Monday, January 22, 2007

Childfree?

I'm always disheartened whenever I read a piece on the childfree movement. It's not that I think everyone should have kids. To the contrary: I'm actually really glad that there exists such a movement because most people, women especially, feel that having kids is something they're supposed to do, whether or not they want to, and that if they don't, they will be missing out. And those women who know that they don't want kids are not taken seriously - they are told, repeatedly, that they'll change their minds. Or that it will be different with their kids, when they have them, and all the things they think will be annoying or boring really won't be. Or, finally, that there must be something wrong with them if they do not want to do something as normal as have children.

But why is it that "childfree" keeps morphing into "keep that kid away from me - I don't like kids, and I shouldn't have to put up with yours!"? (Disclaimer: I know that there are many childfree people (perhaps most?) who don't have this attitude. I am writing about those who do. Perhaps this faction gets the most media attention for the obvious reason that they are the extremists of the movement - I don't know.)

Before I had a baby, I thought other people's babies were a pain. I didn't like hearing babies cry on airplanes. And then when I had one, it wasn't that I suddenly found baby cries charming - not at all. It was simply that I realized this was just part of life, part of the way kids develop, and that there is nothing that can be done about it. In the same vein, I stop myself when I'm de-planing and getting worked up about how slowly the elderly woman ahead of me using a walker is moving. I mean, she's mobile. That's a big deal. And my impatience is really not the most important thing in that moment. Disability, too, is the way people develop. It's nearly inevitable, and so our attitude should be about making society comfortable and safe for babies, children, people with disabilities (who I am not comparing to babies nor children) - everyone. Shouldn't it?

Yes, crying babies can be annoying. But you can get used to them. If you want to, that is. I used to have a fair number of students in my classes with thick accents, and it was clear to me that the other students couldn't understand them. But I could. Why? Did I have some amazing talent for understanding accents? No. I simply had a job to do. As the teacher, it wasn't ok for me to stop listening because I couldn't understand. I had to listen harder, better, and more patiently. And what I learned - really, this was very surprising to me - was that I could learn to understand thick accents. And what that made me realize was that this meant that my students had simply been giving up and not listening because they didn't want to make this effort.

They didn't care enough or think that the student had anything to say that was worth listening to, so they stopped listening.

The childfree movement seems, often, to soar right on past making it acceptable not to have kids to making it acceptable to make derogatory comments about kids, and then further, to making it acceptable to not want to be around kids. Ever. And this I find as discriminatory as those students who weren't interested in what the student from India had to say.

I'm not saying that everyone has to enjoy spending time with children. Anne Lamott once said that being the mother of a young child was so boring that it made her want to throw herself down the stairs. Even those of us who have kids don't always enjoy spending time with them. But children nevertheless deserve the same generosity and respect that we would give to anyone else.

Radical lesbian feminist and separatist Julia Penelope, in her book, Call Me Lesbian, wrote about arriving on board a plane and finding a woman with a baby in Penelope's seat. The woman looked up at her, smiling, not at all apologetic. Penelope interpreted this as a moment in which the "breeder" was privileged, completely unaware that she was taking up space not meant for her.

In the years since I read Penelope's piece, during the time when my own son was a baby, I often wondered if I might ever encounter Penelope on a plane trip, and whether my baby might be in her seat. Penelope saw her own rights as completely central: Her right to sit in her assigned seat. Her right to not have to interact with a breeder and child. Her right to not have to look at a baby as if it were cute. (I wonder if it ever occurred to her that the woman might not have been able to afford two seats and was simply hoping the seat next to her was empty so she'd be able to set the baby down and rest her arms. Or that the airline might not have been able to get her two seats together.)

Not wanting to have a child is a choice that is all too often not validated, and that is a real problem: the childfree movement is right to be pissed off, and I fully support people who choose not to be parents (hell, I do more than support them - I encourage them!). But not wanting to associate with children is, first, a disturbingly entitled position: "I am so special that I should be allowed to construct my life in such a way that I do not come into contact with those I find undesireable." But it is also a prejudice. It is determining that there is a whole class of people that one does not want to be around, by virtue of their age.

In what other situation would it be socially acceptable to reject an entire group of people in this way? I can't think of a single one.

Here's a link to a childfree blogger I absolutely agree with - well, except for the thing about parents getting unfair benefits and abusing them - but I suppose it happens. Hmm. More on that later, I think. But anyway - methinks that her piece on one problem with childfree is also very applicable to some of the blogwars that have been happening lately...

And, FWIW, here's the quote that got me pissed off about all of this - from Bitch Magazine, helpfully posted on someone else's site:

And then there’s Adrienne Frost’s book, I Hate Other People’s Kids. Many people who describe themselves as childfree are quick to profess that they love children and are devoted aunts, godparents, babysitters or teachers. Frost is not one of them. From the very first sentence of her book (“I hate them with a vengeance… and I hereby give you license to hate them too”), Frost is unequivocal in her contempt not just for children but for a culture that increasingly resembles a vast Toys “R’ Us. And like cafĂ© owner Dan McCauley, she speaks not only for the childfree movement but also for anyone who cares about manners and discipline. (And that goes not only for children: Frost aims much of her vitrol at parents themselves, as in the chapter “Have you Met My Vagina?” in which she berates new parents who force others into watching the “D-grade porn” of their birthing videos.)

59 comments:

Ashley said...

I think that the desire to not be around kids *ever* is growing out of this trend where kids are allowed everywhere at any time. Obviously not all parents feel this way but the minority is being very succesful.

These days more parents want their kids let into bars (not pubs which often allow kids anyway), late night rated "R" movies and other places that used to be deemed "adult".

And if the place can't be made kid-friendly (porn stores, strip clubs)then they demand that they be removed "for the children".

When it's increasingly harder to find adult spaces (or at least a time of day where kids aren't usually in a space), people start getting annoyed even when it's a time and/or place where kids have a right/should be expected to be.

As for the air plane example. I doubt it was the fact that a child was present as much as the mother looked "unapologetic" that she was taking up space assigned to someone else.

Anonymous said...

It is a combination. People who don't want children are made to feel defensive about this. They get hassled frequently about not having children and a barrage of urging with the intent of changing their mind.

Ashley is right though. Many people have decided everyplace is kid friendly. I have kids but there are some places you should not bring kids. R rated movies, certain restaurants, certain formal events, places where quiet is expected or the purpose of being there. It is not the fault of all parents. It is the fault of a small number of very obnoxious parents that do not monitor their children and think everyone is thrilled they are there. Making noise, breaking the rules of the place.
People let their kids run around in restaurants making loud disruptions and endangering the staff serving food. People bring a herd of kids into a waiting room and then refuse to pay any attention to them while they scream, yell and climb all over the furniture and other people in the waiting room.

Don't get me wrong. I have kids. I like kids. But some of this totally obnoxious behavior that is the fault of the parents really gets to people. Childless people may assume that all children and all parents are like this and lump everyone into the obnoxious category.

Jenya said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stuff Daddy said...

The idea of a "childfree" life is a luxury of modern times. We are more than individuals, we are a species of animal. One of the things that animals seem to do from time to time is have offspring. Yes they can be incredibly loud and annoying, but I would argue that many parents are neglectful in how they control (or don't) their children in public. Children are much more than little versions of us that parents raise to annoy society. They are us...in training. When the individual has disconnected themselves so much that they cannot even feel the instinctual need to nurture, can the line of sociopath tendencies be much farther away? The idea of wanting to live a life devoid of children is perfectly in balance with our neglectful treatment of the elderly. People don't want to be reminded of the arc of the lifespan, they would rather put children in daycare and the elderly in nursing homes, leaving them free to interact with people who won't need special understanding or compassion. Similar to those who complain about handicap parking or the homeless, this modern form of sociopath sees all existence in the perspective of their brief daily lives of convenience. They are the "modern impracticals," unknowingly adorned in self hate. After all, didn't we all spend time screaming at our parents' to buy us that tie-dye colored ball in the wire box in the supermarket. People who want to live a life of quiet seriousness need to remember how to play and be silly! That is one of the precious gifts children remind us of if we pay attention.

plain(s)feminist said...

Stuff Daddy - I would argue that the "instinctual need to nurture" is no more valuable than the instinct not to. In other words, it's no more normal to want to have children than it is normal not to.

Um, unless you were saying that we all have an instinctual need to nurture in general, not necessarily children, but whomever - people, animals, etc. Then I might agree. I just don't believe the urge to parent is especially natural or normal or noble.

More later - I have stuff I want to respond, but I also have grading to get through first.

Danielle said...

If you don't believe that the urge to parent is normal or noble, then why are you a parent?
I have seen some childfree stuff, and a lot of it is really vile. One childfree site even described a utopian city where the whole city was powered by the corpses of babies. Not all of them are like this, though. Some are reasonable and have really valid concerns.

Not everyone grew up being taught that having a baby is "The thing to do". For some of us with mostly feminists in our families- having a baby is the thing *not* to do.

plain(s)feminist said...

Danielle -
I said "especially natural or normal or noble," as in not inherently any of these things, necessarily. It's just a lifestyle choice, really. I don't mean to dismiss those who can't just choose to become parents or not, for whom it becomes much bigger than a simple lifestyle choice. I'm really responding to romanticized notions of reproduction that hold up parents as the best people, the most selfless people, etc.

To answer your question: I am a parent because I wanted to have a child. It doesn't have anything to do with anything other than that. I don't feel that the world needs my DNA particularly much, I don't feel like I need to create someone who will take care of me when I get old, I don't feel like I'm supposed to reproduce for any particular reason - I just wanted to be a parent. An entirely selfish motive, as far as I can tell.

I don't think that the actual caring for another person is a selfish act, but my desire to have a baby was all about me.

I don't know if that makes sense to you, Danielle - it's not about putting down parents and parenting, which I'm not at all trying to do here, but about equalizing the choices we all make about whether or not to reproduce. I'm saying that all of these choices are equally valid - that people who choose not to become parents are no more or less selfish or noble than those who do. Does that make sense?

plain(s)feminist said...

ashley -
People take their kids to STRIP CLUBS?!!!!

I can understand being put off by the unapologetic-ness, I guess. I had a similar experience recently, and I didn't mind moving at all so the parents and baby could sit together, but I was a bit put off by their air of entitlement. No one ever said, "oh, do you mind if we sit here?" or anything, which I have always taken care to do.

To be fair, they were travelling with an infant, and I can make allowances for whatever lack of sleep or high stress levels they were experiencing.

plain(s)feminist said...

anon -
I think you're right, as well. But I question sometimes whether it is actual bad behavior or the kind of "bad behavior" that one's own parents, who don't have regular contact with little kids, might notice. In other words, just normal little kid behavior that is annoying to be around, and that might mean removing the kid for a bit, but that is not really poor behavior on the part of either the child or the parent. I mean, sometimes that just happens.

But if parents are trying to bring their kids into bars and strip clubs and porn shops...well, then, I guess all bets are off!

Danielle said...

I agree that all choices are valid, definitely.
However, I always saw selfish as wrong. If you thought it was selfish in the first place to have a child, if your desires were all about you (which you say with a degree of negativity), then why do it? I don't know why any feminist would get married *or* have a child (or any combo of the two), since they all seem to talk about these things with so much hatred.
I am having a child, because I always felt like I could give a child a great quality of life. When I was young, and the feminists in my life taught me that all I was supposed to want was a career (instead of a family) the way I took their advice at the time was to make my career all about giving children a good quality of life. I don't feel that anything I've done in my life thus far has been selfish. I know many, many people (parents and non-parents) who are not self-motivated like you describe. To describe having a child in such a way is very, very feminist, but I take it you take that as a compliment.

Danielle said...

On my most recent flight, there was a toddler boy accross the aisle from me, and a woman next to me who was very offended that there was a child on the flight. The child made VERY LITTLE noise whatsoever. He was fascinated with how fast the plane went when we took off and landed down the runway, but other than that, said nothing except for one little peep in the middle of the flight. Mostly, I think he was asleep. But the woman next to me was OUTRAGED whenever he did make a little noise. In fact, she made more noise complaining about him than he did himself. She needed to get over it. We can't make children into hermits in order to please feminists/childfree

Stuff Daddy said...

I don't believe I mentioned nobility or normality when mentioning parents or children. I'm not sure whether it's worth it to argue that reproduction is a instinctual drive, however it does seem to be an important and vibrant part of some animals lives. People who do not have children are not less normal or less needed or less anything. I also would not necessarily automatically connect procreation to the instinctual need to nurture, since many seem so good at one and so poor at the other. I do think that nurturing and positive social interaction, not driven by self-centered goals but by satisfaction from helping those more vulnerable is an important part of a healthy society, that seems to sometimes clash with our quest to find justification for living our lives based only on our narrow interests and myopic perspectives. Whether or not I have children, the children that people have now will be the custodians of the future. While I understand the need for people to fight the right wing agenda that tries to ban everything that isn't child friendly and promotes a "family first" focus, that does not mean we don't need to have an interest in more than our own personal, narrow lifespan. I don't begrudge anyone for wanting or not wanting to have children. I do think that people who outwardly look at children, the elderly or others who seem to be pests and annoyances in "their world" have sipped to heavily at the fountain of ego. We may be individuals, but we are the biggest ant colony on the planet. A society that does not nurture and protect the innocence or the vulnerable is in my opinion a failed one.

plain(s)feminist said...

Stuff - I guess, then, I'm not sure why you mention instinct in this context? But I do understand the rest of your argument and agree.

Danielle -
If you thought it was selfish in the first place to have a child, if your desires were all about you (which you say with a degree of negativity), then why do it?

Because, as I said, I wanted to be a parent. I don't think it's selfish in the sense of taking something away from someone else so that I can have it - although I suppose one could say that's what I did by opting to have a biological child rather than adopting - just that it was something I did because of what I wanted.

I don't know why any feminist would get married *or* have a child (or any combo of the two), since they all seem to talk about these things with so much hatred.

There are certainly feminists and whole schools of feminism who think marriage and child-bearing (or one or the other) are part of the heteropatriarchy. I think there's something to be said for the institutionalized nature of both marriage and reproduction, the sense women often have of *needing* to do both in order to be complete women, the odd affirmation brides and pregnant women are given by society, and the lack of models of happy, successful, complete unmarried women who are not mothers - all as evidence of marriage and pregnancy being used to keep women in a particular place.

Having said that, most of the feminists I know and hang out with are married (to either same or diff. sex partners) and have kids, and there is of course the whole discipline and politics of feminist mothering.

I am having a child, because I always felt like I could give a child a great quality of life.

But Danielle, surely you *want* a child, right? I mean, it's not simply that you can give a child a great quality of life - there are lots of ways you can do this without giving birth to a child, through various charities or whatever, so part of this is about you and what you want, right?

To describe having a child in such a way is very, very feminist, but I take it you take that as a compliment.

Hmm. That feels a little like a jab, but I'm not really sure why. I don't think I'm saying anything unusual. You seem to be saying that the desire to be a parent is a bad reason to have a child, while the desire to give a child a good life is a good reason to have a child. I'm not saying I wanted to be a parent and so the hell with the kid. I'm saying that I wouldn't have had a child if I had understood it as simply a matter of being noble, or something I was supposed to do, or something I should do just because I could, or as *only* a matter of giving a child a good life and nothing more. The desire to have a child in my life, and the feeling that it could be a good life for us, was the motivating factor.

Trin said...

I don't want children. I'd like to be able to call myself childfree. I've been told things like "having a child is the most important thing in any woman's life and nothing else can hold a candle to it." I really resent the idea that the real meaning in my life depends entirely on whether and how well I caretake someone else, rather than on what I choose to do and find meaning in.

But I don't tend to call myself childfree, because

1) I am not totally sure I'll never change my mind. I am close to certain, but life consistently throws me very strange curveballs and shakes up things I held foundational. Whereas many CF people like to pretend no one ever changes, and if you do you're an eeeeeevil hypocrite, not a normal human growing and changing.

and

2) It's so bound up with disliking children. I LOVE kids -- I think they are a sheer delight much of the time, and annoying sometimes, but so is everybody. And, as you say, they are developing humans, perfectly normal. Such loathing for such a normal part of human life is bizarre to me and seems totally counterproductive. Not wanting your own is not in any way necessarily connected with not liking them.

plain(s)feminist said...

Oh, Danielle, one more thing - I wasn't being negative when I said my desires to have a child were all about me. I was trying to make a point about how people who don't have children are often told they are selfish for not wanting to do so. Obviously, either choice could be painted as either selfish or selfless, depending.

evilcityjane said...

I don't want kids. But I do like kids. Actually, I worked at an elementary school as a teaching assistant for two years - and I didn't leave because of the kids, I left because of the adults!

The fact that I don't want my own kids occasionally leads people to ask me why I care so much about their kids. This does bother me. As it bothers me when my gynecologist (who unlike my own family or in-laws, has no personal interest in my reproducing whatsoever) decides to hassle me about it. What on earth does it have to do with him?

I think we're threatened by women who don't want kids because not wanting kids is somehow seen as demeaning the choices of women who do want kids. It's too bad it's like this. It's too bad that so many "childfree" groups criticize the choice to have children - they're countering intolerance with more intolerance.

Danielle said...

Of course I want to have a child. I was just trying to point it out to you in a way that didn't sound so horrible.

Stuff Daddy said...

It is true that many people who don't have children are unfairly judged by others. People with children do sometimes seem to think the world revolves around them and that is not a fair assessment.

My reason for mentioning instinct was to abstract the argument from politics, and moral and personal choices of validity in order to assert the idea of viewing the "childfree" idea (at least as some practice it) as a disconnect from humanity as a social animal and the biological certainties that define us. (biological certainty, meaning we are born, grow as children, become adults, age and die.) I think we can talk about ourselves as animals or instinctual creatures without needing to cull moralistic meaning or importance to evolution and reproduction. The fact is, we are more than just individuals who negotiate our freedom to value ourselves by changing standards or mores. We are billions of people, in towns, states, countries, a large social animal, which takes little thought to its purpose or progress on the planet it uses. I find the idea of wanting to abstract yourself from children entirely to be less than a valiant expression of individual freedom. It is the height of Western, white collar, sociopathic decadence.

plain(s)feminist said...

Stuff - got it - thanks for clarifying - totally agree.

Danielle - my wanting to have a baby purely to experience the joy of being a parent is "horrible"?!

Danielle said...

You said it was selfish. THAT is what I thought was so horrible. You said it was selfish AS IF it was wrong.

plain(s)feminist said...

D -
Oh, now I see the source of the misunderstanding. I didn't mean to imply that it was WRONG. I think I was reacting first to your question about why I'd be a parent if I didn't see it as a noble thing. I wasn't meaning to slam parenting. Again, I meant to counter the notion that it is more noble, natural, etc. than NOT parenting - I see the two as equally valid choices.

And so when I was talking about being selfish, I didn't mean that to say that it was wrong, just to make that point again that it was one choice and no more noble than the other choice.

I do think my motives were selfish in the sense that they were primarily about what *I* wanted, but I am not attaching to that the sense of that being wrong that you understood from my use of the term.

Lana Wood said...

I am liking your blog, I try to read old stuff when I get a chance, and find many of your observations, reagardless of how they mesh with my own perceptions, thought provoking and well reasoned.

I hope I have not totally missed the boat as I am moved to comment on what I think you are trying to say here:

"But not wanting to associate with children is, first, a disturbingly entitled position: "I am so special that I should be allowed to construct my life in such a way that I do not come into contact with those I find undesireable." But it is also a prejudice. It is determining that there is a whole class of people that one does not want to be around, by virtue of their age.

In what other situation would it be socially acceptable to reject an entire group of people in this way? I can't think of a single one."

I think you are saying you cannot think of any situation where it is socially acceptable to reject an entire group of people based on one's desire not to come into contact with those they find in some way offensive. I am choosing to believe that this is a beautiful and joyous thing that you cannot think of it being socially acceptable to feel this way.

Some examples I can think that I have experienced either as the rejecter, the rejectee, or seeing others do it are:

Jehovah's Witnesses

Fat People

Jewish People

Black People

Catholics

Short Men

People Who Have Hygiene Habits That Divet From the Socially Accepted Norm

Homeless People

Did I misunderstand? Is it only about it being socially acceptable to refuse to endure children?

Also, I think what is socially acceptable is dependent upon with whom you socialize. With my friends who have young impressionable children it is not socially acceptable for me to swear like a sailor and talk about the things I could happily do to some man I just met especially if he promises not to speak. On the other hand, with my childless single friends it is not socially acceptable for me to know all about Barney, Dora, Boobah, and to love Grover and hate Elmo. Elmo is a sign of the decline of civilization, I refuse to associate with him, he is a bad bad muppet.

plain(s)feminist said...

Hey Lana,
Thanks for the kind words!

I think you are saying you cannot think of any situation where it is socially acceptable to reject an entire group of people based on one's desire not to come into contact with those they find in some way offensive. I am choosing to believe that this is a beautiful and joyous thing that you cannot think of it being socially acceptable to feel this way.

Yeah, what I meant was that in general, we pretty much know it's not ok to say something like "I hate Jehovah's Witnesses and I don't want to be around them." At least, if anyone said that to me, I'd be shocked. I'm not so naive as to think that people don't feel these feelings, but I think most people know that it's not really cool to say stuff like this out loud. Or at least not in public.

Though the more I think about it, the more I can think of instances where people are blatant about their desire to not be around the groups you mention. Like, for example, gated communities to keep out the "riffraff." Sigh.

Stuff Daddy said...

Grover is the best! I go way back with him. Elmo really is too needy.

plain(s)feminist said...

I have always been more of a Kermit gal, myself.

sophie said...

Hi - I noticed you over at Laura's and found you interesting.

On the 'not wanting to be around kids', I'm a bit guilty of that myself, so I thought it might be worth mentioning why.
I've learned to like spending time with them, but only because I've been pushed into working with them at church, smothered with them in friends' and employers' houses and handed them by busy parents because I happen to be standing nearby. Some of them aren't that bad :-)

But that's something I've had to learn, and I still prefer not to be involved - because of their noise (extreme), sticky paws and emotional needs, which leave me uncomfortable and feeling useless.
I don't want children of my own, mainly because as an oldest child I was left in sole charge of my siblings. I don't think I have any illusions about the amount of care and attention they need, or the frustrations they cause. Again, with time I've come to realise that I was dealing with severe behavioural problems in those children/teenagers and that the situation I was left in wasn't normal. But I just don't want to ever be in charge of a bunch of teenagers I can't get away from, again.

The behaviour of strange children is, by and large, obnoxious. The behaviour of children I know is normal and okay. I think there's a reason for that - with the ones you know, you also know when they're tired, or hungry, or acting out because of something confusing them, or that they haven't yet learned sociable behaviour.

I reckon I can sympathise with those who prefer not to have their day interrupted by children - but not if they're going to be nasty and mutter and complain about it (which I've seen). Kind of - if I don't want to be around children, then it's my problem, not the child's or the parent's. Which means if I were, say, trying to study in a public library and a bunch of kids came in and broke my concentration, then it really is my responsibility to leave without complaining, because they have as much right to be there as I do.

plain(s)feminist said...

Hi Sophie,
Thanks for stopping by!

And thanks for explaining your perspective. I can certainly understand where you're coming from, particularly given your history of caring for challenging kids.

Anna said...

Speaking of kid-friendly public spaces:

Did you see this article about the family who was thrown off an AirTran flight because their 3 year old wouldn't take her seat before the plane took off?

Britgirl said...

"But not wanting to associate with children is, first, a disturbingly entitled position.."
Why? Are you saying that people do not have the right to choose whether they want to associate with kids if they don't want to? Since when was it a crime not to like kids? I chose not to have kids and one of the reasons is that I have low tolerance for kids and most times I don't want them around. I can take them in small doses but most times I choose not to. I don't like kids around when I'm enjoying a quiet meal, when I'm trying to enjoy a movie, period. I expect to find kids, noisy or otherwise in kid related places and I try not to go there. If I do I know what to expect.

If I'd wanted kids everywhere, I'd have had my own.

Some childfree people like kids, many don't. Some would rather not be involved with them. For that reason they choose not to have them and if they do not want to be around them (for whatever reason) why on earth should they?

Personally, I think people need to realise that not everyone likes children, neither are children the be all and end all as society makes them out to be. Perhaps more attention and "questioning" should be directed at those who profess to love children, have them, find out they don't like them after all and then physically abuse them, neglect them and/or harm them, all because they've bought into something they should probably have kept well away from in the first place.

plain(s)feminist said...

britgirl,
I think you're misunderstanding me.

I don't think that everyone should have kids. I don't think that everyone should want to have kids. I don't think that children are the be all and end all, and if you'll forgive my saying so, I think that your response, in its defensiveness (not a bad thing), reflects the large extent to which our society expects that people *should* see having kids as normal and necessary parts of everyone's lives, and the impact that has on everyone who doesn't want children (causes them, naturally, to be in a defensive mode b/c this choice is frequently challenged). I think that expectation causes a lot of pain for a lot of people, for lots of reasons.

I *do* think that it isn't ok to just not like kids, any more than it is ok to just not like Jehovah's Witnesses or people who are fat or homeless people, etc., etc. (from lana's list, above). That's my point.

I just finished teaching a course on genocide, and we closed with a beautiful peace by John Mohawk on peacemaking. He stressed the need to see the other person's humanity, to resist the pull to dehumanize them. I think, when we dismiss an entire group of people, we are dehumanizing them, and that is really what's at the heart of my post.

I want to add, though, that I think having low tolerance (rather than INtolerance) for certain *behaviors* - like yelling and crying and running around, for instance - is understandable.

Further, this is a good time to respond to Anna, as well - I side with Air Tran on this one, though I do feel for the parents. They can't expect a whole plane to wait. And as some other moms I know have pointed out, in the middle of that kind of temper tantrum, it would take time to get the kid to wind down.

One last thing - I'm always leery of arguments about having the right to associate with only those with whom we want to associate. This idea has been the foundation behind male-only organizations and white-only organizations. It's also partly the reason why individuals renting apartments and rooms in their private homes are allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, along with other things.

plain(s)feminist said...

I just realized that my last comment is essentially a long expansion of what anonymous said very succinctly, much earlier!

Britgirl said...

@ plainsfeminist - I didn't misunderstand - I did get your point which was that you feel it is NOT ok not to like kids. I am not defensive of the childfree, just trying to set the often skewed misconceptions of them that most seem to have. Although yes, I will defend my childfree lifestyle which is often under attack and criticism...

I am still trying to puzzle out why you think it is not ok not to like kids? Because in general, people do like kids? Or because we accept the thinking that if we don't like children there's something wrong. We can agree to disagree, that's fine, but it appears that you are linking dislike of kids to harming them and one does not mean the other.

Disliking kids does not mean going on to harm them. It can mean actively taking steps not to interact with kids if you don't wish to.

Many people do not like children around. This does not mean that they are dimissing or dehumanizing them or planning on harming them.Quite the contrary. They acknowledge they are there but they prefer not to have anything to do with them on a personal basis or if they don't have to.

If we are talking about dehumanizing children we need to look at the numbers of kids who are killed by a parent or carer who would swear they "loved children".

My view is that people are entitled to not like kids, just as much as people are entitled to like kids. If we still have freedom of thought and of association then we can like or dislike whomever we want. But if you can point me to where it's mandated that people must like kids, then I will stand corrected.

For the record, I don't like Jehovah Witnesses. When they come to my door I tell them I am not interested and ask them to kindly leave me alone. I want to have nothing to do with them. That doesn't mean I am dehumanizing them, just that I don't like what they represent. If I have a personal relationship with someone who happens to be a JW,that is different. I respect my fellow person as fellow human beings and members of society. But that does not mean I have to like everyone.

Kelsey said...

Well, Britgirl, you're certainly free to dislike groups of people in the world based on their membership in said group as much as you want. It's just not a particularly tolerant or, in my opinion, feminist way of relating to the world.

Personally, I know some children and Jehovah's Witnesses and men and lesbians and African-Americans and republicans and German that I like very much and some that I don't. I just generally think it's a good idea to get to know someone first (yes, you can get to know children...and Jehovah's Witnesses) before I decide across the board that I don't like them.

But you know, I really see where you're coming from because I really can't stand nature. Every time I leave the damn house there're trees and bugs and weather to deal with. It drives me up a wall. It's like plants and animals feel like the world was made for them. If I wanted to deal with nature, I'd have house plants!

plain(s)feminist said...

britgirl -
Kelsey actually summed it up pretty well. Dismissing a whole group of people because they share membership in a group is, essentially, bigotry. As opposed to disliking certain behaviors and determining whether or not to spend time with a person based on whether or not they exhibit those behaviors.

I am still trying to puzzle out why you think it is not ok not to like kids? Because in general, people do like kids? Or because we accept the thinking that if we don't like children there's something wrong.

No, none of this has anything to do with my reasoning, and I don't accept either of these premises anyway.

And no, I don't think that people who don't like kids necessarily harm them. But I think that the belief that one has a right to dislike whole groups of people is harmful (and entitled). And yes, it is dehumanizing, because the group in question has ceased to be a collection of individuals and is now "those people."

plain(s)feminist said...

Wait, I should clarify my last comment. Ironically, I was interrupted by my kid, LOL.

I wrote:
No, none of this has anything to do with my reasoning, and I don't accept either of these premises anyway.

What I meant was that the issue as I see it is not about what people in general do or don't do. It's about making judgments about individuals based on who they are rather than based on their membership in a larger group. I don't accept the thinking that if we don't want to have children there is something wrong, nor do I think that most people like children, necessarily. Argh. I hope that was clear.

Stuff Daddy said...

I'm sorry, but hatred of children IS sociopathic. I don't have kids and I spend most of my time in places without kids. I don't like parents who let their kids run around like crazy without watching them in public places. But I don't hate kids. We all were kids. I wonder if people who hate kids, had terrible childhoods or just put it behind them.

Children are the vessels of fun and truth. I'm sure it's unnerving, when a person feels secure in their self created image and individually secure life and then, all of a sudden, a child comes up to you and they don't see your impeccable business dress or other accoutrements. It's an "Emperor's New Clothes" moment and there you are, just another grownup person who thinks they are very important, but isn't.

Individually, I don't think anyone is telling you that you cannot live your life the way you please. However, if every time you see a child, you cringe and start to boil with anger, thinking that some annoying brat might bother your day, you would have much in common with those who feel the same about "uppity Negros" who don't avert there eyes and cross the street when they see white folk.

You may be an individual with the right to do as you please, but you are also part of the human animal, spinning on a planet in the middle of nowhere. Children are a fact of life. That's how we start out. You live in a world community and whether or not you actually create them personally, your taxes, voting and other choices will raise generations of children and then, their choices will determine whether or not they drop you on and ice flow. Make a lot of money, buy an island and live out you life childfree and guilt free. Otherwise, wake up! The one freedom you don't have is to change reality. Hating children is even more problematic then simple prejudice. Hating children is hating what you were. Hating the elderly is hating what you will become. It's a battle that you will never win.

Britgirl said...

@ plains feminist - Thank you for your response... here I go again (lol). I think I mentioned in my reply that treating everyone with respect is key and is fundamental.

Dimissing a group of people because of who they are may be bigotry (but I might add, so what? But doesn't that reasoning also mean I should like Hitler or the Nazis. Or the Klu Klux Klan? I don't think so).Also I am talking about liking or disliking, not necessarily dismissing. Each of these require an acknowledgement.

My point is simply this - that people have the right to like or dislike anyone they want to. I personally believe that anyone who kills a child should be executed and if they hurt them, they should never see freedom again. But that's me.

The fact is, society can mandate behaviour, but cannot mandate people's attitude. Which means that we as human beings, whatever the opinion of others may be, are allowed to carry in our hearts whatever we want. Everything else is simply an opinion. Fact - many people do not like kids and it may be hard for people to understand it but it's the case - and that is their right, whether people think it o.k or not.

I know you don't agree, so on that note, let's just agree to disagree on this one.

@sd - nothing of what you have said is any reason to like kids and I recognise a lot of tired old arguments there. But you are entitled to your opinion.

plain(s)feminist said...

My point is simply this - that people have the right to like or dislike anyone they want to.

Right, and this is the source of our disagreement. And yes, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

But it's certainly been a record-breaking discussion for my blog! I have more to say about related issues, I think, particularly about the comment I posted earlier on your blog.

andi said...

Most, if not all, of the people that I know who don't like kids are not concerned with age, but rather behaviours.
If an adult did the same things that kids are known, and excused for, they'd "hate" the adults too.
Whether it's the screaming, the crying, the intrusiveness, the nosiness, the demands for attention from perfect strangers, the touching of perfect strangers, the grabbiness, the demands from other adutls to modify behaviours, clothing, even rearranging houses ( aka "childproofing" another person's home) or the blantent disrespect a good many parents show other adults with the "but I have kids there for I deserve it more/ better or for free" attitude at work or else where... kids are not like any other group in the things that society at large, even strangers are expected to put up with.
We make all kinds of excuses as to why kids should be excused from normal societal expectaions of courtesy and respect these days...everything from where they MUST be allowed to sit on planes, at concerts, on public transport, to special accomadations and considerations at other people's expense (work and colleges come to mind) to demands that kids be allowed to bed down for naps in their host's bedroom, to a total personality change for shy adults who are accosted by a kid who "must" be answered ,to a thousand other things I can think of ...When kids and their parents are once again subject to the same rules and expectations that other groups are, I'll start worrying about people who say they "hate" kids.
Until that day, I'll just figure they hate being treated like crap because of someone else's age.



And yes, people do bring their kids to bars, strip clubs and porn shops.

plain(s)feminist said...

If an adult did the same things that kids are known, and excused for, they'd "hate" the adults too.
Whether it's the screaming, the crying, the intrusiveness, the nosiness, the demands for attention from perfect strangers, the touching of perfect strangers, the grabbiness,


Right. Because if an adult did it, it would be completely unacceptable. Children are in the process of becoming socialized, which is why they do these things. They are in the process of being taught appropriate behavior.

And I have no patience with this aspect of childfree arguments. Now, kids who are misbehaving and their parents are allowing it or not removing them from the situation? Yes, that's a problem and the parents need to deal with it - it's not ok to allow your children to run amok. But kids who are just exhibiting normal kid behavior? Suck it up and deal.

the demands from other adutls to modify behaviours, clothing, even rearranging houses ( aka "childproofing" another person's home)

I would say this depends. Do we or do we not assume that people should use common courtesy in their dealings with others? It sounds like you think parents and kids should, but that you should be immune.

or the blantent disrespect a good many parents show other adults with the "but I have kids there for I deserve it more/ better or for free" attitude at work or else where...

I've never seen this - not once - in any of the many places I've worked. I can't think of a single time anyone has said such a thing in my presence or in the presence of anyone else with whom I work. I have, however, heard this exact rhetoric from childfree people, especially since I started reading childfree sites. Blatant entitlement.

kids are not like any other group in the things that society at large, even strangers are expected to put up with.

That's right. Unlike the others, kids are in the process of becoming socialized. You're expected to put up with them because they're HUMAN. That's what it means to live in a society. You don't get to determine who is part of the society and who isn't.

We make all kinds of excuses as to why kids should be excused from normal societal expectaions of courtesy and respect these days...everything from where they MUST be allowed to sit on planes, at concerts, on public transport,

What does riding on a plane or a bus have to do with anything? I'm not allowed to buy my kid a ticket on a plane because that offends you? Your needs so much more important than anyone else's that you get to decide who can take a plane or bus or train?

I think it's ironic that I more or less supported the childfree movement (albeit with some criticisms) until childfree advocates starting trying to argue their case. Last weekend, I had a conversation with two "childfree" friends who read this blog and who were completely appalled by the comments childfree people posted here and on the blogs I linked to. Childfree advocates are turning away their own target audience with their entitled rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my doG, woman, could you be more sanctimonious in your depiction of yourself as the most important thing in the universe? I'd be amazed if you could.

Your holier-than-thou attitude towards the childfree is pandering, at best, and belittling, at worst.

YOU are not the center of the universe. YOUR CHILD is not the center of the universe. Most people who actually PARENT their chidlren know if the kid cries, you take it outside. And if your kid is crying on the plane, don't sit there and act like you either a) don't hear it or b) think we all should think it's cute. Because I'm pretty sure 99.9% of the time, the kid did NOT need to travel. Unless your mother is dying, you did NOT need to be on the plane. Period. And trust me, if you were in the seat next to me beaming up at me with your holy progeny in your lap like I was supposed to fall down fawning all over it, I WOULD have asked to be moved.

All creatures can reproduce. Acting like it's some miraculous feat is stupid. Get over yourself, already.

Have all the kids you want, but RAISE them - DON'T drag them everywhere you go whether appropriate or not, DON'T act like we should all think your DNA replicants are the bestest thing on the planet, and DON'T act like you are more special, or entitled, than the rest of us. Because you know what? You're not.

Get off the cross, already. We need the wood.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Since my post was truncated and now makes little sense I am reposting it. I hope it works this time.


. "Now, kids who are misbehaving and their parents are allowing it or not removing them from the situation? Yes, that's a problem and the parents need to deal with it - it's not ok to allow your children to run amok. But kids who are just exhibiting normal kid behavior? Suck it up and deal."

Sorry, but where I sit kids ARE NOT being socialized they are be treated like royalty, and we're supposed to deal...YOU don't have paitience for other folks feelilngs and thoughts but we're supposed accomadate you and like it? Holy entitlemnt batman! Grow up.

"the demands from other adutls to modify behaviours, clothing, even rearranging houses ( aka "childproofing" another person's home)

I would say this depends. Do we or do we not assume that people should use common courtesy in their dealings with others? It sounds like you think parents and kids should, but that you should be immune."

In MY HOME damn straight I should be immune... How dare anyone think they have the right to dictate how I should arrange things in MY HOME for THEIR convience...don't like the way I do things? Don't think it's safe for Prescious? ( ans yes, Prescious is the name of a little girl I know, so get your panties out of a wad) Simple common courtesy is not to come over, but walking in and taking things and rearranging them is just not your right. Parent or not YOU owe other folks at least as much as you think they owe you...YOU and YOUR KID are the one who are visiting. You don't pay the bills, you don't live there you don't get a say. Once again, Parent entitlement. "I get to go where I want, even some one else's home and have it to MY liking, and they can suck it up and deal" Same with house rules. Don't like that Barney and Pokemon might not be allowed in a person's home, don't go there when they are on, and don't bring that stuff over,,,house rules don't need to change because you walk through the door.
This why people learn to "hate" kids and parents...Entitlement, even in OUR HOMES.

And yes, All of this is stuff, I or my friends ( both Childfree and childed) have experianced from parents and kids.



"or the blantent disrespect a good many parents show other adults with the "but I have kids there for I deserve it more/ better or for free" attitude at work or else where...

I've never seen this - not once - in any of the many places I've worked. I can't think of a single time anyone has said such a thing in my presence or in the presence of anyone else with whom I work. I have, however, heard this exact rhetoric from childfree people, especially since I started reading childfree sites. Blatant entitlement"

THen you're blind. Case in point...I last job I had I worked, every weekend, every holiday ( no matter how minor) for 5 years...5 years...I finally took a vacation week around Xmas and New Years the year my dad had cancer...I scheduled it in Febrary, come the second week in December we hired a new set of folks, who were in training til xmas eve..and Low and behold, I was told the parents of that group would be getting Xmas AND New Year's off...the singles and chlidfree couples in the group would be working, but the parents had off. In order to accomadate this, my vacation and the vacations of 3 other folks all of whom had no kids were summarily cancelled.
Another case in point..at this job, I have been here two years we just hired a new person this week, she is being given the Monday through Friday schedule, and I am being told to move to Wednesday through Sunday to accomadate her.
Another one.... Parents pay the same college tution as singles but often bring their kids to classe, to the detriment of everyone else in class, but if we complain we are told to "suck it up, they're only kids" Well the kids didn't pay for the class so they don't belong there, let the parents, get a baby sitter.


"kids are not like any other group in the things that society at large, even strangers are expected to put up with.

That's right. Unlike the others, kids are in the process of becoming socialized. You're expected to put up with them because they're HUMAN. That's what it means to live in a society. You don't get to determine who is part of the society and who isn't."


Nor do you, and demanding special priviledges because of your kids age and inability to control itself...is discrimination, just as if I opened a needlework store and refused to allow kids in there. "Oh but he's just a kid" excuses a hell of a lot that shouldn't be and "normal kid behaviour" is not appropriate every where. Nor should all of it be tolerated. Just because it's "normal kid behaviour for a kid to be nosey , to ask "why,why, why,why, why,why or "what ya dooooooing" does notmean total strangers OWE them explinations. Whether it's a simple "I am Cross stitching or a more complicated "answer to why I am on crutches, I do not owe any one an explination reguaurdless of their age. Nor normal kid behaviour, maybe, but whole innappropriate. Same thing with touching other folks, especially strangers-should not have to allow kids to touch them, because it "normal kid behaviour" get a grip...and before you ask, the last time this happened to me was this morning, in a restuarant, as I was eating breakfast. I was simply minding my own business and I feel some one "brushing" my hair, I whip around to say something and the mommy looks at me and says "he just a kid, why are you if you don't want to be touched" Umm, I have the right not to be touched, and I should not have to sequester myself to ensure that right...teach the kid manners, not excuses.

"We make all kinds of excuses as to why kids should be excused from normal societal expectaions of courtesy and respect these days...everything from where they MUST be allowed to sit on planes, at concerts, on public transport,

What does riding on a plane or a bus have to do with anything? I'm not allowed to buy my kid a ticket on a plane because that offends you? Your needs so much more important than anyone else's that you get to decide who can take a plane or bus or train?
"

Never said you couldn't but if you don't buy that kid a seat, you don't get to tell the person sitting next to you, that HAS paid for a seat, and has been assigned that seat, that they have to move because the kid needs the seat or your arms are tired or what not. Your needs are not so much more important that anyone else's either lady. Nor should anyone have to put up your kid intruding on their personal space because you didn't buy your lap baby a seat.. you paid for the space of one seat don't make it anyone else's issue to deal with the kids hands feet, or what have you. Nor should total strangers have to deal with the needs of kids flying alone...and yes, female passengers are often asked to care for children flying alone, talk to them, comfort them, cut up food at meal time, if you can't afford or can't be bothered to go with you kid, then don't foist them on others. I pay for my ticket, to get somewhere I want or need to be, not to be an unpaid sitter for some kid. And yes, I should be exempt from childcare duties mearly because I I didn't bring that child aboard therefore I am not responsible for it. Want me to care for it? Pay me MY rate not yours. Otherwise I reserve the right to sleep, read, cross stitch whatever in peace. ANd yes, I'd tell an adult who tried to talk to me to leave me alone too.
Same with concerts, You don't get to bring a kid to a show with out a ticket..or a ticket that is in another row than yours and tell folks who have th seat next to you that they get to move to accomadate your kid. OR don't come to a General admission show and expect to "line jump" to the front just because you have a kid in tow...happens pften enough that in one band's fan base the parents are calling for the first 8 rows of any show to be reserverd for parents and kids, and everyone else should suck it up and deal with being in the back.

Get over the fact that not everyone is going to joyfully put up with whatever you and your kids dish out... We're human too and we're sick of being treat as if we we're. And before you get all sanctimonious on us again- go read what you said about "common courtesy" in other folks homes.. again Holy entitlemnt batman!

plain(s)feminist said...

Anonymous -
If you're going to post here, please take the trouble to read the posts you are responding to and try to restrain yourself from making assumptions and leaping to conclusions.

Other than that, you pretty much made my point for me.

plain(s)feminist said...

Just a heads up that I will be deleting abusive posts from this point forward. If you have something to say, say it without name-calling.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Minerva said...

There is no excuse for the woman's behavior on the plane. I too had this happen to me. The mother would neither remove her things from my seat nor would she acknowledge I was even there asking her politely to please remove them until I told her I was going to call the flight attendant.
There is no excuse or reason for her rudeness. Having a child does not give one the right to take what is not theirs. It's one thing to take an empty seat next to you after the plane is in the air it is quite another to commandere a seat when the owner is standing right there asking for it. thid isexactly the entitlement attitude that the child-free complain about;people who use their kids as
an excuse to take more than they deserve.
There is no child-free "movement" as you suggest. CF people are not trying to recruit others into their ranks. On the contrary childed people are forever trying to get the CF's to change their mind. Ask any CF'er how many times he/she has heard "Oh, you'll change your mind." or "Just have one" or the ever popular "What's wrong with you?"
Child free people simply want to live their lives as they choose just like anyone else without being hassled about their feelings

plain(s)feminist said...

Hi Minerva,
Welcome.

There is no excuse for the woman's behavior on the plane. I too had this happen to me. The mother would neither remove her things from my seat nor would she acknowledge I was even there asking her politely to please remove them until I told her I was going to call the flight attendant.
There is no excuse or reason for her rudeness.


You're right - that's absolutely rude beyond the pale. It wasn't quite the scenario I was imagining when I read Julia Penelope's work (which is why I wrote about it the way I did). But I'll admit that even if we read the woman with the best intent, her reaction should not have been to smile up at Penelope, but to apologize and to pick up her baby. It *is* entitled for her to assume that she could just have that seat when the owner was standing there. But I do also think there are a couple of other issues at play, which I mentioned in my post and which I discuss more below.

First - I recently had a similar experience on a plane when I was travelling alone, and while I wouldn't have minded moving to accomodate the family of three who had not been seated together, I *did* mind that the parents didn't ask me if I would be willing to switch seats or even acknowledge me at all when I tried to make eye contact. I've been in their position a few times, when the airline has told me, "we couldn't get you seats together - I'm sure someone will switch with you." I don't know if people realize that this is what happens - the airlines thus create the problem, in my opinion, since, as my own seat frequently gets moved between when I get my ticket and when I get on board (ostensibly to accomodate various other passenger's needs), they could surely find a way to either seat a family together or suggest another flight. But I always *ask*, and I ask nicely, and I apologize for the inconvenience. And though people have always been very polite and willing to switch, and brush off my apology, I think that's how it *should* be handled when you're asking someone else to do you a favor (incidentally, the airlines try to work it - at least in my experience - so that it's an even switch or an upgrade, aisle seat to aisle seat, or middle to aisle, for example). I absolutely agree that what you encountered - and what I encountered - smacked of entitlement.

There is no child-free "movement" as you suggest.

A couple of people have pointed this out to me. There are childfree people who do talk about it as a movement, as in the case of the person I linked to in the post. But I think that what you and others are saying is that a movement is more political in nature, more focused on working toward a particular goal, and not just an online community that exists for support/socializing. Is that what you mean? (Though I'd add that many social movements, including feminism and the gay and lesbian movement started out just this way. Perhaps CF is in the process of becoming a movement, as other commenters have also suggested.)

On the contrary childed people are forever trying to get the CF's to change their mind.

Oh, I'm quite sure that's true, and I've written about that on this blog (and in this very post). I remember having that same experience when I was in college and telling people I wasn't planning to have children. No one took me seriously at all. (The fact that I have one now does not mean I was not serious then, and I don't say this to imply that I think CF people will change their minds - I don't.) I also know a woman who has never wanted children, but as a young, white woman, she could not find a doctor who was willing to perform a tubal ligation because she "might change her mind."

Incidentally, something I haven't seen mentioned much in this thread (but which comes up all the time for my friends) is the entitlement that one's parents feel re. having grandchildren. They often feel it is their right, and they make that very, very clear. My mother was "very disappointed" when I said I would probably not have another child - because she feels she missed out on my son's babyhood. But of course, it's not one person's job to reproduce in order to make someone else happy!

Child free people simply want to live their lives as they choose just like anyone else without being hassled about their feelings

Of course. I don't think anyone's said differently.

Thanks for commenting. The discussion has moved on from this older post to the front page.

elect_bonz said...

I am actually one of those people who honestly just DOES NOT LIKE most kids.
That doesn't mean that I do anything to hurt them or discrimiante them.
But I don't like most things about most children.
That does not make me a bad person, any more than it makes someone a bad person who does not liek most things about most dogs.
And it does not make my feeling less valid than the feelings of the person who likes most things about most kids.

Anonymous said...

If you have siblings, when you are gone 50% of your dna WILL be left behind. Parent and child are no more genetically alike than siblings. People want to believe that they are creating something special. But, if you have siblings genetically that similarity already exist.

Miranda said...

I'm childfree by choice (but I like kids). I actually agree that when a baby cries on a plane, as long as the parents are doing what they can about it, it's not their fault. It's annoying, for sure, but it's not worth getting worked up about. What do yo expect anyone to do about it? That's why I always travel with noise-canceling headphones.

Where I *do* think the complainers are totally justified, however, is places where people choose to bring small children and shouldn't -- like adult movies (I don't mean porn, just movies aimed at adults), nice restaurants, and such. If you take your baby to a movie, and the baby cries, and you don't hustle the baby out of there immediately, *then* I think I have every right to be irritated at you. But on a plane? No.

Miranda said...

Danielle wrote:

"I have seen some childfree stuff, and a lot of it is really vile. One childfree site even described a utopian city where the whole city was powered by the corpses of babies. Not all of them are like this, though. Some are reasonable and have really valid concerns."

(big, huge sigh)

I would venture to say that *most* childfrees are not like that, in fact.

Please, don't tar us all with that brush. If you met a parent who expressed disgusting, offensive thoughts, you wouldn't assume that all parents thought that -- you'd know it was a fringe minority.

I've heard some extreme viewpoints from other childfree people (though nothing that horrible, so far).

The conclusion I've come to? Extremists -- no matter what they're extreme about -- suck. :-)

Plain(s)feminist said...

Hi Miranda,
Welcome, and thanks for your comments.

I think the more extreme the site, the more likely it is to come up at the top of the average Google search, unfortunately...so it may not be representative at all, but it gets a lot of attention.

MrsJ said...

Not having read the other 53 comments I'd just like to say that it's not really the crying babies that I have a huge problem with - I realize it's going to happen, as people need to cry with babies and babies cry. It's the children who run around in the aisles, who jump up and down in their seats, who scream because they think it's cute, etc., that make me cringe.

I have been on plane with children a lot, and have had good experiences all but once, but that one time I wanted to strangle the parents who could not seem to control the children.

Anonymous said...

Why does it disturb you that a lot of childfree people don't want to have to deal with your crotchfruit? IMO people with crying babies on planes should be put off the flight and kids under 5yo shouldn't be allowed to fly at all. There are childfree resturants now but the biggest mprovement is that polices are starting to change, when your kids acts up now a lot of resturants will ask you to remove your child. YIPPEE! Breeders are so annoying and selfish

v said...

I understand your concern. Frankly, I am thankful for childfree folks however, as long as they don't try to trample on the needs of kids who are already here (by voting against taxes to fund schools).

There are too many humans on the planet, and folks in the US make the worst impact of the lot. The fewer of us that are breeding, the better for the human race as a whole as well as the planet and the life forms we share it with.

I actually feel guilty for wanting to have a kid some day, and chagrined at all the people who have suddenly glommed on to having kids (and multiple kids!) as a trendy thing especially if they're rich.

They may not think of it that way, but childfree folks are making a altruistic decision which benefits all of humanity.

Anonymous said...

Just a question: I wonder why parents of only children haven’t set up any rant communities. Perhaps there are some, but I haven’t seen any (if anyone knows of one, please let me know, not that I would want to join it, but I’d be curious to know if they exist). After all, we’re called selfish, denied sterilizations, told we’re going against God’s will, etcetera. So I would just want to know why societal disapproval hasn’t pushed parents of only children by choice to set up boards where they denigrate those who have chosen differently.

Emilia

Old School Dude said...

The problem with the "feminists" take here is that her views on children changed when she had kids of her own.

This more or less supports my underlying belief (as a guy) that feminists are maddeningly self-centered.

I've always loved children. I loved my younger cousins and now I am deeply invested in the lives of my own children. I run a tight ship and have a couple of the least "annoying" kids on earth -- In fact their a hell of a lot less annoying than their old man...

I'm glad the leopard was able to change her spots, but I'd actually prefer that people with the anti-child ethos just steer clear of parenthood entirely. It is an enormous responsibility, and I'd like my children to be surrounded by kids with loving parents.

Btw, I think parents who want everywhere to be kid friendly are imbeciles. People who are unwilling to sacrifice the hipster life shouldn't be having kids.

Thankfully, I never was never hip to begin with....

Plain(s)feminist said...

So...not wanting to have kids or not particularly enjoying being around them = annoying self-centeredness if you are a feminist? Hmmm...kinda reinforces my underlying belief about men who think all women should naturally just adore kids...