Here you all thought I was only going to post sweet little stories about my family life and swimming and how awesome things are around here. But guess what? I have this other life, which is called Reading and Digesting and Writing about our culture, devouring feminist and womanist and rad fem and anti-racist and PWD blogs and… well, lots of stuff. I thought I’d post a little roundup of the variety of asshattery I’ve found in the last couple days so you could share in the fun!
(Warning for sexist language, child-hate, mother-hate, classism, and anti-homeschooling / unschooling sentiments)
So first: who can find the sexist language in this (otherwise quite interesting) article at WebEcoist on “bevshots”?
Didn’t find it? Let me break it down for you with a quote:
“Beverage art is one way the more macho members of society can get in touch with their artistic side, and the unisex appeal of BevShotsâ€™ presentation makes it far more likely to be accepted by spouses who may balk at framed Budweiser posters hanging in their living rooms.”
Right. So, in no way should a man feel bad about being “macho” (i.e. objectifying women’s bodies) but he is free to augment his living room with artsy-fartsy. The whole “unisex”/”spouse” gibberish is also subtly coded heteronomrative, i.e. of anyone who might like a beer poster there are two sexes whom are straight and married. And I’ve saved the most glaring ass-tidbit for last: a heterosexual DUDE won’t have an objection to Budweiser girl posters (Duh! Why should he? Booooing!), it’s the spouse that won’t want it (eyeroll delivered to those sensitive wimmin folks, amirite?).
I’d stopped reading The-F Word.org although the title subjects – food, fat, and feminism – are passions of mine. No, I stopped reading because there are plenty of awesome FA sites that don’t pick on kids (which always, always translates to picking on mothers). Now the owner/author of this site has no children and wants to keep it that way which is great, because I support those without children (just like I support those with children!) and I specifically feel for people who don’t have children by choice (especially women), given they are constantly second-guessed and despised and sneered at (maybe someday I’ll link to some of those anti-childfree* nastiness examples to illuminate and analyze). But like so comments I read online (both from those with or without children), the anti-child sentiment is so prevalent on this site – and goes entirely unchecked within comments – it was just sapping my energy so I’ve concentrated on other FA locales. However feeling amiable the other day I visited the site to discover the latest post, “Open Thread: Talking to kids about fat comments”. In it blog author Rachel posts a story about family and a child who made many direct and not-nice-sounding comments about her weight and size. Rachel put together an email to her family (which was a good email) so that was pretty cool. But then… it started with the sentence, “I donâ€™t have children (thankfully) and I can usually only take kids in small doses before they mentally and physically exhaust me” and went on from there. Most of the comments were pretty cool and offered sensible support: we should openly discuss this topic with our chlidren. But pretty soon the parent- and child-snark started, and it REALLY started when I (had the gall to!) put up my own perspective – that I thought Rachel’s email was fine, that Adult Privilege was showing in the comments, and that parents have an uphill battle in combating larger social norms and the attitudes of children’s peers.
Four comments weighed in calling my points “ridiculous”, the list a Parody, that I didn’t support or understand “manners” for children (strawman! especially considering I’d commended Rachel’s email), and that acknowledging Adult Privilege would result in children getting killed. I am too exhausted to take apart “Jackie’s” comment (I’ll bet you one MILLION dollars this person has no child, since she gave the longest prescriptive laundry-list of “THOU SHALT” to apply to ALL parents). Of course the only thing these people (one person posted twice) paid attention to was the posted Adult Privilege Checklist – none of my other points nor my support of Rachel’s email. A little bonus bit of awesomeness, one commentor sneered at the APC author who clearly didn’t know how to raise a child, even though, sshhh! this author – and myself! are raising children!
One commentor posted: “Kelly, thanks so much for posting that link, and for giving me a term for the set of attitudes that has made me deeply uncomfortable on otherwise wonderful websites.” (Yay!)
(As a sidenote, it’s funny how unapologetic child-hate – which is often mother-hate – always, always involves the kid-screaming-in-restaurants HORROR. It’s almost comical how routinely this comes up – the trump card and TOTAL PROOF of how much kids and parents suck! And how parents and kids can’t have a bad or emotive day in public, or how we should parent in some Magical Way or according to Their Standards, or how kids should always be seen and not heard! And many literally think kids should not be in evidence at all! Because having them in school most their waking hours and then at home in bed for a third of their lives is NOT ENOUGH! No really many people still believe this!)
I’d love to talk about the Adult Privilege Checklist and soon because I think it is brilliant (Thanks, Anji!) and challenging to many if not most USians. Most who read it – the very fact of its newness in a time when privilege checklists are So hot right now! is telling – are definitely going to be challenged and splutter, “But, but, but!” and bring up points of Safety and how kids can’t raise themselves and then paint really gloriously well-rendered pictures of kids going all Lord of the Flies and Running (Ruining) Everything while their Lotus-Eating parents sit back and smile benevolently.
Of course I am in fact raising kids with the APC firmly in mind and it’s going well, and my kids are just fine and normal and pretty damned awesome (according not only to myself but to many we run across). Such tish-tosh beneath-notice detail escapes those who’d want to shriek about the implications of considering kids as People.
Because that’s the thing. Refusing to even consider how kids experience their own lives (which you note says NOTHING about how a particular parent/carer should handle a particular challenge nor the vast landscapes of other-care) perfectly illustrates just how subhuman people consider the class of “kids” (keep in mind, “KIDS” are from ages 0 months to emancipated 18 years, I guess they magically turn human after that).
Or as Twisty Faster at my beloved I Blame The Patriarchy (oh rad fem… is there anything you can’t do?) says:
â€œKidsâ€ are a class of people around the discrimination, domination, indoctrination, and abuse of whom entire cultures, industries, pathologies, and oppressive social systems flourish. Youth is temporary for the individual, yes, but a youth class persists; there is a constant supply of replacement children to keep this class well-stocked with hapless victims. Furthermore, the damage inflicted by expertly administered adult oppression techniques hardly vanishes the moment a kid turns 18.
Finally, and I’ll keep this short: Homeschooling and Unschooling are being dissed in a recent Free Range Kids post, including Amy who says: “I fully support your right to ‘unschool’ your kids. After all, someoneâ€™s going to have to change my kidsâ€™ oil and make their burgers someday.” (Amy wins the Ass-Hat First Prize for brevity whilst displaying ignorance, classism, and good ol’ fashioned nastiness!). Donna conflates homeschooling with being uncool because it isn’t living in the inner city or something? and weighs in on the majority of intelligent, educated parents being terrible teachers for their children (aw how sweet! I must have missed that day she came in and audited us personally!). Sky compares my personal expressed joy in unschooling to something about collard greens (I can’t tell if she’s supporting or insulting me, there).
Believe it or not it can be personally exhausting at times to take on the subjects of social justice in America (and seriously? Tonight we got to hear a loud, racist rant from a patron while out at dinner, and my husband almost physically engaged this man, which was more bonus). Being able to take a critical eye to random asshattery and bigotry and such is a skill – and it’s a skill earned by a commitment to the self-work and takes no small amount of my time. One thing I learn: the work – social and Self – is never done (as an example, a recent post at Native Appropriations entitled “The Potawatomis didn’t have a word for global business center”? exposed my ignorance regarding Native languages). I do it because I think it is right but also, even when it tires me out, I do like to do it.
To those who read here in good faith, thank you so much for joining me.
Fortunately I know my readers here are awesome, awesome people and going to Blow My Mind in the comments.**
* Both “childfree” and “childless” are terms others dislike or find offense with; I effort to say “people without children” but sometimes I use shorthand.
** I usually just put up my personal journal here; for more of my social issues stuff you can read Underbellie (once-weekly posts, just about) or follow me on Twitter at either kellyhogaboom or underbellie – the latter more skewed to activism and posts from activist sources.
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