People who are not childfree do not appreciate all the subtle and insidious ways we are made to feel invisible. Even when not expressed directly, the message that adulthood equals parenthood and that parenthood is the ultimate purpose of life is so tightly woven into the fabric of society that it gets to the point that I sometimes wonder if I exist.
I was flipping channels the other day when I came across one of the home shopping channels. I paused because they were hawking a product that caught my attention - it was a scanner that you can put your old photo slides in, and it translates them into digital color photographs which you can then download onto your hard drive.
Since I am something of a shutterbug, I listened and watched while they displayed how the device works. I started to think of all the old slides I have that I would love to use this for.
As the company representative demonstrated the device, the host of the show began gushing about how marvelous the scanner is - "Just think of all the uses for this! That photo of your child's first Christmas, his first day of school? His first birthday? All those moments with your child that you want to preserve forever can be achieved with this device!"
Okay, so I am asking myself, is this some kind of device FOR PARENTS? Are parents the only people who have valuable slides and photographs that are important to them? Are children the only subjects worth taking photos of? I waited to see if she would talk about other types of important photographs that someone might want to save - travel photographs, wedding photographs, nature photographs, photos of beloved friends and pets. Nope. The entire presentation pitch was geared toward parents who want to preserve photos of their children.
Just flip on the t.v. and notice how many sales pitches are made to parents that shouldn't be - cleaning products, cars, even shampoo - products that all types of people use, yet are marketed primarily to parents.
I am not naive. I know it all comes down to dollars and cents. Parents are the biggest consumers in our society -they certainly consume a whole lot more than childfree me. I imagine my consumption is 1/5 the consumption of a parent. When directing their marketing dollars, I am sure the companies are thinking let's get the most bang for our buck - and that's why they target parents as their potential customers. Restaurants go out of their way to be "family friendly". Shopping centers roll out the red carpet for pregnant women with Stork parking spots. She who spends the most money wins, and it's a good thing I am not competitive by nature, because I'm losing this contest.
(BUT, loser or no loser - I'm still zipping into those stork spots like Daisy Duke! Still waiting for someone to try to stop me.)