Friday, September 21, 2007

The Allure of Ordinary

Have you ever noticed that to most people being ordinary is extremely appealing? To the masses there is nothing more satisfying then not being special. Being, looking, acting and living just like everyone else so that you are not noticed is the way to go. Being one-in-a-million and blending in seamlessly is the highest aspiration and ultimate accomplishment in life for most people. I have never for the life of me been able to understand this.

There are so many examples of this. For example, every year, I am simply amazed at the stuff women will wear simply because it's "in" this year. A couple years ago ponchos came back into style. Just as I was finally overcoming my PTSD from all the hideous stuff I wore as a kid, suddenly, it was 1972 again and the streets were all aflurry with billows of crochet-enrobed women - one a clone of the next. It was horrifying. Last year, it was flip-flops. Suddenly, they became the staple office shoe of every urban office professional. The streets were jam-packed with elbow-to-elbow, plastic flip-flopping women, tripping over each other as they marched their cloned asses down the street. Now, I have nothing against flip-flops per se - in fact, I own some and wear them to the beach, around the yard and to other places in the summer where they are perfectly appropriate. But I am sorry - plastic flip flops look absolutely ridiculous on women in a business setting and there's nobody that can convince me otherwise. I don't care how "in" they are.

And then, there are the women who wear "in" clothes despite the fact that they look horrendous in them. Case in point - the "muffin top" look - you know, those hip-hugger jeans that women wear several sizes too small so that their rolls of stomach flab hang over the waistband. Not to be Joan Rivers or the fashion police, but don't these women have mirrors? Don't they realize how ridiculous they look? Oh, that's right - it doesn't matter because they are in style and look just like everyone else. Mission accomplished.

Even the goth kids who are supposed to be the non-conformist "shock-everyone-out-of-their-senses" people are conformists when you get right down to it. They have their uniform too - the black painted lips, hair and fingernails, the white vampire skin, the black clothes and Doc Martens and dog collars. They think they are radical, but really they are no more radical than the poncho wearing, flip-flopping, muffin topped clones. If they really wanted to be non-conformists, they would each dress differently in shocking clothes - maybe one could dress in a clown costume while another wears a paper bag over his head like the Unknown Comic. Now that would be radical.

At this point you are probably thinking, this is all very entertaining but what does this have to do with the childfree issue? Well, I'll tell you. I would like to make a point that is seldom made, but needs to be.

Childbearing is so ordinary.

Everyone does it, almost everyone can do it and frankly, it's no accomplishment. I point this out because it is drummed into our heads from day one (especially women's heads) that the biggest accomplishment in life is having children. In fact, whereas fatherhood describes a man, motherhood defines a woman. A woman gets pregnant and the world stops breathing for a collective second - people act as though the seas have parted. Showers are planned, gifts are bought, the baby pops out and people lose their fucking minds. Why? Because two people screwed and it took? Can somebody please tell me what the accomplishment is in that?

If you think about it, it's really a much bigger accomplishment to NOT reproduce. It's the road less taken. It takes care and caution. It takes deep consideration. It takes a willingness to think independently and not blindly accept every dictate that is spoon fed to you. It takes daring and courage to face the questions, the pressures, the perplexed, concerned looks and to remain steadfastly commited to your decision. It takes guts to devote your life to pursuing endeavors that take real effort, dedication, intelligence and skill. Most of all, it takes thought. It's true - there are actually people who think about reproduction and realize that for human beings, it is a choice, not a given, no matter how much the opposite message is rammed down their throats.

Sadly, despite the myriad of endless and exciting options life presents us, most people will choose to be ordinary and forsake most of those options to have children. And who can blame them, really? After all, it's so easy and they get lots of positive reinforcement for it. Want to have attention and adoration heaped immediately upon you? Want lots of gifts? Want to have an instant bond with your parents, your friends, your family and 95% of the rest of the adult population? Want to get tax breaks and extra time off from work? Want lots of praise, support and validation and a hearty pat on the back? Want to be told you're beautiful and radiant 10 times a day? Get pregnant. It's a hell of a lot of fun going for it and once you're there, all the other ordinary people will gather around you and make your ordinary act seem like an amazing accomplishment.


Me said...

I have a poster hanging in my home office with a picture from a 3D movie in the 1950s or 60s and the quote by Albert Caumus: "Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal."

Temujin said...

As for the special miracle of pregnancy and childbirth, you don't even have to be CONSCIOUS to get pregnant, carry a baby to term, or (thanks to the "miracle" of C-sections) give birth. In terms of the skill, mental concentration, and intelligence required, you could just as easily talk about the "miracle of bedwetting."

Ire said...

That is so true! People are really afraid of thinking for themselves and live their own lives! They just live, act and do what everyone else is doing! There's no merit whatsoever in getting knocked up and give birth. Everybody is doing it all the time everywhere in the world. What's the accomplishment? Why are these people looked up to? I never understood that.
I'm a thirty-one woman from Spain (Europe) who always knew that never ever wanted to have brats to ruin my life, I'd rather do something productive with my life. But women like us are truly a minority, most people don't even stop to think there's a choice, just want to be like everyone else.
Btw, love your blog and I'm totally addicted to it!