I’m going to post one last time. But this time, I’m going to mainly focus on other people’s words (of course, people who agree with me because this is my blog). A final round-up on all that bullshit that went down and why anti-child comments are anti-woman comments. And why “Feminists” need to work harder on being inclusive (I’m saying that to myself as much as anyone else – and let me reiterate that that is a goal of mine in life).
The huge thing I have learned about or am thinking more about is the idea of policing behavior in public and who it is in public that actually gets policed. Because there were so many commenters who didn’t want anyone to bring race into the discussion when it was addressed (things are always easier when we don’t talk about systemic racism, aren’t they? Especially when that acknowledgment gets in the way of your privilege). But those people who can’t escape it (i.e. WOC) wanted it to be front and center. And I am glad that they did.
Their comments really got me to recognize that there is a hierarchy in acceptable behavior that is going to, of course, be detrimental to people of color and to girls. Girls, especially those of color, are going to be policed more and that’s that. People who are thinking about the children who ruined their dinner, or their Target outing, or their ride on the bus, were probably thinking more about little girls or children of color. Because we remember when those people act up, don’t we? I think there’s a whole news organization dedicated to keeping tabs on that shit.
Maybe my son is allowed to act up more because people out in public see him as a boy and, you know, boys will be boys (though, side note, my son has long hair and is almost always assumed to be a girl (9 out of 10 times), even while wearing a shirt that says “Dude”. We don’t correct people because we don’t care. If we did, we’d cut his hair. But it’s possible that when my son is acting up, people think that I am “allowing” a little girl to act up). Whereas if a girl was doing the same thing (screaming, laughing, clapping, dancing, running around) it would be a much bigger deal to people, something they would remember and comment on later because some irresponsible parent was letting their – gasp! – daughter do those things that little girls shouldn’t do. And, as we ALL know, girls are supposed to act in a very specific, quiet, still way.
Then, on top of that, you think about this in terms of race. As a society we are already interested in policing the behavior of adults of color (I mean, literally, in some cases). So for parents of children of color (and, of course, the children themselves) the scrutiny on them, their children’s behavior, and the reaction to their children’s behavior is going to be exponential. Especially in comparison to someone like me, a white lady with a white husband and a white son. And I know the heat I get for my child in public as it is.
For more on this, please read “What do you see when you see my child?” at Inconsequential Logic.
And my friend, Laurie, passed along this website to me after we had a discussion about this realization that I have had, about another aspect of my white privilege and my son’s gender privilege that allows us a smoother experience out there in the public sphere. Love Isn’t Enough is a blog about parenting and race. Go read through it.
So, even though I fucking hated those comments on that Feministe Child-free Spaces post that were so anti-woman, anti-child, etc., at least I have seriously learned something. And I am going to hold onto that silver lining. Because otherwise, I am just left with a terrible taste in my mouth and hurtful comments stewing in my brain.
And now for your reading pleasure, more people who thought those comments at Feministe were shit:
So once again I am forced into the position of telling these ignorant feminists, if you are anti-child, you are anti-woman. Some of these children that you are showing disdain for are little girls and that means that in a few years they are going to be women. Are you comfortable with teaching them that they should be invisible? That is the message you send every single time you argue that they are not welcome. Some of these children that you wish would disappear from sight, are caregivers to their differently abled parents, but hey — why care about the disabled, we are only another marginalized group. And ALL of these children are human beings, but then hierarchy trumps human value every time doesn’t it?
Feminists tie themselves into a knot whenever women say that they are not a feminist, but rarely do they ever consider the various reasons they give women to ignore and or reject this label. You want to politicize and reclaim things, how about starting with the premise that all people matter? I know this might be a bit radical because you have White, heterosexual, able-bodied, cisgender privilege to maintain, but it just might make women a little more interested in hearing what you have to say.
And Womanist Musings, “My Child Takes Up Space” (from May 2010 – a response to an earlier Feministe post on child-hating, see below in quote to get link, if you can stomach it):
What I don’t have time for are people that seem to see him as some sort of inconvenience or burden that I must suffer with. It’s easy to focus on the wonky things he has done, like dipping his penis in rice just cause, or clogging the toilet by flushing his fathers cologne, or the times when he is over tired and has had enough — and proceeds to full out tantrum mode; however, recognizing what he adds to the world is something that easily gets over looked. He has good days and bad days because he is a person and not because he is a spoiled child. [...]
Recently there was a child hate fest on Feministe [a different one, yeah], that I simply had to withdraw commenting on because of all of the adult privilege. 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. This does not make them lesser beings and we need to find a way to accommodate them, even when they make drinking a latte a less then comfortable thing. There seems to be this belief that if a parent does not act the moment a child starts to have a tantrum, that they are a terrible parent. People have different ways of parenting and if it does not conform to your method, it does not necessarily make it wrong. As long as the child is no immediate danger, quite frankly it is not your business and I don’t care how much you spent on a meal at a restaurant. My children are not going to grow up with the idea that going to McDonalds is eating out because you think that their presence detracts from the ambiance.
From Women’s Glib (response to Feministe Child-Free Spaces post):
You don’t have a right to demand a public space without kids anymore than I have a right to demand a public space without women. Or people of color. Or trans* people. Or…anyone. I would think that as social justice minded individuals we would collectively realize how seriously screwed up the notion that we can exclude a group of people from the public sphere is.
You know what else you don’t have a right to? You don’t have a right to demand parents to “control” children in public, as if they are animals or objects. You don’t get to police parenting techniques, and you don’t get to demand that kids don’t demonstrate age-appropriate behavior.
If you are going to call out misogynists, racists, ableists, trans/fat/lesbo/bi/homophobes or anyone else contributing to the kyriarchy, but you are completely open about the fact that you just hate children, you are a hypocrite.
From O Filthy Grandeur (response to first Feministe child-hating post, the one Womanist Musings mentioned above):
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.
From Kittywampus (response to Feministe Child-free Spaces post):
Feministe commenters pissed and moaned about kids making noise in Target and supermarkets. I mean, really – supermarkets? Who has the cash to hire a babysitter while we buy the food we need to survive??! And does this mean Target’s now off bounds for me, but Wal-Mart is okay?