About these ads

The Thinking Housewife: “When women were denied the vote, they could reside on a higher plane, far from the oily ministrations of politicians.”

Ann Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night got Laura Wood, the so-called Thinking Housewife, pining for a world in which the dirty world of politics was limited to dudes.

When women were denied the vote, they could reside on a higher plane, far from the oily ministrations of politicians. Now, at every convention, we must hear about the first date of the presidential candidate and his wife. We must see them kiss and be told by both how wonderful women are. The governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, and Luce Vela, the wife of the governor of Puerto Rico, also appeared last night and I couldn’t help but feel, given their outfits and grooming, that I was watching a political version of the Miss America contest.

My only question is why Ms. Housewife was watching the convention at all. If politics is so “oily” and gross and inherently unladylike, shouldn’t a good old-fashioned gal like her be studiously avoiding its corrupting influence? Weren’t there any doilies in the house that needed dusting?

About these ads

Posted on August 30, 2012, in antifeminism, antifeminst women, ladies against women, misogyny, reactionary bullshit, woman's suffrage and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 131 Comments.

  1. Not to mention the classism. A great many of us don’t have finances to look after. We pay rent and buy food.

    Just how long is someone supposed to wait for a lottery win before having children?

  2. thebionicmommy

    Just how long is someone supposed to wait for a lottery win before having children?

    Exactly. I don’t think parenthood should be a privilege only for the rich and middle classes. Money doesn’t make someone a good parent. To be a good parent, someone needs to be patient, understanding, and willing to learn. None of those qualities have anything to do with money.

    I also agree it’s classist to use poor parents as scapegoats for social problems, when they don’t usually have the political power to have caused problems in the first place. It’s the ultra rich that are the real financial drains on the rest of society.

    Sorry to derail like that, but I don’t like the idea of people criticizing women like the thinking housewife simply for having children. There are plenty of good reasons to criticize her, like for her misogyny, homophobia, and closed mindedness.

  3. Aaaand, note that my idea of opt-in didn’t require any kind of financial ability whatsoever. I’d be happy with people having babies only having babies that they knew about beforehand. No accidental pregnancies. :p

  4. Bagelsan, why mention a woman who can’t keep track of her boyfriend (like that’s part of the job?) Her finances (because really, most people live paychechk to paycheck there are no “finances” to track at minimum wage) or the Pill (which came across as the old “its a womans responsibility thing).

    I see your comments on feministe every once in a while. I was a little surprised about the wording (well,not the money part. It seems a lot of people on feministe are middle class).

  5. Um, because I know plenty of people who are having boyfriend troubles — they would hate to get pregnant by them at the moment — and plenty of people who are having financial troubles — and would likewise hate to get pregnant under those circumstances. (And “finances” doesn’t mean your fucking stock portfolio, yanno. :p) Those people are very careful to use the contraception they have available.

    People who don’t do that, end up pregnant and regret it. So I’m not being dog-whistly, I’m just literally thinking of the people I know.

  6. TTH would freak if she lived in Oz. Compulsory voting, don’tcha know. I bet she wouldn’t have the wit to simply get her name ticked off (thus avoiding the fine) and not actually vote for anyone come election day – something I’ve done on occasion when it the candidates were a choice of Disgusting or Disgustinger.

    Everything else I’d want to say about her and her “above politics” twaddle (yeah, just let the oily politicians run our lives without us having any say in the matter) has been covered already.

    Shade, love that cat with the doily! I have some doilies at home, they’re useful for stopping wood surfaces getting scratched. Maintenance means beating the dust off ‘em when they start to look more grey than cream.

    Falconer – that’s “Her Majesty,” not “Her Royal Highness.” HRH doesn’t apply to the monarch. It’s like calling an admiral a captain: wrong rank.

  7. Sometimes it seems that the people least prepared to have children are the most likely to have them. When you aren’t very good at keeping track of anything (finances, your boyfriend, the Pill) it’s easy to wind up accidentally pregnant. And then you have one very clueless person who now has another tiny clueless person depending on them.

    Bagelsan, it might have helped if you’d specified that this was just an anecdote about specific people in your life and not a sweeping generalization about women, which is what it kind of looks like.

  8. It’s also an observation about a lot of people, not just the ones I know. People who are dysfunctional at running their own lives don’t tend to make brilliant parents.

  9. As a mother of one child and currently pregnant with Baby 2, the whole “afford to have children” thing annoys the shit out of me because it’s so damn subjective and life is damn unpredictable.

    I mean, what, should you only be allowed to have kids if you save the some odd millions of dollars that kids are supposed to cost apiece?

    When I found out I was pregnant the first time, I had just been diagnosed as infertile due to PCOS. I was lucky that I had a job with good health coverage so I could afford prenatal care, the cost of giving birth at a birthing center (covered 100% by my HMO), and able to afford the unpaid FMLA time off afterwards to heal and establish breastfeeding because my husband had received some money after his grandmother passed away.

    Thanks again to my health coverage, I could get an IUD installed at no additional cost after I had healed enough.

    Fast forward two and a half years and we want to complete our family. We do not want our children to be hugely apart in age and I already know about my fertility issues. We decide to remove the IUD and try without any artificial fertility meds. I got pregnant this past February. We had been saving a bit each month to cover the leave because this time we do not have the ingeritance buffer. But then disaster struck. CALPERS, who administers the health coverage, changed the rules on how people on leave pay for benefits. Now I am told that if I want to take any unpaid leave, I must pay the full $1600 monthly premium instead of only the employee contribution or I cannot keep my coverage. There is a lengthy reinbursement process that I must go through, but it requires me to have the time and energy to fill out and wait for paperwork and checks to clear. Chances are, by the time a reimbursement check comes, the next month’s premium will already be overdue. So essentially, I would need over $3200 to leave in limbo while in unpaid status and also trying to pay for rent and food. I am unbelievably lucky that my parents have agreed to let me borrow the money or I would basically have to go right back to work after giving birth.

    Cue last week when my cat started having trouble urinating and we had to rush hin to the emergency room. It cost over$1500 to save his life. That was partially money we needed for my leave.

    Expenses come out of nowhere, especially when you have pets and children. But sometimes, there are no problems. Surely you would not argue that We should never have anyone special who depends on us just because something bad could happen.

    Having children was an important part of my life plan. But my fertility will only worsen as I age because of my health issues and the cost of growing and birthing my own children is still less than the cost of adopting (and don’t get me started on tge classist, ablest and racist issues with the adoption system at large). And sure, I can’t afford a house because real estate is fucking outrageous no matter what anyone says.

    If your children are loved, wanted, attended to, fed, clothed and sheltered, then exactly what more do children need for the right of existing?

    Private school? Ipads? Designer clothing? A parent who stays home all day? Their own room?

    At what point does it stop being concern for the wellbeing of a child and start being about forcing a standard of living steeped in classism and racism upon people in order to keep them powerless and childless against their will?

  10. I’m working to eradicate my own classist prejudices which is why I’m interested in hearing other perspectives on this, but I come off like a conservative when I talk about parenting sometimes (except for the part where i’m pro-choice) because I really think there’s no right to have children. There’s a right to have no children if you want, because that affects only you, but if you want kids then the choice has to be about them, too, and whether they’re gonna be happy.
    I do feel like I would have to basically win the lottery to be able to have children, in the sense that I would have to find a community that was stable and supportive enough, and probably also a lot of therapy in addition to more money… it’s unlikely to all come together like that, and I think that’s ok. better I a free adult be childless than some child be stuck with me in a bad home for 18 years.
    a lot of this feeling comes from knowing that my own parents, despite having reasonable money and the best intentions were still SO wrong when they thought they could raise a family without getting overworked and violent and bitter.

  11. I do think it’s still an intensely personal choice and that neither I nor anyone else can tell you when you’re in the right place. For instance, someone with more patience than me would not need as much stable, kindly community support as I would need if I ever undertook the task of parenting. But I think the question of “is the kid gonna be happy?” should come far before the question of “does the adult want a kid?”

  12. You can make the same “no one should ever have a kid” argument about pets. My cousin spent over 20,000 dollars on her beloved black lab for various hip replacement surgeries he needed. Then he ended being diagnosed with inoperable cancer only a couple months after healing from the surgery and died in her arms. That was over 5 years ago. She’s still paying off the debt.

    Should you make the argument that a person should never own or be “allowed” to rescue a pet unless they have that 20,000 dollars lying around? Should you make the argument that your cat is being “abused” if you can’t pay for the raw frozen prey animal diet (which is the most optimal diet for cats)? If you have to leave your dog at home while you work, are you a selfish, horrible pet owner? Pets can cost as much if not more than children because even pet insurance doesn’t offer HMO coverage.

    It’s all a question of accepting other people’s choices and understanding that even if right this second everything seems like you can handle it, shit happens- LIFE happens.

    You could have the money saved up to “afford a child” and then have someone fraudulently steal it away and be told that you are only insured by the bank for a small fraction of the amount. You could have a great support network and then a couple of months or years later, one of your parents suffers a stroke, the other one is busy caregiving for them, some of your friends have a falling out with you, and a few others have to move for a new job/graduate program. Your partner/spouse could die, leave you, or become ill.

    There is always something that can go wrong, but you can’t just stay at home with a blanket over your head and do nothing (well, technically, you can, but you can’t expect everyone else to do the same- I only get one life and I’m not going to spend it terrified and paralyzed).

    Sure, I’m playing on extreme level of Life right now, but at the same time, there is quite a lot that I’ve done correctly, and many people and things in my life that I have to be thankful and lucky to have around me.

    The idea of opting out of all of these because I can’t afford them outright is unconscionable to me.

  13. Falconer – that’s “Her Majesty,” not “Her Royal Highness.” HRH doesn’t apply to the monarch. It’s like calling an admiral a captain: wrong rank.

    Oh yeah, isn’t royal highness more appropriate to a princess?

    But whadda I know, I’m just a Yank.

  14. I don’t know, the idea that things can happen even when one has prepared doesn’t make me think it’s ok to just not worry about it.
    I wouldn’t say being childless or even petless is the same as staying at home with a blanket over my head. I have relationships with other adults who will be alright if I suddenly can’t come through for them anymore.
    I don’t expect people to be responsible for or to plan for all possible eventualities. That would be really unreasonable. The idea that bothers me is letting this sense of needing a child to complete one’s life override one’s concern for the hypothetical child’s wellbeing. Maybe no one actually does that… well no, my parents totally did that. I guess I grew up hearing them say what a mistake it was and how they thought it would be easy to raise us but it wasn’t. When I hear my friends talk about having children like it’s a given, I just want to tell them how some people are wrong when they think that.

  15. @Sharculese, do you have any good links showing the “Go back home” chant? I’d love to use it to settle an argument among “friends” that i know who keep saying it was probably just about the R.P. and not about the P.R., as it were.

  16. @dualityheart, i’m really in awe of the dedication i feel like i can hear in your post. If you don’t mind my saying so, it sounds to me like your kids have a very very good mom. Also, happy and healthy pregnancy to you :) I have to say i’m jealous about your post-diagnosis story; i’m struggling with IF right now myself. :P

    To me, i just don’t think there’s any amount of ‘planning’ you can do to make everything perfect — it’s more about how you handle what comes that makes you a ‘good parent’ (again, if we can even use that term in a meaningful way) and one can never know how someone else will handle the shit that comes their way, whatever shit that may be :)

  17. @Zanana i’m sorry you had to be subjected to your parents’ cruel words — it sounds like it really affected you. I just think that the best deciders of what to do are the potential parents — because we can’t ask the potential kid, of course, and so they’re the next best experts. But i also think that better social safety nets and resources for struggling families (monetary, emotional, health, and educational support, for example) would ease a lot of parent’s and children’s burdens without having to make anyone else’s reproductive choices for them.

    OKAY I’M DONE NOW SORRY GUISE :)

  18. @Sharculese, do you have any good links showing the “Go back home” chant? I’d love to use it to settle an argument among “friends” that i know who keep saying it was probably just about the R.P. and not about the P.R., as it were.

    the link i posted mentions the go back home shit, but the part of the video where they show those assholes in the white baseball caps- if you cant hear ‘go back home’ it’s because you don’t want to

  19. It is rude for strangers to ask a woman with a lot of kids “Do you know what causes that?” or “Oh no, you’re pregnant. What are you going to do?”

    Ugh, those are the worst! Especially when it’s right in front of the kids. They do have ears, you know!

  20. @Sharculese the Harper’s link? i don’t see the mention…please believe me, i want to see the mention. I’m sick of these dog whistles and i want a solid thing that i can point to and say CAN IT BE ANY CLEARER. But i just can’t hear it…i thought i heard “sit back down” but i think it actually was “seat them now”? maybe those white baseball hat guys are saying “you go down”? Maybe i just suck at hearing.

  21. So I’m not being dog-whistly, I’m just literally thinking of the people I know.

    It’s also an observation about a lot of people, not just the ones I know.

    Wait, how can it be both?

  22. Falconer, yup, princes, princesses, and the like – the Queen’s children and grandchildren now, for instance, are HRH, except Princess Anne’s kids – she opted out of them having any titles when they were born.
    :)

  23. Zanana, with all due respect, just because your parents made a mistake (in their opinion) doesn’t mean that all other potential parents need to be as paranoid as possible, and not have kids unless they have a cast-iron guarantee that nothing unexpected will ever happen. Especially since such a guarantee would be impossible anyway. If you don’t want kids then that’s a perfectly valid way to feel (I don’t want kids either), but I think it’s pretty shitty to project whatever anxiety your parents cruel words left you with onto other people, especially given that we have at least one currently pregnant regular commenter, and another who recently gave birth.

  24. @heidi

    sorry, i though it was harpers but this is where the ‘go back home’ thing was first pointed out

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/08/29/speaking-of-minority-outreach/

  25. Damn, I’d be embarrassed for them if I thought they had any sense of shame about their racism.

  26. on that Thinking Housewife page about rude comments about number of childrens, “Mrs. H” says:

    What irritates me more than thoughtless comments about my family are the thoughtless, completely inappropriate announcements about getting “fixed” or “tubes tied,” or how many kids an engaged couple “plan” to have.

    It appears as if she is not just rightfully offended that people are making rude comments to her about her pregnancy decisions but is offended that anyone dare mention in front of her that they have a different lifestyle . How dare anyone plan their family!

    If you read the other comments the phrase “open to life” comes up several times and if that isn’t a judgmental freaking dog whistle for “not being pregnant to the maximum amount possible is killing babies!!!” I don’t know what is.

    The commenter before her (Joe Long) has the balls (lol) to refer to men with vasectomies as “surgically altered males”.

    Shiela C. says:

    It’s truly depressing to read of so many rude, thoughtless, nosy, brainwashed people bemoaning the fertility of white Christians (I guarantee they’d never make such comments to a black welfare mother of multiple offspring). I, on the other hand, go out of my way to compliment white mothers with young children – precisely because they are in the minority, and precisely because they get so little understanding and praise.

    uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    our pal Sunshine Mary says:

    It is interesting that criticism is launched at loving parents of large families, but praise and admiration is heaped on German father Nils Pickert, who encourages his five-year-old son to wear dresses and who wears skirts himself in order to “support” his son.

    barf barf barf
    P.S. her blog is just as bad as TH’s, if not worse

  27. I expected Zanna’s comment to be extreme (reading backwards). It’s pretty leveled, she says people don’t need to procreate like it’s a given, and that expecting people to prepare for every little thing is unreasonable.

    Difficult topic that has to be handled just so, and even when the right things are said, people will act like it’s sacrosanct and you can’t say anything about it. My brother just had the cutest girl ever, my first niece, I’m not going to go over to his house and start an ethics discussion on making new people. Not gonna happen. I’m going to squeal like a proud auntie. At this point the conversations have to stay in the philosophy ethics arena. Any discussion is like ‘don’t judge me or tell me what to do’. Most people have kids, I’m not going to judge them one iota. It doesn’t help and makes no sense. I do want to mention something that I hope is taken ok, though. I’ll just give an example of what happened years ago on a message board. People brought up the ethics of McDonalds and one popular poster there shouted it down with this great argument I LIKE MCDONALDS!! She thought that was a valid argument, and the other posters followed suit. No more discussion. The fact that some people do something or like something is a cheap out and is most of the time meaningless and coercive. However… on sensitive topics we should make sure to be super duper understanding that the topic won’t be well received. Also some people are just going to shove you around no matter how well you talk about it, because they want to and they can. No use trying in an environment like that.

  28. sunshine mary if youre still stalking us i just want you to know your a disgusting hateful piece of shit

  29. @heidihi- If it helps, I did two things to help my fertility- I started taking 1000mg of metformin twice a day to lower my insulin resistance (which works against you by raising your testosterone levels). I also started eating a low-glycemic-index diet to help mitigate the insulin resistance problem. This helped lower my testosterone levels and after some regular unprotected sex, I found myself pregnant. Actually, to be honest, I didn’t find out I was pregnant until I was about 20 weeks into the pregnancy. I didn’t have bad morning sickness, and what nausea I did have coincided with the flu season as well. However, I always take my morning ladyvitamin, and if you’re actively trying to get pregnant, it’s a good idea to take a prenatal vitamin just in case. In my situation, I was desperately craving tomatoes, which apparently have a lot of folic acid, and baby was just fine (in fact, she’s asking me right now if the cat eats cookies or not, and no, cats do NOT eat cookies in this apartment, lol).

    Also, even more miraculously than me- I have a friend who is bio-female but identifies as genderqueer whose partner is bio-male, and they got pregnant even though my first friend has such severe PCOS that they can regularly grow a beard without too much effort and was not taking any special medication when pregnancy happened. They have an adorable little boy who is very very loved and doing really well, even though both of them did have to take advantage of various social assistance programs because their finances are not nearly as stable as mine.

    And I know I’m not perfect- a lot of people think that I’m too “permissive” because I don’t believe in corporal punishment and I would rather take my kid and sit her down for a “break” than a punitive time out. We can’t afford to rent or buy a house, so we live in a one bedroom apartment. But we go on a lot of walks to the park and around town- we live in a place that has some of the best weather of anywhere in the world, so being outside is glorious. Our daughter has her own little toddler bed in our bedroom but she generally prefers sleeping cuddled up between my husband and I. I doubt that she’d be in her own room even if we had a bigger place. Both my husband and I work opposite schedules and we ride bikes to work instead of drive so that the car will be home in case the primary caregiver at the time needs to use the car for urgent or weekly chores. We spend a lot of time together as a family whenever we can, and when we can’t, we still make time each day for “I love you”s and hugs and cuddles. We watch a lot of cartoons and cuddle on the couch when we’re home in the evening. Our daughter will go crazy over broccoli for a week and then only want chicken nuggets. She helps both my husband and I out in our little kitchenette. And she enjoys playing dananananananaBATMAN but she also likes to push her baby doll in a stroller. We’re doing everything a day at a time- potty training is almost completely mastered but she didn’t really start wanting to do it until she turned 3, we’re working on numbers and word pronunciation but she’s still begging for a pacifier at night, and even though she still needs some reminders, she is very good with unprompted “please” and “thank you.” She’ll be starting preschool co-op soon, which is going to be a big change- she doesn’t spend all that much time in structured environments (she’s never been to daycare), so I’m concerned that she might have trouble fitting in and adjusting even though I know it’s going to be an essential step.

    As you can see, I’m not close to perfect. I like to think that most moms do what they can do to make life as good for their children as possible, but sometimes they don’t have the support, education, or understand how their kids will react to various parenting styles (and in some cases, I’ve fallen into the same problems from time to time too).

    I do, however, understand that there are many narcissistic moms and abusive moms and other such moms- I just don’t think that the existence of these people is tied to the MOM part of the equation- that’s who these people are, kids or no kids. I actually had to call CPS on my cousin because she’s engaging in some pretty severe neglect and possible abusive behaviors with her kids. There’s a big difference between making a mistake and getting help and simply taking out your own issues on your kids. And either way, the CPS people will be able to help her either get the help she needs to give her kids the help THEY need, or they’ll take the children from her if she is demonstrated to be unable to care for them. It was still fucking hard as hell to actually call them and make the report, because I like to imagine that most people want to do the best for their families.

    But I always get my hackles up when it comes to the admonition that “moms are doing it wrong” and that “children are just so expensive” and “X group of people should not have children” because the truth of the matter is that NO ONE can “afford” most things in life. There are hidden costs in everything, from a house to a child to a computer to a cat. But if we start making designations about “affordability” instead of mindset, attitude, coping mechanisms, and strength of character, we miss some of the most important qualities that make people good caregivers and parents. When you look at the monthly income of a person, it can only tell you how much they make, and while a person making minimum wage is not necessarily going to absorb the costs of caring for a child well, that paycheck is one of the least important parts of being a caregiver.

    Sure, all parents get stressed out because parenting is intense and stressful. And it is my opinion and belief that NO ONE should be FORCED into being a parent if they DO NOT WANT TO. Parents should support the childfree and respect their decisions. But in turn, I think that it is downright disrespectful for someone who is not intimately involved in a caregiver’s situation to see one incident of a child having a meltdown in a supermarket and come to the conclusion that the caregiver is inept or “should not have had children.”

    Having children really isn’t the problem. The problem is when people are overextended, have insecure support networks, are forced to work but cannot afford childcare (or are forced to pay for inferior childcare where abuse or neglect may occur regularly), and where people have kids because “you just do it” instead of being given options, reliable birth control choices and proper comprehensive sex-ed. Our society needs to give people CHOICES, but not tell them that their choices are WRONG if they make ones that we can’t necessarily say we’d choose for ourselves.

    Well, at least, that’s my personal opinion on the subject. >_> *gets off soapbox*

  30. Lots of good points, especially in terms of the problems not always being the parenting part of the equation. I also totally agree with Indifferentsky that I was trying to take an abstract ethical perspective on the question of parenting without talking about real individuals and their real lives. But that’s almost never a productive thing to do. I would never say mean things to my brothers about my nephews either! Or my housemates about their children, I love them, and all the people I know with kids are certainly doing their best and often seem happy. I like Nanasha’s descriptions, I think that’s a good way to humanize an issue.
    I’m gonna take some more time to think about all of this.

  31. Having children really isn’t the problem. The problem is when people are overextended, have insecure support networks, are forced to work but cannot afford childcare (or are forced to pay for inferior childcare where abuse or neglect may occur regularly), and where people have kids because “you just do it” instead of being given options, reliable birth control choices and proper comprehensive sex-ed.

    But having children is a thing that hugely extends people, make their networks more important, forces you to balance work and childcare, etc etc. There really is nothing comparable (having pets, really? No one’s pearl-clutching over that comparison?*) and many parents don’t seem to have a clue how to handle those factors. “Afford” doesn’t mean monetarily; it means can you realistically make a person and not fuck it up. Plenty of parents demonstrably cannot. Saying that isn’t personal, despite how some people here are taking it.

    *and no, if you have no time for a dog you don’t have any right to get one; I don’t care if you’re Bill Gates, you can not “afford” a dog.

  32. It’s truly depressing to read of so many rude, thoughtless, nosy, brainwashed people bemoaning the fertility of white Christians (I guarantee they’d never make such comments to a black welfare mother of multiple offspring).

    1. Black mothers are never subjected to rude, judgmental assumptions from strangers.

    2. Whenever I see a black woman with children, I assume she’s a “welfare mother” and sniff about her “multiple offspring.”

    You stay classy, Quiverfull movement.

  33. ^I know, it’s totally “”But they’re not supposed to be judgmental of me! Go judge the people you’re supposed to be judging!”

  34. I think the problem is that how much you can “afford” changes. For example, when I had my daughter, I had quite a few people who had the time and energy (and the desire) to help watch the baby while I had to run an errand or go to the doctor or something and my husband was also working or engaged with some kind of business of his own. One of them had to move back in with parents over three hours away because she broke up with her boyfriend. Another went back to school full time. And yet another just kind of drifted away because both of us no longer had time to hang out and talk bicycles and tinker around with them.

    My mother in law has been helping us by coming over and watching our daughter recently while we’re waiting for my husband to switch from graveyard shift to evenings because he needs to sleep at some point, and our daughter has been waking up with me in the mornings and it is very dangerous to have a 3 year old run around unsupervised in an apartment while the adult in the apartment is sleeping. But she’s been exhibiting some worrying memory issues recently, and she is thinking of moving farther away because she’s stubborn and makes her mind up about things and there’s no convincing her otherwise. My parents live over 3 hours away and want me to move back to live nearby, but I’m not sure I’m willing to make that jump because a lot of the healthy lifestyle stuff I have in place here would be next to impossible in the car-centric community where my parents live (plus I’d have to find a job, etc). Plus my mom is narcissistic and works full time anyway (even though she’s actually pretty good with small kids, I don’t think I’ll feel one bit comfortable leaving our daughter with her once she hits puberty). My sister used to be really awesome and come visit every so often but now she’s become kind of flaky and wants to run off to Germany for awhile. My best friend just had a baby, but she’s overwhelmed. ETC. You can start out with the perfect plan and things can still go sideways. That isn’t being a bad parent. That’s called “living.”

    And there is a comparable situation- a committed relationship. Let’s say you’re married or in a close relationship with a partner, and they develop a horrible disease or get into a car accident and can no longer care for themselves. You didn’t necessarily “sign up” for that level of having to take care of another person, yet there you are- and you have to make that decision- do you stay and care for that person in need or do you go off and act like a self-centered jerk and leave them high and dry? Sure, you can swear off all close relationships so you’ll never be faced with that potential situation, but that’s a pretty lonely existence. A parent who does not want to be a parent can surrender their children to the system. A pregnant woman who does not want to be pregnant can get an abortion. A woman who wants to avoid conception to the best of her ability will use a contraceptive (or two or three).

    But when you decide that parenting is something that you WANT to do, and you come up with a good plan of how to provide well for your family, should you honestly be expected to plan out a good 18-28 years of your child’s potential life or you’re considered a “failed” parent? Exactly how much is considered “your fault” and how much is considered “shit happens”? It’s so easy to point fingers when you’re outside the situation- when you’re laughing at someone else’s misfortune for making a dumb wager and losing. But having a kid isn’t a gamble- it’s mentoring, nurturing and growing a PERSON. And yes, it’s hard, and yes, it’s not always easy, and YES, society could do more to nurture the children that are born in this world (and no, I don’t follow a lot of the VHMENT bullshit because we have a consumption of resources problem, not necessarily a population problem- and beyond the few weirdo religious fringe groups, most people with proper access to contraceptives and comprehensive sex-ed are self-regulating their reproduction) because kids aren’t the problem- the commodification of humans is a problem, and the subsequent idea that unless someone is consuming or creating consumable items or selling consumable items, that they have NO WORTH.

    And that goes DEEPER than just “child hatred.”

    I think, honestly, this is why so many people hate old people, children and the poor (or, consequently, act like they OWN or are OWED SOMETHING by having to “take care” of said groups). There’s this inherent hatred of anyone who can be seen as “not contributing” to the capitalist machine. And I think that so many people have internalized it that they try and explain it away in other ways, make it sound like it’s just a “personal choice” but in reality I think it’s something deeper, more insidious. Children are part of society too, and I honestly think that as soon as we start including them as PEOPLE (instead of either talking down to them like idiots or acting like they need to be invisible and inoffensive), it will make things a lot better from a social justice angle, and an overall people angle.

  35. TLDR;- Do we honestly see children and families as a valid life-situation, as more than just some simple yes/no choice, or a commodity that adults procure out of a sense of novelty and tradition, or at worst, a burdan that you’d have to be seriously stupid to take on, one that was created by the Old Guard Patriarchy to Keep Women Down?

    Because, honestly, I don’t see a family as being epitome of old-wave patriarchal oppression. It’s its own thing, and it can be mobilized for all reasons, summoned in a propaganda-filled speech about “family values” or scapegoated as an example of How Evil And Selfish We Americans Are For Daring To Have Babies.

    Sure, many of us came from problematic families, and have probably even suffered abuse, and I’m not trying to minimize that. But it does not mean that there is no such thing as a good family or that you have to be a perfect family to be allowed to exist. We don’t have to live in ideals, but we can do our very best to make the best choices with what we have available to us.

    As I write this, my kitty is curled up dreaming against my leg, the late term fetus-almost-baby-girl is rolling about inside of my womb, my daughter is curled up sleeping in the big bed in our bedroom, and my husband is working his butt off at one of his (hopefully) last graveyard shifts. We’re not perfect, and often, we make mistakes. But we do what we can to care for one another, to ease one another’s suffering, to compound and expand our joy tenfold. Would I be happier if I were a millionaire? Perhaps, but once again, that’s neither here nor there. Would I be happier if I had fewer responsibilities? Maybe. But then again, sometimes to know the heights of success, one must take a few risks, and suffer a few hardships. There’s more to this than just expecting everyone to live the libertarian dream of hyper individualism. Yet we can’t all be collectivist zombies. There’s a balance here, one that we have to negotiate and develop the words to properly convey.

    I think that’s what scares so many people about the idea of parenting or children- the pressure to be perfect, the pressure not to screw up, the giving in to weakness and probable failure and constant learning at the hands of that failure. It humbles you in a way that is hard to accept.

  36. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

    Wonderful posts, Nanasha. I can’t really say much other than that I’m glad I’ve never wanted children – I really don’t enjoy their company and don’t respond to babies at all – because I could literally never have afforded to raise a child. As in, I’ve never had an income that would pay rent, feed two people, and get a child through school (and even our state schools screw a lot of money out of parents these days, because the governments keep screwing them). Nor have I ever had a family/friends network that would be on hand for help in raising a child. Mercifully I haven’t been on the receiving end of the “But don’t you want babieeeeees?” rubbish often. (When I have, I’ve said “I’d rather have kittens.” That generally shuts ‘em up.) As is probably obvious from that lot, I don’t have a temperament I’d want entrusted with raising a child either, even if I’d been rolling in dosh, lol.

    All I can say is, thank goodness I live in a time and society where I had a choice in the matter!

  37. I think that’s what scares so many people about the idea of parenting or children- the pressure to be perfect, the pressure not to screw up, the giving in to weakness and probable failure and constant learning at the hands of that failure. It humbles you in a way that is hard to accept.

    I’ll never forget holding my son for the first time, when he was aged approximately twenty seconds, and it suddenly hit me that my life had changed so completely and profoundly that it would probably take years for it to truly sink in. I suspect all parents feel like that at first.

    The commenter before her (Joe Long) has the balls (lol) to refer to men with vasectomies as “surgically altered males”.

    My reaction to this was so “WTF?” that I looked up the original comment. The start is autobiographical stuff about having five kids, but then he says:

    A male may expect (I received!) jokes about vasectomy; quiet unsolicited endorsements of vasectomy; and female work acquaintances publicly recommending vasectomy. Feminists and surgically-altered males both seem to want apologies for your virility, at the very least. I was even cajoled by an acquaintance who reported that not only was the surgery painless, he was pampered and given ice cream by his wife for days – it sounded like a gradeschooler parroting a kindly pediatrician’s explanation of the upside of a tonsilectomy.

    Now I can understand being annoyed by people constantly suggesting having a vasectomy purely on the grounds of having five kids, but he then completely wrecks his argument by getting all defensive about his “virility” and making jibes about “surgically-altered males” as though they’re somehow inferior to Mr Manly Man with his Manly Virile Sperm.

    There’s nothing particularly impressive about having five kids – I fathered two in two years, which suggests that we could probably have upped the total to five with little difficulty if we’d been that way inclined.

    (And I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my own post-vasectomy pampering…)

  38. Nanasha, my four-year-old daughter just started preschool this year, and it was her first time in a structured group setting, too. I was really worried about how well she’d adapt, since she’s kind of a nonconformist and a little bit of a mama’s girl.

    Turns out she’s doing just fine. There wasn’t even any drama the first day I dropped her off – she gave me a hug, then went to draw a picture like her teacher suggested. She’s been going for almost three weeks now, and she hasn’t had any peer or discipline problems. And she’s having fun, too.

    I know that I’m just a stranger on the internet, but I thought I’d throw my two cents in. I hope your little girl will have a great time – both at school and with her new little sister on the way.

  39. It’s impossible to predict how they’ll take to preschool. A friend’s daughter has just finished her first year, and we all assumed from her somewhat independent-minded personality (major understatement) that she’d have a real problem fitting in to a more structured and disciplined setting.

    In actual fact, she’s apparently been completely angelic, immaculately behaved, and generally worryingly like a pod child compared with what she’s like at home.

  40. @Wetherby – maybe she’s just biding her time until she can get the revolution launched good and proper :)

    BTW, you captured the way my husband feels vis a vis the whole male virility thing perfectly in your previous post.

  41. http://www.happierabroad.com/​forum/​viewtopic.php?p=94144&highlight​=#94144

    Oh David you just have to read this comment from Peter-Andrew: Nolan(c) on the tragic forum Happier Abroad. It’s about spanking women (including his daughter) and how much more affectionate it makes women when you commit violence against them.

  42. Oh dear – I’ve just (non-violently) punished my son for trying to make his sister more affectionate. If only I’d known.

  43. I had another thought about how some friends of mine are running this volunteer childcare collective:

    http://dcchildcarecollective.org/

    I used to volunteer for them but I’ve been too busy for it lately. But it’s occurring to me that going back to helping with that kind of work is a more useful place to put this energy that I’m currently channeling into really limited lines of questioning. I get stuck in these dismal binaries sometimes (e.g. have children and fuck it up vs. don’t have children and judge people who do). Important to remember that a better world with better options is possible.

  44. @Sharculese, thank you for the link!

    @Nanasha, thanks for the advice :) I’ll see what i can do but i’m already on the big guns in terms of procedures. :P But i try to eat very healthy — i’m lucky enough that, although i would not consider myself well off (i have two jobs, and my husband works 60 hours at running his own business), i can afford to cook fresh food (and also to have a 10K+ optional medical procedure CHRIST) on the offchance that it might result in a very wanted child.

    That’s another thing. My husband and I are cutting out a lot of things this year so that we can do this procedure that may someday generate a child. If this doesn’t work, we literally may not be able to afford a child. So weird to think about! Not that i always thought i’d want kids, or always thought i’d have them. Anyway, long story short, it’s so damn complicated, everyone has so many different circumstances, and who can say except the person wanting/having the kid?

    Also, Nanasha, your kids and your friends’ child sound very very loved :)

  45. thebionicmommy

    I think, honestly, this is why so many people hate old people, children and the poor (or, consequently, act like they OWN or are OWED SOMETHING by having to “take care” of said groups). There’s this inherent hatred of anyone who can be seen as “not contributing” to the capitalist machine.

    This. I think it’s a problem that so many abled adults believe that everyone in society must earn money in order to be useful. They don’t stop and realize how many non financial contributions people make to the world. Another thing is we all started as babies and children, and many of us will someday get too old to work. Finally, taking care of children and the elderly is unpaid if you do it for family or pays minimum wage is you do it for a living. That shows how much our capitalist society values caregivers compared to CEO’s that get rich by laying off workers.

    Our city just barely passed a school bond issue by a margin of only 400 votes to put storm shelters in our schools. It’s not even that much trouble to do this because the schools have to be built from the ground up anyway. Apparently, a lot of voters didn’t think it’s worth slightly raising property taxes in order to make sure kids are safe at school. Some of the “no” voters said that if they didn’t get storm shelters when they were kids, then today’s kids don’t need them either, despite everything that’s happened. If someone can’t afford to spend an extra $30 a year on taxes, that’s understandable, but to say “no” just out of spite or apathy about children’s safety is pretty bad. Because the bond did pass, though, they will get built and they will able open to use for the general public during non school hours. So everyone will benefit, not just the students. That school bond issue kind of shows the dollar value people put on human lives.

    I’m considering enrolling my youngest child in Head Start, a government funded preschool. My older child already gets free breakfast and lunch at school, so based on this, people might judge our family as having kids we can’t afford. However, when my kids are older, I will able to afford to work, because childcare costs too much to make it work for us right now. When I can work without worrying about childcare, then I can also contribute into taxes to help other families starting out. That’s if I am lucky enough to have good health, because nothing is guaranteed in life. Who knows how long I’ll be able to work because my parents are getting older, and I don’t want to put them in a nursing home if I can avoid it. These are the kinds of problems that disproportionately affect women, btw. I know there are some men that care for aging parents, but it’s usually the women that face these decisions.

    But anyway, I’m not arguing against anyone here in particular, just about our society’s general shittiness towards poor families who make hard decisions because it’s what works for them. They believe only middle class people should have children, so they’ll ask them “Don’t you want babies?” as if their choice to not have kids is a crime. Then they’ll look at poor people with kids and scold them for having children. Whatever choice someone makes, there’s always an asshole out there to tell them it’s wrong.

  46. Arrgh – Cassandra’s storm shelter story reminds me of one of my relatives. She has both of her kids in private school due to crappiness of her local public school district. She told me back in 2010 that she expressly votes against anyone who claims that they want to spend more (or in fact, any) money on public education because it runs counter to her interests. I asked her if she had considered the fact that the majority of the future workers in her area – y’know, the ones who are going to ring up her order at McDonald’s, tally her water bill, or even work with her at her customer service job – are products of the public school system, and that maybe it might be for the common good to have an educated populace. She dismissed me with a “well, that’s their problem,” which is usually what she does when I make a point in argument that she can’t or won’t refute.

    Arrrgh!

  47. Arrgh – Cassandra’s storm shelter story reminds me of one of my relatives.

    I’m Kendra. That was my story, but yeah, I agree with you about your relative not thinking things through on how public education helps everyone. Instead, people vote no on their schools and then turn around and complain the schools are crappy. So I joined the PTO and we have to beg and do fundraisers all the time just to get our schools the basic supplies that should have been funded by taxes. How sad is it that if the school office needs a copying machine, the kids have to do a walk a thon or sell candy bars?

    I like Robert Fulghum’s quote

    It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need, and our air force has to have a bake-sale to buy a bomber.
    Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/schools.html#6y0BFEYjT214U091.99

  48. On being able to “afford” children:

    My parents had the four of us while they were still young and grindingly poor. They made mistakes raiding us (whose parents didn’t??) – they’re both *very* Catholic and that has left us four kids with some issues, they made a very fundamental mistake with my brother that he still feels the repercussions of today, my dad is not always the nicest person and treated me in particular to some pretty nasty emotional abuse, they spanked us, etc etc etc. But they did they best they could with the resources and the training/mindset they had at the time. They loved us very much, and still do, and I don’t blame them one bit for any of the choices they made. Would I have done things differently? Hell yeah, but you know what they say about hindsight …

    Now I’m having my (extremely unplanned and initially very much unwanted – o hai therapy! glad to see you back!) first kid and on paper Mr H and I look like amazing parents. I have a stellar education and we both have very high income jobs in growth industries. We could afford to go out and build a perfect McMansion in the perfect neighbourhood as soon as we found out. We can afford to get our little monster into “the best” schools and “the best” activities and save for “the best” post secondary education. I’m in excellent health and likely to stay that way (thanks Tommy Douglas!). We have a wonderful support network of family, friends and employers.

    Will we do a better job raising our kids? Prolly not. God willing, we won’t make the *same* mistakes, but we’ll make mistakes. Our lives and our children’s lives will prolly be hard. Not hard in the way growing up dirt poor was for me, but hard. Because life is hard.

    You just roll with it and do the best you can and make the plans you can and the backup plans for when those fail and when it all goes to hell in a handbasket like life does, you put your head down and keep going. Kids or no. “Safety net” or no. Any of the (often classist, racist) markers of being “good/ready enough” or no.

  49. Oh David you just have to read this comment from Peter-Andrew: Nolan(c) on the tragic forum Happier Abroad. It’s about spanking women (including his daughter) and how much more affectionate it makes women when you commit violence against them.

    I wonder if it was an overload of affection that compelled his (now ex)wife to leave with the children.

  50. Haha! Speaking of Nolan, I have a tenant refusing to sign necessary papers until his name is copy righted.

  51. Sorry, bionicmommy – I knew this cold was affecting my sense of smell, but now it’s obvious that I can’t read, either. Mea culpa!

  52. Lol, no problem, Fitzy. I knew what you meant. I hope you get to feeling better from your cold.

  53. You just roll with it and do the best you can and make the plans you can and the backup plans for when those fail and when it all goes to hell in a handbasket like life does, you put your head down and keep going.

    That’s the best way to go in life. This is bad to admit, but last year after the tornado, there were some times I’d stop and think that the universe was out to get me and things couldn’t get any harder. But then I’d have to stop and remind myself that all that really mattered was that my family is alive and we have each other. Yes, it was a big pain in the ass to pick up the pieces and start over, but in the end it’s made me a stronger person. I also have a new perspective on life, and I now understand that life’s too short to sweat the small stuff. I feel like if I can keep on track after an F5, then I can handle damn near anything life throws at me.

    Sorry if any of that sounds cheesy. I’m rereading what I wrote, and it sounds cheesy to me even though it’s what I actually think. I don’t know how to express that without coming off like a “power of positivity” self help guru. XD

  54. Regarding children and affording them I’ve noticed that there’s a real “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” attitude towards women who want to have children. Women are told that
    a) you should have your shit properly together before having a kid, and
    b) don’t wait too long or you’re gonna be less fertile! More and more women have to go the route of in vitro fertilization to become pregnant, because women today WAIT TOO LONG!

    Well. The vast majority of women who tries to get pregnant when they’re like thirty-thirtyfive still manages to do so. However, it’s true that if the average age of having children rises, in vitro fertilization and the number of women who simply can’t get pregnant no matter what they try will rise too. BUT it’s also true that in today’s world lots of women don’t really have their shit together (like, a first-hand contract on an apartment or a place to live that you actually own, and a proper job) until they’re past thirty. At least in Stockholm getting a place to live is really difficult, so lots of people are forced to stay at their parent’s place for a long time or else move around from short-term apartment to short-term apartment several times a year. And getting a steady job rather than just temporary assignments is often really, really difficult as well.

    So it’s like… damned if you get kids early, damned if you get kids late.

  55. on a related note im kinda sad david didnt take up peter-andrew: nolan(c)’s challenge to write about his ebook

  56. @Dharvguhnspossen, i agree, i think that many people just get down on women in general, and “having kids” is something that is apparently 100% woman’s work, it’s yet another one of those catch-22’s. Like how if you look sexy you’re just an attention whore but if you don’t look sexy you’re a worthless cow, if you’re a lady in the public eye.

  57. I just did a quick post on Nolan’s creepy comment.

    And I downloaded his ebook! Not sure if I have the patience to actually read it.

  58. RE: parental expectations falling primarily on women

    My husband and I pretty equally co-parent our daughter. This is largely because of necessity- we work opposite shifts to keep our daughter out of daycare. My husband has tons of experience with primary caregiving and both of us practice empathetic semi-AP parenting, with lots of clear communication and structure as our daughter needs and responds to it.

    Guess who gets approached in public all the time and told how amazing their parenting is by gushing family and friends? Yep. My husband.

    Generally he replies that “Nanasha and I are very proud of Daughter and we love her very much” or something similar to give people the image of a united parental front.

    My husband is a good person. He genuinely is a wonderful parent too. But he gets more sympathetic looks when our daughter gets fussy in public and has even been asked “where is your wife?” when Daughter was cranky in the grocery store and he was trying to just run in for sone essentials.

    It’s a clear message: moms deal with all the crap and take the blame for it too. Dads get to play and be the fun parent.

    Lucky for me, my husband is very good at letting me know how much he appreciates me (and vice versa). Honestly, I think that has helped us through the rough times more than anything. Simply saying thank you and I appreciate you on a regular basis really helps make the daily grind doable.

  59. thebionicmommy

    My husband is a good person. He genuinely is a wonderful parent too. But he gets more sympathetic looks when our daughter gets fussy in public and has even been asked “where is your wife?” when Daughter was cranky in the grocery store and he was trying to just run in for sone essentials.

    It’s a clear message: moms deal with all the crap and take the blame for it too. Dads get to play and be the fun parent.

    That is so true. My husband works a lot so it’s usually me that does everything with the kids. But when we all go out and the kids act up, I’m the one who gets the dirty looks from strangers, not my husband. If I work long hours on the PTO or volunteer as a room mother, then I’m just doing the bare minimum. If my husband simply attends a school function, then he’s a hero. I don’t mind dads getting credit, either. I just want moms to get more credit and less blame.

    This works the same way, too, with elderly parents. Do people ask sons if they will quit their jobs when their folks have health issues? Not usually, but that’s what they do to daughters. Once again, this work is all unpaid but the rest of society benefits from it. So I don’t want to even hear someone talk about “female privilege”. If there were such a thing, work that is traditonally “woman’s work” would be appreciated and compensated.

  60. And I downloaded his ebook! Not sure if I have the patience to actually read it.

    I think that book will deserve its own drinking game.

  61. @ Zanana

    The childcare collective sounds interesting. Honestly, one of the biggest issues that a lot of parents seem to face is the lack of the extended family network that in many societies used to provide care for kids when the parents weren’t available. Given that many societies aren’t going back to the model in which that network existed (nobody ever moves far away from home, family all live close together and have good enough relationships that people are willing to help out, there’s always someone around who can take care of kids when needed who’s family and therefore trusted) any time soon, trying to intentionally create a network of friends, neighbors, and acquaintances that mirrors that social network seems like a smart and logical approach. Plus, yeah, you sound like you’re feeling frustrated with your own feelings about the whole issue, so taking some sort of direct action might help. Volunteering is almost never a bad thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,021 other followers

%d bloggers like this: