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Monday, May 17, 2010

Being anti-children really isn't helping anything, you know

I'd like to direct your attention to a thread over at Feministe, On Hating Kids.  I'd also like to point out that the author of the post gets one thing right: that hating kids is quite ridiculous, and it hurts women too.  But after that, the post fails to really make the point that children do matter, as do the women that have them.  Sadly, it's only the opening paragraph that makes a good point:

Sybil at Bitch PhD is right on the money with this post — the “I hate kids” line is pretty ridiculous, and it’s unfair to expect that kids will never be allowed out in public spaces. Hostility towards children is also, in practice, largely sexist — it’s moms who largely bear the burden of caring for children; it’s moms and female care-givers who are largely stuck inside when children aren’t welcomed in public spaces; and at least in my experience, it’s moms who are disproportionately glared at if their child isn’t perfectly behaved (dads, on the other hand, are considered sweet just for taking the kid out in public).
The rest essentially reads, hating kids is bad, but...I'm single and I shouldn't have to deal with other peoples' kids, which sounds an awful lot like "I'm not racist, but" followed inevitably with something that is in fact racist.

Now I'd like to direct your attention to Renee's post, My Child Takes Up Space, which asserts that children are not burdens--they are people.  She points out "What really needs to be recognized about children is that they don’t have the capacity to act in the same way that adults do." Yes, they're going to act up sometimes, and often that will be in public.  It's absolutely ridiculous to hold children to the same standards of public behavior as adults, who have had the time to be socialized.  Treating children as subhuman is only continuing an anti-children cycle.

I will not pretend I'm not annoyed by a child screaming in public, because I certainly am.  But it happens, and its unfair to hold all children accountable, and its even worse to expect the parents to be ostracized from public activities simply because their children will occasionally behave like children.

I'm finding that many of my female peers have not only decided not to have children, but are quite anti-children.  Now it is certainly their right to not have children, but there is no reason foist anti-children sentiments on women who have had children, or who plan on having children.  Several of my peers have even gone so far as to mention to me that the sight of a pregnant woman annoys them.  Well, that's just too damn bad.  Not every woman will choose to have children, but plenty do, and being hostile to children and their parents helps no one.

I know that when I have children, I will lose touch with several of my friends who not only choose not to have children, but cannot stand it when people they know get married and have babies.  I do not plan to censor my conversations because my single friends don't want to hear about my baby.  Like it or not, children are people, and they mean something to their parents.  Nothing can be gained by exclusion, nor by hostility towards children and mothers, who have the audacity to appear in public.

12 comments:

Renee said...

Thanks for pointing out my post. When you have kids its more than the people that openly hate kids that will drift away, it will be the people who will not be willing to adjust to the changes in your lifestyle. For instance I could no longer afford to go drinking all night with my friends. When you have a baby who is getting up at 7am no matter what, waking with a hangover. The fact that I could not just get up and go on a whim was seen as an offense...You life changes when little ones come along and some friends leave.

FilthyGrandeur said...

no problem Renee--i thought it bears repeating.

and i anticipate the loss of a few friends when the SO and i expand our family, but then one could argue that those friends weren't so great to begin with.

i don't even have kids yet and i've already tired of the incessant partying. i just got sick of being hungover all the time. at some point we all change our habits, and some friends can't adjust to that

stufflikemikans said...

Interesting. I never thought of it as being anti-women before, but you're right. It really is sexist.

I used to be openly anti-children. Then I got a job working with kids. It forced me to change that attitude really quickly. I can now say that my most enjoyable days at work are when I'm in the elementary schools. I'm definitely not anti-kids anymore. (Well, maybe still against producing them for myself...but that's another story). Seeing kids screaming and having tantrums doesn't really annoy me anymore. Like you said, it happens. What's even funnier is that Jonny used to be even more anti-children. Now he works in a pre-school and LOVES it. Maybe people that hate kids should be forced to work with them?

Renee said...

I don't know if I would say that they weren't friends, just friends of a different era of my life that is all. Some I still see occasionally and they are just starting to have children. I laugh because I know all to well how their lived are going to change. I am just three years away from getting rid of babysitters and as it is a lot of the early hardships, midnight feedings, snack bags in my purse, diapers etc are already a thing of the past for me. THe baby is going to school full-time in September. The freedom that they are losing is the freedom I am just about to gain. Even on the weekends if I sleep in my oldest will get up and make a bowl of cereal for the two of them and they can sit and watch tv until I wake up. Of course there are still times when they want momma cause they are still little, but the are getting more independent each day. Yes kids require a lot of work but it is also work that declines over the years and people don't think about that very often. For the few short years of having to totally be at their beck and call the return is huge.

DaisyDeadhead said...

I find I like children much better now that I am not responsible for any of em... I think a lot of women's anti-child bias is due to this feeling (indoctrination) that WE are somehow their 'natural caretakers'... I can recall old political meetings where the one or two women available would be summoned to deal with the kids, while the guys sat on their collective asses. We tended to resent the kids for that, rather than the asshole guys who assigned us the task (which after all, they learned from the culture at large).

Mel Sherman said...

I really cannot stand other kids. I give them awful, mean, scowling, disapproving looks and they begin to cry. Children are a reflection of their parents and when they are rowdy and disorderly in the streets, it is a direct reflection of their parents. If I say I hate their kids, I would hate the parents too. Secretly, I do want kids and I know they wont be perfect and they will probably be mini-bitches like their mother but I have never had any mother in my family raise a child that ran through the streets or stores carrying on and being rowdy like many children in this country do.

ana australiana said...

I think DaisyDeadhead touches on the reasoning that is stitched into this (hating on parents & children for). I want to have kids and don't understand why doing so or not doing so is posited as a defensive choice between friends and family, sociality and isolation, plenty and scarcity, etc. I blogged about it recently and referred to the problem as 'womb fetishism'. ;)

Renee said...

@Mel,
I am already terribly sorry for your future children. Your comment is disgusting and you should really be ashamed of yourself. Children deserve better than the likes of you.

FilthyGrandeur said...

@Mel--

giving children looks of disgust really doesn't help anything. this way of perceiving children is quite dehumanizing. instead of viewing them as people, it seems more like you see them as vermin. just as Renee is, I too am worried for your future children...

Kelly Hogaboom said...

Mel's comment is a sad one to read but sadder still is that many share those views.

filthygrandeur, you wrote, "It's absolutely ridiculous to hold children to the same standards of public behavior as adults, who have had the time to be socialized."

My kids behave better than MANY adults I've met in my time. The concept that they should not be given grace to grow, learn, make mistakes, and have grownups steward them into success and respectul living? Right. People who are anti-kid in the way you describe are like, Look, my ass is taking up space and resources on this planet and people helped ME (and will likely help me again when I need it most), but I ain't going to help anyone ELSE. They should just know how to meet MY particular standards. It's short-sighted and depressing and I always feel sorrow when I come across it.

Good post and good 1st paragraph of the referenced article.

Anonymous said...

While I don't agree with Mel's comments or actions I don't necessarily worry for her future children. I think this is a bit of an overreaction.

Mona82 said...

As a mother, i have to say than until you try what motherhood is, you have no right to give any judgement for "when i will have my kids".
'When a baby is borN, a mother is born too. The women was there, but not the mother (somebody said this, it's not mine)"

Dear bloggers. Do not make assumptions on what you will do when/if you become a mother. I used not to like tantrums in the public from the other kids, but when you have your own kids, you understand parents very well, you become one of them. Being a mother changes everything, everything, for better. I used to party a lot with my friend and have a great time, hangover, sleppless night, etc etc. Well....let me tell you something...
When you go home and you wake up and you have nobody to offer you "pure" love, nobody to look you in the eyes and say "i love you" sincerely, purely, simply....well you pretty much go back and have another drink...Great...