I’ve categorized this under Rants, but the truth is, this is a plea because Dear Sky Poobah, Enough Already
Yesterday I was reading articles about autism awareness – the strides we have made, the ones we need to make still. In one article, people shared stories of kindnesses in restaurants across America. Basically, they said a lot of family restaurants “get it” and the staff is good enough/patient enough to see to an autistic child’s particular needs. In doing so, they make the dining experience better for the child’s family as well as other diners. The parents of the autistic children cheered this professionalism and caring because they were aware their child could be a handful at times and that it could be tough on other patrons.
Things got heated because some parents approached the topic with . . . well, they were belligerent. No other way to put it, and I always wonder why this is a necessary tactic when you’re trying to enlighten others. No one learns crap if you’re super aggressive. Anyway, there were more than a few sentiments of, “Damn right my kid can eat at the restaurant and you’ll put up with it. If you don’t like that he screams or throws food, leave.” To which some people (in some cases kindly, in others not) responded with how they’ve paid money to eat there, too, and if the child is acting up that badly, at what point is the child hampering their experience? And at what point is the parent keeping an unhappy child in the restaurant because THEY want a cheeseburger and not seeing to their obviously-distressed child’s needs?
I’m not going to get into either mindset. That’s not what this post is about today. What I’m going to talk about is a prevalent sentiment in comments said to those who fell in the “if your kid is acting up that much, maybe you should consider taking him home” camp.
“Do you have kids? If not, you don’t understand.”
As a childless woman, at this point by choice but with my PCOS who knows if I actually HAVE a choice, this statement is one of the worst things anyone can or will say to me. Why? It implies that I am less evolved than someone who has made a baby. It implies that I lack understanding and compassion in comparison to my peers who have had children. It effectively says until I breed, I am Not As Good. I am Flawed.
Stop. Stop it. If you’ve said that to someone without kids, you should cringe right now because it is one of the most offensive, patronizing things you can put out there. It suggests you really do believe you are above other people because you have fulfilled your natural function and in doing so, achieved Mommy Superpowers. And pardon my language? FUCK THAT. Women have been struggling for equality for eons. Do you know how frustrating it is for those of us who identify as feminists to have our very own gender saying shit like this to us? Because if you think about it, you are effectively saying that until a woman makes a baby, she is not achieving her greatest potential.
. . . which sets us back by about, oh, fifty years. I am not down with that.
The reality of the situation is childless people do understand. No, we haven’t experienced raising children ourselves, but we can grok the challenges associated with parenthood. Hell, sometimes we get it so well, we’ve decided to wait to have gut goblins of our own because we’re not sure we can handle the stress and obligation that comes with procreation. Having children is generally a rewarding experience for y’all, yes, but it’s a life changer, too. And I get it. I really do. Because I’m a smart, smart lady. And because I’m a smart lady, I’ve made responsible decisions about my own life based on my capacity to be what I deem a good and proper parent.
So, please. A plea from Hillarybot 42-AZ1. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re going to say THE WORDS (or otherwise imply that thrusting a kid thrust from your loins has made you superhuman) think twice before speaking. I know I’m not alone in taking this to heart. I know more than a few barren women who’ve experienced this attitude and in experiencing it, have come to feel alienated from their own gender because of it. Let’s not do that to other people. It’s not cool.