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.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Some workplace sexism

Alright ladies and gentlemen: I've got a new "everyday example of sexism" anecdote for you.

A friend and I were at work earlier this week when we were approached by one of our supervisors (for reference, this is a man who seems to shift between friendly and helpful to "ick kinda creepy" on a regular basis.  He's very approachable in terms of sharing our concerns, but there are times also when my friend an I give each other "that look" and make an excuse to leave--but that's perhaps a story for another day).  Anyway, he wanted to tell my friend something, but acted sort of nervous about it.  My past experience told me that he wanted to compliment her (which admittedly does warrant nervousness because she's one of those people that does not take compliments well because she thinks that those complimenting her are being insincere).  Finally, he gave up the attempt and told her he would tell me, and then I can tell her.

So after my friend walks away, this supervisor lowers his voice and asks, "Is she planning on leaving [boyfriend]?"

I was very confused by this question, so I replied "Not that I know of.  Why?"

"I just noticed that she's been doing her make-up and hair a lot this week, and I was wondering if she was thinking of leaving [boyfriend]."

I admit it took me a few seconds to recover from this mental leap of his.  All I could manage was "What?  You think she's advertising early or something?"

After I told my friend about our boss' absurd assumption, I had time to think about it more.  And the more I did the more I got irritated by his statement, because it was incredibly sexist.  Let's break it down with a bulleted list (my favorite!):

  • There is an assumption that when a woman is available, she will advertise it: hair and make-up will be done.  Basically she will (apparently) take pains to make herself look more attractive.  This point plays into a greater narrative about our culture, in which woman who dress a certain way, or have their make-up a certain way are perceived as available.  Let's stretch that just a tiny bit further...rape culture anyone?
  • If a woman is "unattractive" or if she doesn't take the time to look presentable, then she's already in a relationship.  Or she's single and doesn't care what she looks like.
  • Women only wear make-up to make themselves attractive for men.  Women don't wear make-up because they just feel like it, or because it's one of those things that they enjoy doing for themselves.  And they most certainly do NOT make themselves attractive for other women.  

Did I miss anything?

I think if I were to discuss this with the man who said it, it would be brushed off as an innocent remark.  But that's how all this works.  It's all so ingrained in our culture and our perception that it this sort of comment is unconsciously sexist.

As a side note, how is it any of our supervisor's business even if she were planning on breaking up with her long-term boyfriend?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fuzz Therapy

I haven't done one of these in a while, and it's certainly not for lack of Princess pictures, rather my own apathy.  I should probably start writing more, lest someone mistake this for a kitty blog, but whatever.

Why yes, my kitty is quite the lady: right over left.  This wasn't a lucky picture either--she sits like this quite often.  Sometimes she'll even sleep with her head resting on her crossed paws.  Makes me giggle every time.