Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Childfree Hate Speak - Love it or Hate It? (Cast Your Vote)

I've never been a fan of childfree hate speech - that's what I call it, anyway. You know, referring to moms as "moos", or people who have children as "breeders" or calling kids "crotch dumplings" (have to admit, that one does make me laugh, although I wouldn't use it myself). Why don't I like this type of language? I think it diminishes us and fuels the negative stereotypes that persist about the childfree - for example, that we are bitter, angry and resentful people who don't have a life and who are fatally jealous of parents. I imagine outsiders looking at us and thinking, if childfree people are so happy, why are they so busy hurling ugly names around?

I am not interested in promoting that (or any other negative) stereotype because for most of us, it's false.

Having said this, I understand the purpose and value of hate speech. It is a vehicle for release and catharsis and lord knows the childfree have plenty to cathart about.

Interestingly, I've gotten several e-mails and comments from people thanking me for not using a hateful tone in this blog. Sadly, it's pretty difficult to find non-hateful childfree sites and blogs - I know, I've looked. They're out there, but you really have to look to find them. Interestingly, I did find a childfree discussion board called Positively Childfree that states outright that it's a no-hate zone. It's home page reads:

"Who are the positively childfree? We are individuals who have something crucial in common: we have made the decision to not become parents. Of course, there are as many different reasons for this decision as there are people who frequent our friendly space on the Internet.

As we watch our friends, relatives and colleagues have children and become preoccupied with the responsibilities and diversions that accompany this experience, we recognize the need to reach out here to other adults who are childfree -- who have the time and the desire to talk about books, travel, pets, gardens, hobbies, careers, headlines...or just the weather. We meet here not to talk about children, parents or parenting, but to relish the fact that we can instead explore other areas of life and develop other interests. Are you ready for a break from talk of baby showers? Looking for a place to meet other adults who might have actually slept 8 hours last night... and are ready to socialize, debate, philosophize and laugh? Are you tired of the negative tones of other childfree message boards?

Please, come join us!"

Sounds like a great place to hang out and mingle with other CFers.

I am glad my blog doesn't come across as hateful because despite the fact that I do a lot of railing in this blog, hateful is not really the way I feel. I don't hate parents. I don't hate children. I don't think people are wrong to have kids, or to want kids. Heck, if nobody wanted kids, humanity would disappear (hm, maybe that's not such a bad thing). My mission isn't to promote the idea that everyone should be childfree.

My mission is to promote childfreedom as an attractive and viable lifestyle option, and to dispel the negative and false stereotypes that exist about it, and about childfree individuals.

My mission is also to shine a spotlight on the obsessive and unreasonable pro-child, pro-family, pro-motherhood, pronatalist nature of our culture, the unfairness and imbalance that it creates in our society and the falsehoods it promotes.

For inspiration, I like to think of a super-effective and transformative communicator like Barack Obama, who when confronted with a completely corrupt, dysfunctional, unfair and broken system, somehow illuminates the issues clearly while simultaneously inspiring people through the use of positivity. He is serious, he is intense, he is intelligent and he is no-nonsense, yet he never stoops or belittles himself by resorting to hostility and name-calling.

I hope I can emulate that example. If this blog even impacts one person and encourages her to think for herself and to question every dictate spoon-fed to her, I feel this entire endeavor will be worthwhile. If I can influence the occasional parent who happens upon my blog to recognize the childfree lifestyle as the wonderful option it is, and reduce the prejudice and judgment she feels against those who choose not to parent, I will be thrilled. If I can influence childfree people to stop apologizing for who they are, to stop thinking of themselves as deficient, and to stand up and be proud about their childfreedom, I will truly feel like I have accomplished something. I am tired of looking for other childfree people, only to find them cowered in the corner with their mouths shut.

So how do you feel about childfree hate speech? I am curious to know. I've posted a poll. Look to the right and cast your vote. And of course, as always, comments are welcomed as well.

15 comments:

lulu said...

I agree wholeheartedly. My/our decision to be childfree and the benefits to our lifestyle and relationship are a source of great positivity and happiness. I love your blog and wish I could find a positive discussion board here in the UK where the focus is definitely very down on parents and children, quite agressively so.

Kita said...

To a degree, I don't mind some of it (like the term 'breeder'). I will admit that some of it is a bit harsh, but in other cases, the parents or children really have it coming to them. I don't tend to use most of the other terms (unless I'm particularly cranky because of how stupid some people can be around here.)

In my case, I tend to use breeder to describe parents who just don't bother to BE a parent - you know those types: the ones who let their kids run wild in public and don't do anything, and who expect everyone else to take care of and watch out for their kids while they do their own thing. All those people are doing is breeding, not parenting, so they don't deserve the title of parent.

A lot of times, I tend to call children hellspawn or hellions, because most of the kids I've met HAVE been hellspawn. That's not necessarily the child's fault, I understand - it's mostly bad parenting or a complete lack of parenting - so they're terms I mostly use as venting.

There are parents and children out there who don't deserve the negative speech - I'm not afraid or ashamed to admit that - and I certainly wouldn't use it to describe them. It's the ones who deserve it that I use it with - because they really do have it coming.

Schrodinger's Kittens said...

As a rule, I don't like it. Ad hominems are divisive and they defeat any hope of having parents listen to anything else you have to say. Like my grandma used to say, "Insults show the poverty of one's language."

Having said that, I too use the word "breeder" for people who won't control their kids, and "sanctimommy" for the really entitlement-minded ones who get in peoples' faces when asked to control their offspring. I try to stay away from the gross or insulting terms, though.

Serafina Pekala said...

I use the term "breeder" to distinguish between people who parent their children and people who let their children rule the roost. I also will use certain terms to describe obnoxious children, because I think it's fitting for them. The small handful of children I know who are really great kids, don't get called those names.

I understand why some people feel that this kind of name calling belittles the CF movement. However, I feel that sometimes we need to rant and usage of such terms is cathartic but admittedly not always productive in bridging the gap between parents and CFers.

I find it frustrating when parents demand respect, but show little to none for people who are CF. It's demeaning to be treated like a second class citizen! And I already get plenty of that kind of treatment simply because I'm brown. For me, a lot of the name calling arises from that frustration and this is what works for me at the moment.

In my "real" life I have very few outlets for this frustration because I live in a pronatalist society and it's difficult to be CF without getting defensive. Perhaps I'm still looking for my voice and a way to express the worry, frustration, and hurt I feel, when encountering callous parents and future parents. I don't think it's a clean cut issue, but thank you for bringing this discussion to the forefront! I love your blog and really appreciate all the excellent topics!

Phoena said...

I don't see a problem with it. People are always going to find something to be offended by, no matter what you say or do.

I don't normally swear at work or around people I know would really find it annoying. Same with childfree lingo. I obviously don't use it everywhere I go. When I feel it's funny or amusing or appropriate I use these terms.

I certainly wouldn't equate it with "hate" speech. Insulting someone based on their race, gender or sexual orientation (something they can't change) is completely different from insulting someone based on their behavior (something they CAN change). If that's hate speech, then no one can ever criticize or insult someone ever again because that would be "hate speech" too. You're coworker is doing a lousy job? Ooops, better not say she's a lazy slacker -- that's hate speech!!

All this PC crap is getting out of hand.

firefly said...

I mostly agree, although having been taken by surprise at the pronatalism in the neighborhood we moved into, I do indulge in 'crotch nugget' comments sometimes.

I try to remember that kids are individuals just like adults (and frankly, I'm not wild about most adults either) and that parents can be burdened by pronatalism too, but.

Having had to spend money cutting off shortcuts through the yard and adding fencing and plants to clearly demarcate our space (which the neighborhood children were in the habit of using at will because 'it looked like nobody was home'), I do feel a bit on the defensive.

The first year we were here we accepted all invitations and even helped with a neighbor's city council campaign, so we made the effort -- but I also feel we constantly have to insist on respect, and that annoys me to no end.

It's really not much different than moving into an apartment with a loud neighbor (and we had plenty of those), except that there's that embedded expectation that you'll put up with it 'for the kids.' They 'don't know any better,' they're 'just learning.'

So, since I refuse to be the lady on the doorstep shaking a broom to chase the kids out of the yard (I've got better things to do with my time), I feel that the occasional private cussing-out replete with 'hate speak' is not misplaced.

But you're right -- if you wrote posts that way all the time I probably wouldn't have bookmarked the blog.

Childfreeeee said...

I am enjoying reading all your comments...thank you for sharing your thoughts about this subject.

In the privacy of my own home, I let some CF hate lingo slip from time to time...when it's just me and hubby, who cares? This happens a lot when I see t.v. shows like "Super Nanny" where the parents are complete nincompoops. That's where feel it's okay to be hateful, call names or whatever because it doesn't hurt anyone. The t.v. can't hear me and it's very cathartic.

In public (and I consider the internet public) I feel that as insignificant as I am in the big scheme of things, because I have posted a blog where the whole world can see it, I am one of the many public faces of the childfree movement and I represent us. I take it seriously and want to represent us well. Childfree folks aren't the only people who read the childfree blogs. In fact, I've been surprised to see parents commenting here from time to time and SiteMeter informs me that a lot of people get here who are coming to terms with infertility and learn more about the childfree lifestyle. By default, they are also getting a feel for what the childfree community is like. I don't want them leaving my blog thinking, "man. Childfree people are a bunch of hostile, bitter, angry miseries."

Speaking only for myself, I don't feel any deficit in catharsis by leaving out the name calling and hate speech. I get just as much release from writing an entry about obnoxious parents creating a racket in Kohl's without resorting to calling them names as I would if I used that language. It feels great just to talk about the issue and spell it out clearly.

CF hate speech isn't my thing, but I respect each person's right to express herself however she feels fit. Like I said, the CF certainly have plenty to cathart about.

Sea_creature said...

I'm still new to being childfree and admit to being sucked into the 'hate' talk. I think it has a lot to do with my own anger issues. I've always been a little 'different' and a little uncomfortable in my own skin so I tend to gravitate toward the defensive all the time.
But there really are many parents out there are very poor examples. The angry talk has made me hyper aware of these annoying people. Right now I feel the need to vent, but I'm sure it will pass.

Childfreeeee said...

Sea_Creature,

Welcome to the childfree life!

I think you've hit on something very important. The anger and name-calling is a form of self-defense from feeling different, isolated and attacked. It hurts to not fit in. It hurts when others judge you as a poor, confused person who doesn't have her priorities straight when you know perfectly well that the opposite is true.

There are 2 ways to handle it - you can get defensive and lash out angrily and call names, or you can stand up proud and project what it is you want others to see. Want them to see you as happy, proud and living a fulfiling life? Act it. Be positive, be proud, speak openly about the positive elements of being childfree.

This is my argument - that getting down and ugly in the trenches projects exactly what they expect to see - that you are an unhappy and bitter person. And why are you unhappy and bitter? Well, because you don't have children of course! They are not deep enough to see all the legitimate reasons you have to be angry at our culture - the imbalance in favor of parents and the negative stereotypes you have to endure. All they can see is that you are bitter and angry and it validates their preconceived ideas about you as a childfree person.

Anyway, I've had a couple more thoughts about this subject so I've edited my blog entry a little and added some stuff. Just wanted to point that out in case anyone is interested.

StayTheCurse said...

I think you pick your battles with this..I agree with Phoena that, in a world where morons like Nadia call US "selfish", we shouldn't be too hung up on 'PC', but it's also true that appearing bitter and reactionary in front of strangers makes us look weak and immature. In front of our CF friends I let fly, of course..but in public, I'm careful about the 'Anne Coulter' factor: foaming like a rabid dog just makes anyone who isn't already rabid back away..

Meredith said...

I chose "other" because I think it ultimately does more harm than good, but I secretly enjoy it when it's used in an entertain-rant manner.

eyemandy said...

I wouldn't do it in mixed company. In the privacy of my own home, I've been known to say ugly things about parents. Anger is sadness turned inside out. It saddens me that people are so clueless, which in turn angers me.

In mixed company (i.e. public), I would never. It has very little to do with your beliefs and everything to do with the type of person you are. I am polite--not because they deserve it, but because that's the type of person I am.

libbycoleman said...

I am sick of childfree people saying that anyone who is infertile should "just adopt". It is a person's right to try and achieve a pregnancy if they wish to do so, same as anyone else.

libbycoleman said...

Yes, anger is sadness turned inside out. I know a woman who never wanted to have children, but she is very angry and bitter about life in general. She also never wanted to work, so she found a man who would support her, so she could stay home all day and watch television. She has the life she always wanted, but she is not happy.

She alienates herself from friends when they have kids. She goes around insisting that anyone who is infertile should adopt. If you get pregnant, she gets mad. I conceived a child with IVF, she got angry and said I cheated nature. Whatever. I am done with trying to figure out her issues. I don't have a background in psychology, anyway. I am just enjoying spending time with my beautiful little girl.

Nightbug said...

I agree completely. I abhor the hateful speech in which some CFers partake. It is demeaning to those they speak of and demeaning to those of us that call ourselves CF. Hateful speech toward others has never made the world a better place nor aided in bringing understanding to one's cause or viewpoint.