth for all posterity.

    Except there won’t be any posterity, because…. oh, wait.

  41. QLH
    August 12, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    Unwittingly breastfeeding in front of Paul Newman. Coolest story ever.

  42. August 12, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    Interesting how this thread has given Raging Moderate license to conflate criticizing the “quiverful” people who are openly for the oppression of women with stuff that I did not say about people who can and do distinguish between child-bearing as is and using it as a tool to oppress women. I oppose it as a tool to oppress women. Other than that, I don’t care.

    What I find interesting is all my attempts to write that I heartily oppose the way the patriarchy uses the existence of motherhood to oppress women is inevitably taken up by some feminists as if I’m slamming motherhood. My stated unwillingness to have children is very offensive, obviously, because if I had kids and then said that just because women have children doesn’t mean women’s lives should be constrained, I have a feeling I wouldn’t be told I’m anti-child or I hate mothers (due to wanting to free them, I hate them) or anything like that.

    So yeah, it’s important not to bug on people for having a kid or two. It’s also important to carefully restrain yourself from immediately assuming that childless people are morally inferior to you. Because whenever someone busts that out on me, I will retaliate by listing all the reasons I don’t want kids and that offends people even more, though it is a perfectly harmless, non-oppressive choice.

  43. August 12, 2006 at 2:03 pm

    For instance, La Lubu I don’t want to pick, but this statement:

    I really miss the old HipMama boards, where it was a given that “feminist” and “mother” should/do go hand-in-hand.

  44. zuzu
    August 12, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    The thing about this Duggar post is that our disgust shouldn’t be about the children, it should be about the parent’s values. I personally believe that the parents’ values are fucking odious, but I will not lay that at the feet of their children (whom I hope will grow up and live far differently from their parents). But it’s difficult to tease out the pertinent arguments about the value systems of the parents when they’re mixed up in a bunch of kid hatred.

    I wasn’t seeing the kid hatred, honestly. Most people on that thread seemed sorry for those kids. The problem with them is clearly with the parents and their value system, which is isolating and stifling those kids. Not to mention, dressing them funny.

    I really have to say I hate the implication that any criticism of a child or not wanting a child in a space where adults should expect to be able to do adult things or even rolling one’s eyes at a child’s public misbehavior is “child hating.” Just like not being entirely supportive or understanding of parents all the time is hating on mothers/misogynist.

    Look, I don’t hate children. I don’t particularly like them, either. You know, sort of like I don’t hate all adults but I only like certain ones. But given some of the experiences I’ve had — like sitting on an airplane for several hours right next to a 2-year-old who screamed during the entire flight because she couldn’t sit on Daddy’s lap and then barfed on landing, or sitting in a restaurant trying to have a conversation while a 10-year-old rollerbladed around my table yammering over my head to his parents seated at the next table — I absolutely dread seeing a child get on a plane or being seated near me in a restaurant. It’s probably not warranted in all cases, but cripes, am I supposed to ignore my experience?

  45. August 12, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    The developing world, which is a Hell of a lot more populous than the rest of it, lives off of a fraction of the resources that we do.

  46. piny
    August 12, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    What I find interesting is all my attempts to write that I heartily oppose the way the patriarchy uses the existence of motherhood to oppress women is inevitably taken up by some feminists as if I’m slamming motherhood.

    I’ve noticed a little of this, although I don’t think Lauren’s doing anything remotely similar–the criticism of your criticism of the Britney Spears birthing sculpture, for example.

  47. August 12, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    And speaking as the child of a single mother–THERE’s NO FUCKING SYSTEM of CHILDCARE IN THIS COUNTRY, so the options are few for couples and even fewer for single parents.

    Yeah.

    If space aliens came and monitored what our culture actually does as opposed to what we say we do, they’d probably conclude that we don’t much like our children or old people.

  48. August 12, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    No, my apologies. I don’t Lauren was singling me out. Nonetheless, there are a lot of people who got sorely offended and I was actually trying to defend the idea that women shouldn’t be tied to the house just because they have kids.

  49. evil_fizz
    August 12, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    I was actually trying to defend the idea that women shouldn’t be tied to the house just because they have kids.

    Which is an admirable sentiment. But I think that when you phrase it as “This escalating pressure on mothers to act like there is nothing more stimulating and interesting and satisfying and pleasurable than looking after shitting, pissing, whining kids all the time is some deeply fucked up patriachal shit,” this is where it becomes problematic.

    I am completely on board with the idea that it is fucked up to compel women to pretend that their children are scintillating geniuses who never get the flu or cry at the grocery store. But child-rearing comprises more than just bodily fluids and temper tantrums, and I think it’d be okay to acknowledge that kids can be funny, smart, and surprise you on the same days that they cut up their sister’s t-shirt and spill grape juice on the new rug.

  50. August 12, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    piny: as a femme dyke who wants kids, thank you for #32.

    Thers @ 47: A South African activist who admire once noted in a lecture I attended that it’s funny, there’s all these American missions to ‘rescue’ the poor, benighted Africans from themselves and their misery and poverty and misogyny, but you never hear coalitions of African countries sending a delegation to rescue the poor, mistreated old people of America from their oppressive nursing homes and abandonment by their children, now do you, and isn’t that interesting.

    In re the OP: my mother is one of those people who gets visibly angry when she hears children making audible noise in airplanes, restaurants, and public parks, and who’s inclined to make nasty comments about their incompetent parents. She raised three noisy, difficult children herself, and got the same treatment at the time. I find this fascinating.
    I tend to smile it off, or move. Some parents, yes, aren’t parenting properly, it often seems, but parenting is hard enough, you know? I might not like getting bitten by mosquitoes, as per the analogy in the comments above, but I certainly don’t blame them for wanting to bite me. It’s what they do. Children are little people with incomplete judgment, and I can’t expect them to behave like not-children, even if I’ll expect my own future kids to learn some manners.

  51. August 12, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    I agree with Zuzu on the Duggars. They’re like a bad parody come to life.

    I am especially disturbed by then due to the fact that one of my aunts has been ensnared into this whole ugly-clothes-long-ass-hair weird Christianity cult thing. Her youngest daughter, my cousin, was not allowed to wear pants for a while, because they are not “womanly.” Well, guess what? She’s a little girl, and she loves playgrounds and slides and whatnot, and, of course, she kept going down the slide in her little skirt. The skirt kept riding up and exposing her little bum, and she got a pretty nasty skin infection (playgrounds in Kiev can be bad when it comes to that stuff, lots of homeless people sleep there at night).

    My aunt went back to her “guru” for advice on this problem, and the “guru” replied that “little girls shouldn’t be active anyway, that’s not womanly either.”

    It was just the most screwed-up situation, and it took me, my mom, and all of my other aunts yelling at her and telling her to stop listening to some freak to FINALLY let the little girl wear pants again.

  52. August 12, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    Amanda, I didn’t write that statement to be an indictment of either your blog, or that particular thread. I am thinking of the general trend I’ve seen on the feminist blogosphere as a whole (and I really wince as I say that, because it’s not like I have a whole hell of a lot of room to talk—I haven’t posted anything of substance on my own damn blog in months). It can’t just be my imagination, because this (the hostile attitude towards mothers and/or children) has been noticed on many feminist women-of-color blogs I frequent.

    I don’t think you in particular, slam motherhood. In fact, I can always count on you as being a strong supporter of public schooling, family leave, and other policies that directly benefit parents. I just think some of the commentary that ends up under these threads tends to fly under the radar of folks who don’t have children—because it can. It’s easy to not notice subtle insults that aren’t landing on you. It’s easier to blow them off as something meant to be humorous if you’re not the target.

    Criminy. I don’t want to get into a game of picking out choice sentences from various blogs as “exhibits”. I”m kinda hoping that since Lauren noticed it, and she is a well-respected, widely-read blogger, people will step back and think if they’re saying something “witty” that really is just another form of targeting women, y’know? That’s all. I share a lot of your misgivings about the “Earth-mothery” stereotype, and how it can be the flipside of the right-wing yahoo mold for women—same chains, different color. At the same time, this is a stereotype that is immediately foisted upon women who happen to be mothers, and who happen to have any environmental-justice or social-justice views–and from both sides of the aisle.

  53. Kat
    August 12, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    I absolutely dread seeing a child get on a plane or being seated near me in a restaurant. It’s probably not warranted in all cases, but cripes, am I supposed to ignore my experience?

    No. But temper it with the good experiences you have had with children and take each child for their own individual self, just as you do adults. Why is it okay to say “I don’t particularly like kids” when we don’t say things like, “I don’t particularly like women” or “I don’t particularly like Jews”, or whatever.

    Things don’t get suddenly mature and wonderful once children are removed from a situation (restaurant, plane). I have been sat next to plenty of slobbery, greasy-food eating adults on planes. I have had the seat in front of me reclined smack on my lap before take off. By adults. Just the other day I had my restaurant experience completely ruined by a very loud and obnoxious lady who insisted we all hear her conversation (while my kids sat and ate quietly). I have been in the movies when adults are talking too loudly. I have been to company parties where someone always gets too drunk. Or at a bar when a fight ensues. It goes on and on. Poor behavior is not exclusive to children.

    This is the thing. My son, T, is fabulous on a plane. But as he stands in line quietly and politely, he gets some damn nasty looks just because he is a KID. In the meantime, there are some potentially irritating adults in that same line being given the benefit of the doubt. Why the difference?

    To me it speaks to a dislike of kids in general cloaked in an argument about being inconvenience by their behavior.

    And, when you know people have this attitude about kids, you are loathe to put your kids in a situation with them, because you just know someone is waiting for them to fail. And then they will say, “see, kids don’t belong here…. “. We don’t do that to adults.

  54. Starfoxy
    August 12, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    To me it speaks to a dislike of kids in general cloaked in an argument about being inconvenience by their behavior.

    I just wanted to say that I think your whole comment, but this snippet especially was very well said.

  55. Betsy
    August 12, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    I understand the annoyance of having one’s flight/movie/dinner/lecture disrupted by loud children. Who hasn’t been there? But I do think that the impulse to ban children from “adult” spaces is misguided (again, other than bars. Geesh.). I think children do a lot better when they have the opportunities to learn adult behavior early on. Perhaps more important, the segregation of child space from adult space has a profound affect on women’s ability to be integrated into society. I think the Gould lecture is a good example of this. It can be very difficult for an academic with a young child to remain plugged in to her (or his, if he’s the primary caretaker) field enough to stay competitive on the job market when she/he returns, keep up old contacts, etc. Attending lectures is one way to do that. If people (like Gould) could be a tad more compassionate and gracious about the whole thing, maybe it wouldn’t be so damned hard. It is in ALL our interests to make good childrearing easier and more equitable.

    Piny and La Lubu, I could not agree more with your responses to Marcy’s comment.

  56. kate
    August 12, 2006 at 5:54 pm

    I find it a very “othering” term, designed to set me and my child aside as being of lower status, and hence, less consequence. And as a working class woman, yes I am sensitive to such insults. And make no mistake about it; it is meant as an insult. It is meant to put me in my place. It is also inherently sexist, as the term falls on women.

    Word.

    It tries my patience. And it further tries my patience when people who would normally make an effort to be “understanding” (even if phony) by at least pantomiming a “live and let live” attitude, don’t feel the need to put on those same social brakes when it comes to mothers and children…I feel some of my sister feminists have internalized the status quo when it comes to motherhood, rather than question it. That the “good mother” follows a certain path, and that those of us who dont’/can’t/don’t wanna take that narrow path are some form of enemy.

    Yeah, yeah. Exactly my experience and very well said LaLubu. I was white, but I was poor and young. Do you think anyone ever clicked their tongues at my husband–father of the children who was old enough to be my father? No way, he was the man, the super stud that all men admired. Women in his age sphere hated me, others in my age sphere hated me derided me behind my back. When I chose to let him have the kids for a time after our divorce, he was seen as a hero, even though he was in retrospect, a selfish man and a horrible parent.

    He was a hero and when I got the kids I was a single mother/young mother/slut. Do you know how many times “multiple fathers” was thrown in my face by those who wished to criticize or alienate me? It was obvious the children were all of the same parentage and if they bothered to know me, they’d know i had been legally married, in a Church no less.

    No, I don’t need or want anyone’s praise or recognition — just some consideration. Folks who chose to take on the mantel of ‘feminist’ take on a responsibility to lead the way by example in how to treat all women not just the ones that don’t cause too much challenge or thinking.

    Feminism or any other philosophy that contradicts the norm and demands change for the betterment of all, demands that those who take the label for themselves, take some responsibility for the action required to make social change.

    All feminists must be aware of their conditioning and take a harder look at the lens they put their sisters under and make sure they they aren’t using the old patriarchy issued ones, which tend to give a more generous view of the boys while sifting out and seperate women from themselves.

  57. june
    August 12, 2006 at 7:01 pm

    I don’t mind kids in restaurants, or kids who cry on planes.

    I don’t use the term “breeder” myself but I also admit it does not bother me, in the context in which I’ve heard it used (queer, referring to all straights).

    This sentence made me somewhat uncomfortable:

    Without a child I wouldn’t feel as obligated to work as much as I do, to avoid such debt, to secure meaningful assets, or to better myself or the world.

    I don’t think anyone is a better person because they have kids (although I don’t think that makes them worse, either). I do get tired of hearing how I ought to have children, it will make me a better person, whatever. Deciding not to have kids does not make me shallow, or selfish, or immature.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, I agree that people can be misogynistic in their critiques of children and childrearing, but I can also appreciate the need for a (nonmysoginistic) way to vent about a society that puts such huge emphasis on having kids (and especially on having kids in the context of a straight relationship).

  58. August 12, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    Oh, La Lubu, I wasn’t really suggesting that you were slamming my blog. More I think that the careless wording goes both ways—when you said you missed Hip Mama because feminist and mother were one and the same, it makes those of us who don’t have kids feel a bit out of it. But I shouldn’t have said anything because I know that you didn’t mean it that way.

    To be honest, what was getting under my skin was at Molly Saves the Day, I said that I didn’t like Ani DiFranco’s poem about pregnancy. Now, I didn’t like it because it was sentimental and I’m really not fond of sentimentality. But that’s a matter of taste and so I didn’t mention that. However, my other reason for not liking it—and not to implicate anyone but my companions at the NOW conference were also gagging on the poem—was because Ani said that childbirth was the greatest thing a woman could do.

    I strongly feel that feminists need to distance ourselves from this sentiment for a number of reasons. On one side, if you take it from a genuine feminist point of view, it’s a cry of female superiority and I think the equality is a better stance. But mostly it’s because the notion that a woman’s highest calling is childbirth is a sentiment that has been used, 95% of the time, to take away women’s rights to excel in other areas. In fact, in earlier times it was theorized that male creative energies were expressed by their brains and women by their wombs. I don’t want to contribute to the notion that because we have wombs, we don’t have brains.

  59. August 12, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    Plus, it’s objectively incorrect. Raising children is a great thing but clearly some women’s contributions to science, art, literature, world peace, whatever, are so great that they outstrip what we lesser mortals can accomplish.

  60. zuzu
    August 12, 2006 at 7:20 pm

    No. But temper it with the good experiences you have had with children and take each child for their own individual self, just as you do adults. Why is it okay to say “I don’t particularly like kids” when we don’t say things like, “I don’t particularly like women” or “I don’t particularly like Jews”, or whatever.

    Being a child is a temporary condition quite unlike being a Jew or a woman (did you just accuse me of something equivalent to anti-Semitism or misogyny?). Moreover, nobody expects me to run around saying that I just *love* Jews lest I be thought of as less than a woman.

    But thanks for taking a statement that essentially expresses a shrug toward children as a class and turning it into a form of bigotry. So fucking what if I don’t like children as a class? I don’t hate them, and I certainly don’t hate yours.

  61. June
    August 12, 2006 at 7:31 pm

    I agree that it is OK to dislike kids. And, I think that there is an expectation that women, in particular, should like kids. And should want to hold your baby, talk about your kids, etc.

  62. zuzu
    August 12, 2006 at 7:34 pm

    Apparently it makes me a bigot.

  63. kate
    August 12, 2006 at 7:39 pm

    But I do think that the impulse to ban children from “adult” spaces is misguided (again, other than bars. Geesh.). I think children do a lot better when they have the opportunities to learn adult behavior early on. Perhaps more important, the segregation of child space from adult space has a profound affect on women’s ability to be integrated into society.

    I won’t take my son to “family” restraunts, unless they actually have playgrounds for the children to run around in and there’s really no pretense that it is a proper “restraunt” because there are always enough out-of-control children to make it impossible to maintain any behaviour standards without just getting up and leaving. I have taken him to many bars, but not in the U.S. – taking kids down to the pub is perfectly normal in the U.K. and during the World Cup French bars were full of familys watching the game. It’s strange that this generally tolerant group of commenters is so willing to get self-righteous about that one thing. I also take my son to the reseach library. He’s at an age now when he can read the map and help me find the right letters and numbers on the shelf. He’s not silent, but he speaks softly and is far less anoying than the assholes talking full volume on their cell phones (yes, in the library).

  64. zuzu
    August 12, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    It’s strange that this generally tolerant group of commenters is so willing to get self-righteous about that one thing.

    The problem is usually less with the children than with the parents who get upset that adults are doing adult things in an adult space around their kids. Like I said above, swearing, smoking, drinking, talking about sex, what have you. I’m going to guess that parents in the UK who take their kids to bars don’t get upset at the adult behavior around them on accounta their kids.

    I should really just stay out of this topic because it’s really pissing me off that I’m apparently not only a bigot, but self-righteous.

  65. sophonisba
    August 12, 2006 at 8:01 pm

    It’s strange that this generally tolerant group of commenters is so willing to get self-righteous about that one thing.

    Self-righteousness is bad, one assumes. And yet:

    there are always enough out-of-control children to make it impossible to maintain any behaviour standards

    I think I’ve got it. The difference between self-righteous and sensible is the difference between critizing children in general, and criticizing other people’s children. Since parents can play the latter game (and oh, how they love to), it must be completely different. It looks just as self-righteous, but somehow, magically, isn’t.

  66. Kat
    August 12, 2006 at 8:28 pm

    Being a child is a temporary condition quite unlike being a Jew or a woman

    Okay, let me restate. I don’t like the idea of not liking children as a group in the same way I do not like the idea of not liking old people as a group. My point is that we should consider individuals on an individual basis.

    Children are often dismissed in one sweeping gesture as bothersome. I have experienced this myself and I’m reading in comments other mothers that seem to have as well. And when they are dismissed in this manner so too are their mothers and the choices they have made. And often this is done by folks that would practice tolerance for any other “class” of person.

    But thanks for taking a statement that essentially expresses a shrug toward children as a class and turning it into a form of bigotry. So fucking what if I don’t like children as a class? I don’t hate them, and I certainly don’t hate yours.

    You don’t hate them? Um. Wow. Is there a Hallmark card for that?

  67. August 12, 2006 at 8:29 pm

    Lauren, can I just say, THANK YOU?

    The blog fairy answered my prayers for some interesting discussions on feminism and motherhood. I got it in spades this week, but this post is tops.

  68. zuzu
    August 12, 2006 at 8:36 pm

    You don’t hate them? Um. Wow. Is there a Hallmark card for that?

    Don’t make me sorry I told you about this blog. You know very well what I mean.

  69. sam
    August 12, 2006 at 8:39 pm

    Jesus, must everything be so black and white? If I don’t like kids, I actually hate them. Um, no. One can dislike children, just like adults, without actually actively hating them. There’s got to be some middle ground where people can express irritation at humans being brats and assholes, whether they’re children or adults. No one seems to have a problem with it when it’s Republicans we’re discussing.

  70. kate
    August 12, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    I think I’ve got it. The difference between self-righteous and sensible is the difference between critizing children in general, and criticizing other people’s children. Since parents can play the latter game (and oh, how they love to), it must be completely different. It looks just as self-righteous, but somehow, magically, isn’t.

    So it’s “self-righteous” to think that children (including my own) should not throw food, run between tables and stuff toilet paper in the toilets until they overflow when they go to a restraunt? These are a few of the displays I’ve witnessed in “family friendly” restraunts. And yes, my child has been guilty as well. No one’s child behaves all the time and I did not mean to imply that mine is any different. But I hope you can grant that if you’re trying to teach your children to behave properly in a regular restraunt or other “adult” environment (which was the topic of the quote I was responding to), bringing them to places where that sort of behavior is accepted will be counterproductive.

    And, yes a bunch of people tut-tutting “oh, but not in a BAR, oh no. We can ALL agree on that.” seemed self-rightous to me.

  71. kate
    August 12, 2006 at 8:47 pm

    And, yes a bunch of people tut-tutting “oh, but not in a BAR, oh no. We can ALL agree on that.” seemed self-rightous to me. But what really bothered me is that it seemed like people were trying (perhaps unconsciously) to cling to one group of mothers that it was alright for them to look down on.

  72. zuzu
    August 12, 2006 at 8:48 pm

    What group is that?

  73. kate
    August 12, 2006 at 9:04 pm

    The one that I was reacting to is #4 Lauren

    There are times and places in which I don’t think children should be present, see horror flicks and fucking bars (bars!).

    But, I should add that this is sort of a personal/emotional thing for me. If in your work place people go out for drinks after work and make decisions, but your daycare closes at five-thirty, being able to take your child to into a bar (which I do, and my collegues are cool with that) is a pretty big issue.

  74. kate
    August 12, 2006 at 9:17 pm

    So, basically, I admit that I overreacted and that this is really about my issues, becasue I would prefer if I didn’t have to drag my child to a bar a couple (or five or six) times a month after work to do my job. But, I do, and that is the way it is.

  75. Catty
    August 12, 2006 at 9:18 pm

    I’m a dedicated child-free woman, and I also enjoy kids. I think both Lauren, Zuzu’s comments and Amanda has valid things to say. I admit to feeling pissed off when I pay 100+ bucks for a seat the theater for a performance and the parents bring a baby that won’t stop screaming, AND unwilling to do anything about it. I don’t mind seeing kids at bars, even- again, depends on the parent’s attitude. My dad used to bring me to pubs when he had to baby sit me. He would tell me it was an adult place, and I was to behave and mind my own business. I was also a night owl and wasn’t fussy at night. I would plop down with a book or a sketchbook and crayons, and minded my own business while my dad enjoyed a beer or three with his grad students at the pub.
    My parents never got upset at people swearing around me, and didn’t expectpeople to walk on eggshells because I was around.

    I’m not anti-or pro-kids. I just want parents to be aware that if their kids are causing a major disturbance, they need to make a sincere attempt to handle the situation. I understand that certain cases (like autistic kids, for example) are very different and difficult. I adore well-behaved kids, and I don’t have issues with kids misbehaving- that is what kids do. I have problems with parents that do make sincere efforts with establishing boundaries and consideration for others, because in the end, it hurts kids and society to have a bunch of grown-up children with no sense of consideration for others or self-control.

    I think my aversion for certain kids seem to be a result from my experience with retail and service industries during my college. The WORST offenders of entitled little empresses/emperors are the middle and upper class white parents that convice their kids that there are no limits to their bad behavior, and the onus is on other people to tolerate them. They tend to march in like the store/establishment and everyone inside it owes them the royal treatment.

  76. August 12, 2006 at 9:18 pm

    Here in my area children aren’t even allowed in bars, thus bringing one in is breaking a law. That simple for me.

  77. August 12, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    In this state, bringing kids to bars – not pubs, mind you, but honest-to-god bars – is illegal. Therefore I personally am unfamiliar with kids in bars. Which is why it’s so shocking to me.

    Sorry, kate.

  78. August 12, 2006 at 9:20 pm

    Oh, IIIIIIII see how it is, Lauren. You go ahead and post my thoughts one full minute ahead of me, is that how we play this game?

  79. August 12, 2006 at 9:20 pm

    You and your damn mindreading.

    grumblegrumblefeministsgrumble

  80. August 12, 2006 at 9:34 pm

    Shit, I leave and this thread blows up.

    June, the betterment statement is for me and me only. I’m a big fat selfish turd and parenthood was one of those things that helped me grow up. Plus, I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t had Ethan when I did I probably wouldn’t have been motivated to go to school (in my backyard no less), or graduate, or pay attention to finances, or not be a hapless lush. Knowing that he counts on me to be a responsible adult keeps me personally from slipping back into turdhood.

    That said, I know a lot of parents my age who haven’t changed a bit since they had children, and this can be both good and bad for parents and baby. It just depends on who you are and how consistent one’s support system is, I think.

    Amanda, Lubu already said it better, but I wasn’t intending to slam you or the blog. I’m talking of a general trend and some of the answers you got in the comments there were incredibly irritating. I should have made that more clear in the post, but I didn’t want to single anybody out. Oops, just read your comment.

    Okay, there are a dozen comments I’d like to respond to at some point but I’m going out tonight, so there.

  81. ilyka
    August 12, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    I should really just stay out of this topic because it’s really pissing me off that I’m apparently not only a bigot, but self-righteous.

    You come sit here by me, honey.

  82. kate
    August 12, 2006 at 9:43 pm

    June, the betterment statement is for me and me only. I’m a big fat selfish turd and parenthood was one of those things that helped me grow up. Plus, I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t had Ethan when I did I probably wouldn’t have been motivated to go to school (in my backyard no less), or graduate, or pay attention to finances, or not be a hapless lush. Knowing that he counts on me to be a responsible adult keeps me personally from slipping back into turdhood.

    With a lot of things in my life – parenthood, reading, yoga – my view is that these things made me a better person than I would have been otherwise. One can still do any or all of these things and be a total shit and one can do none of them and be a wonderful person.

  83. Marcy
    August 12, 2006 at 9:44 pm

    I live lower on the ecological footprint chain than 99% of childfree middle-class people I’ve encountered, yet I get the scorn. How, exactly, does that work?

    Unless it’s not really about ecology, hmm?

    Well, it is about ecology in my case. And in lots of childfree people I know. We’re a very frugal lot. But I don’t doubt your experience. There are probably tons of childfree people who don’t give one whit about the earth or the environment. But I would add, a wasteful person without kids is still better on the environment than a wasteful person WITH kids.

    This speaks to one of the problems everyone seems to be having on this topic. The people who complain about kids acting up in public are chastised by other people who claim that there are lots of kids who DON’T act up in public, or who claim that adults act far worse. In the case of adults, that’s true, but it’s far easier to tell an adult to shut up than to tell a kid. Try it and see what happens.

    I think the problem is that people are experiencing things, other people are experiencing the opposite things, and they each think the other group is being daft. Just b/c my circle of childfree’s is frugal and environmental, doesn’t mean that there aren’t wasteful ones out there. And just b/c someone else’s experience is of nice, quiet children in public, doesn’t mean that there aren’t wild, screaming brats out there, with the parents to match.

  84. zuzu
    August 12, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    You come sit here by me, honey.

    You know? That makes you a better person to me right now than my sister, who pretends that I hate my nephews.

  85. August 12, 2006 at 9:53 pm

    Angela Davis has written about the racial politics of the term “breeder,” which no one’s brought up yet, so here’s a link:

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/Organizations/healthnet/WoC/reproductive/davis.html

    Whether in queer circles or straight, the word has a racist history too. Maybe that will help us all agree to stop using it? Intersecting oppressions, anyone?

    Lauren, I was so happy to see this post from you– I value your feminist-mama voice so much and am happy to hear it again.

  86. August 12, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    Sure, Kate, but knowing how lazy I am, it was really my pregnancy, childbirthing, and parenthood experience that forced me to realize that there is more to life than shopping, lattes, boys, and me me me. There was a good three year period that I went through that opened my eyes to social and economic classes, poor medical care, poverty issues, race issues, and relationship issues that I believe I would have remained closed off to had my experience not happened the way it did. Some of that experience is actually chronicled in the archives of this here blog, but I only realize that just now. I need to read the archives again.

    I grew up in an upper middle class, suburban household and I was one of those kids who, despite what my parents tried to do, managed to get around the rules and do lots of stupid, fucked up shit. After years of breaking rules, setting more rules, and finding ways to get around those rules, I imagine I was one of these “kids are annoying” people’s worst nightmares. Thanks to a generational gap THIS BIG my parents didn’t have the knowledge or energy to keep up with me and my entitlement and turdiness. Thus, having Ethan was one of the only things that I believe kept me from a life of self-destruction — it turned me around real quick. Had he not come along at that time, I would have been content to remain ignorant and ruinous, and probably wouldn’t have felt a shred of guilt for it.

    Again, this is just my experience. Two cents.

  87. August 12, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    During my brief tenure as a CASA there were several things that the mothers training alongside me …

    Was everyone in your group also a mother, or not?

  88. August 12, 2006 at 10:13 pm

    Was everyone in your group also a mother, or not?

    Not at all. All were white middle-class folks, but they were old, young, parents, men, women, grandparents, foster parents, you name it. It was a reasonably diverse group as far as experience went, but there were some in the group who were there to “save” children from unholiness, which is completely against the terms of that particular volunteer experience.

  89. August 13, 2006 at 1:29 am

    “…HOWEVER, when looked at from the planet’s standpoint, having kids is a bad idea. If the earth could talk, she would say, “6 billion of you mother fuckers is enough! I’m so polluted I am barely hanging on.” Quality of life diminishes for everyone, EVERYONE, when there are too many people on the earth. Right now it’s just the poor slobs in 3rd world countries, but it will catch up to us, too, and then it’ll be too late…”

    So basically it’s not hatred of children but contempt for humanity that leads to this feeling against children…

    “…I strongly feel that feminists need to distance ourselves from this sentiment for a number of reasons. On one side, if you take it from a genuine feminist point of view, it’s a cry of female superiority and I think the equality is a better stance…”

    Why?

    Women are superior to men in just about every way, with the exception of men’s greater physical strength. AND even that men have misued for the most part, by using it to start wars or to incite other social disorders with at any and every opportunity.

    I mean if someone can show me the logic of a soccer riot which is a wholly male enterprise (and please nobody paste some odd link to a story about a few rare women who might have participated in one of these, as we know very well who incites and participates in these sorts of events)…

    I mean show me ONE society that is majority male that is a decent place for women or children to live within. Actually show me one that is a decent place for other men to live within????

    When men learn how to behave properly (as in closer to the standards as set by women), THEN we can talk about being equal…until then men need to work at becoming more like US and quit acting like damn jackoffs at every opportunity…

    Even this crap about boys in school acting out and how we should be reconfiguring the way we teach now to accommodate boys is ridiculous…Boys need to learn like little girls do: which is to sit down in your seat, shutup and listen to the teacher…it’s called self-discipline and goes a long way in civilizing them when they are little, so they don’t continue behaving like idiots when they get to be big…

    We need to start rewarding little girls for GOOD behavior (and big girls as well) and stop spending so much time figuring out how to change the system to accommodate boy’s bad behaviors…

    I, frankly, am getting sick to death of people bending over backwards to reward the bad behavior of boys and men…this is even the genesis of all this fathers rights baloney. Society bending over backwards to reward men if they showed even the smallest flicker of interest in their kids…meanwhile women have been raising the children of this earth for centuries and are treated like a third wheel now due to this gender-neutral custody crap (which btw, was started by feminsts)…

    So let’s start something new now…start commending and rewarding WOMEN for all the good we do…and start encouraging men to act more like US…

    BTW, feminism is and should be about WOMENS well-being, not about figuring out how we can best bend over backwards to accommodate men…

  90. Gordon K
    August 13, 2006 at 1:41 am

    But I would add, a wasteful person without kids is still better on the environment than a wasteful person WITH kids.

    Wrong. I’m all for a smaller population, and have put some thought towards it myself (although, admittedly, I’m not having kids anytime soon, so it’s a bit early to say I won’t have kids). However, we need people to reproduce if we want humanity to survive. (This isn’t necessarily a given, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume it is.)

    Thus, this isn’t an “having children is bad; not having children is good” situation; in an ideal world, we would have a static population. That means an average of 2 kids per couple in a situation where everyone reproduces, which not everyone wants to do, or is capable of doing. Even if we take into account the fact that the world is overpopulated, we still don’t want a reproduction rate of 0.

  91. August 13, 2006 at 2:25 am

    Thanks, Lauren! Wow, really!

    My big ephiphany last night is that too much (most, maybe?) of ostensibly feminist conversation about motherhood rests on patriarchal assumptions and conventions. Which is pretty weird but I think mostly because the assumptions are unexamined and thus non-critical.

    My other, less radical, epiphany was that too many so-called “mommy bloggers” are also operating out of patriarchal conventions, but that’s another story.

    I learned more good things from your post. So thanks again.

    figleaf

    So I totally appreciate

    figleaf

  92. August 13, 2006 at 7:41 am

    BTW, childfree people need to shut it down about all this ‘everyone is equal with kids’ crap…as you have NO RIGHT to speak for mothers…don’t be trying to give away to others any of the rights, honors, status, obligations or anything else related to motherhood, as it’s not your place to do so.

    You want to downgrade your status and be equal with men.

    Fine.

    But don’t be trying to give away mothers higher status to men, grandparents, the village or the state…

    Speak for yourselves ONLY.

  93. Ledasmom
    August 13, 2006 at 8:39 am

    I think there should be a Hallmark card for tolerating children:

    “Just a little puerile verse
    You didn’t scream
    You didn’t curse
    He dropped a booger in the trout
    And yet you didn’t throw us out”

    Something like that.

  94. sam
    August 13, 2006 at 9:09 am

    Heh, my sister works for Hallmark. I’ll send her your suggestion, Ledasmom.

  95. August 13, 2006 at 9:54 am

    I think that parenthood makes some people better, and others, you know, not. Just as some people grow through their marriages, others don’t, and some may be all the worse for being married.

    I agree with Amanda in wincing at the sentiment that childbirth is the greatest thing a woman can do. (And I wince further when having the most natural childbirth possible turns into a really big important accomplishment and women who wound up getting C-sections talk about feeling enduring regret.)

    And I guess the thing I get from the bar/pub part of the thread is that people think very different things when they hear the word “bar” depending on where they’re living.

  96. August 13, 2006 at 10:34 am

    was because Ani said that childbirth was the greatest thing a woman could do.

    Yuck! But…..as figleaf said, too much (most, maybe?) of ostensibly feminist conversation about motherhood rests on patriarchal assumptions and conventions. Which is pretty weird but I think mostly because the assumptions are unexamined and thus non-critical.

    ….which I think is right on. We’re inundated with anti-feminist messages from literally before we’re even born, and that statement is a common trope—that for a woman, her child is her greatest creation. Ani DiFranco may be a righteous babe, but she isn’t any more immune to patriarchal messages than the rest of us. I don’t know if she was really aware of the implications of that statement when she made it, or if she unpacked the baggage in that statement after getting criticism for it. I’d like her to revisit that line, myself. At the same time, there’s a lot of patriarchal baggage that comes along with motherhood itself, beginning with who should be a mother. What mothers look like, what mothers do, what mothers feel, what mothers believe. Contradictory messages—just like the ones all women receive, period.

    I see a lot of the “Earth-mother-y” stuff as being a reaction to a world that thinks certain mothers shouldn’t exist, because that’s been my experience. It was also my experience to be assumed to be someone who must “hate” children, and who would “never” have children, simply because I made it past the age of 25 without having any, let alone the three or four that most women in my slice of the world do. Single mothers, feminist mothers, mothers of color, disabled mothers, young mothers, poor mothers, queer mothers—the HipMama boards (which no longer exist because of the tremendous time-suck and emotional drain of moderators trying to deal with the racist bullshit that ended up there) were our online refuge from a larger world that didn’t think any of us should have been mothers. It didn’t occur to me that my statement would have made anyone feel left out. Sorry, Amanda.

    But that brings up a good point—that the larger feminist movement is missing something by not having any central place where all feminists, no matter where and when we enter, can go and be welcome. I see our movement as fractured and sectarian. And while I can easily say I’m a feminist, I can’t really tell you where I enter the picture—what “my” feminism is. It’s colored by the whole rest of my life. I’d guess everyone’s is. To me, that was the appeal of feminism right from the very start, even when I was a little girl—that there isn’t one way to be a woman.

    Back to the thread—it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to be in a bar that doesn’t serve food in Illinois. So, you won’t find children in the “hipster” martini bars downtown (“hipster” in quotes because anyone who fancies themselves a hipster in Central Illinois is a damn fool), but you will find kids at “bars” that are really the U.S. version of pubs. Again, it’s a culture clash. Some of us grew up like that and see no problem with it; others think it’s child abuse to have children observe beer drinking and shit-talkin’. I don’t “hothouse” my kid, and I don’t cloister myself.

  97. Sniper
    August 13, 2006 at 11:03 am

    Why is it okay to say “I don’t particularly like kids” when we don’t say things like, “I don’t particularly like women” or “I don’t particularly like Jews”, or whatever.

    I’m still waiting for someone to claim that my marriage isn’t real because we don’t have Jews, or that people without Jews should’t be teachers or are otherwise failures are human beings. I’m pretty sure my cousin (mother of five) didn’t say, “I think the worst bitches are the ones who don’t even ache for a Jew.”

  98. zuzu
    August 13, 2006 at 11:05 am

    Well, you certainly can’t succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews.

  99. zuzu
    August 13, 2006 at 11:06 am

    That’s from Spamalot, by the way.

  100. August 13, 2006 at 11:34 am

    Lauren

    You’re experience is not unusual. IMHO most parents would say having children has been a maturing experience. It was for me, and I see it certainly in the case of #2 daughter, mom of twins.

    Having children really gives a parent a stake in the future.

    To draw an analogy … who generally takes better care of a house — a renter or owner?

  101. August 13, 2006 at 11:56 am

    “I agree with Amanda in wincing at the sentiment that childbirth is the greatest thing a woman can do. (And I wince further when having the most natural childbirth possible turns into a really big important accomplishment and women who wound up getting C-sections talk about feeling enduring regret.).”

    Perhaps that sentiment is meaningless to you and Amanda because neither one of you had any children.

    Yet somehow women like you presume to speak for mothers?

    It just bugs me that feminism has been totally absorbed by women (and men) like you two who are out there on a high-profile basis making all these statements and negative comments about mothers (like the mother of a large family’s vagina is not a clown car remark) and that you get any credibility whatsoever vis-a-vis this issue.

    You are NOT in a position to say ANYTHING regarding mothers.

    Nor is Amanda or 1001 other proto-feminists just like her.

    You probably have early feminists rolling in their graves listening to you two.

    Feminism is about EMPOWERING WOMEN…not about taking the little bit of power we had as mothers and handing it over to men because women like you two ‘wince’ everytime you hear a mother thinking it’s a ‘big important accomplishment’ having her children without any pain killer.

  102. August 13, 2006 at 11:59 am

    Thanks for the comment, La Lubu. I think that covers a lot of ground.

    I would like to add that I think a great deal of the anger over the situation is being displaced onto women who make different choices because women as a whole are getting the shaft in the child-rearing department. In my post, my entire point was that when a baby enters the picture, fathers still seem entitled to shift the vast majority of the responsibility onto women. And this observation was what dredged up resentment from the Christian mommy bloggers because they’re in a catch 22 with this, for which I totally feel for them. I promise, my heart goes out to them. You can’t win in that situation because admitting that your task of child-rearing would be much easier and less stressful if your husband did his fair share of the work would be admitting that the man you share you bed and life with can’t be bothered to treat you fairly. I’ve been there in a lesser situation with just housework and emotional work. The sheer amount of work that a child takes exacerbates the situation many magnitudes over, and so there’s a lot of anger there.

    Or, shorter Amanda: I think we have a case of someone shooting the messenger for saying, “Look! Sexism!”

  103. August 13, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    For example, just to pile on, I think that the “kids misbehaving in public” thing is a flashpoint of angst, because the ugly truth is that minding a child in public, when he’s overwhelmed with stimuli and wants to grab at everything, is exhausting. You can’t do it a lot while also achieving what you’ve set out to do in public. I cannot tell you how many parties I’ve been to (like afternoon BBQ stuff, though the “no kids in bars” thing strikes me as really weird since that’s generally not a big deal in Austin) where my female friends with kids, I don’t even get to talk to them, because they spend the entire party following their little ones around so they don’t bother anyone or get into trouble. Someone has to do it, and non-relatives won’t, so it’s up to the mother.

    And what I always think to myself is that if the dad could be bothered to even spend 25% of the party doing tagalong duty, she could actually have a conversation and enjoy herself a bit. But nooooooo. And of course, if she gave up doing this to enjoy the party, the kid would act up for attention and then everyone would glare at her for not controlling the kids. So if that happens, it’s easy to get angry with the glaring people because you really don’t want to fight with your husband, who had the power to help you and didn’t.

  104. Ledasmom
    August 13, 2006 at 12:22 pm

    You mean you don’t find the idea that childbirth is a woman’s greatest accomplishment wince-worthy? You want to be adulated for an act at which every mother in history is your equal and every doe-rabbit immeasurably your superior?
    Going through childbirth without painkillers is a matter of great luck – I know a woman who had painless childbirth without drugs; most aren’t so lucky – or endurance. Childbirth for most women, though not for all, is extremely painful, painful on a level beyond what one has to deal with in daily life, and it is one day – perhaps more for the least lucky – out of the six-thousand-plus days needed to raise a child to adulthood, and one’s success at getting through it without painkillers says nothing at all about one’s success at all the other tasks of parenting.
    And did anyone claim to be speaking for mothers? I don’t think so, although if the question comes up I might say that someone who doesn’t encourage the idolization of natural childbirth is speaking for a hell of a lot more mothers than someone who does.

  105. August 13, 2006 at 12:29 pm

    Shorter NYMOM:
    I have no arguments to back up my position so i decline Amanda’s right to talk about the issue

  106. fishbane
    August 13, 2006 at 12:30 pm

    My issue with kids in public spaces is the sense of entitlement some parents seem to have. They refuse to take responsibility for the kid. When some dirty little brat gropes me in line at the grocery store (this happened about two weeks ago), fine, it doesn’t know any better. But the parent has a responsibility to stop it, and if the parent doesn’t, they are imposing their brat on me, which is morally no different than if someone’s dog was sniffing my crotch and they didn’t control it. Shrugging and saying that’s-what-kids-do is an abdication of responsibility, and simply rude and disrespectful to those around you.

    Parents: I don’t hate you or your kids; I don’t want to tell you where you can or can’t go, and I don’t define you by your choices. I simply want you to take responsibility for them.

  107. August 13, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    You want to be adulated for an act at which every mother in history is your equal and every doe-rabbit immeasurably your superior?

    Oh fun.

    To contradict the strawconservative sentiment here, I don’t believe when most women who DO point to childbirth as being a significant watershed moment in their lives are referring exclusively to the birthmoment themselves. While it is a rather singular experience, it is the immediate aftermath … the movement from individual to parent that inspires awe.

    Suddenly there is this little person who one is fully responsible for — feeding, clothing, raising, loving — that hits one like a bucket of ice water on a summer day.

    Even if one has fully prepared for the moment and …

    … it happens to fathers and adoptive parents, too.

  108. August 13, 2006 at 12:58 pm

    BTW, childfree people need to shut it down about all this ‘everyone is equal with kids’ crap…as you have NO RIGHT to speak for mothers…don’t be trying to give away to others any of the rights, honors, status, obligations or anything else related to motherhood, as it’s not your place to do so.

    You want to downgrade your status and be equal with men.

    Fine.

    But don’t be trying to give away mothers higher status to men, grandparents, the village or the state…

    So let me make sure I understand your argument:

    You argue that mothers are given the highest status in society. Above women, above men, above anyone.

    And assuming that you’ve somehow proved your point, you argue for keeping a superior societal status over both men and other women?

    Doesn’t sound remotely feminist to me.

  109. Julie
    August 13, 2006 at 1:06 pm

    NYMOM… I really don’t see how the fact that motherhood can be an awesome and powerful feeling makes us superior to men or women without children, simply because we can give birth. I recently gave birth to an almost 9 pound child without an epidural, not because I wanted to, but because there was no one to give it to me. And you know what? It sucked… it was painful and horrible. I didn’t even see my son being born because I had to get into a pretty awkward position to deliver him so that it would hurt less. Yeah, I felt pretty wonderful when he came out, simply because a) it meant the hurting stopped and b)because I was pretty excited to be having a baby but I don’t think it defined my life, nor do I think it made me superior to men, women who haven’t had children, women who don’t want children, women who had an epidural or women who had c-sections. It was just the way in which my son entered the world and we got through it.
    Amanda, I have seen that same phenomenon. I’m actually very happy, my husband is great about doing his part in hauling around after my daughter, probably in part because he’s quite shy and would rather hang out with her than adults he barely knows, but if he’s not there, I am better off skipping a party because it’s hard for me to have a good time. The sad part to me is that several of my female relatives have pulled me aside to comment on how lucky I am to have a husband who’s willing to you know, actually be a father. It seems to me that it should just be assumed that your husband get off his ass for at least half of the party, not cause for wonder and amazement to abound.

  110. August 13, 2006 at 1:14 pm

    I don’t even get to talk to them, because they spend the entire party following their little ones around so they don’t bother anyone or get into trouble.

    Boom! Boomshot! Right on! That’s hits the spot, right there. I’m a single mother, and am so hypersensitive about having folks assume the worst of me and my child, that that’s my tack—so when I visit these threads, and see all the assumptions about children being bratty, it hits me right there, because I literally bust my ass to insure my child isn’t one of “those” children, but I get more public displays of scorn than coupled parents—because folks won’t take a chance on a man getting pissed off at them.

    I’m a single mother. There is no man in my life to take up the slack. I also have a more European attitude about “proper venues” for children—especially by central Illinois standards. And my kid isn’t going to yell, run or act up in public, because I have Sicilian mother standards of discipline—and I also have, like I said before, my back up about insuring that my child isn’t going to be the reprobate that mainstream society expects her to grow up to be—just as I was expected to grow up to be.

    But, damn. I’m also a working-class woman. And as such, I get to deal with little indignities all the damn time. I don’t answer every eyeroll (in weak moments I’ve been known to give the eyeroll/gasface right back), and most of the time, I don’t even comment back when people make passive-aggressive comments to tablemates like “GAWD, why do people have to bring their children everywhere?” (again, in weak moments, I’ve fallen on that one too. But when the li’l one asks, “why did she say that, mama?”, I always reply, “Because she’s an insufferable bitch, hon.”). See, I was raised with the myth of the Superwoman. The woman who Is Everything and Does Everything and always Rises Above. But, I can’t live up to Her. She’s a myth. Superwoman is tough, smart, tenacious, and never runs out of patience, grace or steam. I’ve got the first three down (wink!), but shit—I ain’t Wonder Woman. Or John Henry. I can’t outwork the Machine.

    And that’s what frustrates me about these conversations. I expect women who identify as feminists to get the fact that by being a mother, I’m set up to live up to impossible standards—-because all women are set up to live up to impossible, contradictory standards, whether or not we have kids. The old damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t.

    For me, becoming a mother wasn’t just a life-altering experience, and a (generally) joyous experience—it was profoundly isolating, as well. I expected many changes would come with motherhood, but the isolation blindsided me. Now, some of that is specific to my “weird” situation; being a older mother (I was 32 when I gave birth, which is “old” for here), being in an almost all-male work environment (no “mommy” welcoming rituals, or shoulders to lean on), having a preemie (translation: lots of medical intervention and therapies to attend after work), having had most of my close friends move out of the area with the economy tanking, having endured bouts of on-again, off-again employment myself (beginning with being terminated for asking for Family and Medical Leave at my daughter’s birth). But some of this isolation is (to me) entirely artificial, and enforced by unspoken rules and customs I don’t understand—even now.

  111. August 13, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    NYMOM seems to be a bundle of contradictions

    /my 2 cents

  112. August 13, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    I’m a single mother, and am so hypersensitive about having folks assume the worst of me and my child, that that’s my tack—so when I visit these threads, and see all the assumptions about children being bratty, it hits me right there, because I literally bust my ass to insure my child isn’t one of “those” children, but I get more public displays of scorn than coupled parents—because folks won’t take a chance on a man getting pissed off at them.

    Word.

    Ethan genuinely is a really good and well-behaved child, and I don’t have to worry about how he will behave anywhere. I think the only thing that bothers me at times is the worry that when he attaches himself to a non-relative friend at a public venue that person will get tired and/or irritated at having to put out the attention to keep up with him and his questions. Part of that is exactly the worry that I’m putting a childfree someone out and not wanting the additional stigma of being a burden on whomever because I’m not meeting someone else’s expectations of involved parenting.

    Amanda touched on this a bit — I have friends who have offered on several occasions to babysit (I’ve taken them up exactly once :P) or who have had to assure and reassure me that it is okay to bring E along to an otherwise adults-only get-together because I’m afraid to impose. It too is my tack.

    It’s nasty. After awhile the dirty slut stigma tends to fade and then it’s the expectation that you’re a bad parent no matter what you do that becomes the rub. Then again, for all the bitching I’ve done about people who think Ethan doesn’t belong in a coffee shop or restaurant or whatever, there have been plenty of people over the years that have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable. That in itself is a blessing.

    What bugs me about the “adults only venues” argument is that I want the opportunity to take Ethan to places other than McDonald’s without feeling like I’m imposing on others. Most of these “kid-friendly” places clash with my anti-branding and anti-corporate values, and IMO it’s better that I’m exposing Ethan to mom and pop shops and places with real cultural value than holing him up at Chucky Cheese.

  113. Ledasmom
    August 13, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    We have a Chinese restaurant near here that is amazingly welcoming to kids. We had my older boy’s birthday lunch there once, just because we wanted to see how many pot stickers he could eat if given free rein at the buffet. Lovely place.

  114. August 13, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    Lauren, great post. Really resonates for me.

    I have plenty to say but I’m at work (because I’m such a terrible career-oriented mother, I’ve left my son w/ my ex- for the day, and on a SUNDAY no less), and I don’t have time to formulate anything coherent. However, after reading through the comments, I had to say just a couple of things about the idea that anyone should ever state that giving birth is the greatest thing any woman could ever do. Good god almighty, how Rick Santorum is that?

    NYMOM, this privileging of giving birth over any other achievement in a woman’s life places you right smack in the middle of the pro-birth anti-woman religious right camp of haters. Defining the perfect woman as one who has given birth is incredibly exclusionary.

    And you know, I’m VERY against the mommie-drive by. And I get them ALL of the time. But guess who’s pulling the trigger. Not childfree folks. I get the drive-by criticisms from moms like NYMOM: privileged, over-entitled parents that think they know how I should be raising my son. “You know, my son won’t let me cut his hair because your son’s is so long,” they say, or “How can you let him listen to music with swearing in it,” or “How come you don’t have him signed up for more lessons, how can you take him to a nice restaurant, how dare you have a glass of wine while you’re out with him? How can you leave him by himself? Why do you work so many hours? Aren’t you afraid you’re emasculating him?” and on and on and on. I almost NEVER get nasty, judgmental drive-by comments from childless folks, whether they are friends or strangers. NYMOM has the tone down, alright, and I’ll bet you she’s given more than her fair share of mommie drive bys in her day.

    See, NYMOM, I don’t think YOU are any more qualified to comment on my parenting, just because you’re a mom, than are Amanda and zuzu. You should not think that by virtue of the fact we’ve both gone through the birthing process, you have some sort of an insight into my experiences and the circumstances of my life that gives you some sort of privilege to speak up and tell me what’s what. It’s not any more your business than it is zuzu’s what I’m doing with my 12 year old in a fancy restaurant on a Friday night when we’re both under-dressed. You don’t know me. You’re not more able to comment than Amanda is. You may be less so, in fact, because you’ve got your identity so tied up in your parenting you probably aren’t very objective. I’ve noticed so many mothers who are so nervous they’re doing it wrong that they need to criticize anyone doing it even a bit differently.

    The idea that woman=mother is damaging to feminism. So is the idea that mother=NYMOM. Most moms are just doing what most single women are doing–the very best they can to get through each day. The sooner we start looking at most folks’ parenting decisions in that manner, and the sooner we start listening to each other without regard to whether or not the person speaking is in possession of a cervix that has once dilated, the better off we’ll be.

  115. August 13, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    Er, by single women I meant childless. I’m typing too fast for my own good. I am of course both single and a parent myself! That’s what I get for trying to do this when there is no time. Hopefully no one’s offended by the slip.

  116. ks
    August 13, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    The sad part to me is that several of my female relatives have pulled me aside to comment on how lucky I am to have a husband who’s willing to you know, actually be a father. It seems to me that it should just be assumed that your husband get off his ass for at least half of the party, not cause for wonder and amazement to abound.

    I hate that attitude. My sister, and especially my mom, comment all the time about how lucky I am that the husband takes responsiblilty for the kids on occaision. I just tell them that they’re his kids too and not just mine, therefore it’s also his job to take care of them. It’s just something I expect and I take it for granted that he’ll contribute to the childrearing, since he certainly contributed to the child creating. That isn’t to say that he’s perfect and that he does 50% of the work, because he absolutely does not and I do have to remind him sometimes that they are in fact his children and that it isn’t entirely my responsibility to raise them, but I will admit that I have it a lot better than most of the other hetero, partnered mothers I know in that regard.

    Amanda touched on this a bit — I have friends who have offered on several occasions to babysit (I’ve taken them up exactly once :P) or who have had to assure and reassure me that it is okay to bring E along to an otherwise adults-only get-together because I’m afraid to impose. It too is my tack.

    We are the same way with the babysitting. It’s hard as a couple, I can’t even imagine how you single moms can manage it. We don’t pay babysitters because we can’t afford to pay someone to watch our kids and then still have enough money left over to actually go out ourselves, and we don’t want to bother our friends who offer to keep them for us, even if we know that they’d love to. We’ve taken our friends up on their offer twice–once to go to a ‘no kids allowed’ wedding and once while I was giving birth to #2. However, we do take the kids to parties and such, and have since they were born (they are 4 and 1 now). Neither of us really ever saw a reason to give up all of our social lives just because of the kids. And I also don’t believe in sheltering my kids, they need to learn to behave in adult spaces and I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t see bad behavior, so long as it’s made clear to them that it is bad behavior and they are not to engage in it. For the most part, I think we’ve done pretty well, as the boys are mostly well behaved (although they do have their moments, as all kids do) and if they aren’t, then we apologize and remove them from the situation.

  117. August 13, 2006 at 2:20 pm

    Ks, one of my sister’s friends used to get steamed at her husband for calling watching his own kids “babysitting.”

    Nice.

  118. August 13, 2006 at 3:29 pm

    “You mean you don’t find the idea that childbirth is a woman’s greatest accomplishment wince-worthy? You want to be adulated for an act at which every mother in history is your equal and every doe-rabbit immeasurably your superior?”

    No…I don’t find it wince worthy nor appropriate to compare women with large families to the ‘vagina as clown car’ theory… I might disagree with having a large family for many reasons, but yet I still don’t find that very funny.

    Frankly, it sounds like something a person who truly had contempt for mothers would say…

    Remember, motherhood today is a CHOICE which no group of women nor doe-rabbits EVER had…another odd analogue from one who implies she’s a mother

    Okay.

    Women freely chose today to become mothers.

    Just as they freely chose to attempt to go through labor and delivery without pain medication thinking they are giving their babies a healtier start. But of course, even that is poohed-poohed by you as nothing but ‘luck’…

    Women can also, like many today, chose to use birth control their entire reproductive life and never have any kids.

    So I don’t compare what women freely chose to do today with what a rabbit or a dog or women did previously.

    As they had no choice in the matter previously…we do.

  119. August 13, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    “Shorter NYMOM:
    I have no arguments to back up my position so i decline Amanda’s right to talk about the issue.”

    I don’t NEED any arguments to back up my position.

    As it’s perfectly obvious with every other group except mothers, that every group has the right to represent itself…

    I don’t think child free persons or men should represent mothers.

    Pretty simple.

  120. August 13, 2006 at 3:35 pm

    “…which is morally no different than if someone’s dog was sniffing my crotch and they didn’t control it…”

    If this isn’t a comment showing hatred of children then NOTHING is…

  121. August 13, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    “NYMOM… I really don’t see how the fact that motherhood can be an awesome and powerful feeling makes us superior to men or women without children, simply because we can give birth.”

    No.

    You see that’s just ONE facet of it.

    The fact that we give birth is one thing.

    But there are many more things that define women as the superior beings…that’s just ONE. Didn’t you read my post talking about wars, soccer riots, boys acting out in class, etc., you obviously missed those other important facts about our differences…

  122. August 13, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    “See, I was raised with the myth of the Superwoman. The woman who Is Everything and Does Everything and always Rises Above. But, I can’t live up to Her. She’s a myth. Superwoman is tough, smart, tenacious, and never runs out of patience, grace or steam. I’ve got the first three down (wink!), but shit—I ain’t Wonder Woman. Or John Henry. I can’t outwork the Machine.”

    YET the fact that women have those myths about ourselves and are always struggling to live up to them in spite of the fact that we know they are myths said much more about our character then not…and all of it good.

    Compare that to male heroes and myths and you’ll see the difference.

    Thus, we need to not denigrate female myths but spread them and attempt to get more men to accept them and work to live up to them like we do…

  123. August 13, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    NYMOM

    Men and women are different; we are the ultimate “other”; however, one is not superior to the other. We each have strengths and talents that compliment rather than compete with each other.

    It’s a pity some of us have lost the appreciation of these differences while purporting to be “for” women while declaring female “superiority”.

  124. August 13, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    As it’s perfectly obvious with every other group except mothers, that every group has the right to represent itself…

    Only obvious to people who value “group rights” above individuals.

    Shall we segregate the schools so girls are only taught by women? Boys by men?

  125. August 13, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    “my 2 cents”

    My thoughts exactly…

    “NYMOM, this privileging of giving birth over any other achievement in a woman’s life places you right smack in the middle of the pro-birth anti-woman religious right camp of haters. Defining the perfect woman as one who has given birth is incredibly exclusionary.”

    To who…men?

    Well frankly I don’t care as mother nature is incredibly exclusionary. She allows men to dominate through their greater physical strength and aggressiveness and struck us with menstration and being the bearers of life…too bad if people don’t like it.

    They should take it up with God, nature, evolution, whatever…

    “And you know, I’m VERY against the mommie-drive by. And I get them ALL of the time. But guess who’s pulling the trigger. Not childfree folks. I get the drive-by criticisms from moms like NYMOM.”

    Oh bullcrap…you don’t know me from a hole in the wall, yet assume I’m going to say something to you publicly about your children. YET a woman just referring to another mother as having a vagina like a clown car (since she had so many kids) that by you is not considered an attack on mothers.

    “The idea that woman=mother is damaging to feminism.”

    Well let me explain something to you…I don’t give a rat behind about damaging feminism…

    Feminism is ultimately about empowering WOMEN…not about us changing our behavior to empower feminism…

    You seem to have it backwards. Feminism as a movement is only entitled to our ‘protection’ of it as long as it continues representing MOST womens’ interests. As soon as it morphs into (which is apparently has already done) a movement that simply exists to protect a small sub-group of us, then guess what: it’s useless and heading for the dustbin of history.

    Sadly, I have to say I see a lot of hatred and contempt for mothers (and children) in the comments here. Although the original post was supposedly about ‘little people’…

    From the ‘breeders’ comments right through to the ‘doe-rabbits’, children as ‘sniffing dogs’ and clown car analogy it runs like an underwater current through every thing I’m reading on here. As I have frequently said, women need to work on changing ourselves to be better people BEFORE we work on trying to change others.

  126. car
    August 13, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    Maybe there’s something that isn’t intrinsic to being a parent itself, but is learned through taking care of kids (babysitting, working at a daycare or school, etc.). I don’t mind being around children acting like children as long as the parents are making a good-faith effort to have them mind their manners (or take care of them, if too young for manners), regardless of the place or situation. A baby will cry when it’s hungry; as long as the parent/caregiver tries to take care of it quickly, I don’t even notice. Kids throw tantrums – again, as long as I can see that the parent is trying to deal with it, I’m fine. What gets me mad are the situations in which kids are obviously running rampant without supervision, but those situations are much more rare. I *think* the idea I’m trying to develop is that being around kids a lot gives one a better feel for which situations are the former, and which are the latter. It could well be that the childless and the childed do have the same reaction to “wild and reckless” kid behavior, but the childless who aren’t used to it have their bar of tolerance set far off from those who spend time around kids, theirs or someone else’s. There may be more common ground than we realize.

  127. August 13, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    “Shall we segregate the schools so girls are only taught by women? Boys by men? ”

    Perhaps…

    But I was really talking about individuals who are part of a particular group as being designated to speak for them…let’s not try to drag a red herring into the discussion.

    I don’t assume to speak for gays or afric. americans as I’m not one of them. AND I’m quite sure if I tried to do so the women on here would be the first attacking me for it…

  128. Ledasmom
    August 13, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    I absolutely refuse to be considered superior to any other person based on my being a member of one group (women) and he being a member of another group (men). When I have to fight with every cell in my body to maintain my patience, don’t you dare denigrate that by saying I’m gifted, by virtue of the sex I was born into, with more of that patience than a man would be, because I am the shortest-tempered least-patient person you will ever know.

    “…which is morally no different than if someone’s dog was sniffing my crotch and they didn’t control it…”

    If this isn’t a comment showing hatred of children then NOTHING is…

    No, it’s a comment showing hatred of being grabbed by strangers, much as the earlier post about dog poop on one’s lawn showed not a hatred of dogs, but a hatred of unanticipated poop.

  129. August 13, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    “…No, it’s a comment showing hatred of being grabbed by strangers…”

    A kid grabs at you while you are standing in a checkout line and you compare that to either a. a dog sniffing at your crotch; or, b. being grabbed by strangers.

    Come on…please.

    If your attitude is an example of feminism at work, then I say we need to take another look at feminism…

  130. Ledasmom
    August 13, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    Look, a kid, not your own, not belonging to anyone you know, is a stranger. If he or she grabs you, it’s being grabbed by a stranger. Not a very threatening stranger, admittedly, but does that make it better? And with children there’s the possibility of chocolate or other stickies, which one doesn’t ordinarily have to worry about from adults.

  131. August 13, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    “Look, a kid, not your own, not belonging to anyone you know, is a stranger. If he or she grabs you, it’s being grabbed by a stranger. Not a very threatening stranger, admittedly, but does that make it better? And with children there’s the possibility of chocolate or other stickies, which one doesn’t ordinarily have to worry about from adults.”

    Okay…

    This sounds a little more serious then I orignally thought.

    You know depending upon the state you are in you could be empowered to make a citizen’s arrest of the perpetrator if you catch him/her actually committing the act.

    Now is the child over or under 2 years old???

    Let me know as this will make a difference in how I’ll advise you to handle this…

  132. August 13, 2006 at 4:56 pm

    Perhaps that sentiment is meaningless to you and Amanda because neither one of you had any children.

    Not by my own choice, as you, NYMOM, well know. And don’t think for a minute that I look down on the great work of mothers like Lauren, just because I still hope to be able to do valuable things with my life, after having failed to have children.

    It just bugs me that feminism has been totally absorbed by women (and men) like you two who are out there on a high-profile basis making all these statements and negative comments about mothers

    With all due respect, screw you, NYMOM. I am so not out there on a high profile basis making negative comments about mothers. The only mother I made any negative comment about in this thread was the one who was up in arms about her sixteen-year-old talking dirty online. Any mother who makes a federal case about other people not supervising the online chat of her sixteen-year-old daughter, that mother I’ll make negative comments about. Mothers in general, no way.

    (like the mother of a large family’s vagina is not a clown car remark)

    I never made any remark about any mother’s vagina being a clown car, and I won’t have you chastising me for something I didn’t say.

    You are NOT in a position to say ANYTHING regarding mothers.

    Yes I am. I have a mother, and I have three sisters who are mothers.

    Feminism is about EMPOWERING WOMEN…not about taking the little bit of power we had as mothers and handing it over to men because women like you two ‘wince’ everytime you hear a mother thinking it’s a ‘big important accomplishment’ having her children without any pain killer.

    How EMPOWERING do you think it is, to make avoiding pain killer during chilbirth a big, huge deal, when you’re the mother who, like my oldest sister, has to have a C-section, not because of anything you’ve done wrong, but because sometimes shit happens, and those are the breaks. How EMPOWERING do you think it is, when you’re the mother, like my number two sister, who has her first child stillborn, and her second child born three months premature? Again, not because of anything she did – she was a model of carefulness during her pregnancies, and while my niece was in the NICU she pumped eight times a day for months that she couldn’t yet breastfeed, to be able to give my young niece some of her milk, and breastfeed her when she was finally out of the incubator. And was at her side hours every day, helping to monitor her oxygen levels. How EMPOWERING do you think it is when you’re the mother like my number three sister, who goes ahead finally and has her child, after years of trying first to find a cure for her major chronic pain, who goes ahead and has that child despite chronic pain that most of us never have to think about? And how EMPOWERING is it going to be for me, if I ever do finally succeed in getting pregnant, knowing that I’m at extra high risk for the same pregnancy complications that my sister number 2 hit, because of my close genetic relation to her (not to mention now being old enough to be high risk just due to my age)?

    Look, I’m fine with people trying to have as natural a childbirth as possible, just as I’m fine with people working out, or trying to run marathons, or whatever. But I’m not fine with any standard of female accomplishment which honors women for something that mainly depends on having the right luck and the right body. At least not when it shames other women for failing that standard through no fault of their own. I’ve seen mothers who’ve grieved for months over the fact that they’ve had that C-section, and that shouldn’t be. And, yes, I do think I’m quite qualified, as an infertile woman who will probably never be able to give birth, to say that. Don’t you ever tell me that being infertile disqualifies me from commenting about women being shamed for failing at childbirth.

  133. August 13, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    One more word about the natural childbirth business (on which I have another reply to NYMOM awaiting moderation): there’s a feminist side to some of the stuff the natural childbirth has done which I think is great, even while I roll my eyes (at best) or wince (at worst) at childbirth-withour-painkillers as the ideal for every woman to aspire to (or, worse, to kick herself if she fails at). The positive side was looking at childbirth from an empowered consumer point of view, and recognizing that you do get to ask the women who’ve gone through it whether the medical establishment is really handling it in a way that’s best for the woman. That led to some changes that even women who have no interest in the full natural childbirth without drugs find worthwhile.

    And, on an unrelated note, go, La Lubu!

    On restaurants, a story: a friend of mine, when I was in my twenties, had severe cerebral palsy. She died in an accident, and her mother told me, at the funeral, a story about her childhood. One day, her parents had taken the whole family (four kids, of whom the daughter with cerebral palsy was the youngest) to a restaurant. A woman from a neighboring table stomped over and said, “I’ll have you know that you have ruined my anniversary by bringing that thing in here.” My friend’s mother turned to the woman and said, “Well, I’m sorry I ruined your anniversary, but, you know, you could have left.”

  134. Ledasmom
    August 13, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    Fine, NYMOM. Fine. Feel perfectly free to enjoy hordes of ice-cream-smeared younglings seizing your limbs while chanting in their own unintelligible argot, undoubtedly in preparation for ripping you limb-from-limb and eating you raw, which is, of course, what those of us with a preference for better-behaved children believe children will do if not restrained.
    Many of us prefer not to have small, badly-trained critters leaping on us, whether child, pet or tiny green aliens from the planet Hoohaa, all right?

  135. August 13, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    But I was really talking about individuals who are part of a particular group as being designated to speak for them…let’s not try to drag a red herring into the discussion.

    Given that I was speaking as someone who, for medical reasons, is unable to have that perfect drug-free childbirth, about how one shouldn’t have to be ashamed not to have that perfect drug-free childbirth, I think it’s presumptuous of you to say that I’m speaking for a group that doesn’t include me. (There, at least I’ll hopefully get that word in to NYMOM – who knows darn well that I’m involuntarily infertile – while my longer post awaits moderation.)

  136. kate
    August 13, 2006 at 5:38 pm

    I had three children. The first and the third were easy going and not difficult. The middle child, from the moment she was born was hell on wheels. She could not keep still, was vocal and very precocious. She knew how to pull my strings and get me to jump and had no problem using her lungs, her legs, her feet or whatever to get her point across. THe most effective times of course being when I was most anxious to do whatever necessary to shut her up — when pressured by those around me. At home she was fine as she knew her outbursts would gain little attention.

    I never had the attitude that others should have to listen to her rants. She would be taken outside if in a public place, until she cooled down. I never thought it my right to impose my children’s behavior on anyone. I also think it is indeed important to teach children to be considerate of others and that starts very young. Rude comments, loud behavior, running around, screaming. An effort should be made to curb such behavior. If a parent is making a concerted effort, then I don’t get irritated. I do get irritated when parents take their children to theatres, public events, resturants or what have you and make no effort at all to remove the child and themselves (obviously) at least temporarily until the child’s tantrum subsides, diapers are changed or is nursed.

    Having people mutter, “Shut that damn kid up!” or even make such comments loudly is no better than my child’s behavior. Obvoiusly, if I am struggling with the child, I am doing my best and more than likely far more irritated and embarrassed than any childless couple could ever imagine.

    Might I add also that my husband never suffered such rude commentary or looks. No one dares bully a man, but its open season when a manless woman is out and about.

    I have to admit that my second child was difficult and at times all i could do was hurry the hell up and finish what i was doing and leave. As a single parent with no help, sometimes the choices don’t get better than one sucky one against another suckier one.

  137. Ledasmom
    August 13, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    Allowing the woman giving birth to have a say in how she does so is wonderful, yes (although if you want a vaginal birth after having had a c-section, you may be out of luck). I don’t even mind the promotion of natural childbirth, but I loathe the attitude of superiority some – not all, not most, perhaps not even many – some women get after having had it, often expressed in the form “If I could give birth to my fifteen-pound ten-ounce cuddle-umpkins without any drugs after four days of labor and five hours of pushing, you can certainly have your baby that way”, as if one woman’s body were interchangeable with another’s and worked exactly the same way.

  138. August 13, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    I don’t think child free persons or men should represent mothers.

    And don’t you ever call me child free, either. I’m childless, if you please.

    Shorter NYMOM: If you’re infertile, just shut up and suck it up; none of your feelings count in the slightest. It’s not enough to be patient with other people’s children; you also have to smile, smile, smile when people insist on saying stuff about pregnancy and childbirth that pokes your sore spots.

    I bet Ani DiFranco herself would be a hundred times more understanding.

  139. raging red
    August 13, 2006 at 6:16 pm

    Ks, one of my sister’s friends used to get steamed at her husband for calling watching his own kids “babysitting.”

    Nice.

    I was at an event recently where I was mingling with a group of women whom I had just met. One of the women was talking about her 4-year-old son, and another woman said, “So, he’s home with your husband tonight?” She said, “Oh no! He never watches our son. He’s afraid to be alone with him. He’s with his grandparents.” I was stunned. The kid is four years old and apparently his father has never watched him by himself because he’s afraid to be alone with him? What, he’s afraid he’s going to break him or something? Since I had just met this woman, I just kept my mouth shut, but I really couldn’t believe it. So whenever this woman wants to go out and do something by herself, she gets someone else to babysit her child, even if her husband is just hanging out at home. That’s messed up.

  140. August 13, 2006 at 6:35 pm

    Lynn, your friend’s mother still deserves a gold medal for not ruining that (insert favorite expletive here) woman’s anniversary by punching her teeth down her throat. That thing?! Words simply cannot express…….

    And after that line from NYMOM, I’d say you have some of grace of your own.

  141. zuzu
    August 13, 2006 at 6:37 pm

    NYMOM, give it a rest already.

  142. August 13, 2006 at 6:47 pm

    How EMPOWERING do you think it is, to make avoiding pain killer during chilbirth a big, huge deal…..

    Yes, yes, and yes. I beat myself up inside for a long time over not having the “perfect birth”—you know, the Woman Warrior, I-don’t-need-no-stinkin’-intervention, siddown, shaddup, and lemme-do-it-myself birth. The kind I was supposed to have, because it’s just another part of being Superwoman, right? Except shit does happen, and there I was on the table, with a classic “C”, at 25 weeks. Now, that’s the only kind of birth I can ever have, due to the risk of uterine rupture.

    Impossible standards. They permeate every single fucking aspect of the female experience. I come here, to this (and other) feminist blogs, to get my inoculation against that poisonous shit.

  143. fishbane
    August 13, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    “Okay…

    This sounds a little more serious then I orignally thought.

    You know depending upon the state you are in you could be empowered to make a citizen’s arrest of the perpetrator if you catch him/her actually committing the act.

    Now is the child over or under 2 years old???

    Let me know as this will make a difference in how I’ll advise you to handle this…”

    Look, NYMom, I’m the one who made the original comment, comparing a parent’s failure to control their children to a dog owner’s failure to control the dog.

    What you keep doing it intentionally misunderstanding such comments as attacking the children, rather than attacking the parents.

    To be very clear, _one more time_: I don’t hate kids. I don’t hate parents. I can’t stand people who behave irresponsibly. In a public place, I expect that kids, dogs, etc. will act in ways that are not ideal and make people uncomfortable. That’s fine, so long as it falls below a critical level (dogs biting, assault, property damage, etc). What is not OK is the parents (or dog owners) failing to control their kids and attempting to minimize the externalities those in their charge are causing.

    Willfully misunderstanding this undermines anything else you might like to say.

    If I keep a monkey, and that monkey attacks someone, I am responsible. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that notion. (If you do, OK, but that flys in the face of several hundred years of jurisprudence, and you’re setting a rather high barrier for your notions.) So why is it controversial to take that same notion, scale it down a bit, and assume a parent has a responsibility to not inflict their kid on others unnessessarily?

    Taken from a different perspective, I had nothing to do with your creation of a child. I don’t know you. Other than normal moral obligations I have to others, I don’t owe you anything. What, exactly, makes me obligated to put up with your child groping me (and smile, because you’re a mom!), that doesn’t obligate me to put up with, say, a random dog sniffing my crotch? Please be precise, citing _reasons_ I should grant you special status that is not afforded to, say, pet owners. Note that I’m saying you, _not_ your child.

  144. jonk
    August 13, 2006 at 7:41 pm

    one bit that i find tiresome from some people who make babies is the attitude that they have done something miraculous – give it a break. there is nothing special about making a baby. that isn’t to say your life hasn’t changed for what you understand as the better. there are plenty of good reasons not to want to have kids, as well as people who want, but can’t have kids. the drivel that can come out of so many parents’ mouths is not only narcissistic but thoughtless – “you really should have kids, it’ll change your life!”

    further, i don’t buy the line that the childless can have no idea what it is like to have a child. on multiple occasions i have confronted a parent abusing their child in public. what they often say is that i have no idea what it is like to raise a/this kid – bullshit! don’t hit your kid. if parents can agree with this statement – that kids shouldn’t be hit, and people without kids can understand this – i think there should be some consideration that nonparents do have some idea of what it means to have kids.

    sure, i think kids can be cool and cute and fun, but it just ain’t the case that this is always – or usually – so. i am one of those people who do not think babies are cute – who cares? or, that anything a kid does is cute or intelligent, etc. that doesn’t mean i would disagree that any other person who would claim it so, i think if you have kids it is in your best interest to think all this stuff is automatically cute and cool – just don’t expect it of me, please.

  145. August 13, 2006 at 8:03 pm

    “Look, I’m fine with people trying to have as natural a childbirth as possible, just as I’m fine with people working out, or trying to run marathons, or whatever.”

    Yes, you’re fine with it alright. As long as they never bring it up around you and sneak around never discussing it within earshot of you. So you could trot out the long list of reasons no one in your family could do it and make them feel guilty about their happiness…

    “But I’m not fine with any standard of female accomplishment which honors women for something that mainly depends on having the right luck and the right body.”

    MOST women do NOT pass on natural childbirth because of some horrible physical reasons which happened to every one of your sisters. Just because no one in your family was able to have children naturally is no cause to rain on other women’s parade.

    “And, yes, I do think I’m quite qualified, as an infertile woman who will probably never be able to give birth, to say that. Don’t you ever tell me that being infertile disqualifies me from commenting about women being shamed for failing at childbirth.”

    You can comment all you want but you have no special dispensation to continuously pop up in every discussion about children with either a snide or a negative remark about mothers…
    and here’s the latest one that mothers who give birth naturally shouldn’t be proud because you and your sisters couldn’t…

    Talk about sour grapes.

    I for one am getting sick of you and your child free ilk acting like you have some special ‘insight’ into women and that gives you the right to make comments into every discussion about them…you have no kids. Okay…whatever the reason I don’t care. Yet on every site from this one to Family Scholars you’re in there pontificating about what you think about families and mothers, etc.,

    You know NOTHING about what a mother goes through to bring a child into this world.

    Okay…

    So you have no business butting into every single conversation on the net with your MOSTLY uninformed opinion…

    Go through labor with no pain killers..

    Okay.

    AND then come back and tell me women who manage to do it have nothing be proud of…

  146. August 13, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    “Many of us prefer not to have small, badly-trained critters leaping on us, whether child, pet or tiny green aliens from the planet Hoohaa, all right?”

    But none of you have contempt for kids?

    Right.

    Well hopefully people will be a little more patient with your kids then you appear to be with theirs…

  147. August 13, 2006 at 8:11 pm

    “Given that I was speaking as someone who, for medical reasons, is unable to have that perfect drug-free childbirth, about how one shouldn’t have to be ashamed not to have that perfect drug-free childbirth, I think it’s presumptuous of you to say that I’m speaking for a group that doesn’t include me. (There, at least I’ll hopefully get that word in to NYMOM – who knows darn well that I’m involuntarily infertile – while my longer post awaits moderation.)”

    I’m sorry to hurt your feelings again…but frankly no I didn’t know that you were infertile…

    Or care…

    So what????

    That gives you a free pass to say whatever you want about other mothers????

    Again, sour grapes.

  148. August 13, 2006 at 8:19 pm

    “What you keep doing it intentionally misunderstanding such comments as attacking the children, rather than attacking the parents.”

    Comparing a kid to a ‘sniffing dog’ if that’s the comment you are referring to IS a sign of hatred of kids.

    Okay…just to let you know.

    Everyone of the commenters here reminds me of countless arguments I’ve had with men rights advocates over this issue and for many of the same reasons.

    Men cannot give birth…so they belittle the accomplish of mothers.

    You women either chose not to or can’t (whatever I don’t care) but you are doing the exact same thing to mothers that MRAs do to them…belittle their ability to bear life because you either can’t or chose not to do it yourselves.

    I return to my original comment to one of you: sour grapes.

    Get over yourselves…

    It’s an accomplishment for a mother to bear children.

    AND good for her if she can do it naturally without drugs.

    If she can’t, that’s fine too…

  149. zuzu
    August 13, 2006 at 8:25 pm

    For the love of God, STOP SERIAL POSTING.

    In fact, stop posting, period. You’re a troll, NYMOM. You always have been.

  150. August 13, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    BTW, I just realized something…Lynn Gazis-Saxe just changed the entire debate around to paint herself as the poor little victim here, when in fact we were talking about mothers and their kids who were the victims of hatred…

    Calling them breeders, comparing their kids to sniffing dogs, the clown car analogy and the rabbit one….all of these are sytomatic of hatred and contempt for mothers and kids.

    YET this woman has turned the entire debate around to focus on herself as being the victim here of some remark I made…

    Total red herring…

  151. August 13, 2006 at 8:31 pm

    Well for the love of God…don’t serially respond to me then…

    As always accusing people of being trolls when you can’t defeat their arguments…

  152. Car
    August 13, 2006 at 9:02 pm

    “and here’s the latest one that mothers who give birth naturally shouldn’t be proud because you and your sisters couldn’t…”

    Pretty small-minded. There are many, many reasons women can’t go the “all natural” route. I for one am proud that I was able to give birth with the aid of all that current medical technology has to offer, because otherwise my baby would most probably have died during childbirth, and possibly me as well. I had a lot of guilt drummed into me for having a c-section, but you know what? I finally figured out that I’m just as damned good a mother as someone who went “natural”, and look at a group of grade-schoolers and their moms and I dare you to try to pick out what kind of childbirth each had.

  153. August 13, 2006 at 9:12 pm

    NYMOM

    Jaysus on a Pony.

    I’m a mom. I’m a grandma. I had four daughters, naturally, no meds with minimal pain.

    You friggin’ don’t speak for me.

    You speak for yourself, and yourself alone. Your experiences and your opinion on how they apply to the world beyond your front door is each of our right to accept or reject.

    And, sister, you have as many issues as any poster who uses “breeder” as a pejorative.

  154. fishbane
    August 13, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    Comparing a kid to a ’sniffing dog’ if that’s the comment you are referring to IS a sign of hatred of kids.

    Once again, you fail to respond to my argument at all, and simply make a bald assertion. I don’t, in fact, hate children. Even the concept of hating children doesn’t make a lot of sense to me – kids stop being kids at some point. This is dicta at some point, but I fucking raised my own brother, for the most part – we were poor, and I was 9 years older than him. For someone who wants to call herself a feminist, you seem to be awfully good at defining Other and them demonizing it.

    I would have liked to engage you in a serious discussion, but you’re not being serious, and you’re showing no signs of wanting to be serious. So, so be it.

    As always accusing people of being trolls when you can’t defeat their arguments…

    That’s a cute narrative, but the flaw is that it would require you to actually _make_ an argument, which you have failed to do. You repeatedly make assertions, but you do not provide a reasoned path to your conclusions. In fact, you remind me of evangelical types who prefer to shut down discussion rather than actually discuss. It is pathological, really.

    If you want to take me to task, please do so after you answer this question, which I asked you previously:

    Taken from a different perspective, I had nothing to do with your creation of a child. I don’t know you. Other than normal moral obligations I have to others, I don’t owe you anything. What, exactly, makes me obligated to put up with your child groping me (and smile, because you’re a mom!), that doesn’t obligate me to put up with, say, a random dog sniffing my crotch? Please be precise, citing _reasons_ I should grant you special status that is not afforded to, say, pet owners. Note that I’m saying you, _not_ your child.

  155. evil_fizz
    August 13, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    No, you’re a troll when you belittle other people’s experiences and insist that other people respect your feelings while all the while being as rude as possible back.

    Which you’ve pretty much nailed to a T.

  156. August 13, 2006 at 9:23 pm

    Car

    I really don’t “get” why some women would want other women to feel guilty over whether the childbirth was “natural” or not.

    The over medicated births of the 50’s gave way to the ‘natural’ birth movement of the 60’s … hand-n-hand with the commune, tie-dyed, no makeup, vegan, granola hippie-dippie movement. Adherents that also tried to make anyone feel quilty over meat, monogamy and solo-driving.

    feh

    I felt lucky that pregnancy and birth more than agreed with me physically. I feel grateful that medical procedures exist for women who aren’t.

  157. Ledasmom
    August 13, 2006 at 9:23 pm

    Go through labor with no pain killers..

    Okay.

    AND then come back and tell me women who manage to do it have nothing be proud of…

    Oh, honestly, get over yourself, would you? You act like enduring a few hours of labor pain is the be-all and end-all of heroism.

  158. August 13, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    Ledasmom

    You don’t get it… labor pain made NYMOM superior.

    :::snort:::

  159. August 13, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    Taken from a different perspective, I had nothing to do with your creation of a child. I don’t know you. Other than normal moral obligations I have to others, I don’t owe you anything. What, exactly, makes me obligated to put up with your child groping me (and smile, because you’re a mom!), that doesn’t obligate me to put up with, say, a random dog sniffing my crotch? Please be precise, citing _reasons_ I should grant you special status that is not afforded to, say, pet owners. Note that I’m saying you, _not_ your child.

    I actually think it’s more problematic for a feminist to be anti-parent, than anti-child. Realistically anti-parent means being anti-mother, because it is women who do most of the grunt work. The whole way parenting takes place in this society puts the onnus of reproductionon individual women to take the full burden, and is major source of women’s exploitation and oppression. To support that individualised responsibility is to support women’s continuing exploitation and oppression.

  160. Julie
    August 13, 2006 at 9:51 pm

    Oh, give me a freaking break. I’ve been there, done that. Labor without painkillers sucks. Yeah, I got through it, because I had no choice. He was coming out and you can’t really stop labor until painkillers are available. I don’t think it was any more of a wonderful accomplishment than the birth of my daughter with an epidural and I don’t see it as any more of an accomplishment than the birth of my second son, where I was knocked out with so much morphine I barely remember labor (although my husband told me I was kind of funny as I was talking to imaginary people). If you choose to give birth naturally, more power to you, but I don’t think it’s any more of an achievement than giving birth without painkillers, frankly, and I’ve done it both ways. And my son was a pretty big baby, as far as babies go.
    Jonk, the reason that I think of my children as miracles is because to me, they are. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage and my second child died shortly after his birth due to a severe and fatal birth defect. After holding my son as he passed away, I swore that I would never again take my kids for granted, ever. So yeah, when his brother was born healthy a little over a year later, I most certainly consider him to be a miracle and the fact that he’s here, healthy and alive is a big deal to me. After Kyle died, I realized just how fragile life is and how easy it is to lose a child and because of that, I do consider my kids miracles. That being said, they are miracles who can be pains in the butt sometimes and you won’t see me waxing poetic to anyone who will listen about how wonderful and miraculous they are, even if I think about them that way.
    NYMOM… personally I find Amanda’s comments much more in line with my thoughts and experiences than yours, so before you tell her and Lynne (who I am so sorry that you are finding yourself attacked for being infertile, I can’t imagine how painful that must be for you) not to speak for mothers, maybe you should ask some other mothers. I would rather have someone who understands the struggles that I as a mother face comment than someone who claims that I am superior simply because I’m a woman and a mother. Bull. My husband and I are equals, my son and daughter are equals, neither gender is superior to the other. That’s what feminism means, not the exultation of one gender at the expense of another.

  161. August 13, 2006 at 9:55 pm

    To support that individualised responsibility is to support women’s continuing exploitation and oppression

    ???

    Small children are the primary responsibility of their parents.

    If I have a bone to pick with my generation (baby boomers) is where too many have decided to be their kid’s friend rather than their parent. Children may have differing levels of knowledge, but they have no wisdom; and I’m as embarrassed by children outregeously misbehaving in public unrestrained by their adult “friends” as I am by adult “friends” who believe their kid’s opinions on politics or world affairs are earthshakingly noteworthy.

    Noted that parenting is not easy. But a worthy parent is one who can listen to their child scream “I HATE YOU! I WISH I NEVER WAS BORN!” without collapsing into a whimpering puddle of goo.

  162. August 13, 2006 at 10:01 pm

    “…I really don’t “get” why some women would want other women to feel guilty over whether the childbirth was “natural” or not…”

    That was NOT the topic of this thread…and frankly I never even HEARD of any mother making that an issue until I heard it on here.

    It was thrown out as a red herring by someone who wanted to change the subject and make herself the victim here…when in fact, we were talking about mothers, children and the people who hate them and why.

    Frankly I think some of you are jealous of mothers…I hate to say it but many of you are in exactly the same mindset as mens rights advocates…attempting to denigrate mothers’s authentic life experiences just because you can’t have them yourselves or chose not to…

    “Taken from a different perspective, I had nothing to do with your creation of a child. I don’t know you. Other than normal moral obligations I have to others, I don’t owe you anything. What, exactly, makes me obligated to put up with your child groping me (and smile, because you’re a mom!), that doesn’t obligate me to put up with, say, a random dog sniffing my crotch? Please be precise, citing _reasons_ I should grant you special status that is not afforded to, say, pet owners. Note that I’m saying you, _not_ your child.”

    If you can’t figure out why someone would think you hate kids after reading what you just posted then you’re awful dense.

    To be honest your post makes my point for me…

    You women here better start looking to yourselves for the reasons that people suspect you have contempt for mothers and children.

    AND remember ONE thing…MOST women still become mothers so you continue sneering at and laughing behind your fingers at all those ‘breeders’ you’re going to be in the midst of a movement with NO FOLLOWERS.

    AND risk every gain you made…as women can turn around and reject your vision of society, turn right around and go back into the home becoming stay-at-home moms for the most part with their husbands telling them how to vote…

    Then where are YOU…with no one supporting any of your feminist platforms…those cushy careers and jobs you landed by claiming to be women’s advocates can easily disappear and we can be right back to the 50s where MEN quite simply get all the good jobs since they are the main supporters of FAMILIES…while women are just expected to get married and work for pin money…

    So you better start looking around feministes and realize that you are alienating the majority of women…which doesn’t bode well for your future…

    Now I’m sick and tired of arguing with you…

    So goodbye and good night.

  163. August 13, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    NYMOM

    Good lord, how many bales of straw can you stuff into a post??

  164. Ledasmom
    August 13, 2006 at 10:07 pm

    Look, I like dogs. I am notorious for never having seen a dog I didn’t think was cute, and never having met a dog I didn’t like. But I don’t like being jumped on, I don’t like having my leg humped and I don’t like having a cold nose shoved into my crotch.
    “Jealous of mothers”. Hee. That’s a good one. Yup, I’m ever so terribly jealous of mothers, aren’t I?

  165. fishbane
    August 13, 2006 at 10:10 pm

    I actually think it’s more problematic for a feminist to be anti-parent, than anti-child. Realistically anti-parent means being anti-mother, because it is women who do most of the grunt work. The whole way parenting takes place in this society puts the onnus of reproductionon individual women to take the full burden, and is major source of women’s exploitation and oppression. To support that individualised responsibility is to support women’s continuing exploitation and oppression.

    That’s an interesting claim, and I don’t think I fully agree with it. However, I’m making a much narrower claim – simply that adults that operate a dependent biological entity in public have a responsibility to control its behaviour towards others. It doesn’t matter if it is canine, homo-sap, or simian; the operator has a responsibility to keep it under control. I don’t know how you’re read me as making any wider point about supporting women’s continuing exploitation, unless you assume I’m talking about women, which I’m not. I’m talking about parents. (I only ever referenced “mom” in response to NYMom’s, um, contributions.)

  166. fishbane
    August 13, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    NYMom:

    If you can’t figure out why someone would think you hate kids after reading what you just posted then you’re awful dense.

    If it is so straight-forward, then why have you, after three posts on the topic, not articulated it? Surely someone of your moral clarity could put it into a couple of simple sentences that even we heathens could understand, and various all-caps words wouldn’t even be required.

    Never mind actually responding to my argument, but I don’t expect that out of you; you’ve made it quite clear that you don’t intend to argue out of anything but a sense of personal entitlement.

  167. Feathers McGraw
    August 13, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    Sorry about the highlighting above. Still learning how to use quote tags.

  168. piny
    August 13, 2006 at 10:42 pm

    I’m really uncomfortable with this conversation, I gotta say.

    And I don’t understand how someone who does see motherhood as more than childbirth–which I happen to agree with–can spend so much rhetorical time and energy on the mysticism of birthing itself.

    Noted that parenting is not easy. But a worthy parent is one who can listen to their child scream “I HATE YOU! I WISH I NEVER WAS BORN!” without collapsing into a whimpering puddle of goo.

    Hah! I remember being young enough to think that would impress my mother.

  169. August 13, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    Small children are the primary responsibility of their parents.

    Actually the reality at the moment is that the vast majority of small children are almost entirely the responsibility of their mothers, with very little back up or support, financial or social. I think this reality is one of the central ways women are exploited and oppressed.

    Fishbane I think it’s disingenuous to say your claim isn’t gendered. When you know the reality is that the vast majority of people who take the primary care of children are. The more public space age-appropriate behaviour from children is acceptable the more freedom the women who are caring for them will have. The more child rearing is treated as a collective responsibility, the more freedom women who are caring for them will have. In my social circles when there are children around everyone helps out, which alleviates the burden on the parents a little bit (although not enough). I have very rarely been to the sort of parties Amanda describes (and when I have I’ve wanted to kill the fathers involved) – because entertaining kids in a social setting isn’t just seen as the responsibility of parents.

    I personally think there’s a world of difference between a child and a pet. We disagree on that, and that’s fine, what I was trying to point out is that the effect of the standard your propose (blaming parents rather than children), is to put huge amounts of responsibility on women and limit their freedom.

  170. August 13, 2006 at 10:51 pm

    That was supposed to be “the vast majority of people who take the primary care of children are women” – sentances often don’t make sense unless you finish them.

  171. fishbane
    August 13, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    Piny (and others), sorry if I’ve contributed to the discomfort. I did intentionally use provocative language to make a point. And I shouldn’t, probably, have been so engaged with NYMom’s perspective as to start counter-baiting. It is just how I’m wired.

    I’ll drop it now.

  172. fishbane
    August 13, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    Fishbane I think it’s disingenuous to say your claim isn’t gendered. When you know the reality is that the vast majority of people who take the primary care of children are.

    I could be wrong, but I’m not being disingenous.

    As I mentioned earlier, as a child, I was, to a rather large extent, responsible for raising my brother. Both of my parents worked (sometimes two jobs each), and I was the default for trying to give him a sense of wonder at the orld, teach him to want to make something of himself, and by the way, cook and clean him and correct him when he fucked up.

    Perhaps the people with kids around me now are not representative (and I would accept that; I live in Brooklyn, and doubt that I run in circles that would be considered “normal” by, well, a norm-setting plurality), but when I count kids with whom I have personal contact, the gender count comes up with one fewer man then woman, in terms of who I would count as the primary care-giver. This might be a weathy urban thing (as that describes where I live), but it is descriptive of the parents I see around me.

    And I was talking about a very narrow sort of responsibility for one’s kids (or other dependent biological entities): the responsibility to not inflict them needlessly on others. I certainly don’t conflate that with a tort attorney’s attention to small offenses. I do, however, note when a parent doesn’t even apologize for (for instance) their kid grabbing my crotch, and pretends that it is my problem.

    I’m very much in favor of, loosely, a villiage environment in which everyone in the community takes part, helps out, and tries to do what is right. But one fundamental baseline for that working is an understanding of personal responsibility for one’s self and those for whom one is responsible.

  173. August 13, 2006 at 11:50 pm

    While there are places that are exceptions (and middle class liberal neighbourhoods are probably one of them), nationwide (yours or mine) or worldwide, the vast majority of reproductive work is done by women. That shouldn’t make any difference when you’re bitching about children you actually know, because we all have an absolute right to get grumpy at annoying things. I think it does make a difference when thinking about how the world does work, what’s wrong with how it works, and what we’d like instead.

    I don’t agree with your standard because I don’t believe it is just the caregivers responsibility to ensure that children don’t ‘inflict them needlessly on others’ I also think that implies a level of control over children’s behaviour that is not possible all the time (depending on a whole host of circumstances, which is why I have a problem with peopel criticising the parenting skills of random strangers – most people you see on the street you have no idea what’s going on in their lives).

    I agree with you that in the ideal world everyone would have the right not to interact with any person (including children) that they don’t want to. But I don’t think that it’s solely the caregivers responsibility to ensure that happens when it comes to kids.

  174. Lorelei
    August 13, 2006 at 11:58 pm

    Go through labor with no pain killers..

    Okay.

    AND then come back and tell me women who manage to do it have nothing be proud of…

    Okay, go through a year and a half of searing, debilitating dental pain from fourteen separate cavities and a phobia of needles which prevents you from going to a dentist…

    …Wait, right, this line of thought is completely fucking ridiculous.

    NYMOM, you are a troll at every blog you go to. >:|

  175. Lorelei
    August 14, 2006 at 12:02 am

    NYMOM, you are a troll at every blog you go to. >:|

    And by troll, I mean you have some intense internalized sexism and seem to have no qualms about lashing out at other people with it when they start to make you mad.

  176. August 14, 2006 at 12:14 am

    Actually the reality at the moment is that the vast majority of small children are almost entirely the responsibility of their mothers, with very little back up or support, financial or social. I think this reality is one of the central ways women are exploited and oppressed.

    That is so generalized as to be nonsensical.

    the vast majority of reproductive work is done by women.

    Let’s demand artificial wombs!

    Woman give birth. Circumstance or choice will find them with/without supportive partners and/or family. Most mothers will choose to breastfeed or otherwise be the primary caregiver to infants.

    It is unfortunate when a mother finds herself overwhelmed by demands of a small child without any family support system, but that doesn’t constitute either exploitation or conspiracy.

    And it doesn’t help to frame it as such.

  177. August 14, 2006 at 12:25 am

    Piny

    Hah! I remember being young enough to think that would impress my mother.

    I believe every child tries emotional manipulation at one time or another. A parent recognizes it for what it is and acts accordingly.

    I remember when #2 (the one that inherited the flashpoint Irish temper in spades) who muttered under her breath and slammed doors, sticking her chin out at me when I confronted her (she was 10, I believe) and said “if you touch me I’ll call CPS!”

    My response “Oh? Well, let me get the phone and dial it for you. Then I’m going to beat the snot out of you and while I go to jail for the night, they’ll take you away and you won’t live here any more.”

    Of course, I didn’t touch her, but she never used that threat again.

    And I stopped the door slamming by calmly telling her the door was a priviledge, not a right, and if she ever slammed it again, she would loose the door for two weeks.

    She’s the one with twin boys and I think she has a whole lot more appreciation about parenting. I’m happy to say she is a fine mom.

  178. August 14, 2006 at 12:32 am

    Darleen I use the term reproductive work to mean anything required to reproduce people both on a daily basis and a generational basis (so it’s cooking, child-care and pregnancy).

    I didn’t frame it is a conspiracy – but I do believe that the way child-raising is done in is exploitative. Raising children is necessary work for the maintenance of any society or economic system. Capitalism can’t afford to resource this necessary work, therefore it is done with very few dedicated resources (most of the resources come from wages from other work – although depending on where you live there might be minimal amount of state support). Most of the labour is provided for free.

    If your analysis is simply ‘women choose it therefore it’s not exploitative’ then I guess there’s little need to analyse the nature of child-rearing in our society. I prefer to analyse why people make the choices they do, and how we could organise it so people would be freer, both to make a wider range of choices, and not to have to choose in the way they do at the moment.

  179. fishbane
    August 14, 2006 at 12:52 am

    I don’t agree with your standard because I don’t believe it is just the caregivers responsibility to ensure that children don’t ‘inflict them needlessly on others’ I also think that implies a level of control over children’s behaviour that is not possible all the time (depending on a whole host of circumstances, which is why I have a problem with peopel criticising the parenting skills of random strangers – most people you see on the street you have no idea what’s going on in their lives).

    That’s fair. I do disagree, but I think I understand where you come from there. Just so that you know where I come from, let me explain, and then I’ll drop it.

    Growing up in the rural south, one thing that happened frequently is that person A’s horses, or cows, or goats would get loose and cause some sort of damage. Toppled fences, a car wreck, some sort of minor injury, all sorts of things. It was accepted that, well, of course, people aren’t assumed to have intended to cause the damage, but they are responsible for it. And while there might be individual cases that don’t make a lot of sense, the general rule seems hard to argue with, to me. One hopes that a legal solution isn’t required and that the cow owner (or whatever) does the right thing, and that the entire situation comes out amicably.

    Similarly, one hopes that one a kid does something offensive to an uninvolved adult, the parent attempts to make amends and correct the kid. As I have said, I’m OK with cooperative informal arrangements, and actually like the notion of an involved community.

    But the single best way to not make that sort of thing work in my mind is to disclaim responsibility. If I am responsible for my hypothetical animal’s actions, then the kid that gropes a random person in public is the responsibility of the person who assumed responsibility by putting that kid in a public space.

    Is that really such a radical notion? I’m honestly a little surprised by the pushback here. I’m certainly not trying (contra NYmom) to hate on kids or their parent, and the ones I entertain fairly frequently for friends would be amused by the notion (parents, that is – the kids just like the kitty, or that I let them play with my paint). Nor do I wish to shove women/nurturers into some sort of corner in which they are denied a public life or saddled with the sole responsibility for all reproductive-related everything while I sip martinis and talk about how annoying they are. I think children should be encouraged to take part in adult life early and often. It was trying, but good for me. Just as it was trying, but good, for my mother or father (both were involved, but yes, my mother was somewhat more so) to correct me when I fucked up a social interaction with an adult.

  180. August 14, 2006 at 12:59 am

    I’m amazed at the number of responses generated. I think this is very telling of today’s culture. Everyone is sensitive to this issue, for a variety of reasons, a lot of them foisted on us by the media. It is the media, after all, that castigates female parents no matter what choices they make…

  181. August 14, 2006 at 1:15 am

    Fishbane at this stage I’m not sure if I’d agree with you more if we’d started from different places. I find the animal comparison offensive. Do you take the same standard for developmentally disabled adults?

    To answer your question should a caregiver take responsibility to stop a child touching a stranger in an unwanted fashion?

    Yes absolutely, if they realise what’s happening, I’m just saying there are a bunch of reasons why that might not be possible for any given caregiver at any given moment. Equally I think the person who is being touched is as able to tell the child to stop as the parent of care-giver. We can communicate with children, unlike animals.

    The reality is at the moment care-givers are primarily responsible for their children, I’m just saying I’m not sure they should be. I think as a stranger you can be part of children learning boundaries – if only by saying no to them.

  182. August 14, 2006 at 1:30 am

    with a classic “C”, at 25 weeks

    Your daughter must have been just about the size of my niece, when she was born, La Lubu.

    when I count kids with whom I have personal contact, the gender count comes up with one fewer man then woman, in terms of who I would count as the primary care-giver.

    Definitely not the case in the circles I see in Orange County, California. FWIW. Even among the more liberal folks I know here, women are significantly more likely to be the primary caregiver than men.

  183. fishbane
    August 14, 2006 at 1:48 am

    I find the animal comparison offensive. Do you take the same standard for developmentally disabled adults?

    Maia – I used that comparison because it leads to a clear line of responsibility which is well understood thoughout most of history. It speaks to parent’s (or other caregiver’s) responsibilities. It doesn’t attempt to equate children (or any other people, for that matter) with animals. It equates the behaviour of those who are incapable of managing a pet in public with those who are incapable of managing a child in public. It has nothing to do with the kid, and everything to do with the responsibility an adult with moral responsibilities in control of a child. I really don’t know how to make that more clear.

    Let’s try this: I park my car at the top of a hill, and fail to engage the brake. It rolls down the hill, and smashes your car. The car is not the guilty party. While I did not intend to damage your car, I am still culpable for the fact that your car is indeed smashed.

    The question I have for you is why do you believe adding marginal agency to the car would relieve me of responsibility?

    The reality is at the moment care-givers are primarily responsible for their children, I’m just saying I’m not sure they should be. I think as a stranger you can be part of children learning boundaries – if only by saying no to them.

    To be honest, I’m not sure who else should be responsible. That isn’t to say that better solutions couldn’t be found, but to assert that parents are not responsible for their kids is… remarkable.

    As to your second point, I’m much more sympathetic. I do take part in several friends’ kids’ lives, and with most of them, I don’t feel uncomfortable correcting them. This is very different from a situation where a stranger’s kid is doing something wrong, and I need to correct them for them, risking the wrath of the parent (which has happened). At that stage, I’m not only being accosted by someone else’s kid, but having an altercation with the parent for asking the kid to lay off. Why, again, is this my obligation? How did I incur any responsibility to put up with this?

  184. fishbane
    August 14, 2006 at 1:57 am

    Definitely not the case in the circles I see in Orange County, California. FWIW. Even among the more liberal folks I know here, women are significantly more likely to be the primary caregiver than men.

    That’s fair. As I took pains to say, my circle of friends and associates is not likely to be considered norm-setting. That’s a problem with arguing from experience that I accept and attempt to disclose.

  185. KnifeGhost
    August 14, 2006 at 3:08 am

    I have no intention of wading into this shitstrom, especially given my inability to comment with any experience on the raising kids thing.

    That said, most of the Feminists who post here know better than to assume expertise in other people’s lives in the general sense. They know they can’t look at a woman of colour’s life (if they’re white) or a poor woman’s life (if they’re well off) or a queer woman’s life (if they’re straight) and feel they have the grounds or right to criticize and blame and presume to know better about how to make the decisions they’ve made.

    But for some reason there are some of those same people that don’t think twice about criticize, blaming, and presuming to know better if those women are parents.

  186. August 14, 2006 at 4:21 am

    I dunno, KnifeGhost. Everybody’s been parented, at least, and presumably have come to some conclusions about what they think their parents did right and what they did wrong. There’s a universal experience there that doesn’t apply to any of your comparatives.

    As a mother, I agree with the general wisdom that nobody knows just how tricky parenting is until they’ve done it themselves. I certainly didn’t. But that doesn’t mean people who’ve been through the experience of being parented don’t have any right to express an opinion on others as parents at all.

    I’m also not offended by the comparison of parental responsibilities for kids in public to that of dog-owners. I think it’s a very apt comparison actually. I would never dream of not at least apologising if either my child or my pet did something that distressed another person, and trying to prevent it happening if at all possible. Nothing more than that was suggested as far as I could see.

  187. August 14, 2006 at 8:04 am

    I’m also not offended by the comparison of parental responsibilities for kids in public to that of dog-owners.

    Well, yes and no. Let’s be realistic. Pets aren’t allowed in grocery stores, hardware stores, doctor’s offices, restaurants, pizza parlors, bowling alleys, gyms, banks, theaters, or any of the other places parents generally find themselves needing or wanting to be. Comparing pet control to little human control is unrealistic, because Fido can be left at home while running errands. Also, Fido’s behavior is a helluva lot more predictable than child behavior—believe it or not. ;-)

    I have no problem with the expectation that parents are responsible for their child(ren)’s behavior. I have a huge problem with the expectation that we are supposed to have instant control at and for every possible situation—Exhibit A can be the Gould example, where a mother stood up to leave immediately as her baby started to cry, but that wasn’t fast enough for him—he had to further embarrass her by pointing her out to the rest of the auditorium, and demanding that the baby be removed, something she was already doing.

    Now, some folks would say, “well, she has no business taking an infant to a lecture.” And I think what Maia is saying (and I agree with), is that if you aren’t even willing to make allowances for women like the mother in the Gould lecture, then you are copasetic and cool with limiting women’s economic, educational, and soical activities. Because yes, women do the lion’s share of child raising. Some of us (like me) because the guy split. Some women are de-facto “single parents” because their partners are on-the-road for work, or in the military. Others have partners that want kids, but don’t particularly want to deal with the kids when they’re young.

    But we–women—still have to keep our own lives up even though we’ve chosen to become parents. We still have to work, or keep our hand in somehow even if we have the ability to leave for awhile (which the majority of us don’t—again, let’s be realistic). We still have to keep our (work-related) education up, or prepare educationally for an alternate track, because our current work isn’t going to be there. And child care is difficult to find, and prohibitively expensive for many women. Also, keep in mind that there is a time factor in operation here; it takes a certain amount of time to get from the child-care place (if available) to whever one needs to be. If the two locations aren’t close enough, your options may be go with the kid, or stay at home. So, we end up taking our children with us to places that some other adults would rather we not.

    What the hell choice do we have? I have the choice to be responsible for my child—one that I take, and take honorably. That’s a part of the social contract. But when people are hissing at me, or making passive-aggressive commentary (and by that I mean making rude comments that are purposely made loud enough for me and my daughter to hear, yet acting as if it were an “accident” that we heard), or even dramatically rolling their eyes—they aren’t holding up their end of the social contract.

    Folks, as a single mother, I’m pretty tight with my money. If you see me out at a restaurant with my daughter, the chances are pretty damn good that the schedule of the evening demanded that cooking at home was out of the question. And also, that I didn’t have any leftovers in the fridge that could be quickly heated. So, I use those “opportunities” to do something special for my daughter, because I can’t afford to take her on fancy vacations. A night out at someplace nice is a “treat”—for her, because it is a new experience, and for me because I don’t have to do the damn dishes.

    And I’m not sorry if our presence ruins the “coolness” factor of your favorite spot, because *gasp* Someone’s Mother is in the room—how uncool is that? and she had to bring her kid with her. And look, they’re wearing Levis, not Seven For All Mankind! GAWD! Will the squareness never cease!

    Ahem. Short Lubu: Give mothers a damn break. For every one that allows her kid to rampage unapologetically through the room, there’s at least a hundred others who would be mortified, and be on that action right away. The woman with the screaming infant on the airplane isn’t happy about the crying either, but she can’t control it any better than you can, even though she is the mom.

  188. August 14, 2006 at 8:10 am

    And yes, Lynn, she was pretty small…..1 pound, 10 ounces. I have a picture of her with her hand over my knuckle. they were about the same size.

  189. August 14, 2006 at 8:31 am

    I think the difference is that I see kids as people as soon as they start interacting with the world and having any agency. I see them as people more than I see them as an appendage to someone else If a kid was bothering me I wouldn’t look for their parents. I would approach them as a person (obviously depending on their age – part of my problem with this discussion is it’s completely unclear to me whether you’re talking about 18 month olds, 4 year olds, 6 year olds or 10 year olds).

    You didn’t answer my question if you take the same position to people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

    Let’s try this: I park my car at the top of a hill, and fail to engage the brake. It rolls down the hill, and smashes your car. The car is not the guilty party. While I did not intend to damage your car, I am still culpable for the fact that your car is indeed smashed.

    It’s comparing them which I think is the problem (although obviously I’ve no idea how much agency to give to the car, because I don’t know what age children you are talkinga bout). I agree that if a child under your responsibility destroys something you’re going to have to pay to replace it. I don’t actually think that’s the same question as what responsibility you have if your child’s behaviour bothers someone, or crosses other people’s boundaries. I see that as depending on the circumstances, and I think there are good reasons feminists should err on the side of not placing most or all of the responsibility for children not crossing strangers boundaries on the caregivers.

    To be honest, I’m not sure who else should be responsible. That isn’t to say that better solutions couldn’t be found, but to assert that parents are not responsible for their kids is… remarkable.

    I didn’t say that parents aren’t responsible. I explicitly acknowledged that parents (read mothers) are given the primary responsibility for their children in our society. I’m just trying to point out that that has really problematic effects from a feminist point of view.

    I’m not saying that the solution to this would be entirely kibbutz style living. But at the moment there are often no resources or support available to parents. To talk about parental responsibilities to the wide community, when parents have almost no rights, and this most fundamental work to the functioning of our society is done for free, seems to be concentrating on completely the wrong issue.

  190. August 14, 2006 at 8:35 am

    Or what La Luba said.

  191. Sally
    August 14, 2006 at 8:53 am

    (and by that I mean making rude comments that are purposely made loud enough for me and my daughter to hear, yet acting as if it were an “accident” that we heard)

    Can I interupt this discussion to say that this is hands-down my least favorite form of obnoxious behavior right now? It’s rude and it’s cowardly and I’m going to start calling people on it.

    Here’s what I don’t get. I really, really understand people’s issues with folks valorizing raising children above all other things, as if its the only important thing a woman can do. But I don’t get the whole discussion about obnoxious kids. Maybe I just live in the wrong place, but are obnoxious kids really that much of a problem? I’m not going to deny that I’m occasionally irritated by a kid throwing a fit in the grocery store or on a plane (although I might well do the same thing if it were anything like socially acceptable), but I’d say that 99% of the annoyance in my life comes from obnoxious grownups or obnoxious teenagers. Is there really an epidemic of small children in bars keeping the rest of us from using raunchy language?

  192. August 14, 2006 at 9:27 am

    fishbane:

    Similarly, one hopes that one a kid does something offensive to an uninvolved adult, the parent attempts to make amends and correct the kid.

    Absolutely.

    Maia:

    I find the animal comparison offensive. Do you take the same standard for developmentally disabled adults?

    As the father of a three-year-old and the brother of an adult with a fairly serious cognitive disability, I’d say yes. If either my daughter or my sister causes a stranger inconvenience, and doesn’t have the presence of mind to apologize herself, I’m going to apologize on her behalf. If the inconvenience is a major one, I’ll try to remedy the situation.

    And like Tigtog, I’m not offended by the pet comparison.

    Maia:

    I think as a stranger you can be part of children learning boundaries – if only by saying no to them.

    You can, and if you choose to do so — respectfully, and in general accordance with my parenting philosophy — I’ll be grateful. I’m happy to see strangers interact with my kid in almost any situation.

    But as fishbane says, a stranger has no obligation to correct my kid. And I do recognize that I’m an outlier in encouraging them to do so.

  193. dragonsmilk
    August 14, 2006 at 9:35 am

    Maia–I just wanted to say that, as far as what is ideal goes, I completely agree with you that when a child past toddlerhood is behaving inappropriately, people should feel free to turn to the child and say so rather than expecting the parent to deal with it. Here’s the trouble with that, however. I myself, everyone I know personally, and people on this thread including fishbane, have encountered parents who take great offense at having a stranger correct their child in any fashion. I don’t contend at all that these are the majority of parents, but they are far from rare. They also aren’t only boorish folk; I know plenty of conscientous parents who feel it is highly inappropriate to speak to a strange child except in praise and that any problems with its behavior should instead be quietly brought to a guardian’s attention. I think this is ridiculous, but it is a common enough standard that it is safer, at least where I’ve lived, to politely point out a problem to the nearest caretaker adult (or grit one’s teeth and deal if said adult seems disinterested or irritable) than to engage the child as a person in the way I agree seems considerably more appropriate. I can’t really say who has to do what first to fundamentally change how children are raised (although I doubt it’s childless young counter-drone me), but right now not only does society throw a painful amount of responsibility on parents, and yes, a maddeningly disproportionate amount of that on mothers, but enough parents resent any intrusion into that responsibility by outsiders that most of us just don’t dare.

  194. Raging Moderate
    August 14, 2006 at 9:51 am

    I think there are good reasons feminists should err on the side of not placing most or all of the responsibility for children not crossing strangers boundaries on the caregivers.

    Who should be responsible then?

  195. frumious b
    August 14, 2006 at 9:54 am

    So, while it can be a feminist choice to have kids, it’s not a very responsible one, if one is looking past his or her own wants and desires and is being responsible for the planet.

    When you get old, who do you think is going to ring up your groceries, collect your trash, fill your prescriptions, write your prescriptions, police your neighborhood, do medical research to find new cures for your ills, learn engineering to build bridges you can drive over and cars you can drive over them in…? The list of what needs to be done to run a society is very long, and we need people to fill all those roles. Unless you come up with a cure for death, we as a society need to reproduce. I’m all for ecology, but I don’t see why the human race should have to die out in order to save the planet. We as a species can reduce our ecological footprint while still reproducing.

    Kids in bars – it depends on the bar. There is one kid friendly (and dog friendly) bar which I used to go to. The kids were usually there during happy hour, not so much as it got later. I thought it was great b/c it was one of the few places I could go with my friends who had kids. I’m much more disturbed by kids at the ballet. I didn’t pay $45 for a ticket to have my seat kicked all night. For that money, the parent could have hired a babysitter and we could all have enjoyed the show.

    Ani said that childbirth was the greatest thing a woman could do

    You can give birth in a coma. Try writing a dissertation in a coma, and you’ll quickly learn which is the greater accomplishment.

  196. August 14, 2006 at 9:57 am

    Maybe I just live in the wrong place, but are obnoxious kids really that much of a problem?

    Only if I’m the one supervising them. I turn out to be dismal at stopping kids from doing annoying kid things in a timely way :-(.

    Seriously, though, it’s true that obnoxious kids are much lower on my list of annoyances of daily life than, say, obnoxious adult drivers.

  197. August 14, 2006 at 10:16 am

    Sally:

    I don’t get the whole discussion about obnoxious kids. Maybe I just live in the wrong place, but are obnoxious kids really that much of a problem?

    There are two questions here — how often do people have to interact with obnoxious kids, and what proportion of kids are obnoxious.

    On the first question, I’d guess it varies a lot by location. Some communities have a lot more kids in them. In some communities, parents feel a lot more comfortable taking their kids to “grown-up” places. Some communities attract parents with more lax/liberal approaches to discipline. And so on.

    On the second, I think a lot of folks don’t notice kids unless they’re acting up. If a kid starts screaming in a fancy restaurant, that kid’s presence will be obvious to everyone in the place. If the kid is well-behaved, folks may eat and leave without ever realizing there was a kid there at all.

    And if you only notice the disruptive kids, you may form the impression that kid = disruption.

  198. Sniper
    August 14, 2006 at 10:32 am

    Here’s the trouble with that, however. I myself, everyone I know personally, and people on this thread including fishbane, have encountered parents who take great offense at having a stranger correct their child in any fashion.

    Sometimes it can be dangerous! Once while leaving the grocery store I was hit by a cart. I turned around to see what was going on and before I could even register that it was a kid (about 7) who pushed the cart at me a truly enormous woman yelled, “Don’t fucking look at my kid that way! He didn’t mean it!” She had 14 inches and sixty pounds on me but for some reason I said, “Can’t he apologize?” That’s when she started shaking her fists and I ran away, shortass coward that I am.

    There are two questions here — how often do people have to interact with obnoxious kids, and what proportion of kids are obnoxious.

    Several times a day, but I teach middle school. It’s my experience that an entire class can be obnoxious in the right cirucmstances.

    About taking responsibility… most parents – about 70% of the ones I deal with are pretty good. There’s another 20% who are somewhat clueless. By this I mean that they just can’t believe that their perfect 14-year-old son would ever intercept mail from the school or hang out at 7-11 instead of walking to class like a good boy. For equal opportunity, they just can’t believe that their darling daughter would ever write an obscene thing about a teacher.

    Clueless parents can be frustrating, but far worse are the 10% who have given up. These are the ones who, if they come to parent-teacher conferences at all, spend the whole time crying.

    There’s also, of course, a tiny number of truly abusive parents who are extremely difficult to deal with.

  199. August 14, 2006 at 10:38 am

    Try writing a dissertation in a coma,

    Will the dissertation take you to dinner for your 75 birthday?

    ;-)

  200. August 14, 2006 at 10:38 am

    You can give birth in a coma. Try writing a dissertation in a coma, and you’ll quickly learn which is the greater accomplishment.

    The first comment in a while to make me laugh.

    Touché.

    ;)

  201. blondie
    August 14, 2006 at 11:15 am

    Vagina as clown car = funny (when discussing that obnoxious couple); get over yourselves

    I like children who are pleasant and nice, much as I like pleasant and nice adults. What I have found, however, is that a persistently-bratty child, e.g., the one who kicks your seatback during an entire flight is not only unlikely to stop if you ask, s/he is also typically accompanied by a parent who acts as if you have slapped their face rather asked them to have their child stop kicking your seat. Interesting tangent, I have flown next to kids who are flying on their own (generally from one parent to another), and they have invariably been the quietest, most well-behaved kids you could ask for.

    What is annoying: people who act as though the fact that they had a child has somehow made them better than all people who do not have a child; so every third conversation, they ever-so-patronizingly “encourage” you to have your own; yet, every other conversation, you hear complaints about how difficult the world makes it to be a parent and to be “x;” don’t we all just love people who want to have their cake and eat it, too?

  202. Starfoxy
    August 14, 2006 at 11:27 am

    And if you only notice the disruptive kids, you may form the impression that kid = disruption.

    This is very true. When we took my one year old son on a plane he was very quiet and well behaved. As people walked past to exit the plane several people commented in shocked tones that they didn’t even know there was a baby on the plane.

  203. August 14, 2006 at 11:52 am

    I’m much more disturbed by kids at the ballet. I didn’t pay $45 for a ticket to have my seat kicked all night. For that money, the parent could have hired a babysitter and we could all have enjoyed the show.

    All except for the kid.

    Nobody should kick your seat at the ballet. If a kid is disrupting your experience of the ballet, that kid’s parent is being an inconsiderate jerk. But that’s not about “kids at the ballet,” it’s about a parent taking a kid to a place where that kid is unwilling or unable to behave, and about that parent being unable or unwilling to take that kid out of that situation in a timely and unobtrusive manner.

    I take my three-year-old lots of places where three-year-olds almost never go. I’ve raised her to be well-behaved in such situations, and if she starts acting up, I remove her quickly and with as little fuss as possible.

    Were I to take her to the ballet, she would not kick your seat all night. If she did it once (extremely unlikely), she would get a stern whispered reprimand, and you’d get an apology from each of us at intermission. If she did it twice, she and I would leave immediately, and it’d be a long time before we went back.

    A parent who lets a three-year-old kick someone’s seat at the ballet is a boor. A ballet patron who complains about the presence of a kid, in the absence of bad behavior from that kid, is likewise a boor.

  204. Raging Moderate
    August 14, 2006 at 11:55 am

    Women are superior to men in just about every way

    You want to downgrade your status and be equal with men.

    I’m filing these away for the next time someone tells me that misandry is a myth perpetuated by MRA’s and anti-feminists.

  205. Sniper
    August 14, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    You want to downgrade your status and be equal with men.

    Hmph. While I’m downgrading my status, could I upgrade my salary? I’m willing to trade.

  206. August 14, 2006 at 12:33 pm

    I’m filing these away for the next time someone tells me that misandry is a myth perpetuated by MRA’s and anti-feminists.

    Consider her an exception. She’s been banned.

  207. August 14, 2006 at 1:21 pm

    Consider her an exception. She’s been banned.

    Hey, anyone who can create conditions in which I agree with five consecutive comments from Darleen deserves props.

    For something.

  208. August 14, 2006 at 1:25 pm

    When you get old, who do you think is going to ring up your groceries, collect your trash, fill your prescriptions, write your prescriptions, police your neighborhood, do medical research to find new cures for your ills, learn engineering to build bridges you can drive over and cars you can drive over them in…?

    This is a little like refusing to fix the pipes that have burst and are flooding your house, saying “what if I get thirsty someday?”

  209. August 14, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    I think fishbane and Maia agree that parents are responsible for their children’s misbehavior, but disagree about the standards that parents should be held to.

    The animal comparison is a good one. My neighbor’s dog throws two-minute doggie tantrums a couple times a week in its own backyard. This annoys me, but I don’t hold my neighbor responsible because she’s done everything that can reasonably be expected of her. The dog is well trained and well cared for.

    Dogs are legal in our neighborhood, and I accept that dogs are an integral part of some people’s lives. So, I have to rise above this relatively minor annoyances, because living near other people means living near other people’s dogs, and even the best behaved dogs do stuff like that from time to time.

    Now, if the dog was barking constantly, or barking on the leash and scaring people, then I’d hold my neighbor responsible for two reasons: a) Responsible, capable dog owners should be able to prevent this sort of behavior, b) the behavior more than I should have to put up with in the spirit of living and letting live.

  210. August 14, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    Groping strangers in the checkout line is clearly inappropriate behavior that a parent should put a stop to. Left unchecked, this behavior is also potentially dangerous. Kids should know better than to just start touching strangers. Look at all the trouble our President got into because he didn’t know better than to start groping Chancellor Merkel.

    On the other hand, if you’re in a space where children are allowed, you’ve got to accept that kids are a potential source of noise and disorder. It’s a matter of probabilities. Even the best parents can’t control their children all the time–most of the time, but lapses will inevitably happen. Children shouldn’t be segregated 24/7 just because they might disturb someone.

  211. August 14, 2006 at 3:14 pm

    Maia

    I don’t dismiss child raising as “women choose it therefore it’s not exploitative”, I only questioned your assumption that [young] child raising is done [majority] by women and therefore exploitive.

    And the labor of child raising within a family unit is not “free”. Anymore than when you decided to spend a Saturday putting together a gourmet dinner for yourself and your partner rather than going to a restaurant is “free”. In each of those situations, you’re mere allocating your resources differently.

    Each family that plans on adding to its organization (new baby, pet, college degree, etc) has to sit down and allocate its resources in the manner that makes the most sense in reaching its goals. For many families, having one parent or the other stay home with an infant or young child (full or part time) is the accumulative good for their goals — financially and what is in the best interest of the child.

    Children are the primary responsibility of their parent(s). It is not the right of the parent(s) to expect strangers to pick up that responsibility. It is a perk if a particular community makes the children in its midst a priority and parents/families band together to help out parks, schools, educational programs, etc — but to demand such is a right is to engender deserved resentment.

    When I was small, most of the moms were SAHM’s…and it was a neighborhood where all us children played outside — after school, summertime — loosely supervised by all the moms on the block. And us kids knew that each mom’s word was law to us all. But we were free to make up our own games, ride bikes, create a rocketship out of cardboard boxes, scrape our knees and eat melting popcicles on the front porch when it was too hot to play.

    Very few neighborhoods operate like that today. Block after block of empty houses during the daylight hours as kids are over day-cared and overbooked into highly structured activities only to come home and lock themselves in with tv or x-boxes.

    We have freedom to choose, and those choices always involve trade-offs. What may look from the outside as an exploitation of a woman because she made the choice to stay home for the first few years of her child’s life, may not necessarily be exploitation. Please don’t discount the huge desire of moms to remain home with their infants and how lucky they feel when the household finances allow it. Same for that small percentage of families where dad stays home.

    Parents who choose to do the heavy lifting of child raising themselves are not “failed”, “forced” or “exploited” … anymore than a homeowner who does the heavy lifting of renovating their home on their own is “exploited” as “free labor”.

    It’s just a different choice made by those that feel it is in the best interest of the family.

  212. Rhiannon
    August 14, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    So, while it can be a feminist choice to have kids, it’s not a very responsible one, if one is looking past his or her own wants and desires and is being responsible for the planet.

    *laughs* …I’m sorry, but that’s hilarious…

    Let’s think about it for a moment. If everyone in the world started being what you deem to be *responsible*… humanity would die out.

    If you argue that only IRresponsible people have children… then the future of humanity will be raised by the IRresponsible ones amoung us… and the planet still gets the shaft (cause irresponsible people don’t take care of responsibilities like… taking care of the planet… y’know?)

    In that one sentence you are saying that parenthood (possibly the most important and responsibility driven *job* on the planet) = IRRESPONSIBILITY.

    What would be better would be for everyone to have children RESPONSIBILY, not to equate having children with being irresponsible. One or three or none (not 12 or 20… yikes). Financially able, emotionally ready, stable support system.. yadda, yadda…

    I’m sure that will happen planet wide… when pig’s fly. *laughs*

    What you call responsible is not REALITY or even REALISTIC. Come down off your cloud now, daydreamer…

  213. The Grouch
    August 14, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    The more public space age-appropriate behaviour from children is acceptable the more freedom the women who are caring for them will have.

    …and the LESS freedom other women and men in public spaces will have.

    Sorry. I’m a committed feminist, but I’m NOT going to put up with a two-year-old sitting next to me on a 13-hour international flight–during which I really need to sleep–and KICKING me the whole way through just so that I can give her mother more freedom. Her mother’s freedom can bite me, at that point. I shouldn’t have to explain to the kid that kicking strangers is wrong.

    I agree with La Lubu that instant correction is too much to ask, and of course we should be sympathetic and respectful of parents’ struggles. But it’s not somehow selfish or mean or unreasonable to demand that people around you, including kids, respect your personal space and keep the noise level to a dull roar. If a kid came up to me and grabbed me, I would gently push him or her off. I would not yell at him or her, and I would not yell at his/her parents. But I’d certainly expect an apology from the parents.

  214. August 14, 2006 at 4:58 pm

    Seat-kicking is never age-appropriate behavior. Kids who are old enough to sit in their own seats are plenty old enough to refrain from kicking the seat in front of them.

    By the same token, if they’re young enough to engage in seat kicking, they’re young enough to have a parent right there the whole time.

    So, there’s really no excuse for that particular behavior. A parent who doesn’t step up and stop the problem is remiss.

  215. August 14, 2006 at 5:41 pm

    So, while it can be a feminist choice to have kids, it’s not a very responsible one, if one is looking past his or her own wants and desires and is being responsible for the planet

    .

    Well, according to this woman, a true feminist doesn’t have kids. She’s supposed to devote her energy to supporting women and furthering women’s causes. Ain’t that a kick in the pants–especially to those of us who are raising future women?

  216. piny
    August 14, 2006 at 5:48 pm

    Well, so long as you’re very careful to conceive only female children, I suppose it’s all right.

    Her politics are fundamentalist, is all there is to it. That makes them unfeasible and inhumane. She’s no different from Peter “Other People’s Mothers” Singer.

  217. August 14, 2006 at 5:58 pm

    Well piny, I don’t like dogmatics of any stripe–even when they’re dogmatic about stuff I agree with. I like to be able to change my mind 60 times in 60 minutes!

  218. August 14, 2006 at 6:12 pm

    And the labor of child raising within a family unit is not “free”. Right on. “Unpaid” is the better term; but keep in mind that in our consumerist/capitalist society, unpaid labor is unvalued labor—and not just by society at large. Ask some divorced (or married) people who felt taken for granted for their unpaid labor in the home!

    It is a perk if a particular community makes the children in its midst a priority and parents/families band together to help out parks, schools, educational programs, etc — but to demand such is a right is to engender deserved resentment.

    No, it’s not a “perk”, it’s part of the social contract. Parks, schools, educational programs and the like are all a part of what form a community worth living in. These are not “amenities”, these are necessities. We already know what kind of society you end up with when such things are either nonexistant or inaccessible to most. Do we want to live in that type of society? For me, the answer is “hell no.” Also, let’s unpack some baggage here. No(white)body used to complain about tax dollars going toward parks and schools and community recreational programs until they started having to share them with nonwhites. I’m not saying that you, yourself are a racist, Darleen. I’m saying that this has been an ongoing yet ignored (by those with power and/or privilege) trend. People of color sure the hell noticed this.

    Since we’re on a roll, let’s unpack some more baggage. How about this line: Block after block of empty houses during the daylight hours as kids are over day-cared and overbooked into highly structured activities only to come home and lock themselves in with tv or x-boxes.

    What is “over day-cared”? I consider this a direct insult, as I was in daycare until I was seven, and a latchkey kid after that. When you talk about day-care as something bad, or perhaps even as a necessary bad thing, how do you avoid the implication that the people who were “day-cared” are damaged goods? Because if we aren’t damaged goods, then there isn’t anything wrong with day care. When you use derogatory language about day-care, you are insulting me, my daughter, and my mother (as a person who was both “day-cared” and put her child in day-care). This is classism, straight, no chaser. Also, the “highly structured activities” is another “damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t”. If your kid takes classes or is in sports, you’re “overscheduling” your kid. If you kid doesn’t have any extracurriculars, then she/he is “running the streets” or “being a couch potato”. Just can’t win at that one. And it is particularly damning for single mothers, because not having “extras” for your kid is just some more proof that you don’t give a damn about your child, or you’re too selfish to spend money on your child, or whatever.

    We have freedom to choose. No, not really. Some people are fortunate to have many choices. Others have to make do with what little we have. And at the same time, fight over the table scraps of people (and their children) who had the benefit of things like adequately funded public schools and parks, who now want to “pick up their toys and go home”.

  219. piny
    August 14, 2006 at 6:29 pm

    Well piny, I don’t like dogmatics of any stripe–even when they’re dogmatic about stuff I agree with. I like to be able to change my mind 60 times in 60 minutes!

    I just can’t stand people who expect women to freely choose something plenty of women were refusing back when the penalty ranged from ostracism to assault to death. For fuck’s sake. Women don’t have children that way. They don’t do it on any one schedule, or for any one reason, or with any one kind of partner, or in any one kind of relationship. They don’t refuse to do it at any one time, or in the face of any one penalty, or for the sake of any one incentive. Enforcing one kind of motherhood–and that applies to childfree feminism–is like enforcing one kind of love. (Oh. Wait.)

    There’s no point to formulating social policy or political philosophy in the absence of that fact, or holding up any standard for women that prohibits it, especially if you’re trying to help women as a group. It’s a waste of goddamn time, and it makes you look stupid.

  220. August 14, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    Couple things:

    No(white)body used to complain about tax dollars going toward parks and schools and community recreational programs until they started having to share them with nonwhites.

    That depends a lot on where you were. Some places were loath to spend money on public social works regardless of race.

    When you use derogatory language about day-care, you are insulting me, my daughter, and my mother… This is classism, straight, no chaser.

    I’d always considered daycare, preschool, etc. to be the domain of the middle-class and up, since they were the ones who could afford it. The folks working double shifts at 7-11 had grandma watching the kids.

  221. August 14, 2006 at 7:24 pm

    La Lubu

    If the community through social contract wishes to provide amenities to the community at large and the community so votes to tax themselves to provide it, the people are choosing to act in their longterm best interest.

    Parks are not a RIGHT. You have no right to demand a park of ME than to demand I pay your electric bill out of MY wages.

    And why are you taking insult when I didn’t offer it? Climb down from that place before you get a nosebleed. When a nine-month old is taken to a non-family day-care from 6 am to 6 pm, then, in my judgment, that is “over day cared.” Even if it is unavoidable it is not optimal in the best interests of a child. Not year after year.

    Children, I think we can all agree, are not little adults. Too many parents live vicariously through their kids…shuttling them from soccer games to modeling class to music lessons to … every minute of every day is scheduled with no time for a child to be a child. This isn’t a matter of one or two activities but of exhausting the kid with no downtime.

    This isn’t either/or, it is a matter of friggin’ common sense! Kids need both stucture and relative freedom. Why should anyone break out in hives if an afternoon is spent doing nothing more productive than laying on the grass and watching the clouds?

    And this hasn’t a thing to do with “capitalism”… try talking to some ex-soviets and find out how wives/moms/women were treated in the Glorious Communist Society. If ANY economic system is open to helping women, it is capitalism where women can succeed or fail in business right along side any man.

    Do women find themselves with differing options then their sisters? Sure do. It’s called “life.” We cannot choose our parents or the talents or abilities that we are born with. The measure of our character is in how we conduct our life with what we have. Some of us have great tragedy in our lives. Again, how we handle things is the measure.

    There is a reason that Americans are by far the most generous people in the world when it comes to giving charity in times of great need … because we feel free to give according to our hearts and values, not because someone stands around saying we HAVE to give because people in need have “rights” to our property.

    The decision to create and bring another being into this world is a serious one, but it does not create an obligation on anyone other than the parents. That includes both moms and dads EQUALLY …. and I have had my run ins with so-called MRA’s over and over again on this subject.

    Please stop equating MORE MONEY with “better.” One look at “public” schools should reveal that canard.

  222. August 14, 2006 at 7:34 pm

    And just to clarify, again..

    I did not “complain” about parks, etc. I only pointed out they are not a “right.” I do think it is in the best interest of a community to provide them if possible. Even communities with large demographics below the sneered-at-middle-class field some fine parks & recreation programs.

    My daughter with twins is a single mom. Until they started pre-school last month, all care of the boys while she has attended school/worked has been provided by me, my husband, the other grandmother and assorted aunts. I would never ever think that non-family members were obligated to pick up the slack.

  223. August 14, 2006 at 7:42 pm

    I’d always considered daycare, preschool, etc. to be the domain of the middle-class and up, since they were the ones who could afford it. The folks working double shifts at 7-11 had grandma watching the kids.

    David, maybe it used to be that way, but not any longer. Since welfare deform single moms have no choice but to put their kids into daycare, and the daycare business has become a booming industry, with 2, 3 or more springing up on every block in the central city. And with moms being forced to work more than one low-wage job because there is no longer any kind of a safety net, some kids spend more time in the daycare than they do in their own homes, with their own mothers.

  224. car
    August 14, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    “My daughter with twins is a single mom. Until they started pre-school last month, all care of the boys while she has attended school/worked has been provided by me, my husband, the other grandmother and assorted aunts. I would never ever think that non-family members were obligated to pick up the slack.”

    That’s very nice for you and for her. Some of us don’t live near our close relatives, or don’t have relatives who are young enough/healthy enough/not busy on their own enough to do that. I think that the community is “obligated” to provide an environment in which all children can thrive, not just those in privileged positions (and yes, your daughter counts as privileged. I count at least four alternate care providers in your post for her – some of us have none). It’s not a matter of parents taking it easy, or offloading their responsibility on others. I’d really like to know that the people I interact with had positive growth experiences – it makes for better adults, and a few extra tax dollars to help that along aren’t going to kill me.

  225. August 14, 2006 at 8:19 pm

    I’d really like to know that the people I interact with had positive growth experiences – it makes for better adults, and a few extra tax dollars to help that along aren’t going to kill me.

    Cool. I agree. And I do more than just support programs in my area with tax dollars.

    But I’d move away the minute someone declares those programs theirs by “right” as if I and my life exist at their pleasure.

    Indeed, I think some people are comfortable with demanding government programs because they don’t have to thank anyone or show the least bit of gratitude. It’s easy to pretend that tax money grows on trees rather than thinking of Ms Jones putting in an hour or two more on her feet at the real estate office each week or Mr Smith making sure to have a couple more house painting jobs each month just to meet their tax bill.

  226. August 14, 2006 at 8:24 pm

    oy.

  227. Raging Moderate
    August 14, 2006 at 8:35 pm

    That’s very nice for you and for her. Some of us don’t live near our close relatives, or don’t have relatives who are young enough/healthy enough/not busy on their own enough to do that. I think that the community is “obligated” to provide an environment in which all children can thrive, not just those in privileged positions (and yes, your daughter counts as privileged. I count at least four alternate care providers in your post for her – some of us have none).

    I’m one of the “us” who doesn’t have relatives who can care for my children. It’s one of the biggest reasons why I never had any.

  228. Marian
    August 14, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    Indeed, I think some people are comfortable with demanding government programs because they don’t have to thank anyone or show the least bit of gratitude. It’s easy to pretend that tax money grows on trees rather than thinking of Ms Jones putting in an hour or two more on her feet at the real estate office each week or Mr Smith making sure to have a couple more house painting jobs each month just to meet their tax bill.

    Interestingly, it’s not just the “single moms” who take advantage of the welfare system. I know of a mother of 5, married at 19 and pregnant every year straightaway, who justifies her nonuse of birth control by, “God provides for us through WIC, Medicaid, and TANF, so I can continue to submit to my husband and have children even though they surpass our income” She started government benefits after her husband’s working class salary wouldn’t cover their third child. She will never work however. because her “place” is to be home having children.

    What would be the liberal take on this? I’d be interested because you don’t hear of many cases like this. The Duggars at least have their own means of providing for all those kids, and most traditional conservative families like the one above also oppose the welfare state.

    Would your take be that the woman should pick up a second income, or that it’s still their right to use the benefits? Honestly curious here!

  229. August 14, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    I’d always considered daycare, preschool, etc. to be the domain of the middle-class and up, since they were the ones who could afford it. The folks working double shifts at 7-11 had grandma watching the kids.

    Grandma can’t do much kid-watching from a couple of hundred miles away. Besides, Grandma had her own shift to work.

    Darleen, the social contract used to be part and parcel of the tax system. YOU nor I were paying for things like parks and schools on our own; we were paying for them through our taxes. What I see happening now, through white flight to the suburbs, is that the tax districts are changing; wealthy areas have good schools and quality parks, but poorer areas don’t have those options, because the basis for the funding is all local. The median family income in my neighborhood is under $30,000. Less than ten miles away, the median family income is almost $80,000. The public schools in the $80,000 neighborhood are damn good, because the funding for those schools is much higher. I don’t think all the problems of public schools are caused by lack of funding. But a helluva lot of them are. Better funding means the difference between having a librarian or having a closed library. Having a science lab or not. Having new textbooks and having twenty-year old ones. I live in the Rust Belt. The drain of jobs had/has a devastating effect on communities, and the children in those communities. It is exacerbated by the the way the tax structure is aligned to focus on “local” money. When there isn’t enough “local” money, local infrastructure suffers, and the problem grows exponentially—a vicious cycle.

    There’s no such thing as “over day-cared”. Day care is a lifesaver. No day care means not being able to work. (Isn’t working supposed to be a good thing?) I’m glad you were able to pinch-hit for your children, but that isn’t something that most families have as an option; not the least of which is the fact that a downsized economy keeps families on the move and unlikely to live anywhere close to relatives.

    You can’t have it both ways, Darleen. Folks are just going to keep on having children, for the same reasons we always have. It’s either day care or generous social welfare policies. For someone opposed to the latter, I’d think you’d see the former in a better light.

  230. August 14, 2006 at 8:48 pm

    Indeed, I think some people are comfortable with demanding government programs because they don’t have to thank anyone or show the least bit of gratitude.

    Hello? I’m a taxpayer, too!!! Working class and poor people pay taxes too! I shouldn’t have to get down on my knees and kiss anybody’s butt so my daughter can attend a public school with a librarian and and open, rather than closed, library, for crying out loud! I’m doing my part—I go to work, I pay my taxes, so WTF? I’ll say it again—I’m holding up my end of the social contract. Why is the other end not being held up?

    and the still, small voice says….because the social contract wasn’t meant for you, Lubu…….

  231. car
    August 14, 2006 at 9:08 pm

    It really just boils down to whether you want to live in a society where people have some sense of responsibility to humanity, or one in which the prevaling attitude is “fuck you”.

  232. August 14, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    La Lubu

    When did “thank you” become synonomous with “kissing butt?”

    Truly, the attitude that giving thanks for things given as being something nasty confuses me.

    I was raised that one helped your neighbor in their time of need, and if you were in similar straights you accepted the help graciously and gave thanks.

    What meanspirited sense of entitlement causes people to think they not only have a “right” to someone else’s earnings, but get to spit on them, too, because they are allegedly “priviledged”?

    Our culture has seriously lost its way in simple human courtesy.

  233. August 14, 2006 at 9:24 pm

    And if the “social contract” ain’t for you lubu, then it’s not for me…cuz I see you assuming stuff about MY life.

  234. evil_fizz
    August 14, 2006 at 9:43 pm

    pardon the threadjack, but Piny, I am now utterly baffled at how you managed to spend any time at all getting into it with Yawning Lion. that single post makes my skin crawl.

  235. August 14, 2006 at 9:51 pm

    What meanspirited sense of entitlement….

    Meanspirited? You’re misreading me. Taxes are a “group effort”. Voting is a “group effort.” Group efforts that I participate in. Should I say “thank you” to myself? As a voter and a taxpayer, I don’t need to hear a “thank you” from my fellow voters and taxpayers; this is just part and parcel of living in community. This is simply what you do, no “thank yous” or “your welcomes” necessary—the “thank you” and “your welcome” is already inherent in the act of participatory community itself. Maybe this is just another culture clash.

    I don’t really think it’s an overarching sense of entitlement to see properly funded public schools, though there’s certainly been a lot of propaganda to that effect over the past couple of decades.

  236. August 14, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    Depends on what you mean by “properly funded schools”

    I say if the money is being squandered, fix the corruption and inefficiency first, then we’ll talk more money.

    Someone once challenged me that I couldn’t do what public schools did on their budgets.

    I easily demonstrated could.

    The LAUSD used to be one of the top performing in the nation.

    It’s not for lack of money they do such a miserable job.

    And there is no incentive for many public schools to change, since their students are a captured group, they can blithely ignore parents and the money comes from the state regardless of performance.

    Vouchers, please.

  237. August 14, 2006 at 10:23 pm

    Oh criminy. I’d derail this thread bigtime if you got me started on vouchers. In no way, shape, or form do public tax dollars need to be going to fund religious institutions, period.

  238. zuzu
    August 14, 2006 at 10:33 pm

    OK, I have to speak up here for the childfree, because I’m seeing (AGAIN) a lot of garbage about how it’s the childfree who are opposing public services.

    I think Darleen is a case in point of a phenomenon I observed in the New England town meetings I covered as a reporter lo these 15 years ago: it ain’t the young childfree couples who are opposed to spending tax money on schools and parks and whatever — hell, they realize that good schools, parks and whatever contribute to housing prices. Plus, they like parks. And when you’re still paying for your apartment or home — as young childfree couples are overwhelmingly doing, given that most mortgages go on for 30 years — you’ll pay for stuff like good schools because it increases property values.

    However, and this is something that Darleen is also demonstrating , the people who spoke loudest at these town meetings against funding for schools were generally people who’d paid off their mortgages and had their kids’ education paid for by the very schools they now sought to starve of funds. But, you know, that mll rate was going up and they didn’t have kids (or grandkids, because their kids couldn’t afford to live in the same town) in the schools, so who cared?

    These were also the same people who complained about apartment buildings, where suspiciously dusky-skinned renters had all kinds of kids who went to school when the parent paid taxes maybe on a crappy car. Let’s nevermind that a) property taxes are a horrible way to fund public schools; and b) the owners of the apartment buildings pay taxes on the buildings in which these people live.

  239. Starfoxy
    August 14, 2006 at 11:44 pm

    it ain’t the young childfree couples who are opposed to spending tax money on schools and parks and whatever

    Yep. When I was growing up it was the old retired snowbirds that vehemently opposed increasing funding for the local schools. These were folks who had raised their kids and bought a second home in AZ just so they wouldn’t have to deal with winter anymore. And this wasn’t we need new football uniforms style funding either. This was we need enough textbooks for all of our students, and we need to keep the building from collapsing if/when it snows, and my favorite we need to pay the teachers a livable wage so some of them will actually want to work here and there won’t be 40 students in every class.
    I personally think that the AARP is the young parent’s (read; mother’s) worst enemy.

  240. Amy
    August 15, 2006 at 1:43 am

    However, and this is something that Darleen is also demonstrating , the people who spoke loudest at these town meetings against funding for schools were generally people who’d paid off their mortgages and had their kids’ education paid for by the very schools they now sought to starve of funds. But, you know, that mll rate was going up and they didn’t have kids (or grandkids, because their kids couldn’t afford to live in the same town) in the schools, so who cared?

    Yep, and they’re also the people who are completely against reproductive choice, yet the ones who ironically have the most “opinions” about how children should be raised. It’s a beautiful thing to see them go from “babykiller! you hate kids!” to “wtf do I have to pay for your worthless brats for, you stupid slut, you’re just raising more stupid worthless sluts! you should all suffer and die”

    It basically boils down to, don’t put your kids in daycare, don’t be their friend, be their parent, by my definition, of course, and never, never have that abortion, even if you don’t want that baby you’re got to bring it into the world so I can whine about my taxes and how I won’t pay one penny for the medical treatment that will keep that child alive, or one penny to keep your child from starving to death or freezing to death. You should have thought of all that beforehand, and if you didn’t it’s all your own fault, and of course beforehand means before you spread your legs and before the precious fetus became a worthless baby with no human rights. Don’t be a commie, stand on your own two feet and pay for my cap gains reduction and mortgage deduction and all the benefits I get that I don’t call benefits so they don’t count–and stop being so fucking entitled. Get on the floor and crawl with gratitude, but give me your share of my money first.

    Oh and by the way, women who have jobs are sluts who are bad mothers and taking jobs away from men, even though you know, not having a job won’t clothe and feed that baby and you better not expect society to care, if you don’t have a job you’re a social parasite, have I mentioned in the abstract though how I feel parenthood is wonderful, though, I’m all in favor of it, oh and yes my own daughter has a job but that’s okay for her but not for you because she’s special. Oh yes and my daughter also uses daycare, but miraculously she’s the only one on Earth who should be doing that too, she uses the good kind, not the bad kind, the nonstructured kind. Now, if you use the nonstructured kind, that’s neglect, but not for her, and if you use the structured kind, you’re also worng but she’d be fine, isn’t it wonderful how it all works out!

  241. dragonsmilk
    August 15, 2006 at 8:07 am

    Amy, amen.

    Don’t be a commie, stand on your own two feet and pay for my cap gains reduction and mortgage deduction and all the benefits I get that I don’t call benefits so they don’t count–and stop being so fucking entitled.

    Brava!

  242. August 15, 2006 at 8:38 am

    zuzu

    Geez, it is SO NICE you know exactly how I’ve conducted my life and what I feel about funding of parks and schools right now…

    thanks for not listening or reading me at all

    I’ve never stood at any town meeting decrying funding of schools or parks..or did you just decide to lump me in with such people because I’m against the idea that tax money can be wasted because it never really belongs to the earner in the first place?

    What is it about a school district like LAUSD – so corrupt and inefficient with a $13.3 BILLION budget that is inauditable that complaining about it makes a person “anti-school”?

    W.T.F.?

    I’ve shepherded four of my own daughters through the public school system and I have been in the trenches… PTA, boosters, fund raising… I’ve supported good programs, gone nose to nose with brain-dead administrators and opposed blatant teacher-union politicking right in the classroom.

    And I see Lubu immediately see “vouchers” and run amok screaming “the Xtains are coming! the Xtains are coming”

    As I said about she-who-was-banned about —

    WAY to stuff bales of straw into a post!

    And about those “dusky” people? What kind of bigotry is indicated by the oh-so-compassionate that believe they are incapable of thinking or making any decision on their own?

    You all know what’s best for us/them, eh?

  243. August 15, 2006 at 8:49 am

    Would someone like to give me a figure what what earnings are allowable before people lose their right to those earnings?

    I mean, why just fool around with just sneering at working couple who earns $50,000 a year, why not say everything over that amount now belongs to The State?

    See, for all the assumptions y’all make about my life (I don’t own a home or stock … I’m one of those people who had tragedy in my own life and still get up each morning and move on toward my goals) … I’ve been willing to explain my non-classist values (a dollar earned belongs first to the earner – children are the first responsibility of both their parents) but when it doesn’t fit whatever Kumbya dogma suddenly I get a whole bunch of hypocrisy from the “we aren’t classists!” bunch.

    How revealing. How unsurprising.

  244. August 15, 2006 at 8:52 am

    oh sheesh

    my second comment (246) shows up while 245 is still in “moderation” que. 246 is a postscript to 245.

  245. Gabe Nichols
    August 15, 2006 at 9:29 am

    La Luba,

    Much as I agree with the overall thrust of your point that society ought to properly fund things like schools and parks I find the way you choose to make your point dubious and counterproductive. I have no obligation whatsoever to you or your children. Similarly you have no obligation to me or my potential children. I choose to properly fund public schools because it is an investment in my own welfare and our welfare as a society. The social contract simply states that I will give up a portion of my freedom (the freedom to hit you over the head with a large brick) in return for protection from being so hit by others. Beyond that however we are dealing with choices and priorities which can be made, unmade, or changed at whim.

    As for the issue of stinginess and color I can’t agree with you. Look at the historical records of town meetings and such in entirely homogenous areas and you will see the same arguments against spending a penny of one person’s money to help another. Issues of race certainly complicate matters but as a general rule people are people, a certain percentage of any gatherings will be made up of assholes and the end result will be determined by that percentage.

    Basically my point is that one person deserves nothing from another, is entitled to nothing from another, and has no right to the produce of another’s hand. That does not mean that collective solutions are not often best. However I feel it is often this sense of entitlement to collectivity that drives people away. If I raise a concern and am told that I am violating your rights I will be more likely to want to walk away entirely rather than work within the collective. Collective solutions work best for many many things but will only reach their true potential in an open environment which rights based discourse discourages.

    Again I just want to say I don’t disagree with any of the goals towards which you are reaching. But while reading your comment I couldn’t help but think no, no, no. If this is how someone who agrees with you responds, how do you think someone who disagrees will?

  246. Rhiannon
    August 15, 2006 at 11:03 am

    Fishbane… I really do believe you don’t “hate” kids.. but when you use phrases like “inflict them on others”… it makes it really difficult to hold on to that belief. Children are not inflictions as far as I understand…. and I don’t know if you’re the one who made the “operator” analogy… but ugh… they’re not machines either, so I’d appreciate not being referred to as an OPERATOR. I am a MOTHER, my child is a HUMAN BEING, an individual in her own right. There is only so much of my will I can impose upon her before I become an oppressive dictator… which would then make me one of those parents who gets their kids taken by child services for abuse.

    Anyways.. my only point is that it’s really hard to hold on to the belief that you don’t hate kids, when you use language that dehumanizes children.

  247. August 15, 2006 at 11:37 am

    While some black people are sadly classist, there is a whole lot of racism in some folk’s decisions. i.e. shelby county and memphis city can’t consolidate, because omg, coloureds!

  248. Rhiannon
    August 15, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    Re: The whole tax-park-publicschools thing.

    Okay… so the people who don’t think they should invest or aren’t obligated to invest in parks and public schools would be okay with … oh say me not investing in the fire dept or police dept right? Or for public defenders? I mean, if I suddenly get to decide how to spend my tax dollars… then I get to pick and choose what I want to support, right? Cause, I’m not… you know lumping my money into a group lot for the betterment of the WHOLE community… you know like families and retirees included, right?

    So why don’t we just set up a system where when we fill out our little W-2’s for work, we can just pick and choose what and how much of our tax dollars will go to… and screw the community, cause that’s not what taxes are about anyways, right? It’s my money right? Except….. then they wouldn’t be taxes… hmmm… could it be that taxes are the fee you pay for the privilige of living in a community, instead of… you know on a island all by your lonesome with no one else at all?

    Taxes are how we co-exist and to claim that you don’t have to pay for parks or properly funded public schools is kinda like saying “I’ll take whatever you give, but fuck you if you want a little something back from me.”

    At least that’s how I see it.

  249. August 15, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    It’s good to see you blogging again, Lauren.

  250. Gabe Nichols
    August 15, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    Rhiannon,

    Yes, we as a society have the right to allocate our money however we choose. If we as a society choose not to invest in a fire department, or in public defenders than that would be a legitimate choice. Just like not investing in schools it would be a poor choice but a legitimate one. Each individual does not have that right but they have the right to an equal voice in the decsions which impact the society.

    I think what I and a lot of other people who have not reproduced resent is the impression given by many parents that our voices are by definition less legitmate in public discourse than theirs. When we are told to simply butt out over questions of education funding we feel as though we are being taken advantage of. When decisions become not about what is best for society but what is best for families (and by families they mean children because if you have no children you aren’t a member of a family) then what is also being said is that if you are not a member of the approved family grouping your interests are of no interest to the society of which you are a member and to which you have contributed.

    I have no objection to my taxes paying for schools. I have no objection to my taxes paying for parks. I have a huge objection to being told that I am a less valuable member of society because I have not reproduced. I have a huge objection to being told that it is my responsabilty to help those who have reproduced because what they have done is so incredibly wonderful that it entitles them to my support. And I have a huge objection to a public discourse which elevated certain people and topics into a moral plane from which it is not considered legitimate to look at their actions and see the impact on society as a whole.

    “I’ll take whatever you give, but fuck you if you want a little something back from me.”

    This is precisely the attitude I feel from many parents surroundig me. The parents who feel that their possesion of an offspring creates a social obligation for society to raise it. That they are so invested in their children that it leaves nothing left over for the concerns of those who are not so focused. No member of society is more or less valuable than any other member and that includes 6 month olds and 26 year olds.

  251. Pingback: Darleen's Place
  252. August 15, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    Just like not investing in schools it would be a poor choice but a legitimate one.

    Correct.

    I can choose to eat nothing but chocolate cake for two weeks straight … not a good choice, but my choice non-the-less.

    Communities have the same choices. And a community that choses to invest in a policy that is in its own best interests (schools, parks) hasn’t suddenly created a “right” for those people in the community that partake of the policies.

  253. Rhiannon
    August 15, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    Fine. So non parents feel devalued by parents and parents feel devalued (and their kids dehumanized.. at least I feel that way about some of these comments) by non parents. So we’ve got the same feelings on both sides of the spectrum. Doesn’t that suggest to you that both sides are thinking too much about themselves (self-centered vs kid-centered.. or maybe they’re really the same thing) and not enough about how to bridge the gap.

    Doesn’t it suggest that maybe there’s too much bitching (and generalizing!) about the differences and not enough finding a way to work together? That maybe there’s something other than RESENTMENT that we can feel towards each other everytime the law/government/society/whatever sides with the “others”.

    Look, newsflash, it wasn’t all that long ago that I was a non-parent. In fact, when you think about it… every parent was a non parent at some point.

    Sigh sometimes I WONDER if all this resentment/hostility towards parents isn’t really repressed resentment/hostility towards ones actual parents…

  254. Rhiannon
    August 15, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    SELF_CENTERED VS KID_CENTERED (which if argued correctly, equals the same thing).

    What I mean is, non’s are thinking about themselves (what about my rights, my voice, my value as an individual, my right to not be imposed upon, yadda yadda), and parents are “so invested in their children that it leaves nothing left over for the concerns of those who are not so focused.”

    And the solution both sides seem to want (but will never get cause then society would be solely centered on which ever side caved) is for the other side to set aside their shit, and think about theirs. I mean like you said… “nothing left over for the concerns of …” So, if you really think it’s a valid solution for parents to drop thinking about thier kids and start focusing on the “others”.. then tell me where that leaves society… duh, focused only on the non-parents. Is that a realistic, fair or even a smart solution? No, of course it isn’t. Just like if non’s shifted thier side to the other, we’d all be focused on the parents side and no one would think about the non-parents. So we’re each left fending and fighting each other for every scrap of “value” we can get from society/government/community/what have you.

    What’s the solution? How do we call a truce, end the war?

  255. August 15, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    I think a lot of non-parents are jealous of parents. There, I’ve said it. That does not mean that I think a woman who has had 14 kids is anything but demented.

  256. zuzu
    August 15, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    I think a lot of non-parents are jealous of parents.

    Why?

    I mean, the same could be said with the roles reversed.

  257. August 15, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    I hate children. Yes, you read that correctly: I hate children. I do not like being around them, and I most certainly do not want any of my own.

    That being said, I don’t care what other women choose to do with their uteruses. I’m not going to say that childfree is the Only Way to Live, because it’s absolutely not. It’s just my personal preference (and my husband’s preference).

    So, here’s the rub. Yes, I realize that I’m going to have to be around children when I go into a grocery store or a family restaurant or a theme park or whatever, and I completely accept that reality. That doesn’t mean that I LIKE being around children. And why is that so wrong? Why is it bad for me to not like children and to wish I could avoid them? It’s not like I’m out there hurting children, or calling them and their parents nasty names, or even giving them dirty looks (unless they’re behaving badly). I’m not judging their parents for having them. I just don’t like children.

  258. frumious b
    August 15, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    This is a little like refusing to fix the pipes that have burst and are flooding your house, saying “what if I get thirsty someday?”

    yeah, if you selectively quote it is. read a little further and you find this

    We as a species can reduce our ecological footprint while still reproducing.

  259. August 15, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    I think a lot of non-parents are jealous of parents.

    That could not be further from the truth, for me and my husband. Neither of us has any desire to have children; we love our life together just as it is. We’re thankful to be childfree. I think this is probably the case for almost all people who are childfree by choice. Why would we choose not to become parents if we were jealous of parents? It doesn’t make sense.

  260. Rhiannon
    August 15, 2006 at 5:47 pm

    Whitters, it’s no more wrong to hate children, than it is to hate blacks, women, the elderly, christians, buddists, jews, etc… which is to say it’s wrong. Hate is a negative emotion. Hate is evil. Hate is wrong. Hatred has a way of consuming the soul, to wax religious…. when you hate, it consumes you.

    If that is not how you feel, then maybe you should think about choosing a different verb to discribe how you feel. I understand if you simply used it for shock value. But hatred takes a lot of energy to maintain and I doubt that you spend that much energy on this topic, if so, you would not be able to accept their existance at all.

    As for the generalized statement that non-parents are jealous of parents… I doubt that non-parents who CHOOSE to be non-parents are jealous, whereas non-parents who are such against their choice… well, it is a distinct possibility.

  261. Rhiannon
    August 15, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    Of course, I also doubt that all non-parents who choose to be such do so out of a dislike for children. Afterall, my uncle has refused to become a father because he was raised in an abusive environment and he fears that he would be an abusive parent as well. So he remains childless out of concern for children, not out of dislike for them. There are a variety of reasons to be non-parents.

  262. jennifer
    August 15, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    I think that we all need to have some compassion for those around us, whether we have walked a mile in their shoes or not. Parenting is fucking hard. Desparately wanting children but being unable to produce them is fucking hard. Being voluntarily childless and having asshats perceive you as being less than a woman is fucking hard.

    In other words, life is fucking hard but it could be immeasurably better if we would support each other rather than pointing fingers at one another to determine who is more or less worthy, who is more self-less, who is more saintly. None of us are saints. We all fuck up sometimes, and when that happens it would be nice if the people around us would have some compassion for our very human failings.

    And to bring that around to the original topic, it would be really nice if childfree people would have some compassion for the frustration that parents feel while trying to pacify a screaming toddler in a restaurant, and it would be nice if parents would have some compassion for everyone around them and take their screaming toddler out of the restaurant if the toddler is really inconsolable.

    Lastly, I think this thread really illustrates the catch-22 that women are in. If we have children then there are plenty of people who will look down on that choice, call us “breeders” and basically say: you’ve made your bed, now lie in it! If we don’t have children then we are perceived as being cold, shrewish child-haters, incapable of love. Obviously, both of these assumptions are unfair, cruel and ignore the reality that is daily life for most women.

  263. Rhiannon
    August 15, 2006 at 6:16 pm

    To Jennifer:

    Word.

  264. piny
    August 15, 2006 at 6:17 pm

    I think a lot of non-parents are jealous of parents.

    Right, because they failed the licensing exam. What are you talking about?

  265. J
    August 15, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    Okay, I have something else to say. I think that is great that we have the option to have children now, but we need to realize that we are nothing but biological beings. We are built (most of us) with a specific desire and that desire is to propagate the species. If no one propogates, what happens? We, ourselves, become endangered. If you don’t want to propagate, then be thankful that this is now an alternative.Don’t tear everyone who wants this(a normal, biological directive) down, just be thankful that we live in a society where this is an option. I mean, I’m just saying, 100 years ago, not so much an option.

  266. August 15, 2006 at 6:42 pm

    What planet are you people living on where human beings going extinct for lack of reproduction is even a remote possibility?

  267. August 15, 2006 at 6:48 pm

    yeah, if you selectively quote it is. read a little further and you find this

    We as a species can reduce our ecological footprint while still reproducing.

    You were talking about running out of new people, which is what I was responding to. The bit you quote above* doesn’t pertain. That’s why I left it out.

    * with which I agree, more or less, on good days, though at current numbers we’d still not be sustainable even assuming a standard of living significantly below that of a relatively poor American.

  268. Rhiannon
    August 15, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    It’s like my dad says. We are a generational species, if we didn’t propagate for say, one or two generations, that’d be the end of the human race. Now the probability or possibility of that actually HAPPENING… um.. not likely.

    Frum’ was probably responding to the quote they cited when they ” were talking about running out of new people”.. so it’s pertinent to Frum’.. course I could be mistaken.

  269. August 15, 2006 at 8:00 pm

    Whitters, it’s no more wrong to hate children, than it is to hate blacks, women, the elderly, christians, buddists, jews, etc… which is to say it’s wrong.

    Hating children doesn’t have much in common with hating blacks or women, it seems to me. But it does, I think, have something in common with hating people with disabilities.

    It’s taken these last few days of back-and-forth for me to make the connection, but the condescension and hostility I see people expressing toward kids is quite similar to the condescension and hostility I see expressed toward people with disabilities when they intrude on the lives of people without.

    Some people don’t want to accomodate kids. They don’t think certain activities are appropriate for kids — and they feel comfortable dictating which activities those are. They’re ooked out by kids’ socially clumsy behavior, and see that ooked-outness as the kids’ (and the kids’ families’) problem, not their own. They resent the resources that kids consume, and kids’ and their families’ sense of entitlement to those resources.

    All those attitudes have neat parallels in attitudes toward people with disabilities.

    And of course lots of folks are more hostile to kids and their families than they are to people with disabilities. Because nobody chooses to have a disability, but parents are assumed to have chosen parenthood.

    I could go further with this — I think it can be argued, for starters, that children are, in some senses, people with disabilities — but I’ll stop there for now.

  270. zuzu
    August 15, 2006 at 8:13 pm

    Oh, Lord. So now, because I don’t want kids in bars, or screaming at late showings of movies, or rollerblading around restaurants, I can add “anti-disabled” to the list of things that this means that I must be, joining “bigot,” “anti-semite,” “tax avoider,” “eager to put grandma on an ice floe,” “against school funding”

    Oh, and “jealous.”

    Am I missing anything?

  271. August 15, 2006 at 8:40 pm

    I don’t want kids in bars, or screaming at late showings of movies, or rollerblading around restaurants,

    Nobody should be screaming at late showings of movies, or rollerblading around restaurants. But I don’t see any reason why a child who is capable of behaving appropriately in a movie or a restaurant should be prohibited from going into one.

    As for bars, I think that’s reasonably a matter for government regulation — or, I guess, management’s discretion. But if the law and the management don’t mind, and the kid is, again, behaving appropriately, I don’t see where it’s any business of yours.

    I can add “anti-disabled” to the list of things that this means that I must be

    Are you “anti-kid”? If so, then maybe I’d argue you’re anti-disabled, or a reasonable facsimile. If you hate kids, I’d say you’ve got a lot in common with people who hate people with disabilities. But I don’t think you’re anti-kid, or that you hate kids, so no, I don’t think you “must be” anti-disabled, either.

    But just as some folks want to bar people with disabilities from doing things that their disability does not impede them from doing, some people — in this very thread — want to bar kids from doing things that they’re perfectly capable of doing. And just as some people balk at making minor accommodations to people with disabilities, some people balk at making similar accommodations to kids.

    Any of us might disrupt a late-night. I might be seized by a coughing fit, or fall asleep and start snoring.

    But does anyone say that people with colds should be barred from going to the movies? Or that ushers should prevent people who look really tired from going inside? No. We expect people to make those judgments — am I too tired, am I likely to start coughing — for themselves, and to minimize inconvenience to others if they judge incorrectly.

    And if I start coughing in a movie, and remove myself quickly, nobody’s likely to glare or mutter at me. It’s only if I behave badly that I’m criticized, and even then it’s my behavior, not my presence, that’s treated as inappropriate.

    But with kids — and, yes, with people with disabilities — it’s different.

  272. August 15, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    Any of us might disrupt a late-night.

    Any of us might disrupt a late-night movie.

  273. zuzu
    August 15, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    Nobody should be screaming at late showings of movies, or rollerblading around restaurants. But I don’t see any reason why a child who is capable of behaving appropriately in a movie or a restaurant should be prohibited from going into one.

    As for bars, I think that’s reasonably a matter for government regulation — or, I guess, management’s discretion. But if the law and the management don’t mind, and the kid is, again, behaving appropriately, I don’t see where it’s any business of yours.

    What you seem to miss is that what people object to, by and large, are the kids who are behaving inappropriately and/or the parents who don’t do anything about it and react with anger to anyone suggesting that the kid stop doing X. Or who take their kids to, say, bars, and get angry that the adults present don’t stop drinking/talking about adult subjects/smoking because of the kid’s presence.

    I don’t have problems with well-behaved kids in certain spaces, but I’ve seen enough bad behavior from kids and indifference from parents that I’m not willing to be seated near kids in a restaurant, for example. And that’s somehow equivalent to genocidal impulses?

    And, are you seriously equating kids and disabled adults? Because childhood is in no way a disability, it’s a stage of development. Disabilities tend to be a bit more permanent than that.

  274. zuzu
    August 15, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    Also, there’s a lot of space between “I find children annoying and would like to exclude them from certain places” and “I hate children.” And that space is what’s lost in these discussions, where even the slightest criticism of children’s behavior in public leads to accusations that the person who rolls her eyes at a child hates children/hates parents/doesn’t value parents/doesn’t want to fund public schools/advocates the extermination of children/is no better than Bull Connor.

    Which just makes me roll my eyes the harder.

  275. August 15, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    What you seem to miss is that what people object to, by and large, are the kids who are behaving inappropriately and/or the parents who don’t do anything about it and react with anger to anyone suggesting that the kid stop doing X. Or who take their kids to, say, bars, and get angry that the adults present don’t stop drinking/talking about adult subjects/smoking because of the kid’s presence.

    Why do you say I “seem to miss” all that? I agree that parents who behave as you describe are assholes, and I don’t apologize for assholes. I was responding to Whittiers, who “hate[s] kids,” and wonders “Why is it bad for me to not like children and to wish I could avoid them?”

    I don’t have problems with well-behaved kids in certain spaces, but I’ve seen enough bad behavior from kids and indifference from parents that I’m not willing to be seated near kids in a restaurant, for example.

    As long as you recognize that not wanting to be seated next to kids in a restaurant is your own issue, and that it’s your responsibility to move, not the kid’s, I see that as your own business.

    Once kids behave inappropriately, it’s their parents’ obligation to address the behavior and make amends. If the kids’ behavior is extremely disruptive, the parents’ decision to put the kids in that situation may have been a bad one. But I don’t trust strangers’ abilities to predict whether a kid is likely to misbehave, much less how parents are likely to respond.

    And that’s somehow equivalent to genocidal impulses?

    I don’t think anything you’ve said is in any way equivalent to genocidal impulses, and I don’t think I’ve suggested that I do.

    And, are you seriously equating kids and disabled adults? Because childhood is in no way a disability, it’s a stage of development. Disabilities tend to be a bit more permanent than that.

    Some are, some aren’t. And people don’t tend to respond to people with temporary disabilities all that differently than they do to people with permanent ones.

  276. August 15, 2006 at 9:23 pm

    Also, there’s a lot of space between “I find children annoying and would like to exclude them from certain places” and “I hate children.”

    As I noted in my last comment, I was responding to someone who said, in so many words, “I hate children.”

    But no, I don’t see a lot of difference between someone saying “I find children annoying” and someone saying “I find people with cognitive disabilities annoying.” Both strike me as weird, smug, and borderline-creepy things to say.

    Kids can be annoying. Granted. People with cognitive disabilities can be annoying. Ditto adults without disabilities. Some of us are, I guess, more annoyed by the more-common foibles of kids, or adults with disabilities, or adults without disabilities. But to generalize about any of those groups, and dismiss the entire group as “annoying” — well, why frame things in that way? And why not expect a bit of pushback when you do?

  277. zuzu
    August 15, 2006 at 9:24 pm

    Why do you say I “seem to miss” all that? I agree that parents who behave as you describe are assholes, and I don’t apologize for assholes. I was responding to Whittiers, who “hate[s] kids,” and wonders “Why is it bad for me to not like children and to wish I could avoid them?”

    Because you didn’t distinguish between wanting to avoid children and wanting to ban them from all public spaces. Even Whitter’s statements don’t carry the implications you’re drawing from them. Whitter said she really doesn’t like kids and wishes she can avoid them, but also recognizes she can’t. Which really isn’t that much different than how I’ve described how I feel about them.

    Yet you add to the chorus of “people who aren’t entirely enthusiastic about children or at least are willing to abandon their experience are evil people” when you start spinning out from a fairly mild curmudgeonly statement that Whitter — and, by extension, anyone who feels anything remotely similar — must therefore be the kind of person who would dump disabled people out on the streets and defund services for them.

    I mean, please.

  278. zuzu
    August 15, 2006 at 9:27 pm

    But no, I don’t see a lot of difference between someone saying “I find children annoying” and someone saying “I find people with cognitive disabilities annoying.” Both strike me as weird, smug, and borderline-creepy things to say.

    Jesus. Talk about smug.

    You know, those of us who don’t interact with children all that often by our own design will generally only notice them when they’re being annoying. Those of you who have them also notice the non-annoying side.

    The squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that. So for you to impute some kind of deep character flaw from a statement that some people find kids, when they notice them, annoying, is deeply offensive.

  279. zuzu
    August 15, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    I mean, I find frat boys annoying, too, but I doubt you’d draw any conclusions about deep-seated prejudices I must have because I expressed that.

  280. August 15, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    Because you didn’t distinguish between wanting to avoid children and wanting to ban them from all public spaces.

    I do find all this hyperbole a little weird. I endorsed the idea that children could be legitimately banned from bars.

    Even Whitter’s statements don’t carry the implications you’re drawing from them. Whitter said she really doesn’t like kids

    She said she hates kids. If you think that’s an appropriate thing to say, why are you watering it down? If you don’t, why are you defending it?

    and wishes she can avoid them, but also recognizes she can’t. Which really isn’t that much different than how I’ve described how I feel about them.

    Which brings us back to my analogy about disability. How would you feel about someone who said she wished she could avoid people with cognitive disabilities?

    Yet you add to the chorus of “people who aren’t entirely enthusiastic about children or at least are willing to abandon their experience are evil people”

    I don’t see how you can say I add to that chorus. I don’t agree with that, and haven’t said anything that suggests I do.

    when you start spinning out from a fairly mild curmudgeonly statement

    She said she hates kids. Forget my analogy to disability — would you defend someone who said she hated the elderly? Would you call that a “mildly curmudgeonly statement”?

    that Whitter — and, by extension, anyone who feels anything remotely similar — must therefore be the kind of person who would dump disabled people out on the streets and defund services for them.

    I suggested that someone who thinks A about kids is similar to someone who thinks A about people with disabilities. So it’d be fair to say that I think someone who would dump orphans out on the streets is the kind of person who would dump disabled people out on the streets, and that someone who would defund services for kids is the kind of person who would defund services for people with disabilities. Likewise, it’s fair to say that I think someone who wishes she could avoid kids but realizes she can’t is similar to someone who wishes she could avoid people with disabilities but realizes she can’t. A:A, B:B.

    If my opinions are so ridiculous, you should be able to demonstrate their ridiculousness without misconstruing them so wildly, and without saddling me with the baggage of everyone else you see as being on my “side.”

  281. zuzu
    August 15, 2006 at 9:44 pm

    The problem is that you’re taking a statement that someone hates/is annoyed by/avoids X and stating that it must logically follow that that person feels the same way about Y, and Z, and A, and B.

    And that’s just not the case, because the only statement the person said concerned X.

    So how about YOU come up with some arguments demonstrating the ridiculousness of the statements about X without resorting to misconstruing those statements so that they apply to Y, and Z, and A, and B?

  282. zuzu
    August 15, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    And, seriously, so what if she hates kids? They won’t be kids forever. Even people who hate kids understand that simple fact. As long as her hatred takes the form of eye-rolling, and not defunding schools, or abusing kids, what do you care?

  283. August 15, 2006 at 10:01 pm

    Let me just start, zuzu, by saying that I just re-read all your posts to this thread, and I didn’t see anything in any of the ones before my post #272 that I had any problem with. You seem to have construed my comments as an attack on all child-free people, or all of the non-parents in the thread, or something — they weren’t intended as that, and I think if you go back and re-read them you’ll see that they didn’t contain anything that indicated they were intended as that.

    Having said that…

    The problem is that you’re taking a statement that someone hates/is annoyed by/avoids X and stating that it must logically follow that that person feels the same way about Y, and Z, and A, and B.

    Actually, Rhiannon made that kind of sweeping statement, and I disagreed with it. I don’t think that anti-kid sentiment has much in common with anti-black, anti-woman, anti-gay, or just about any other kind of anti-whatever sentiment.

    I did, though, and I do, see specific parallels between children and people with disabilities, and between hostility to children and hostility to people with disabilities. I said a bit about what those parallels are, and I’m happy to say more about it.

    And, seriously, so what if she hates kids? They won’t be kids forever. Even people who hate kids understand that simple fact. As long as her hatred takes the form of eye-rolling, and not defunding schools, or abusing kids, what do you care?

    There’s a lot of ground between eye-rolling and defunding schools. My first-ever meal out with my daughter and my wife —at a diner — was disrupted by a woman who kept complaining that my (sleeping!) child had been seated at the next booth over from her.

    If people hate kids and keep that fact to themselves, I don’t care — because I don’t know. But when they direct their hostility toward my kid, I care. And when they express their hostility on a blog I read, why shouldn’t I respond?

  284. zuzu
    August 15, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    Let me just start, zuzu, by saying that I just re-read all your posts to this thread, and I didn’t see anything in any of the ones before my post #272 that I had any problem with. You seem to have construed my comments as an attack on all child-free people, or all of the non-parents in the thread, or something — they weren’t intended as that, and I think if you go back and re-read them you’ll see that they didn’t contain anything that indicated they were intended as that.

    Sigh. And did you read the comments where people like Kat, my sister, equated the way I felt to racism and anti-Semitism?

    Because if you didn’t read those, you really have no idea why I might just get my back up at the suggestion that the way I feel about kids bears an awful strong resemblance to the way Hitler felt about various groups.

    And you might not have any idea why I would find your explanation that “Well, I disagree that the way you feel is like hating Y, Z and A, but it’s just like hating B” offensive? Especially because I’ve explained several times why I think that’s bullshit?

    This makes me tired.

  285. Big Bang hunter
    August 15, 2006 at 10:21 pm

    – Well cheer up. Some day you’ll all be older like myself, ( A single dad who raised his youngest to almost manhood), and you’ll be able to feel ripped about the “kid’s ugh” crowd, AND the “old people ugh” crowd, at the same time. Life is nothing if not giving.

  286. August 15, 2006 at 10:27 pm

    if you didn’t read those, you really have no idea why I might just get my back up at the suggestion that the way I feel about kids bears an awful strong resemblance to the way Hitler felt about various groups.

    I can understand why you’ve got your back up. I hope you can understand why Whitter got my back up when she said she hates kids. But I’ll say again that I didn’t have you in mind when I wrote post 272, and don’t think that anything in post 272 applies to anything you previously wrote in this thread. And I’ll say again that I don’t think there’s anything in post 272, or any of my subsequent posts, that can be reasonably taken as critical of any of your previous posts.

    And you might not have any idea why I would find your explanation that “Well, I disagree that the way you feel is like hating Y, Z and A, but it’s just like hating B” offensive?

    If you hate kids, then yes, I do think the way you feel is just like hating people with disabilities. But I don’t think you do hate kids. I’ve said that I don’t think you hate kids. Now I’ve said it twice.

    Especially because I’ve explained several times why I think that’s bullshit?

    I only see two sentences in which you directly engaged my analogy between kids and people with disabilities:

    childhood is in no way a disability, it’s a stage of development. Disabilities tend to be a bit more permanent than that.

    I think I’ve addressed both halves of this.

    First, childhood isn’t a disability, in the way we usually think of it. I said in my first post that “I think it can be argued … that children are, in some senses, people with disabilities,” but as my phrasing suggests, that’s a tentative and conditional way of looking at the connections between the two states.

    And second, though disabilities tend to be more permanent than childhood, they aren’t necessarily, or intrinsically. Someone who has suffered a stroke — or even a broken leg — may make a full recovery, but in the meantime he or she is subject to the difficulties that someone with an analogous permanent disability faces.

  287. zuzu
    August 15, 2006 at 10:32 pm

    First, childhood isn’t a disability, in the way we usually think of it. I said in my first post that “I think it can be argued … that children are, in some senses, people with disabilities,” but as my phrasing suggests, that’s a tentative and conditional way of looking at the connections between the two states.

    And yet you’re making a definitive connection between being annoyed by children and hating people with disabilities. And *I* have already said why I don’t think that’s at all a good analogy.

    And, seriously, someone with a broken leg? Six, eight weeks, max. Cognitive disabilities are often a lifelong thing.

    Frankly, I think you’re diminishing the difficulties faced by people with disabilities when you equate them with people who make comments about your kid at a diner.

  288. August 15, 2006 at 11:06 pm

    Frankly, I think you’re diminishing the difficulties faced by people with disabilities when you equate them with people who make comments about your kid at a diner.

    Now we’re getting somewhere.

    As I noted earlier in the thread, my sister has a serious cognitive disability. She lives in a community for disabled adults, and many of her friends have always been people with cognitive disabilities. I’ve spent a lot of time around my sister and her friends, as well as other people with cognitive problems, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about disability issues.

    Is the hostility that children confront as serious or as pervasive as the hostility that adults with disabilities face? No. Not at all.

    But are “the difficulties faced by people with disabilities” analogous to the comments ignorant people make to and about kids in diners? That depends on which difficulties we’re talking about. If we’re talking about the difficulties inherent in dealing with the comments ignorant people in diners make to and about people with disabilities, then yes, I think those difficulties are analogous. Like I said earlier, A:A, B:B.

    Here’s what I’m getting at, or at least a part of it:

    People who dislike children — not people who aren’t into having kids of their own, or people who are uninterested in kids, or people who are annoyed by bad parents — people who dislike children tend to have a recurring constellation of complaints about them. For instance:

    They’re dirty. They touch everything. They’ve got no social skills. They’ve got no regard for personal space. They’re loud. They say inappropriate things. They do inappropriate things. They’re creepy. They’re demanding. They can’t control themselves. They smell bad. They can’t control their bodily functions.

    All of these complaints are true of some kids. None of them are true of all kids.

    And here’s the thing — this list is a pretty good facsimile of the list of complaints that people who are intolerant of adults with cognitive disabilities have about them. And all of these complaints are true of some adults with cognitive disabilities, and none of them are true of all adults with cognitive disabilities.

    I should stop here and make it explicit that I don’t consider adults with cognitive disabilities to be children, or child-like. Among the many things I like about the terms “retarded” and “developmentally delayed” is that they imply that cognitive disabilities are simply a matter of slowed-down intellectual development, which is rarely if ever the case.

    But adults with severe cognitive disabilities, like children, often behave in ways that challenge non-disabled adults beliefs about how people should behave, particularly their beliefs about how people should behave in public. The ways in which I’ve seen people be made uncomfortable by children in some ways mirror the ways in which I’ve seen people be made uncomfortable by people with disabilities.

    And I do think there’s another relevant parallel in the fact that some people who don’t know a lot about children, or about a particular child, nonetheless feel comfortable in making assumptions about what a particular child’s abilities and deficits are likely to be, and in making judgments about what that child should or shouldn’t be exposed to, or attempt to do, and in using those assumptions and judgments to govern how they treat that child, rather than interacting with the child in an open and respectful way.

    Replace “children” with “disability” in the above paragraph, and “child” with “person with a disability,” and I think the statement is just as true.

  289. August 15, 2006 at 11:08 pm

    Among the many things I like about the terms “retarded” and “developmentally delayed”

    Among the many things I dislike

    Of all the errors to make. Sigh.

  290. August 15, 2006 at 11:28 pm

    On the “effect of having kids on the environment” subthread…

    Somewhere way upthread, Marcy made an especially strong version of the environmental argument:

    So, while it can be a feminist choice to have kids, it’s not a very responsible one

    I think it’s safe to say that the strong environmentalist stand of “it’s irresponsible to have kids” fails a Kantian categorical imperative test. If nobody has kids, then we’re all screwed when we get old.

    I also think it’s safe to say that we’re in no danger whatsoever of running out of people willing to have kids, or, in general, of underreproducing. So, the reason those of us who don’t have kids (whether by choice or not) should support stuff like public schools, parental leave, parks, and whatever, has less to do with needing to be sure we have enough quantity of the next generation than being sure we have enough quality. When we’re all in nursing homes, parents or not, someone will be following after us; best that it be an educated someone.

  291. Raging Moderate
    August 16, 2006 at 3:31 am

    Zuzu,

    I agree that a desire to avoid children is not the same as a desire to avoid black people, or disabled people, or gay people, since childhood is a temporary stage.

    But…

    I don’t have problems with well-behaved kids in certain spaces, but I’ve seen enough bad behavior from kids and indifference from parents that I’m not willing to be seated near kids in a restaurant, for example.

    What would you think of me if I said:

    I don’t have problems with well-behaved old people in certain spaces, but I’ve seen enough bad behavior from old people and indifference from their children that I’m not willing to be seated near old people in a restaurant, for example.

    Look, I don’t hate children. I don’t particularly like them, either. You know, sort of like I don’t hate all adults but I only like certain ones. But given some of the experiences I’ve had — like sitting on an airplane for several hours right next to a 2-year-old who screamed during the entire flight because she couldn’t sit on Daddy’s lap and then barfed on landing,…I absolutely dread seeing a child get on a plane or being seated near me in a restaurant. It’s probably not warranted in all cases, but cripes, am I supposed to ignore my experience?

    Look, I don’t hate old people. I don’t particularly like them, either. You know, sort of like I don’t hate all adults but I only like certain ones. But given some of the experiences I’ve had — like sitting on an airplane for several hours right next to a 92-year-old who screamed during the entire flight because he thought he was storming the beaches at Normandy again and then barfed on landing,… I absolutely dread seeing an old person get on a plane or being seated near me in a restaurant. It’s probably not warranted in all cases, but cripes, am I supposed to ignore my experience?

    So fucking what if I don’t like children as a class? I don’t hate them, and I certainly don’t hate yours.

    So fucking what if I don’t like old people as a class? I don’t hate them, and I certainly don’t hate your parents.

    You know, those of us who don’t interact with children all that often by our own design will generally only notice them when they’re being annoying. Those of you who have them also notice the non-annoying side.

    You know, those of us who don’t interact with old people all that often by our own design will generally only notice them when they’re being annoying. Those of you who have them also notice the non-annoying side.

    And my fave:

    And, seriously, so what if she hates kids? They won’t be kids forever.

    And, seriously, so what if she hates old people? They won’t be old people forever (they’ve gotta die one day).

    Would you say that these statements are acceptable, as old age is a temporary stage like childhood?

    BTW, I’m childfree by choice. I, too, tend to try to avoid places with lots of kids, but I realize that’s my issue, not the children’s or their parents’.

  292. Gabe Nichols
    August 16, 2006 at 6:14 am

    From Sniper in 98

    I’m still waiting for someone to claim that my marriage isn’t real because we don’t have Jews, or that people without Jews should’t be teachers or are otherwise failures are human beings. I’m pretty sure my cousin (mother of five) didn’t say, “I think the worst bitches are the ones who don’t even ache for a Jew.”

    I’m still waiting for someone to claim that my marriage isn’t real because we don’t have a disabled person, or that people without disabilities should’t be teachers or are otherwise failures are human beings. I’m pretty sure my cousin (mother of five) didn’t say, “I think the worst bitches are the ones who don’t even ache for a disabled person.”

  293. Ledasmom
    August 16, 2006 at 7:13 am

    Quite apart from all the other perfectly valid arguments, if we don’t have places that are only for adults then where on earth are parents supposed to go on their night out?

  294. August 16, 2006 at 7:33 am

    Quite apart from all the other perfectly valid arguments, if we don’t have places that are only for adults then where on earth are parents supposed to go on their night out?

    I’m not sure I understand the question. How does the possible presence of a child somewhere make it impossible for an unrelated couple to go out to that same place without their kids?

    And anyway, even if all bars and every other place were forced to allow kids (which, as I’ve said, I don’t endorse) that wouldn’t mean that each such place would suddenly be overrun by children.

  295. August 16, 2006 at 10:30 am

    I posted a summary of my argument about how children and people with disabilities are perceived over at my own blog. The first commenter there offered some very pertinent insights on the question, from the perspective of the (childless) partner of a person with a physical disability. She’s also got good stuff to say about some similarities in how children and the elderly are treated.

    My post there is pretty much a rehash of what I’ve said here, but her comment is, I think, worth checking out.

  296. Josh
    August 16, 2006 at 11:51 am

    But I don’t trust strangers’ abilities to predict whether a kid is likely to misbehave

    Me either, if by “strangers” you mean “parents”.

  297. August 16, 2006 at 11:56 am

    I think a lot of non-parents are jealous of parents.

    You know, I get really fucked off with CFBC folks who go on about how parents are secretly jealous of the CF. It’s nice to see that both sides have their fair share of ignorant and stupid rhetoric.

    I get a lot of shit from people who are terribly offended that I don’t want kids (and I don’t share this unless I’m asked directly). I’m often told that I’m not “really” grown up because I don’t have children, that I have no right to talk about how we fuck over kids since I don’t have them, and that I’m going to change my mind one day and regret not having children (so I should do it now, while I don’t want them and can still have them, before it’s! too! late!). Married friends without kids get to hear about how they don’t have a “real” family unless they have children.

    Keep in mind that I’m the one who has to field demands for an explaination about why I don’t want to have kids. Having children is seen as natural, the default, and the desire to do so is never questioned (except in extreme cases, like the Duggars). I don’t go around demanding that people tell me why they want to have kids.

    But that’s it. I’m jealous.

  298. frumious b
    August 16, 2006 at 1:14 pm

    What planet are you people living on where human beings going extinct for lack of reproduction is even a remote possibility?

    this one, in comment #36:

    So, while it can be a feminist choice to have kids, it’s not a very responsible one, if one is looking past his or her own wants and desires and is being responsible for the planet.

    Which I interpret to mean that Marcy thinks people should stop having children in order to be responsible to the planet. I claim that people need to continue having children in order for society to continue, and I posit that the continuation of society and planetary responsibility are not mutually exclusive.
    Your interpretation may differ.

  299. frumious b
    August 16, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    I hate kids, too. Babies are gross; toddlers are annoying. The difference between hating kids and hating (name racial/orientation/gender group here) is that with time, kids stop being kids, and at least one or two of them will grow up into adults who I don’t hate.
    Yeah, I know, you hate my hobbies too.
    While I recognize the necessity of human reproduction, I am pretty sure that the race will not die out if I refrain.

  300. August 16, 2006 at 1:46 pm

    The difference between hating kids and hating (name racial/orientation/gender group here) is that with time, kids stop being kids

    I still don’t get why “they won’t be X forever” is offered as a response to “it’s not cool to hate people who are X.” Is it okay to hate sick people? Workers? Recent immigrants? Pregnant women? Women who are menstruating?

    I’m not saying that because it’s not cool to say “I hate pregnant women,” it’s thus by definition not cool to say “I hate kids.” I’m just saying that I’ve seen this defense offered twice now, and it doesn’t make any sense to me — it seems like a non sequitur.

  301. Norah
    August 16, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    I still don’t get why “they won’t be X forever” is offered as a response to “it’s not cool to hate people who are X.” Is it okay to hate sick people? Workers? Recent immigrants? Pregnant women? Women who are menstruating?

    The quote was “they won’t be kids forever” Not “they won’t be X forever”. That’s an important distinction, and may explain why you don’t get it.

    Not everybody thinks that poopy diapers, constant screaming, power struggles, bad behavior, bad choices, underachieving, constant worry and the potential for soul-destroying heartache is worth the rewards of parenthood. And that’s OK. If you don’t understand the point zuzu was trying to make, you don’t understand the differences between children and adults, and I’m not sure anyone here can help you.

    I say all this, by the way, as someone who is trying for a child and hopes to have two or three. I understand that not everyone feels the same way I do, so why can’t you?

  302. Ledasmom
    August 16, 2006 at 3:03 pm

    I’m not sure I understand the question. How does the possible presence of a child somewhere make it impossible for an unrelated couple to go out to that same place without their kids?

    On the off chance that my husband and I manage to schedule an evening out, having foisted the young critters on some poor unsuspecting soul or, alternatively, on their grandmother, I should really prefer that it be in an adults-only atmosphere. There is nothing wrong with children, but they are not adults.

  303. August 16, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    On the off chance that my husband and I manage to schedule an evening out, having foisted the young critters on some poor unsuspecting soul or, alternatively, on their grandmother, I should really prefer that it be in an adults-only atmosphere.

    I’m curious about this. Would a restaurant (or theater, or night-club) where kids were permitted be okay, as long as it was a place in which you could reasonably expect that any disruptive patrons (children or adults) would be asked to leave expeditiously? Or would the presence of kids itself be enough to ruin your evening?

    If I took my child to a very fancy restaurant, or to a Broadway show, or to a pricey jazz concert, I’d expect her to behave appropriately to the occasion. I wouldn’t take her if I wasn’t confident that she’d be able to meet that standard (I’m not now, and so I don’t take her — we’re still working up to that kind of event), and I’d remove her quickly if she became disruptive. But I’d also expect that if she became disruptive, and I didn’t act, we’d be visited by a waiter or an usher, and escorted out.

    Bad behavior is bad behavior, it seems to me. I don’t want to have to share my night on the town with anyone who’s going to disrupt the experience. But a few minutes’ disruption isn’t going to destroy my evening, and just about any disruption — from a child or an adult — can be resolved in a few minutes.

    If I go to see Lyle Lovett in concert, and I notice a five-year-old (for instance) in the audience, I’m going to be surprised … but pleased that her parents are exposing her to good music. If she behaves well, I’m going to be doubly pleased. If she misbehaves and is removed promptly, I’ll shrug it off. (And I’ll suspect that taking her to the concert is a class of mistake that those particular parents won’t make again soon.)

    It’s only if she misbehaves and isn’t removed that I’m going to be irritated, and in that circumstance what’s bothering me isn’t her presence, or even her misbehavior, but her parents’ boorishness. It’s not their decision to take her to the concert that’s going to annoy me, in other words, but their refusal — their refusal, not hers — to behave appropriately once there.

  304. August 16, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    I don’t want to have to share my night on the town with anyone who’s going to disrupt the experience. But a few minutes’ disruption isn’t going to destroy my evening, and just about any disruption — from a child or an adult — can be resolved in a few minutes.

    Following up to myself here, this is one of the places the analogy between childhood and disability is most provocative, I think.

    An adult who has a chronic illness or a disability, or who is old, may well be more likely to experience an unexpected physical or cognitive problem that imposes a few minutes’ disruption on those around her than a young, non-disabled adult.

    But do we demand, when we go out, that nobody who has a higher-than-baseline chance of disrupting our evening because of a medical problem or mental disorder be seated near us? Or do we welcome the company of people with disabilities, and take on a slight risk of disruption good-naturedly?

    And when we’re making these calculations, shouldn’t we respect the risk-benefit analyses that the affected people make for themselves, or that their caregivers make for them? Shouldn’t it be the Tourette’s sufferer who decides whether her risk of a disruptive vocalization is low enough for her to go to the theater? Shouldn’t it be the person with a seizure disorder to determine how much she should circumscribe their activities? And if a person with a disability isn’t able to make such a decision on her own, shouldn’t it be made with (or by) the people who love her? Shouldn’t people with disabilities and those who love them make their own judgements and calculations, and get on with their lives as best they can?

    And if it’s appropriate for people with disabilities and the people who love them to make those kind of judgements and calculations — and to accept the consequences of their decisions — then why not hold parents and children to the same standard?

  305. Ron
    August 16, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    I use the term breeder at times, but only as a jealous thing. I am married to a woman I love more dearly than life itself. She is brilliant, funny, sexy, wonderful, sassy, and a Class 4 Bitch according to DrB’s listing. Though we have an open marriage for over 14 years, there’s nobody else who could ever come close to her for me, and I’ve never been tempted to leave.

    Except…

    Except that she hates babies and very young children. She knows it’s pathological. She is glad that smart, good people are out there raising children. But when one of our friends has a kid, she immediately doesn’t really want to see them until the kids are at least 7. She doesn’t want them in our house until the kids are at least 13. She doesn’t hate them as individuals, but she doesn’t want to be around them. And yes, she knows this is a psychological issue. But because she made it very clear to me 15 years ago when we began to discuss marriage, it’s simply accepted that we will not have children, and that she will not be taking care of or spending any time around children.

    And, of course, I love all kids. Of any age.

    So when our friends want a night out, I’m only too happy to baby sit. Even if it means staying over there overnight alone. Many of my friends marvel that I am one of the first names their kids learn. And once they graduate to the age when they are tolerable to my wife, they come over. They all like her.

    So I sometimes call my friends with kids “breeders.” But it’s said in a tone of admiration, respect, and, to be honest, jealousy. Because, though I would not trade my life for anything, though I am happy with my wife and the wonders that she provides me every day of my life just by the way she laughs, she jokes, and teaches me what it is to be human, though I can’t imagine that a child’s smile would warm me any more than hers does, well, I still wish that I was a breeder. And I won’t ever be.

    Breeders isn’t a slur. It’s a term of respect.

  306. August 16, 2006 at 5:05 pm

    I’m curious about this. Would a restaurant (or theater, or night-club) where kids were permitted be okay, as long as it was a place in which you could reasonably expect that any disruptive patrons (children or adults) would be asked to leave expeditiously? Or would the presence of kids itself be enough to ruin your evening?

    I haven’t seen anyone advocate banning children from establishments per se (with the exception of bars and nightclubs because those aren’t safe or appropriate places for children). I have seen annoyance with parents who bring their children to fancy restaruants, plays, etc. and either refuse to correct them and/or act like everyone should put up with the disruptions.

    And yes, I do think there are some places that aren’t appropriate for kids. I don’t think that, say, a crowded bar or a dance club is the place for young children (and besides, it’s too damn late for them to be up). I do not think that late show R-rated or NC-17 movies are appropriate for young children. When I saw the rerelease of the Exorcist–the late showing–someone brought in his four-year-old daughter, and berated her when she freaked out during one of the scenes. WELL DUH–that was a scary movie for a lot of adults, let alone a young child who was overtired and cranky and bloody well should have been tucked into bed several hours before.

  307. August 16, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    You know what I hate? After five days and 300+ comments I really, really hate this thread. I wish this thread didn’t exist anymore, and that you all would stop inflicting it upon me. I realize, of course, that I could just go somewhere else, where this thread won’t get on my nerves anymore, but I should have the right to go anywhere I want on the internet and not be subjected to 300+ comments about kids and how hateful they are.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta get my screaming toddler all wound up with a sugary snack so we can go hang out at the local bar, after which I’m going to take her, while she’s nice and over-stimulated, to a midnight showing of Schindler’s Choice. And if she cries, nobody better say shit to me, cuz dammit, I’m sick of this thread and I need some me time.

  308. piny
    August 16, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    Hah!

    You win the internets.

  309. Barbiturate Cat
    August 16, 2006 at 7:51 pm

    If I took my child to a very fancy restaurant, or to a Broadway show, or to a pricey jazz concert, I’d expect her to behave appropriately to the occasion. I wouldn’t take her if I wasn’t confident that she’d be able to meet that standard (I’m not now, and so I don’t take her — we’re still working up to that kind of event), and I’d remove her quickly if she became disruptive. But I’d also expect that if she became disruptive, and I didn’t act, we’d be visited by a waiter or an usher, and escorted out.

    For me, I have no problem with the presence of children. They are children, I assume there is a possibility that they may cry, scream, act out or generally be noisy in some way. They are not adults, and should not be treated as such.

    That does not mean they should not be expected to behave. What I mean is, they should be expected to behave at an age-appropriate level. A three year old probably doesn’t want to sit still for two hours at a fancy, dress-up restaraunt with nothing to entertain them. An infant will not be able to keep from crying throughout a movie. As adults, we need to recognize this and not expect children to conform to adult behaviours.

    As a non-parent [at the moment], I almost feel like my opinion is invalidated the second I voice a complaint about the behaviour of a parent. An example of this would be the recent preview of the Superman movie. My husband and I got free passes to attend a very early morning private screening. Seated in front of us were…two parents, with two children. One was an infant under one, the other was a three or four year old child. The second the lights went down, the infant started screaming. Didn’t stop, the entire movie. The parents never once made a move to leave or take the infant out. In my opinion, that was incredibly inappropriate.

    But I don’t feel it was inappropriate because I dislike children [I rather like children, want some of my own soon]. No, I feel it was inappropriate because it seemed like it wasn’t good for the child. The movie theatre was extremely dark, crowded, and very, very loud. Sure it was irritating to have someone screaming throughout the movie, but to me I’d be more worried about exposing a very young infant to something they clearly didn’t enjoy.

    I don’t know why, but sometimes it’s very hard to explain this to parents. It’s like people instantly hear “this child’s behaviour was annoying”, the assume the person “hates all children/wants them to disappear”.

    A few minutes of disruption is nothing. No one should be losing sleep over that. It’s when it becomes a prolonged and very extreme situation [a child in a restaraunt who breaks things/screams/assaults other patrons and the parents do nothing about it], that’s when it becomes a problem.

  310. August 16, 2006 at 8:46 pm

    Wow, I said Schindler’s Choice. Is that freudian or what?

  311. August 16, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    I thought that was on purpose!

  312. zuzu
    August 16, 2006 at 10:04 pm

    Hey, kids are useful for polishing the insides of shell casings. They’re special girls!

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