Sunday, February 18, 2007

Update on yesterday's post.

If you're wondering what all the fuss is about, my buddy Stuff Daddy has it here.

I've gotten several hits from the community he mentions, and the abusive comment I mentioned yesterday (but did not post) came from there. They feel that I won't publish anything I don't agree with, which BritGirl and the other childfree people (and some childed) who commented on my other childfree posts will be surprised to hear. I'm sure Renegade Evolution can sympathize. Interestingly, on their own site, the policy is to disallow any posters who are not childfree specifically because they don't want to have to defend themselves or their beliefs (or, I think, their hateful language - I'm not talking about "breeder," either - go to Stuff's site, and see for yourself). But at any rate, I've never deleted comments because I disagree with them, and I think Aus Blog would back me up on this, as well. I've only ever deleted a handful of comments. In re. to comments on the Childfree thread, I deleted an abusive one that appeared just after I'd posted that I would delete abusive comments. I also deleted another by the same author that re-posted all 40+ of the comments on that thread (it was just confusing as hell, and she had posted another comment that was more clear, which I left). I did not post the one she sent me to complain that I was unfair in not posting her abusive comment because she didn't call me any names (she did) because I addressed her concerns on the front page (I haven't gotten any hits as of last evening from their site to my front page, so I doubt she's read it).

I haven't bothered to respond to this group (of two commenters, by the way) beyond yesterday's post (which, as I said, they haven't read). The reason I haven't responded will become clear if you follow the links from Stuff Daddy. After reading what's been said about me in their own forum, I don't see how it is possible that they would respect me enough as a human being to actually want to talk with me about anything, much less about this. And I don't feel like participating in a "discussion" purely to fuel more talk on their site about what a "sanctimonious" "moo cow" and horrible parent I am. They can do that without me. But even if I did feel like talking to them, what would I say? "Hey, you've got me wrong - I'm an ally!"? I am an ally to childfree people, generally. But after this? I'm no ally of the people on that site.

But I will say more about why I don't think a discussion is possible.

As just one example, I made a distinction between temper tantrums in public and normal kid behavior. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough about this, but I was trying to separate a real tantrum from, say, fussing or something that is easily resolved. So I said that in the case of a tantrum, parents needed to remove the child from the situation, and that in the case of normal kid behavior, people needed to suck it up. What I was thinking was that, for example, babies fuss if they're hungry, kids fuss if they're tired, etc. Not that the parent should let it go - most parents carry around bags of kid stuff for dealing with just these situations. As is clear from reading all of the other stuff I've written about this - which the folks from that forum haven't done - I think parents need to "do something" about these situations. My point was merely that it's unreasonable to expect that babies will never cry and kids will never fidget, and that, yes, people need to be patient, just as people are patient with other annoyances (including people who walk slowly in front of you in a long line, or, for that matter, the angry woman at the gate who threw her water bottle on the ground in a fury when they wouldn't let her take it on board (nearly hitting me, for which she apologized profusely - just as parents often apologize for their kids' behavior)).

This has since been turned into the comments that Stuff Daddy quotes, in which I am expecting childfree people to worship the sun shining out of my newborn's ass.

I also questioned a commenter's statement that kids should not be allowed to sit on planes or on public transportation. I called this attitude entitled. I wondered why I was not allowed to take my child on a plane, and why Andi, the commenter, was entitled to make that decision, and why her preference for travelling without a child on board took precedence over everyone else's needs.

Here is the response that I got:
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.

What's of interest to me is the great acrobatic leaping and bounding from assumption to conclusion. I love, particularly, the assessment that children (and parents) don't need to use public transportation; that public transportation has been designed solely for the use of the childfree; that parents, in general, think their children are the center of the universe; and, of course, that I, personally, do not "PARENT" my child. (There's also the whole, "I'M not entitled - YOU are!" deal.)

These comments speak volumes (and I even left out the part where babies and mothers were compared to drug addicts, among other "undesireables"). As do those on the site from which these commenters came.

What's bizarre to me is that the comments smack of exactly the same behavior that people seem to find most upsetting in children. This is nothing short of a temper tantrum. It's not a reasoned argument - the commenter is stating many of the same claims I made in that post, in related posts, and in comments, and is simultaneously blaming me for taking an opposite position to the one I took. It's not a civil argument - it's name-calling, it's obnoxious. Do adults not have the responsibility to rein in their own unpleasant behavior? Or is it only children's unpleasant behavior that is the problem?

Anyway - comments, as always, are welcomed. I will post any that do not come with embedded insults.

Oh, and speaking of insults, I think it's interesting that the folks on the site in question call mothers "moo cows" and babies "sprogs," but I haven't seen any insulting names for fathers yet. As a feminist, I have to wonder why that might be. Is it simply that they feel that mothers behave badly and fathers don't? Is it a subtle misogyny? Is it that they most often see the sprogs with their moo cows and not their moo bulls? I'm curious.

20 comments:

blacksweatpants said...

[publish this if you like. edit it if you like. don't publish it if i'm just stating the obvious or making bad associations. just my two cents.]

perhaps i can view this war of words with (child-like) wonder because i am young. and naive.

but i have been around long enough to offer this note on human behavior:

having watched others experience grief/depression/eating disorders/etc., i have learned this: people who are in an angry stage do not employ logic. all one can do is listen, watch, and wait.

there is so much anger in those comments (broad, unfocused, lash-out-at-anything-nearby anger) that a discussion is impossible.

and that is frustrating, because one wants to be vulnerable and talk. and reason. and think.

but all one can do is listen. and watch.

and wait.

Trin said...

The insult for dads is "duh" or "duhdie," but it's not employed often at all. In my experience with this sort, the rage rests on an assumption that mothers are convinced they are holy feminine saints for breeding, who get all their fulfillment from "little darlings." Think Petunia Dursley and her son Dudley from Harry Potter.

I don't think there's really a stereotype like that for dads, which may be a part of why one doesn't see "duhdie" as often.

The expecting kids not to fuss thing has always struck me as totally bizarre, too -- kids' short attention spans and tendencies to tantrums and raised voices are a developmental thing, not an indication of atrocious behavior. Yes, some kids behave that way non-stop, and yes, bad parenting can be why -- but the whole idea that the world we live in is an adult world, and children are these obnoxious and bizarre anomalies who disturb the peace, makes zero sense to me.

And I'm not someone who wants a child. I don't think I ever will.

K said...

I sort of wish they'd drop the whole "child free" label; it makes the rest of witout children look bad.

Ashley said...

First I wanted to say I'm a member of CFEZ but I found this blog through a google blog search on the term childfree. I later saw the post on CFEZ and it took me awhile to realize it was the same one.

Sprog is a british term for child or kid. I've seen it used very often by parents. Parents are also fond of calling their kid little spoglet.

Fathers are often called "duh" or "wallet" (and others less popular). The first meaning a bad male parent. The second for when a man is talked into kids he didn't really want (or oopsed into parenthood) by a woman who needed a stable man - or better termed a walking wallet.

As long as childcare mainly falls to the women, the CF will have most of their encounters with mothers and not fathers. You will then continue to see "moo" more than "duh".

As for CFEZ being locked. We're not trying to hide from comments here by being members of a CF only community. There are CF and parent communities. Some for the whole purpose of debate and some for general discussion. I'd say 90% of the members of CFEZ are members of some of those boards. The childfree community is very much an online thing. Your blog post ended up in one that wasn't. That's just how it worked out. No one's hiding from anything. If you were to take this debate to a parent/CF communtity you'd probably be debating with all the same people.

And something Stuff Daddy refused to acknoweledge in his update (even after he quoted someone who wrote it) the childfree are *not* a movement. We're just not. Not at this point. There are some who think we should be moving in that direction but it hasn't hapened. So as long as his posts keep harping on about our community not helping to make progress in this imagined movement he's blowing hot air.

Plus his definition of sociopath is misused.

"Someone whose social behavior is extremely abnormal. Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others."

Not likeing kids =/= extreme abnormal behavior. And one has to be "only interested in their desires" at all times for all reasons. Not just in relation to kids.

Trin said...

"I sort of wish they'd drop the whole "child free" label; it makes the rest of witout children look bad."

Yup.

Anonymous said...

I'm a member of the childfree board you refer to. I'm also a feminist. I wanted to offer my own apology for some of the more extreme posters on that board and to let you know that we’re not all like that. There’s no reason why some of the members of the childfree forum should have come up with the conclusions they did if they had really read your post. I myself don't agree with everything you said, but my issues are for the most part minor. I wanted to let you know that I found your post well thought out and interesting.

I visit this particular childfree site often and occasionally post there as well. As is obvious, the conscious decision to not have children is not the norm in our society. So I like the fact that there is a forum where I can be around like minded people. I also find that many of their political views align with mine.

I have struggled myself from time to time with the terms they use and the minor things they sometimes go into large rants about. Despite these issues I have, I find myself going back there because of the interesting discussions and dialogue going on that I can relate to. At the moment I believe that I will continue to be a member of the board, but this whole issue has given me pause.

Anyway, I appreciate the fact that you are supportive of women (and men) who choose not to have children. The fact that you have a child yourself makes this all the more noteworthy. Please don’t give up on the entire childfree community based on a few extreme comments.

On a slightly off topic note, I think anyone who is childfree would logically be supportive of feminism. However, something that seems to be lacking on our board is any major discussion of that. There's a lot of talk about pro-choice issues, but not much about other feminist issues. I think this may be due to the fact that we still have a long way to go in making the word "feminist" not be considered a dirty word that average women shy away from.

Britgirl said...

I am not at all sure why you're so sure I'll be surprised that you'd post something you didn't agree with. I'm pretty certain I've not said that so I'll be kind and say it's a generalision.I don't, of course know about, nor do I speak for, the "other childfree people.. their blogs, their rules"

plain(s)feminist said...

BritGirl - Sorry, perhaps I wasn't clear. What I meant was, that you'd be surprised to hear that I was refusing to post comments I disagreed with, which was the charge from the other board. Because I posted your comments (and others) that disagreed with me. Gah - sorry if that was confusing - I was just trying to point out that as a general practice I post all comments, whether they agree with me or not.

plain(s)feminist said...

Hi Ashley,
Welcome.

Thanks for explaining some of the terms and why there is more of an emphasis on "moo" than on words for fathers. (I had no idea that "sprog" was a term of endearment!)

As for CFEZ being locked. We're not trying to hide from comments here by being members of a CF only community.

I didn't think that, and I have no issue with it being a place just for CF people. There's a lot of value to having places that are just for "us," whoever the "us" is. I just thought it was ironic that one or two posters there complained that I wasn't posting comments that disagreed with me, given that CFEZ is created essentially to provide a space where CF people don't have to deal with dissenters.

And something Stuff Daddy refused to acknoweledge in his update (even after he quoted someone who wrote it) the childfree are *not* a movement.

I think I referred to it as a movement before he did, and I was taking my cue (I think) from the media, who tend to talk about it that way. If I recall correctly - there are a lot of articles that talk about the growing number of CF people as a growing movement, but I'm not 100% sure. Maybe I made that leap by myself. I think you're using the term "movement" to mean having a specific political goal as opposed to being a social/support community, is that right?

Plus his definition of sociopath is misused.

"Someone whose social behavior is extremely abnormal. Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others."

Not likeing kids =/= extreme abnormal behavior. And one has to be "only interested in their desires" at all times for all reasons. Not just in relation to kids.


I've disagreed before with CF and childed people on this because I disagree with the idea that it's ok to dislike *any* group of people simply because they are members of a group. For ex., disliking children who are ill-behaved is one thing (in my book); disliking all of them is another. I'm not saying this to try to convince you to think differently -just explaining where I'm coming from.

However. I think you make a good point in the last two lines about the focus on one's self-interest at all times. I don't know if you've posted this at Stuff's page, but he would hear what you had to say if you wanted to do so.

Thanks for commenting.

plain(s)feminist said...

Hi Anonymous,
Welcome, and thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it. And for my part - well, when I saw my post on the CFEZ board, let's just say that I was surprised at how I came across. I had *no* intention of being sanctimonious, and I hate being called that, but I can understand why someone might read that piece alone and come away with that feeling. I mean, I do think that I explained myself better than the comments on the board suggested, but I can see that the tone might have sounded condescending and I really didn't mean for it to.

Anyway, I appreciate the fact that you are supportive of women (and men) who choose not to have children. The fact that you have a child yourself makes this all the more noteworthy. Please don’t give up on the entire childfree community based on a few extreme comments.

On a slightly off topic note, I think anyone who is childfree would logically be supportive of feminism. However, something that seems to be lacking on our board is any major discussion of that. There's a lot of talk about pro-choice issues, but not much about other feminist issues. I think this may be due to the fact that we still have a long way to go in making the word "feminist" not be considered a dirty word that average women shy away from.


In my own experience, which may really be limited to academic feminists, I've found much support among feminist mothers (and fathers) for women and men who choose not to have children. I see that respect for individual choice, as well as the realization that while having children *can* be enriching, it is also a huge task for women, especially, and one that all of us are socialized to take on. Part of compulsory heterosexuality is compulsory reproduction, and I'd even go so far as to say that compulsory reproduction has spread into the queer community - not that queer people don't want to have kids, but I think it's become an expectation there, as well, if that makes sense.

Anyway - my point is, I think that among feminists (of a certain sort, anyway), there is a lot of support for childfree, even if those feminists are mothers. I'd be really interested in reading works by childfree feminists, actually - I was wondering how the academics would look at these discussions. If you have any suggestions for readings, please let me know.

I should just add, too, that I think I've been fortunate in my dealings with parents and kids. I've never seen parents bring their kids to inappropriate places (except R-rated movies, and that really disturbs me but more b/c I think it's damaging for a 3-year old to see a horror film). I'm shocked that people are bringing their kids to pubs (though I'd add that this is an issue the pub owners should be dealing with in some way - and perhaps patrons should ask the owners to make the pubs "adult only" after 7pm or something - I don't know).

Which is not to imply at all that I'm a perfect parent. I try to be considerate, but I'm sure I've done things that others found obnoxious. Certainly, though, I think about it all a bit differently now than before I had these discussions.

Stuff Daddy said...

Ashley, thanks you for your thoughts, I'm sure you are right, about it not being a movement.. I was looking around online and saw things pointing both ways. I knew little on the subject before these encounters except that several friends have told me that they don't want children and I'm not sure that I do. I am also aware that many people feel that certain governments and employers reward parents special benefits. Much of that is unfair. However, "Childfree" is an ideology, although maybe it is just an umbrella over several different ideals.

I apologise to any people who feel I am unjustly attacking them. I think I have said, maybe a dozen times, that choosing to not have children and living much of your life away from them is not wrong or unworthy or something less than being a parent.

I live my life pretty much child free, and I grieve for those who feel oppression for living like this.

Regarding the word sociopath. Choosing to not have children and even to spend as much time away from children as possible does not make anyone a sociopath.

But those people are not the people who are responding with such hate to this blog. I'm reading the words of people who vilify children and say they should be left in land fills, people who call children sh*tsacks or c*ntt*rds and respond with venom towards people who only want to discuss issues calmly. I find that extreme, abnormal and antisocial. .

People who see no reason why any of their taxes should go to the education of the next generation, that we have no debt to them even though they themselves were once children and received care from the last generation, people who live only in the now, in their own quest to not be annoyed, I find these people to well meet the definition: "interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others"

Perhaps they have good reasons. I do not know, but I feel like I'm trying to talk with folks who are trying to hit me. That is why I have not continued past my two updates, because once I had said my peace, my continuing would only upset people and frankly, if they want to have a place to console each other and feel strength, I don't really want to keep invading that space, especially if that makes some well meaning person, who just wants to be left alone, hurt or upset.

My original purpose was to respond to the unsettling, violent responses. I wanted to know why they seemed to interpret reasonable arguments as polar extremes. Since there seemed no common ground at all, only more anger, why continue? I am happy to let anyone post whatever they want and I will respond if someone wants to talk.

Again, I'm sorry to offend rational peaceful folks who just want to live and let live. I'm really only concerned with the "hate speech" which has been presented by some. I don't feel any guilt by responding to that, especially as a person who isn't a parent and is sick of that sort of ugly extremism.

Trin said...

"I've never seen parents bring their kids to inappropriate places (except R-rated movies, and that really disturbs me but more b/c I think it's damaging for a 3-year old to see a horror film)."

PF: When I was about that age, my dad and I apparently, I'm told, watched Alien on TV.

Supposedly, I loved it.

I can very vaguely remember seeing images of the aliens... but absolutely nothing else.

I doubt I was harmed by it.

I'm not saying this to disagree with you, just as an observation.

In fact, I do agree about young kids and violent media.

I saw a much milder horror film on TV with another child when I was a few years older, in which the kids' parents were possessed by demons, and the scene in which the frightened children wake up Dad so he'll protect them and he turns around, moths flying out of his mouth, going

"YOUUUUUUUU'VE BEEEEEEEEEN BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!!"

is forever seared on my consciousness, as is the entire day I spent bawling and horrified out of my wits, wondering if my parents would ever betray me so horribly.

But Alien, I don't remember at all. I was too young.

plain(s)feminist said...

Trin -
Good point about age. When I was seven, I was at a friend's (younger than me) house watching cable (we didn't have it at home). We watched "The Flesh Eaters" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058101/)

Seriously? I was destroyed by it, and I don't use that word lightly. It was YEARS before I got over it.

Oddly enough, my friend's was a pretty conservative Christian household - I'm surprised the parents let that happen.

Danielle said...

I stopped reading child free stuff quite some time ago, when I saw one site with a mock promotion of some kind of alternative fuel powered by children's corpses. That kind of did me in.

Regarding respect for other people's choices- it's a two way street. In order to get it for yourself, you have to at least look like you yourself respect other people and *their* choices.

K said...

I had a similar experience with "Jacob's Ladder." Images from that movie haunt me to this day. I sort of think maybe I should see it again so I can have grown up memories of it and maybe it wouldn't freak me out so much.

I do think we tend to over-protect kids, but I think there's a good case for keeping them away from scary movies until at least late preteen/early teens.

andi said...

"I also questioned a commenter's statement that kids should not be allowed to sit on planes or on public transportation. I called this attitude entitled. I wondered why I was not allowed to take my child on a plane, and why Andi, the commenter, was entitled to make that decision, and why her preference for travelling without a child on board took precedence over everyone else's needs.

Here is the response that I got:

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."

Actually the above response didn't come from me...I'd like to make that clear...I don't call anyone "DNA replicants" unless I am talking about a movie called "Blade Runner". If oyu've seen the movie replicants are what they call clones in that society. I think the worst I ever get, with reguards to what I call kids is either brat or spawn. And Oddly, enough. I picked up calling kids "spawn" not from Cf'ers, but from parents.
Also when I said this ".everything from where they MUST be allowed to sit on planes, at concerts, on public transport, "
I was refering to the demand parents make that other patrons of planes, concerts and public transport move to accomadate kids, even if the child does not have a ticket for that venue. If the kid has a ticket, great! If it's lap baby, they need to be in the parent's lap and seat area. If it's a concert we're talking about then the parent needs to make sure the kid is where they can see, move, do whatever with out displacing other's from the seats they "paid" for.
If it's unavoidable such as not being able to book all the seats together on a flight, people will be much more grascious about it if hte parent asks rather than, demands, and if the child actually has a ticket ( which means that the displaced person will have a seat to go to.)
If it's a concert and you didn't think to get tickets in the same row, it's really not right to say to someone "My kid has a ticket several rows back, you need to move back so he can be up front with me" Having worked security at a good many concerts, I can tell you that happens fairly often. or the other dreaded scenario of security...line jumping at a General Admission show. You'd be surprised at the hours some people will spend in line ( At one venue I worked at the fans of one band once had a baby shower in line!) to get front row - after spending 6,7, 8 or more hours in line, they don't take kindly to "line jumpers" even if they have a kid along, some of the nastiest fight have happened because one party felt they could force themselves ahead of others because "we have a kid, they need to see"
Now, to be fair most concert goers will allow the kid to go in front, but not necessarily the parent - and I can see both sides of that. THe parent does not to be seperated for m the kid because of either real or percieved danger, but the other person feels that they were kind enough to let the kid up fron, so why do they have to be moved to the thrid or fourth row, because that party could not get their in enough time to get the kid a "good" spot...and then there's there "what can anyone do in a room filled with 1,000 people, in front of security AND the band? all points are valid. And comprise is never an easy thing.
Just wanted to clearify a bit.

:)

andi said...

I just want to apologize for all my typos. I am dyslexic and usually don't catch them - even after proof reading. Sorry.

plain(s)feminist said...

Andi,
Sorry, I realized later that that second post wasn't from you and I should have made that clear, as well.

I am in total agreement with everything you say re. tickets and seating. Thanks for clarifying that. And actually, I may be less lenient than you when it comes to parents trying to get their kids to the front for a concert. I think it's a different situation than the others we've discussed. EVERYONE wants to be in front, and few people are, and like you said, people sleep in line and wait for hours to get those tickets. The parent and the kid can have a great time in the back listening to the music (when I wasn't walking uphill to school every day in blizzards, I was getting cheap seats only for concerts until I was in college and having a perfectly fine time). The kid won't know the difference. In this situation, it's all about what the *parent* thinks is important, I think. People do weird things to get good seats or backstage passes (as you well know).

plain(s)feminist said...

No need for apologies - I actually didn't notice any typos 'til you mentioned it!

Linda said...

I'm late to the discussion...surprise!

I've made a conscious choice not to have children. While there are exceptions, as a rule I don't like their behaviors. I like quiet. I like personal space. I like privacy. And do you know how often I've heard "Oh, it's different when they're yours" from someone I barely know who has badgered me until I say something semi outrageous just to shut them up? That gets old, and I wish I could say it was only isolated instances.

Two examples from different places on why you see/hear some extreme reactions from those of us who choose not to have children:

We had waited about 5 minutes to be seated at a small local eatery. Two tables opened up. One was at one end of the room, one at the other. One was next to a child who was *happily* shrieking. It (I have no idea if it was a boy or a girl) wasn't having a tantrum, it was having fun. At the top of it's lungs. When the hostess started towards that end of the room, I politely asked if we could have the other table. She gave me this *look* and said something to the effect of there were kids at that end too, in a very hateful tone of voice. I was too shocked to even retort. I wasn't rude. I wasn't ugly. I just didn't want a child shrieking in my ear through my meal. I don't see how that's being discriminatory or bigoted.

The other time we were seated in a booth at a different place. There was a toddler in the booth behind us. I had ignored the bouncing from her jumping on the seat. I'd ignored having the back of my head bumped. I'd ignored a whole lot - until I turned my head to look out the window and got a face full of sneeze. You know what I got from the "parent"? A laugh. Explain how I'm the one who's wrong when I don't want to be seated next to another child again please?