Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Appeal to Tone Down the Rhetoric

In a recent post on titled Assholes Without Kids Challenge Assholes With Kids, Sadie remarked on the vitriolic language used by some writers engaged in the Kids or No Kids discourse and urged some measure of restraint. She writes:
Yes, the cult of motherhood is annoying, and no one should, in this day and age, be considered less of a woman for (sic—not?) having children. But biting back in the same key is hardly the way to exact revenge or encourage respect for different choices. Are people going to be defensive when you call pregnancy and childbirth parasitic, disgusting, germ-ridden? Um, yes. I don't have children, but I can see how goes beyond irreverence into insulting something fundamental. I can't comprehend the bond, physical and emotional, that a mother feels for her children - which is why I wouldn't presume to demean it, any more than I'd insult someone who'd chosen not to have children for any reason.
Though I might quibble about her use of “fundamental” in reference to parenthood, I understand Sadie’s concern. I’ve noticed how quickly discourse on the issues faced by stay-at-home moms and working moms degenerated into the Mommy Wars and I wonder if the same thing is happening with parents and non parents.

Do I care how many kids the Duggars have? Not really. I’m hoping the growing number of childless people will balance them out. I would be upset if the children were being neglected or abused in some way. They don’t appear to be—exploited perhaps but not harmed. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about the Jon and Kate debacle. However I was pleased to learn Nadya Suleman’s recent reality TV deal stipulated fair payment and a trust fund for the kids. I suspect the previous exploitation of Nadya’s infants, and the subsequent outrage from both parents and non parents and California child labor law enforcers, ensured that this TV deal was fairer to the children.

I believe we all have a right to express outrage when we see unfairness, abuse, or exploitation but we can do so by pointing to specific cases and not by disparaging or belittling parents, or nonparents, in general. As the Mommy Wars have shown, not much productive comes out of the vitriolic lobbying back and forth, which is why I question the use of “Assholes” in the title of Sadie’s post.

Flickr photo by BrittneyBush (cc)

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