Sep 22 2006, 05:13 PM
i've always stayed away from this thread, out of respect for y'all's privacy. and yeah, i figgered i might read some things i'd find offensive.
but who knew i was also a CBC-er? i mean, i didn't want. and then i did. and i was really really glad i did. and then i didn't want any more.
and as minx can attest to, it's a special hell in and of itself, being silently - or not so silently - accused of fucking up your kid by not giving him/her siblings. many of you know the guilt i inflict on myself for this.
so. i still don't feel like i belong in here.
but i applaud the courage of your convictions.
and hey, if there really is a "pay-pal account where we all donate all that extra money ... to some kid's college fund", it had BETTER be for MY kid!
Sep 22 2006, 05:41 PM
mandolyn- as a basically only child (i have a half sister who was born when i was 13) i want to reassure you that you are in NO WAY fucking up your son. at least not for that reason! i think that there are many advantages to being an only child: for instance i feel like i'm much more indepenant, responsible, imaginative, and self-entertaining (is that a word?) because of being an only child. i think that most people who criticize parents for only having one kid or call only children spoiled are often doing it out of a sour-grapes attitude. they wish they had only had one kid or that they were only children themsleves.
i really want to thank doodlebug, too, for eloquently defending us. i don't post in here all that often, but i am a very frequently lurking CBCer. i feel like i have more to say, but don't really have time to post right now. maybe i'll come back a little later. in the meantime, i'll be...
Sep 22 2006, 05:45 PM
this thread rocks. It is nice to feel that I am not the only one who gets bombarded with
you've been married how long?
don't you want to have kids?
you still have time to change your mind.
No, I have no desire to reproduce
listen honey, my eggs are rotting in my ovaries as we speak and I am just not gonna get rated pg cuz you think I should.
I finally broke down and went on the pill and I love it!!!! love it.
I love sleeping late, smoking weed,and being able to go where ever when ever.
and fuck anyone who has a problem with me or this thread.
and thanks Doodle, seriously you rock
Sep 22 2006, 06:00 PM
Hey all....finally got a proper minute to myself again!
I still feel pretty frustrated by what's going down in the other thread, and then I feel torn about wanting to go in there and name stuff that I've seen going on. I'm trying hard, and I swear, I'm not stepping back into the fray, because it's exhausting, but maybe I can just talk about it here and get it out. I'm sorry if this seems petty or needlessly revisiting shit, but I don't know what else to do with it. Please feel free to skip over the rest of my post if you're tired of this endless discussion.
I almost posted again last night, in response to a post by pepper where she wanted me to explain what I saw as manipulative and disturbing about her posts. Then I deleted it. But I saved the text on my computer. So then I almost posted it again this morning, but with turbo's wise words, I deleted it again.
I DO feel like we CBCers WERE the ones who were initially attacked, and I feel like perhaps some people in that thread are forgetting it or minimizing it. Yes, in the beginning, some folks only posted that they felt unsettled or shocked by our CBC thread. So then I wrote a post - a pretty thoughtful post, I felt - sort of defending our space and asking people to respect it if they stopped by here. Maybe that was a mistake, maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut. But THEN the attack came, as I discussed yesterday in this thread. And I know it shouldn't matter "who started it," but when I go read what's being discussed over there now, I'm feeling unfairly lumped in with someone who engaged in attack mode and then got really manipulative about trying to redirect responsibility for the fallout...I'm feeling a bit like I did years ago in couples therapy, actually, when my estranged partner of the time turned on me and started manipulating the truth to the therapist. It was shocking, frustrating, and hurtful. My mother said my father did the same thing to her, years and years ago. Now that I've been working so long with the women's centre, I understand what "crazy-making" behaviour is, but at the time, yeah, just a lot of WTF? on my part. Anyway.
So, with your indulgence (or with your eye-rolling, skipping-over-this-post response, if that's the case
), I'm going to post here what I didn't post in the other thread this morning, because I NEED to post it somewhere. I NEED to get it out, and yeah, this feels safer, and I really don't want to do it back over there and play right back into it.
This is the whole thing, and again, PLEASE forgive me if it seems petty or unnecessary. I'm not posting it because I need sympathy, or to incite a reaction in anyone, or because I want people to take "my side." I just really feel like I need to be able to - somewhere - name and articulate what I see as going on, because it IS crazy-making behaviour, and it's honestly disturbing to me. And I just think if I have to post it at all, it's better to post it here, where I'm not playing into that crazy-making. So, deep breath...okay, here goes: "once again, please don't take my statements and thoughts personally....can't believe i have to say that again and again."
pepper, where have you ever said it, until your last two posts? Your last post is actually the first time you've made a single statement during this entire discussion about not wanting others to take your statements and thoughts personally, even though you say you "can't believe i have to say that again and again..." as if we are to believe you actually have said it again and again. Up until the last two posts, it's been the reverse - several other people have been asking you to please let off personalizing everything.
In your previous post, you wrote "i'm glad that your sharing but you seem to be the one taking this personally instead of me." Indeed...you wrote that after I posted a statement explaining that I was going to get personal about things in that particular post. I didn't pretend to not be personalizing my statements - I was pretty clear and upfront about where my post was going to go. Why did you feel the need to draw attention to that, and to draw attention to it in that particular way? And to do so after many, many posts - again, as mentioned above - asking you to please stop personalizing everything that was being said?
This is a pretty solid, almost textbook example of where the manipulation is creeping in, of how language can be spin-doctored until everyone is confused about what was said, and by whom, and personal accountability gets lost in the magic trick. And I'd really like to believe these are just a few, isolated, unintentional incidents, but manipulative language of all kinds is sprinkled liberally all throughout your posts. In fact, I had an entire, huge post written in which I picked apart the whole personalization dialogue from the beginning, and showed how the manipulation works. But then I thought it would be pretty heartless and cruel on my part to subject you to that in a public forum, regardless of what I think about the behaviour. Yeah, I can pick apart everything else, too, and lay it all out in a post, or several posts, if that's what you really want. But I really don't want to. I want to be done.
It's extremely difficult writing this, because I do like you and it's been very fun to "chat" when it's all been lighthearted stuff. But I don't feel comfortable with these kind of games, and I really don't want to play. I want to be done.
Ok, thanks for bearing with me. Please resume your childhating.
Sep 22 2006, 06:08 PM
It's funny because I tend to go into a lot of detail if people ask me why I'm not having kids, and after all that, not a single person has said, "Well, good for you. Sounds as if you've really thought it through." And I don't need that or anything, but I find it interesting. And telling about society in general. It's not a major annoyance for me, the questioning, the attitudes, and all that, but it can be somewhat annoying. It's nice to be able to vent here. I only have one real-life friend I can talk to about these things totally openly.
I haven't been discriminated at work for being childfree, but have had some different expectations on my schedule and flexibility...nothing there could really be a policy about. Thank goodness. And I do try to be vocal about my choices and right to be treated the same as others. Although, sometimes I say less rather than more...like if someone wants to switch a shift with me, I don't say, that's my day off and I just need it. I just say I can't...or a couple times I've even made up an appointment.
Mando, I've never thought about that...people giving you attitude for having one child! Wow. Sometimes it seems people are gonna think of something to criticize no matter what we do! Sheesh. I know tons of happy, healthy only children! And come on in here and vent about that kind of stuff if you ever need to!
ETA: ((doodlebug)) I love that title of crazy-making...I've identified that around me before, but never had a name for it. Thanks.
Sep 22 2006, 06:10 PM
Right...poisons under the sink - I need to go fix that, stat. heh. These pugs are into everything, and much more interested in everything than turbo is. but they're funny little critters.
doodle, don't ever apologize for what you post in here - folks who stop on by know what they're getting in here, and if they don't like it, they can avert their eyes, or at least just move along. What's going on in the lounge currently just seems to be the usual bi-monthly dust up...this one is just amongst us, rather than against the trolls, so it feels more challenging, more passionate, and just spinning out from there.
For some reason, this one just isn't sticking to me, or grabbing a ton of my attention or energy - probably because of the work shitstorm raining down on me, but maybe not...I just don't feel drawn in for whatever reason.
I think my brain is too mushy to really discuss anything intelligently this evening, and sadly - its back to work for me this evening, just from my couch. *sigh*
Sep 22 2006, 06:50 PM
Right, thanks for that, turbo. I'll try to apologize less, but I dunno, it might just be the Canadian in me.
I don't usually get drawn in either, but I did go and shoot off my mouth. By-product of being an advocate, I guess. Or a Sagittarius. Heh.
And thanks everyone else for your support and acknowledgement. I know I haven't acknowledged anyone else specifically, but it's just b/c there's been so durned many of you, and I've been, well, pre-occupied. But please know that it's really meant a lot to me, and it's kept me going through this debacle.
I really need a nap, I think. I guess I'm just an ol' lady who needs a suppertime nap on Friday evening.
And yeah, I can take one, 'cause I don't have kids to feed and entertain!!
(I did just build a tent fort for the kitties, though, out of an afghan and the coffee table.)
Sep 22 2006, 10:27 PM
Oh Doodle, you went to bat for the team and in my eyes, you hit a grand slam dammit!!!!!! You are now the MVP so go have a piece of pie or something. BTW, have you ever read the book "off white"? it's a good one you should check it out. anyway, stay out of that scary sin bin from now on or you'll come out w/ shit on your shoe!! take it easy.
Sep 23 2006, 02:47 AM
No, clover, I haven't read it. I'm assuming it's about racism...? What's the gist of it?
I took a nap that started at 7 and went till midnight! Now I'm wide awake. Oh, the joys of being childfree!
Sep 23 2006, 08:56 AM
Hmm, that book does look interesting, clover- here's the synopsis from Amazon:
Reuniting the top scholars in psychology, sociology, education, women's studies, and ethnic studies, Off White is again breaking new ground in analyses of race and privilege. This thoroughly revised collection provides an extended examination of the material conditions of whiteness and contemporary racial formations by considering such areas as class, gender, sexuality, geography, and media as sites for studying racism. With a fascinating new introduction on the proliferation and development of the field of whiteness studies and updated essays throughout, this much-anticipated Second Edition continues to redefine our understanding of race and society. Also inlcludes three maps.
((Sigh)) another family function at Le Boy's parent's house today, a mini-reunion with his dad's side of the family who we hardly ever see (because they're kinda weird.) Besides my nephews who I can tolerate, I don't know what other kids will be there. If any, it will just be his older cousins, ages 11-17 or so. That's okay. They start becoming real human beings by that age.
I'm so glad my parents are so not pressure-y about grandchildren. I was a *surprise* and part of me still wonders if they ever would have intentionally had children if they didn't have me. I guess my sister was intentional, but I wonder if it's only because they already had one. I guess they would have- my dad has said that he always wanted kids (as did my mom), but I think he wouldn't have had them so early and unplanned (he was 22, my mom was 26, and they had *just* moved in together, I think.) He's always been really good with kids, been that fun dad/uncle who played games with all the kids at family parties, but I think as he's gotten older (ha, older- he's only 48 now, which is like 10 years younger than most of my friend's parents) he has less tolerance for little kids, and prefers them when they are self-cleaning, -feeding and can speak in full sentences. I think my parents work better as my "friends" rather than "grandparents to my children", and I enjoy child-free outings with them, rather than the kid-centric events at Le Boy's family's stuff. My parents get my sense of humor about being CBC, and when we go out, we all grimace at the obnoxious little kid at the next table whose parents are letting him run wild and wreak havoc in the restuarant (or wherever.)
Sep 23 2006, 11:27 AM
Hey again, all. I've been engaging in a few rounds of PMing with different people since my last long post, which I've taken a bit of heat for (and also received some supportive PMs, too). About 3 or so hours ago, I wrote one PM response in particular that sort of brought a lot of clarity to the whole thing for me, and I've rewritten it a bit to post here.
My point is NOT to rehash the original debate, or to engage in personal one-upmanship of some kind. (Hence the reason I've re-written this a little and not named the recipient.) I am kind of hoping it will put an end to the nastiness that went down in the Sin Bin (and I see, on a quick glance, is still going on), and depersonalize the specifics of who did what to whom, and maybe give us a starting point for a new discussion, which is taking it back to the political issue of being women who are childless by choice. Also, I thought about posting it in the Sin Bin - and upon reflection, I wish I had, except I was too tired to have written it before this morning - but to post it would now would only make sense there if I'd left my original post, and after seeing how things are going in there, I doubt it would have ended in a straight line from that one to this one. So I'm putting it here.
So...yeah, enough stalling. Here goes.
Some folks may think they know why I made my last long post, which was regarding the incident with pepper, in the CBC thread and left it here, and those folks may be partly right, but may also be partly wrong. Posting in CBC was, to me, like writing a letter to someone I was angry at and then reading it to a support group instead. Right or wrong, it was essential to me in order to be able to let it go. I am not going to spend all a lot of energy trying to justify it, but a huge part of the reason I never wound up posting it in in the Sin Bin or PMing it directly to pepper is because I wanted to be able to let it go and not get caught up in another round. Did it make me feel better? Yes. Do I want the argument to continue? I've said a thousand ways that I don't, but rather that I just needed to express it, in order to work it out for myself. Do I want to continue to dwell on it? No, because I got it out, and I feel free of it.
But one thing I am truly, truly, truly tired of is the insistence that we as feminists have to always try and "get along." Most of the reasons we fight are because we do not agree, and the most common thing we do not agree on, and that we fight about, is how marginalized women and their issues are treated by the broader the women's movement. Nothing changes in a static movement, and the movement always needs to change and grow - and yes, that invariably happens with controversy, conflict, and even hostility.
People do become hostile when confronted with their privilege. Mothers are NOT a marginalized group of women within the women's movement, whatever some of them might like to think. Mothers are the majority of women within the women's movement, and their issues are always represented up front. I am not trying to strip anybody's rights as a mother, I am not trying to say neither of us have the right to our point, and I'm not even trying to rehash the issue of mothers versus CBC at all - the original issue is not even the point anymore, and hasn't been for a long time.
I know a few people believe I am taking this discussion personally, but I want to assure everyone that I am not. This is very, very much a political issue for me right now, and I need people to understand that. This isn't about me, and it isn't even about pepper anymore, although I do feel I had a right to be angry and frustrated, and to express it in the way I thought best at the time. What I'm trying to say is that CBCers are a minority within the women's movement, and just like when women of colour, lesbian women, immigrant and refugee women, and other groups of marginalized women try to openly discuss our issues within the broader movement, we are perpetually shut down and silenced for the "greater good" of the majority.
I know some women, particularly those women with privilege, may not see or understand this, but it's something I've witnessed happening to many marginalized groups of women in my years as a full-time feminist activist. It's one of the reasons I've grown weary of the movement - it's the main one, actually. I am, to again quote a sister and colleague, weary of watching white women cry.
Was what I wrote a character judgement? Yes. My response is why shouldn't it be? This isn't the first time I've witnessed a feminist use underhanded tactics to silence a discussion. It isn't the first time a member of a marginalized group has gone back to her "own community" to try and mull over what happened. What disturbs me is that underhanded behaviour is tolerated and placated, again and again, in the name of "getting along."
You might ask, what's the big deal? The big deal is silencing. Just remaining in silence and ignoring manipulative, controlling, and/or abusive behaviour - "dropping it" - has allowed it to perpetuate and flourish, and enabled a few women to control the debate and the outcome, at the expense of marginalized women's issues. Why is silencing to protect a few people's feelings the answer? How is it ever the answer?
In the end, I did feel unsafe in going outside of "my community" in naming what I saw, because I already saw the group rallying to protect and placate a manipulator in the name of "getting along." But I still needed to name it, and to have someone witness it - to not be silenced about it. Maybe a few people might think that was cowardly and petty, that I should have made a choice to either "drop it" in the name of "getting along," or I should have stuck my neck out there and endured another round of the same old pointless, never-ending, gut-twisting, manipulative game with pepper. Fortunately or unfortunately, I don't see the world so black and white, and what I did fell into one of the greyer, murkier areas.
But regardless of how anyone sees it, I put it out there, and it is out there, and the very fact that women have written to me and thanked me for doing so tells me that I'm going to keep it there, because clearly I'm not the only one who understands what silencing looks like.
I have let go of the issue personally. I'm over it. I'm not mad or upset anymore - at least, not in such a way that I need to express any more feelings about individual people. I feel like I've gained a lot of clarity from being able to articulate this. And I also hope that it will give a little clarity to anyone who is drifting over here from the Sin Bin and worrying that I'm "bashing busties" behind their backs.
But this is still something that goes much, much, much deeper than the personal. This is a political issue of, and I think those of us who are CBCers have ALL been affected by what "went down." But it's politicized me on being a CBC woman in a way that I wasn't before, and that interests me, and it's got me thinking about what it means to be marginalized within a larger political movement. For starters, yes, I still feel silenced by the majority. I am still thinking about this, and thinking about what I might want to post on that topic, but anyway, that's what I have to say about it today, and I hope this leads to some really interesting and far reaching dialogue!
Sep 23 2006, 12:43 PM
Wow, I've been reading this thread for a long time and just wandered over to the Sin Bin to see what all the fuss was about. Initially, I wasn't sure if I should post in here or in there, but I chose this thread because it is, after all, a "safe place" (relatively speaking) for us CBC's. Anyhow, some of the things I've just read have stirred up so many emotions in me that I'm about to blow my stack; I can't keep quiet about this. So--WARNING--major venting ahead:
There are clearly differences of opinion regarding people who should and should not have children from an economic standpoint. And, hey, everyone's entitled to her/his opinion on that and any other topic. My $O.O2 is that not every woman who gets pregnant should be raising the offspring-to-be. If one is against abortion, there are plenty of infertile people out there who want to adopt, and who can give the kid a loving and financially stable home, as GGG pointed out in the Sin Bin. I've paid particular attention to this issue, especially, because right now I'm working with someone whom I would have to call a "breeder" (and no, I do NOT put all parents in that category). To wit: this girl is 25 and is raising a 2-year-old daughter on her own. (The baby daddy is nowhere in the picture, apparently; I've never even heard her mention him.) On the face of it, I have no problem with that fact alone. I'll admit that my opinions of her are influenced by the fact that she consistenly behaves in an obnoxious and unprofessional manner at work (the details of which are for a different thread, of course). My main gripe with her is that she's made it known--at work, on company time--that money's very tight for her. We get paid every 2 weeks, and invariably, about two days after each payday, she can be heard whining, "Well, after all my bills go out, I have $20.00 to last me until my next paycheck!" And yet, she still manages to somehow buy cigarettes for her (heavy) smoking habit, alcohol for her every-weekend-visits to bars, and weed. This is why I have no sympathy for her. Since she's always moaning about her hard-knock life, I sometimes want to just confront her and say, "Hey, T***, nobody put a gun to your head and made you have your kid and raise it as a single parent. That was your choice, now shut up and deal with the fucking consequences." Professionalism and decorum on my part, however, prevent me from actually saying anything like that.
She actually once brought her daughter to a CPR class that everyone at work had to attend. Granted, this wasn't a regular work day--we were all wearing casual clothes and not dealing with clients, etc,--but still, we were all getting paid as though it were a normal work day. And the kid was really disruptive; she ran around and shouted and cried; at times, it was hard to hear the trainer and video for all the noise the kid was making. I actually don't blame the kid--I've done enough babysitting and know enough about child development to know that it's unrealistic to bring a 2-year-old to such an environment and expect it to sit quietly. I totally blame T***; she has some kind of daycare arrangement on all her other work days; she should have treated this day like any other. With the exception of "Take your daughter to work day" and special occasions like that, people have no right to bring their kids to the workplace when everyone else is trying to--gulp--get necessary work done.
So, I'm in the camp of those who believe that having kids *should* be considered a privilege, not a basic right. There are plenty of birth-control options around, so one shouldn't--and need not-- get pregnant until one actually has the means to give a kid the basics and then some. Lest anyone think that I "don't understand because I don't know what it's like", I actually do know--albeit from a child's P.O.V. My own parents "had to" get married: I was born 7 months after their wedding. At that time, my mother was fresh out of college w/ a history degree and unable to find a job (and in those days, it was much easier for employers to refuse to hire pregnant women [although I'm aware that this practice still goes on today]). And my dad was in grad school, still several years away from getting his PhD and being gainfully employed as a professor. Needless to say, money was very tight, since their only source of income was his Fulbright scholarship and occasional handouts from my dad's well-off parents. Bottom line: I spent my early childhood years frequently hearing the statement: "We can't afford it." (Whatevery the "it" in question may have been; I just remember that sentenced being said often and a lot.) I also experienced, on a regular basis, having my piggybank emptied and stuffed with IOU's from my parents, who needed my meager few dollars to tide us over until my dad's next paycheck. And sometimes my parents would return unopened cans of food to the grocery store, in order to get some much-needed cash from the refunds. Really, it wasn't until my teenage years, when my dad had moved up in his academic career and my mom had got her nursing degree and was bringing home an income, that we were reasonably comfortable, financially.
I actually think that my parents' financial situation during my childhood--and my constant awareness of it--had an influence on my decision to be childfree. When Ratboy and I were first married 16 years ago, we were kind of on the fence about whether or not to procreate. But my childhood memories--coupled with our increasing awareness of how much work and money it took to raise a kid (from seeing our contemporaries' experiences as they started having families)--caused me, less than a year into our marriage, to decide, "Nope, that's not for me; kids would take up too much of our time and money." And Ratboy was fine with that, so it worked out. And after all these years, we've never regretted our decision.
One last point before I finally end my little tirade: I've seen the word "selfish" written in some of the posts in this thread, and I want to weigh in on that "S" word. I, too, heard myself described that way early in my marriage, when I told people I wasn't going to have kids. My response was, "How can you be selfish toward someone (the would-be, but nonexistent, offspring)who doesn't even exist??" And I still feel that way.
Sep 23 2006, 05:18 PM
To echo some of what's been said, I am currently CBC. I do not think I will always be, but I am 28 and I know I'm going to wait several years before I do change my status. I've been married for four years this fall.
One of the main reasons I have chosen not to have children now, or for awhile, is financials because like ratgrl, I also grew up without money due to choices my parents made. I was born about 18 months after my parents got married, which means they conceived less than year after their wedding. My dad was still going to school and had to work two jobs to make ends meet. For awhile, my mom worked as a receptionist, but after she had my brother a year and a half later, the money she made at work/getting to work was less than what childcare cost them, so they decided that it would actually be more cost-effective for her to stay home with us. Neither of us were planned (and I know things were especially tight with my middle brother) and that some of this is due to choices they made. I spent many, many years hearing "We can't afford it," and it's not even about consumerism--of course, I want my children to have things, but you know, I want to be able to give them experiences--travel, music lessons, sports, whatever--and all those thing cost money. I live in a city with terrible public schools, and I want them to have a quality education without having to leave the place I love and call home.
I'm not saying that people who make those decisions are bad. My parents were very happy in those years, but that's just not what I want for me or my children.
On a related note, there's been some discussion of workplace discrimination. I work somewhere now where most people are single and childless, so I don't see it as much now, but at my first job, a lot of people had kids, and the childless, such as myself, were always expected to pick up the slack. We did get smaller raises and we weren't given nearly as much leeway on time off. When we had to come in on weekends (twice a year for a special thing at our company), we were expected to stay later. If we needed to leave early for a doctor's appointment, we got a lot of shit for it, but if someone's kid was sick, it was fine, go, no questions asked. Working at home was never considered an option for the singletons, but it was fine for people with kids.
I feel like maybe I don't fit in here, as I do want to be a parent one day, that CBC isn't forever for me. But I *do* respect the choice that both sides make, and I think that CBC is equally important. Procreating is a choice, a privilege, I would argue--and that means deciding not to procreate is also a choice and a privilege. I'm not going to say it's easy out there for mamas and esp. single mamas. But people tend to be supportive of mothers, and justify a lot of decisions they make, while looking at those of who are not moms and assuming there is something wrong with us for making not only the right decision for us, but the right decision for what would be our children--that is, that if we're not able to raise them right (and I don't mean just financials, but the care and attention we are able to give them), we shouldn't be raising them at all.
On a final note, I find that I constantly have to defend the decisions that I make on the most personal issues (in addition to waiting awhile for kids I also kept my maiden name), and explaining to others why I have made my unconventional choices. And that's what it comes down to--many inside the feminist movement respect my right to make choices outside the norm, but a lot of people outside of it (and some inside it) don't. And I think we need to keep being evenhanded and showing that there is nothing wrong with the decisions we make, especially when they are for good reasons for ourselves and for the greater society.
end ramble ramble ramble
Sep 23 2006, 05:35 PM
*slowly lets out long breath*
Wow. How have things gotten so insane? I finally couldn't help myself and posted on the other thread, though in my sleep-deprived stupor I'll admit it isn't quite as well-thought or organized (or long!) as some of the other posts made by you eloquent gals! ((((doodle))))
I just wanted to say that I appreciate all of the things that have been said by everyone here. I really do. ((((CBC room))))
Sep 23 2006, 05:50 PM
Yup, things have definitely gotten messy, once again, but...I think its just the community working things out, and while it can be tough, harsh, challenging, and engaging...I'm thankful that we *can* all express our opinions on this board.
In alot of ways, I'm very distracted this weekend, with my own work messes that is tying me to my computer even on a weekend, so I'm not as engaged in this as I could be, and really that's fine by me. There's a lot of honest, frank discussion going on, and that's pretty amazing.
But I work in a place where our job is to create families through adoption - family is the genre we operate in. I'm an abberration. No one else in the company would be stuck working through the weekend - 90% have kids, and HUGE allowances are made for them, and that's awesome that its a workplace that is so family friendly. But, I don't get the same allowances. Nor do the other 7 women who are childfree....we carry a larger bulk of the org on our backs, and most of the time, we're happy to do it, because we think the work we do is important. But weeks like this....it doesn't feel very good at all. There was no discussion that the website work could wait till monday, it was just "when will you get it up, we need it NOW." yuck.
Ok, I need another glass of wine before I do any more programming.
And I do think that I am very lucky in my personal life - living in a big city, there are so many people choosing not to have children, so outside of work and family, I rarely get the grilling when I express my desire to remain childfree...and when I do, I can just state the facts, and most people are cool with it.
Sep 23 2006, 05:51 PM
i couldnt help myself either faerie!
Sep 24 2006, 02:37 PM
(((turbo))) sorry to hear about your computer troubles.
Sidecar, that wasn't a ramble. I agree with a lot of the things you said. Especially: And that's what it comes down to--many inside the feminist movement respect my right to make choices outside the norm, but a lot of people outside of it (and some inside it) don't.
I am in a pretty small town in the midwest so the environment, is very different than the Bustie Lounge. If I say I'm a feminist, some(many) people roll thier eyes and wonder why I hate men.(Which of course I don't,I am married for christsake.) And if I say I never want kids and have never wanted kids, the majority of people I encounter, think I am looney, naive, or defective.
Anyway, I have been giddy all weekend, doing childfree things! I had a great weekend, and well if I had children, it realistically never would have happened.
Sep 24 2006, 07:26 PM
turbo, I hear you on the expectations being so different in the workplace. I know that I've given a lot more, say, to the women's centre and to the coalition than most of the mothers have given, and the expectation was always on me to do that, b/c I didn't have kids. And for a long time, I sort of accepted that, I almost believed it was fair, as if my life outside the work was somehow less valuable than that of moms. I was back at work the day after my father died! I think that kind of treatment, alongside my own internalized feeling of being somehow "less than" because of my family status, contributed a lot to my burnout...which has, truthfully, reached the extreme (as you know!). But now, it makes me angry - I think, "Hey, we're making the same money, so why is the excess workload dumped on me just because that other person chose to become a parent?"
And that brings me to some other thoughts I've been having lately, which is the idea that only parents have a "family life" outside of work. I think as the baby boomers age, we are becoming a bit more aware of women (childless AND parents) who wind up take care of aging relatives - but even then, I've noticed families often expect the childless female siblings to do the bulk of the care work, and childless male siblings to contribute more financially to care costs. And whether or not we have kids, we all have families, and the time we are "allowed" to spend with them - biological or chosen - should not be treated any differently simply because we aren't raising children of our own. Somehow children have become more important than other family members, and in our workaholic N. American culture, we've kind of allowed employers to do that to us. I know for a long time, when mothers started getting into the paid labour force in droves, they were treated very negatively for not being able to "keep up," and there are still many of those pressures. But I see that as changing, as feminists push for more recognition of women's unequal burden in the home, and also, as male parents start getting more involved in their children's lives (a success for feminism!), and thus start to also push back against employers, which has made parents an even stronger "lobby" group in employment. But this is happening at the same time as companies keep downsizing in the name of profit, and so not only is the workload of parents pushed onto non-parents, so is the extra EXTRA workload caused by downsizing.
I've been thinking about what I posted before, regarding the women's movement - feminism - giving CBCers the short shrift. One thing that really comes to mind over and over again is how, when we as feminists lobby for things like social benefits, we always START out lobbying for ALL women. But then we make so many compromises, and we end up settling for lobbying for social benefits for mothers with children. Many times in the feminist movement itself, lobbying for non-moms never makes it into our own lobby documents, so governments and society never even hear about non-moms. We "settle" for lobbying only for some women, because we think we might be more successful at that, and consequently, women who are not mothers are treated differently. I seen this all the time - I'm pretty sure I've even been guilty of doing it myself.
The biggest area I've seen this is in welfare rights. We lobby hard for a mother's right to welfare, but feminists often don't acknowledge (or aren't even aware of), for example, the 50 - 64 year old single women who face huge impediments to finding employment because of their age, and don't qualify for welfare and other income supplements because of their single status. It's shameful, really, when I think about it. But in 11 years, of all the women who've accessed the women's centre, single parent women and single childless women of all ages represent most of them, and almost invariably, it's the single childless women who are the ones ending up hungry and homeless for lack of options. And those options are seriously decreasing for those single childless women. I think at least some of the responsibility for that needs to fall onto feminists for sweeping these women under the rug, while still claiming to represent women's issues.
Society likes to divide people into the "deserving poor" and the "undeserving poor," and single childless adults of all ages certainly fall into the latter category in a way that single parents do not. This has always been the case since I started doing this work, and I think it's gotten even more that way as governments and the media lean more and more to the right....and I think the more the right divides us like this as women, the more many feminists play into it, in our attempts to get "something instead of nothing." I think we've allowed this dividing and conquering to weaken our movement, instead of insisting that we stand together.
Anyway, still thinking about this, but the stuff going 'round in my head is still churning to the surface....
Sep 25 2006, 06:02 AM
Woke up thinking about this, and I was going to edit my original post, but I think maybe it's better to start a new one, because I've been to sleep already, so technically, this is "new."
On reflection, after my last post......as much as "settling for what we can get" plays a role in which issues we (as a feminist movement) "choose" to lobby for, it's also true that "settling for what we can get" - whatever it is we "choose" to settle for - has a lot to do with which voice is most "dominant" inside the feminist movement, aka, whichever group has the most power in the decision-making process within our movement. That's where privilege WITHIN the movement itself comes into play. We know that many women have societal and cultural privileges that other women don't (i.e., white women, heterosexual women, able-bodied women, etc.), and that plays out strongly even within the feminist movement, or perhaps *especially* within the feminist movement. Marginalized women from a variety of different groups (women of colour, queer women, disabled women) absolutely experience oppression within the feminist movement itself, from/by those feminists with more power and privilege. In this case, the dominant voice inside the feminist movement belongs to those who make up the majority of feminists: mothers, and grandmothers, too [who are also mothers, of course!]. So, as always, the *issues* of the majority, aka, those with more privilege, become the dominant issues of the movement. I think it's just sometimes harder to recognize oppression as it happens within the movement, because we are all oppressed as women by the larger culture, and in this case, because CBCers haven't really started agitating for recognition of our own issues yet...if we're anywhere at all, we're kind of lumped into the "reproductive choice" realm, which, in the feminist movement, is all about the *physical* realities of reproductive choice (access to birth control and abortion), and which is only one issue we face.
And then I think about internalized oppression, and I wonder if "internalizing" has played a role in my own "settling." That whole feeling of being "less than" as a member of the women's movement because I'm not a mother...even *I* as an activist have been treating mother's rights issues as somehow more important than my own. Yet, just for starters, I am sitting here knowing that I'm about to be out of work, but because of my family status, there are tons of social benefits and educational programs I will not qualify for, and that the feminist movement has not fought to ensure my equal access to...despite the fact that I'm STILL more likely to be poorer and make less money than a man with the same background as me.
Anyway. I need to go back to sleep now.
Some heavy stuff for this time of the morning.
Sep 25 2006, 06:10 AM
I've been following the recent debate, and wanted to say how shocked I am at one of the points raised.
I'm from the UK, and employment law there states it would be illegal to discriminate when awarding part-time contracts/overtime etc. In my former career, a person with a child had no extra rights to part-time contracts (-which were like gold dust!). Also, it was a performance issue if extra time off was taken due to child care problems etc. Working over public holidays and weekends was fairly distributed, and everyone did their fair share.
I'm so surprised this isn't the case elsewhere, ie USA and Canada.
I am a parent, but I lurk in here regularly. I'm the opposite of many of you ladies. In my oldest, 'best' circle of friends, I'm the only one who has a kid, and we're all in our mid/late 30's now, so It's not like they'll change their minds any time soon!
I value my friendship with them immensely, as we can go out to grown-up places without scheduling child care for all of us, and I get admiration and awe from them, as the idea of bringing up a kid is terrifying to some of them!
So, I quite like the view from 'the other side'. Helps keep me in check.
Nuthin' else to add...
Sep 25 2006, 07:19 AM
Margot, of course there are "official" rules and laws governing that sort of thing...there are also laws about housing discrimination, but it still happens all the time
doodle, your posts continually make me so proud to internet-know you. Many many many of the women I speak to in other childfree communities say that they no longer claim the title of feminist for themselves, however passionately they actually do believe in its goals, because of the movement being co-opted by mothers' issues and the feelings of marginalization and silencing, just as you talked about.
And frankly, I'm starting to feel the same way. I absolutely feel that all women and men, childed or not, are entitled to human rights and the social safety net (big gaping holes notwithstanding), but it seems that there really are those people, even women in the movement, and women on this very website who really do believe that those of us without kids are somehow obligated to ignore our own very real issues in deference to theirs, and that we are heartless harpies if we don't shut up when they pull out their mommy credentials.
Blah. Shitty weekend complete with implications that I could not possibly understand both love AND grief if I don't have kids. I'm very happy that having that daughter at 18 helped accelerate the maturation that YOU were so desperately in need of, but that's your OWN experience. It's not universal. My favorite phrase has become: Get Over Yourself.
Sep 25 2006, 08:29 AM
I posted this in Confessions first, but thought better of that...
WARNING: don't read my post if you think you may be offended by rough, medical humor about abortions!
Oh my, this confession is to cheer up Luci, and maybe it'll give at least she and funnybird a chuckle. Back when I worked at an abortion clinic, one of the popular bumper stickers around town said, "Abortion...stops a beating heart." And we decided that we should make some for our clinic which would say, "Abortion...stops a beating heart...or your money back."
And I wanna say that I'm proud to internet-know ya, too, Doodle! I learn from ya.
Sep 25 2006, 08:53 AM
amilita- that is funny. Pure and simple.
Sep 25 2006, 09:13 AM
hey moxie-just curious-you don't find breeder to be offensive? i've skimmed the posts in sin bin and here and read pms from pepper, and I do think some of what she says is worth discussing- in that i don't want this space to be a place where we discriminate against other women. i dont' think that usually happens here, but since you are a mom, maybe you could share if you find things offensive in here? does it feel like moms and kids are being discriminated against? i don't buy the analogy that we are kid hating here and if we substituted "lesbian" for "child" we'd see how awful we all were. But, i also don't want this to be a place that is hatin' on moms and kids.....
Sep 25 2006, 09:25 AM
Heh, thanks Amilita...that DID make me chuckle
Sep 25 2006, 10:06 AM
Sidecar, thanks so much for your post. I really identify with a lot of what you say.
Doodle, you said, "I think it's just sometimes harder to recognize oppression as it happens within the movement, because we are all oppressed as women by the larger culture." Exactly! I mean, we're still struggling to get equal pay for equal work. Just last night I saw a brief story about how men who work in the White House are paid more than women - women who have the exact same job title, even. It's disgusting. When inequality like that still exists - even though the law says it's illegal - it's easy to see how other issues may be put on the back burner.
But I think that the use of the word "priviledge" in the CF/mother issue is just going to ruffle feathers and cause fights. When I hear "priviledge", I imagine someone relaxing in the lap of luxury & not at all concerned about time or financial obligations. That scenario certainly doesn't apply to the average mother, so I can see how it would spark some passionate debate. Maybe if a better term were used, there'd be less division on this issue. We fight so hard to prove that women are equal to men, that it seems bizarre that there might be a fight to prove that one woman is equal to another. And yet, it sounds as though that very problem exists.
I'll admit, though, that I am still more sympathetic to an unemployed mother than I am to an unemployed CFer, simply because the mother has more mouths to feed and more bodies to clothe, etc. Luckily, there are unemployment benefits available to men and women, parents and child-free. But there are child-free women (and men) out there who have dependents - elderly parents, developmentally disabled siblings, physically disabled partners - and those people definitely deserve aid. And as I understnd it, there is aid available to people in these positions, although not enough. I think (or at least, I hope) that as the baby boomers get older and more of us are tending to aging parents, this need will become more and more obvious and the laws will improve. If only it were that easy.
By the by, I have an issue with the term "breeder" because I think it supports the stereotype that a woman who has children is nothing more than a mother. And we as women should be fighting that stereotype. A woman who has had children is a mother, but we should help the world see that she is much more than that. When the world sees that a woman can be more than just a mother, then the child-free will gain more acceptance, too.
Sep 25 2006, 10:28 AM
I hope other CBCer's will find this banned Ikea commercial
as amusing as I did. And I'm not trying to make some point here, I just think it's funny...
Sep 25 2006, 10:38 AM
*de-lurks* I'm neither a CBCer or a non-CBCer yet I find it funny. I also found the pinata funny and my bf who had a baby last week and I were continually making jokes about when she was free for lunch - not Wednesdays as that was her supervised visit day with Social Services. Women, in general, can have a gsoh. It saddens me that this has turned into an "us" against "them" issue.
Oh, and I don't get why the video was banned.
Sep 25 2006, 11:53 AM
I totally loved that video, that easily could have been somthing that might have happened to my Dad when we were kids.
Sep 25 2006, 11:59 AM
This is kind of a drive-by as I'm in the middle of heavy work stuff today, but to clarify...
....rose, I think you might be misunderstanding what is meant by privilege in the context of an anti-oppression framework. When I talk about privilege, I am not remotely talking about luxuries, but rather, talking about who has "power over" because of an advantage conferred by one's status as a member of a more powerful group. In this case, I was talking about the politics of group decision-making, and more specifically, privilege within the feminist movement, i.e., how privilege plays out when we as an oppressed group (women) are working together as a group, or trying to dialogue as a group.
Individuals may be members of an oppressed group and still hold privileges that other members of the same oppressed group do not, such as the way white women still have power that women of colour do not, and this can play out when white women and women of colour come together, so that women of colour are subject to further oppression by their white sisters. People with privilege are often unaware they have it, or what it entails, just as oppressed people often internalize their oppression and come to believe they don't "deserve" to have their unique issues recognized - they may not even believe there are any unique issues (such as the way some women believe women have already achieved equality, so they think there's no need for a feminist movement any longer).
More specifically, in this case, I was not talking about any privilege or advantage mothers may have over CBCers in the larger society. Rather, I was discussing how mothers make up the majority of the membership within the feminist movement (which they do), and therefore having the power to control the decisions regarding what direction feminist actions might take...just as, for example, heterosexual women have the power in numbers to control the decisions in the feminist movement, in a way that queer women do not, which has often left queer women's issues on the "back burner," so to speak - this was more noticeable in the past, when queer women's issues were less recognized by the feminist movement than they are now.
Often, the power of privilege does not become evident until there is dissent within a group, such as regarding how money is to be spent, or determining what the group's priority issues should be, or in situations where the concept of "unity" is given more importance than inclusion of the dissenting minority. (Please note that I'm not speaking specifically about things that have or haven't taken place here in the past few days - if my words seem to have any connection, it's only because these things are so common within social movements.)
Sep 25 2006, 12:34 PM
Doodle, I completely understand why you use the term & the context in which you use it. At least now I do after you've mentioned it repeatedly over the last week (I found it very confusing at first). But I still think the word "priveledge" can cause division. It's a simple matter of semantics. I just think that if you were to stand in front of a group of feminists and say "Mothers are more priveleged than child-free women," you'd probably see a lot of eye rolling & even hear some laughter. But if you phrase the problem differently - if you tell them that there is a growing group of women out there who is being maginalized and is being treated as of a lower class than other women - then you'll get a stronger and more supportive response. My point is only that we should avoid language that causes division. If mothers truly are the majority in the women's movement, then you'll need them on your side to create a change. And you're far more likely to get them on your side if you use language that does not make them feel defensive.
I don't see what's wrong with that ad, either. I've certainly seen worse things out there!
And as for the joking and such that happens in this thread ... ya know, a lot of people vent about a lot of different things on these boards. We bitch about our jobs, our families, our friends, our partners, so certainly people should feel free to bitch about the children in their lives - whether we gave birth to them or not. I don't think it's good to make sweeping statements or false statements because, again, I think it can reinforce negative stereotypes. But if you encounter a situation with a child and you want to vent about it, go ahead.
And just so you know, I'm fully capeable of making tastless jokes that could easily be misinterpreted by someone who doesn't know me or the back-story behind said jokes! For instance, Sheff developed this strange trifle-like dessert that we call "babies on spikes". Of course, we would never dream of putting actual babies on spikes, but the dessert is this gooey red mass of gelatin and ... well, let's just say that the name suits the dish, as well as our sick sense of humor.
Sep 25 2006, 12:46 PM
I don't get why it's been banned either, maybe some people find it disturbing, or it's triggering or something.
Sep 25 2006, 01:26 PM
I hear what you're saying rose, but it's not marginalization by the larger society that I'm talking about in this case, it's the marginalization of women BY other women, and more specifically, by women who are supposed to be allied to those marginalized women's struggle. What happens to groups that are marginalized by the larger group is an exertion of "power over"...what else can you call that? Suppression?
It's NOT "just semantics" if an individual IS using their status as a powerful member of a group to exert their will over the group....that is privilege. Loaded word or not, I don't think it's fair to go all word cop on one another....saying it's "just semantics" is, to me, another form of censorship, or silencing, in the name of "getting along." Why ARE marginalized and oppressed groups so often expected to soften their approach when they are being disempowered? Especially after they've already TRIED "being nice." How long can you bang your head against that wall, while still never seeing any change? People with power do not simply give it up - and we've seen that both in society and within social movements over, and over, and over again. When has power ever been given up without a struggle? I mean, I'm willing to learn, but I just don't think it's ever happened that way. Women didn't get the right to vote by having tea with cabinet ministers. And why do we as marginalized individuals (and I'm speaking as a woman, as a queer woman, as a disabled woman, and as a CBC woman) so often think we SHOULD self-censor and minimize our concerns in order to appease those who exert their will over us? Time and time again, this is how marginalized women's issues get kept on the back burner as less important.
If we are truly equal partners in our collective struggle as women, then the effort must be made by everyone WITHIN our movement to recognize the role our own privilege plays in oppressing our own sisters. But if we don't recognize our own privilege, and marginalized women are not allowed to name it, then we're sure never going to get anywhere in changing the situation, and those with privilege will continue to dominate those without it. Is it fair to even say the potential outcome is "division" when we were never truly unified to begin with? I don't think so. And I worry that people continue on their merry way thinking we ARE unified because they don't recognize that their own power over others is keeping those others in silence.
And listen, I'm not trying to say that I'm the "pure" and "perfect" one...I can think of many ways I've used my privilege to oppress my sisters. Sometimes my recognition of it comes weeks, months, and even years later - and there are undoubtedly some instances I've yet to recognize my role in - but it happens, and I struggle to come to terms with it. But I do accept my own privilege, because I have to accept it in order to untangle it.
Sep 25 2006, 01:49 PM
I'm too braindead this afternoon from my stupid job to engage in thoughtful debate, but I just have to tell ya'll that I had to go to lunch with my dept to bid farewell to one of our team, and I wanted to leave SO bad. 2.5 hours of stories about their kids. And I just got to sit there...any and all attempts to direct the conversation away from baby einstein, and it would work for about 30 seconds before the kid chatter started again. They're all having a good time, but I just wanted to be back at my desk, eating my lunch and BUSTing...not to mention that in my current predicament, I don't have 2.5 hours to waste on a lunch. Their kids are all cute, no question, but can't we talk about something else for a little while?! grrr.
back to work...ho-hum.
Sep 25 2006, 02:48 PM
i personally don't see why we should change the way we talk so the priveledged group doesnt get defensive about being priveledged. because as i see, it thats exactly what happens.
i dont think people of color should tone down their language when they talk about whites being privledged so whites dont get all defensive about their priveledge of being white. sure it can hurt, but the truth hurts and i rather hear that then some watered down version so you dont offend my sensibilities.
toning it down is only, in my view, continuing to not be honest about the state of affairs.
if they are getting defensive, its because they know what the other group is saying is true, or because they are having a hard time giving up that priveldge. i would expect feminists, who fight for the underpriveledged group of "women" as a whole, should be perfectly able to see when it happens within the movement itself. if they cant, well, they need to take a good look at what their views are, and what they are working for.
i sorta think that is what doodle just said, but i am braindead as well from both work, and the sheer fact that it is monday.
Sep 25 2006, 03:55 PM
*off subject a bit*
At work today a lady was telling me, her son got a 4 day leave, from the Army and he is coming home to see his new wife. (They met and were married in July, right before he was shipped to Iraq.) And she told me they were going to try to concieve a baby while he was home. She said her son's wife was already taking prenatal vitamins to prep her body. This blew my mind!! The timing seems selfish. He is in Iraq for at least another year, they barely know each other, and they are planning a baby? That was just to wierd to me. The guy could die and never even meet his child, leaving both wife and baby to fend for themselves.
Then another guy at work was talking to me about potting training his 4 year-old. And he was telling me how the kid refuses to wipe for himself. He just won't. He said he told the little boy 'you have got to care of yourself' and the kid said 'I'll take care of you, if you take care of me' How do you respond to things like that? I wouldn't know were to begin. I'd end up with a 16 year old that couldn't wipe his own butt!
Sep 25 2006, 04:05 PM
I'd respond, "very clever, son. Now wipe your ass."
Reason # 2,037 I shouldn't have children.
Sep 25 2006, 04:13 PM
I was shocked at the ass-wiping problem a few months ago, so I asked my mom if she had to wipe for us, and she said "of course, I wiped your ass for awhile - don't you remember hollering for help from the toilet?!" Uh, no...I was 3....but she assured me that was a very normal issue, and now I see my 3.5 yr old nephie pulling the same thing with my SIL, but its pretty funny - only mommy is allowed to wipe his ass - daddy is not qualified for the job. He's a funny one- he very clearly divides "help" tasks as mommy or daddy tasks.
Sep 25 2006, 04:17 PM
when people I work with talk about their kids, not getting sleep, balancing work, family etc. I merely say
" I have a cat" and leave it at that.
Sep 25 2006, 04:22 PM
I guess if you've been changing their diapers until that point, it wouldn't faze you that much. And if the alternative is letting them do it themselves and then they walk around still dirty and you have to clean the skid marks in their undies afterwards...yeah, I'd just help them.
Sep 25 2006, 04:32 PM
Lordy, I can't imagine telling my co-workers about my own sex life and bathroom habits, let alone my child's sex life and bathroom habits. That's just the definition of TMI.
As for the discussion at hand ... well, what can I say. I'm a peace-maker, so my default style involves a lot of empathy. It's just the way my personality works. The weakness, of course, is that it demands empathy from my audience as well, but doesn't any other persuasive tactic? And personally, I've found that my focus on mutual empthy results in better communication and understanding - not self-censorship. But then again, it may just have something to do with my individual communication style and the people with whom I am communicating. It isn't the only option, obviously, and it may not work as well for everyone, but it's the one I tend to chose.
Within the women's movement, we understand that women face discrimination. We understand that homosexuals face discrimination. We understand that the disabled face discrimination. And we understand that racial minorities face discrimination. With so many other things to focus on, it's easy to see why it's hard to get people to understand that the child-free may face discrimination. Maybe ruffling some feathers will gain more attention. But in order to make a positive impact, you need more than just attention. You need empathy and understanding. I have my own way of trying to gain that, but I understand thta it is not the only way.
Sep 25 2006, 05:29 PM
At one point in the feminist movement's history (early '70s, I think), Betty Friedan was asked to wear a yellow ribbon in a parade, in support of lesbian women's equal rights. She famously let it drift to the ground and then stepped on it.
In Canada, when Sunera Thobani was elected the first woman of colour to be president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, not that long ago (10 years), feminists were debating - and feminist MAGAZINES were even writing articles - about whether a woman of colour could fairly represent all women's issues - as if white women could! I had only just started working in the movement, but that's where I got my first real shocking jolt of just how nasty and ignorant white privilege could be. Many white women left NAC because women of colour and Aboriginal women finally started getting equal access to positions of power and the organization had to deal with racialized gender oppression, and all those other marginalized issues, and privileged women didn't want to "waste their energies on infighting" (i.e. give up their power and play fair). Unfortunately, we're a small country in population, and without the same, big membership base, NAC started to fall apart. Now, because of women's refusal to deal with their power and privilege, it's gone. But the women of privilege are blaming the women of colour for NAC's demise, because they "stirred things up." I wonder what NAC could have been if we'd stayed and fought it out, together?
It's not always been easy for privileged women to see the different experiences of marginalized women. They often have to be forced to see them, and they don't like having to face it. And if marginalized women hadn't raised holy hell, those women would still be in the same place...in the background of the feminist movement, or leaving the feminist movement to create their own movements. And lots of marginalized women DO leave the movement because privileged feminists so often refuse to give marginalized women's issues any priority.
I am fairly sure you don't mean it this way, rose, but I do feel a bit affronted by your comment about empathy, because it makes it sound as if I, and women like me, have less somehow. I think I used to be a lot like you, actually...I was the "peacemaker" and the "process" person in my organization, and in all the feminist organizations I've worked with. I wanted to be very careful of everyone's feelings, and went out of my way to make sure everyone was heard and that everyone got to speak, and that everyone's position was considered. What changed me was seeing marginalized women get shafted again and again and again by those processes, and by the disruptive behaviour privileged feminists would engage in to maintain their power within those organizations. Maybe that's why I seem a bit more "radical" about it now, but my empathy has evolved to where I have MORE empathy for marginalized women BECAUSE of their lack of privilege. So I tend to give MORE towards making marginalized women's issues heard, because so few other feminists ever do. And in the same vein as feminists who say they are tired of seeing other women defending "the menfolk" when issues of women's oppression comes up, I get tired of watching white women defend other white women when racialized oppression and racism happens in a feminist group, and I get tired of het women defending other het women when homophobia comes up in a group, and so on. I feel that women of privilege get enough empathy, and from what I've seen, they usually get more than their share, so my empathy usually swings the other way. I see injustice and oppression happening over and over again, within our own feminist movement, and I prefer to be one of the counterweights.
ETA: ooh, ginger, that reminds me of a news story I saw a week or so ago, about a Canadian soldier who was killed over there. His wife is 19, and she's pregnant! And all the family could talk about was how much he loved that baby, and how much he wanted that baby...and I'm sure that's true, but then I can't help but think...did no one ever think the timing might be kind of BAD to be having a baby? And now she's going to be a 19-year old single mom!
turbo, sorry you had to suffer through that at work....my mom finds a lot of women her own age boring, because they never have anything to talk about but her grandchildren! She always says thank god she's got her art classes!!
Sep 25 2006, 06:49 PM
Doodle, I certainly don't mean to suggest that you are incapeable of empathy. Certainly not. But I think you know me well enough to know that, yes?
The stories you recount are heartbreaking. It's so terrible when people within the movement lose focus and forget what the heart of the movement is working toward: equality for women. All women. I would like to think that the movement grows and improves with time and experience. And I hope that if someone along the lines of Betty Friedman were offered that ribbon today, she would take it. But then again, maybe I'm being overly optimistic. But hey ... where would we be without a little optimistic hope, right?
Maybe I've been able to maintain my peacemaker point of view because I have not lived the same experiences as you & I have not lived my life as deeply involved in the movement as you obviously have. There can be a great deal of in-fighting within the women's movement. Especially when we're speaking of priveledge. Afterall, white mothers may dominate the movement, but that doesn't mean they're equal to white men out in the "real world". And so they wish to fight for their own rights. It's only natural to fight for your own welfare, yes? But female minorities - be they racial minorities, sexual minorities, what-have-you - are certainly more persecuted than average white women. So what do we do? How do we decide how to improve the situation when the "priveledged" within a smaller group are still discriminated against in the regular world? Note: These are rhetorical questions. I certainly don't expect us to be able to fix all of the flaws within the women's movement in this one little thread. Sounds like a topic for another thread, anyway! Personally, I think if we work to improve the environment for the minorities, the whole will benefit. But maybe that puts me in yet another minority.
At any rate, I'm glad that we have counter-weights like you within the movement, Doodle. We need people with different experiences and points of view so that we can continue to learn and grow and work closer towards true equality.
Sep 25 2006, 08:04 PM
doodle- i think that roseviolet (and, correct me if i'm interpreting you incorrectly) is just saying that the use of the word *privilege* in this situation is semantically confusing. as you both pointed out in separate posts, *privilege* in the oppression-theory context means influence and power within a group or over another group or sub-group. it means that they are considered the default (like how many talk as if only non-white people have an *ethnicity*). the word, privilege, in everyday conversation has a slightly different (though related) connotation. in everyday context the word *privilege* is seen to mean having special rewards or extra time or resources. as roseviolet was saying, a group of mothers who generally see their lives as extremely packed with hard work and who often put themselves behind kids, partners, and employment will laugh if you say that they are privileged. i don't think roseviolet is saying that they aren't privileged in the sense that you mean, or that you can't inform mothers that they are privileged, but that it might be more helpful to use a different word or explicitly define what you mean so that they understand. it's not an attempt to silence or censor your words, but to actually get your point across in a way that others understand. i'm an academic and often forget that others don't always know all of the jargon. and not just idiots or conservatives or whatever are unfamiliar with these terms. i consider roseviolet to be a sharp, intelligent, feminist, and she didn't know what you meant by *privilege.* and, i think by empathy she means the ability to see the situation from another's point of view in order to make your point understood by them. not empathy as in feeling for them. you obviously have a lot of empathy in that sense.
ginger kitty- my step-brother was just sent off to iraq last week and his wife is pregnent, so maybe i can shed some light on their thought process. i was rather shocked to find out that they had been actively trying to get pregnant when my brother knew for months that he was going to be shipped out. i had all of the same thoughts as you did: he'll miss (at least) the first 6 months of the baby's life; he won't be able to support his wife during the trials of pregnancy, birth, and early baby-hood (at least in person); and, of course, he could die without ever meeting the baby. but then, i tried to think about it from their perspective. my brother never went to college and has had a really hard job finding steady, interesting, and lucrative employment for the last few years (since the last time he was in the military). in some ways, this is the best time to have a baby. he has a steady income, they have a gauranteed place to live, they're on the military health plan so the all pregnancy expenses will be covered. and, god forbid, if he dies, his wife will get an admittedly smallish lifetime pension. plus, i'm sure there's the whole piece of himself, immortality thing going on too. a lot of the decision to have or not have kids has to do with finances, and i think that's a lot of what plays into having a baby while in the military.
Sep 25 2006, 08:57 PM
personally i dont think anyone should be having a baby at 19, i dont care where your husband is going.
i see your point altargrrl about your bro (i am sorry he just got shipped off) but what i dont understand is that his finances would have been just as in check when he got back and was able to be there for the pregnancy and whatnot. i also understand the whole immortality thing, but i hardly think thats a good reason to have a baby. part of me thinks you are doing a diservice to your wife and child, should god forbid you get killed. while miilitary wives are taken care of, if i was so young (not talking about your bro here) the last thing i would want is a child should my husband get killed, bc it makes life that much harder for you, and not just logistically, but to find another mate down the road. i also think it depends on the age of the people involved. 19-well sorry thats just dumb. i mean, should your loved one die, do you really think you will never find anyone else to have children with if you want them that desperately?
maybe that sounds harsh, but i am a realist when it comes to that stuff.
i guess to each their own and i have to respect that.
Sep 26 2006, 10:05 AM
I see having children as a priviledge. We are not an agrarian society anymore, so you don't need a lot of kids to work the farm, And frankly, if you are poor, and you get pregnant and keep the child, fine, but if you cannot support current child, and continue to have more, it disgusts me. I am tired of supporting that behavior financially, and I know it is not a race issue. It drives me crazy.
Plus, a friend of mine is beint evicted, because she is poor. She works two jobs and still has trouble making her bills. She cannot get welfare, in fact a social worker told her to get pregnant so she can get welfare. That is seriously fucked up.
Call me a classist, racist, fascist, whatever. But it makes no sense to me to bring a child into a situation where the parents cannot even keep themselves a float.
Sep 26 2006, 10:14 AM
*sigh* This is totally off topic, but I was doing research for my MA thesis (on the perceptions of motherhood within the context of the immigration debate) and came across this
transcript. Doesn't the last part just give you the creeps?
As to the soldiers thing, I can see both sides, but this has happened quite a bit back home, and everytime I hear about a very young woman left widowed and pregnant, I can't help but think "why did you get pregnant to begin with?!"
It's messed up, and I highly doubt that all
those couples are putting that
much thought into these pregnancies. When you're that young, you just don't think about all those things like health and pension plans. You think you're invincible.
And this is so not child-related, but I just heard about this young woman back home whose husband died in Iraq. They had just gotten married, they hadn't known each other all that long, and they were still really young (19 or 20). But she had him buried in her family's plot in Wisconsin (they were living in south Texas becaue that's where he was born and raised). So now his family can't even visit their son when they feel like it, and this girl is probably going to go off and get married to someone else down the line because she's still practically a kid. I feel so bad for his family.
Sep 26 2006, 11:03 AM
I think that being emotionally ready is more important than being financially ready (but being financially ready is really important too). If you are ready to be an active parent and not an armchair parent than it's not bad to have kids. I know people who are really great parents who are poor as hell and on wellfare. They make it work, financially speaking, and their children are well adjusted and well behaved.
On the other end of the spectrum I have a friend who is pregnant and she is poor. She is also very mentally ill and very unready. She believes that nothing will change when she has the baby, to quote her "I can still go out any time I want, tons of people have volunteered to baby sit for me." It scares the shit out of me to think she will be raising a seriously fucked up kid.
OMG Faerie, my landlady is a Nazi freak like that Gibson guy, every time I talk to her the number of supposed children I'm going to have goes up (I'm up to twelve now). All because the "darkies" are taking over, and having all the babies. Too bad she doesn't know how much I hate kids and I'm not married to a man.
This is how I help thwart the Nazi plan to destroy the world BWAAAHAHAHA
Sep 26 2006, 11:56 AM
150% Agree with you GGG. maybe even 200%
go ahead and call me what you like, but it comes down to complete irresponsibility no matter how you cut it. and that is unbelievable fucked up what a SOCIAL worker told her. i hope you tried to convince her otherwise. of course, the fact that she doesnt get welfare plays RIGHT into doodles thing about mothers being priveleged.
Sep 26 2006, 01:43 PM
totally true, but men are also s.o.l. when it comes to welfare a lot of times-since it's really mostly going towards "families." So it's not just CBC women that get screwed with that....
And really, I don't think it's because they care more about moms, I think it's that they care more about KIDS.
I think we need to remember that not everyone has access to info and birth control and abortions, etc., when we judge people for having babies when it doesn't seem like they can take care of them. I mean, I wouldn't be here if it weren't for teen pregnancy, ya know (my grandparents)? Accidents happen dudes. and, there are social pressures, etc, that make people decide to have the baby instead of aborting or adopting.
I don't know about saying having kids is a privilege, since it's just something that happens when you fuck without b.c. I personally think that NOT having kids is a privilege, because it's really such a new thing that's becoming more an more normalized. And many women still don't have the access or information to make that choice. Hopefully that'll change, and parents will be people who have choosen that life,not just fallen into it.