August 01, 2006

Respect and a Little Dose of Humour

"...we'll gladly respect your decision to have children if you'll respect our choice not to. If we can get to a point where it's something we can have a good laugh over, rather than get up in each others' grills, then that's real progress." -- Baby Not On Board author, Jennifer L. Shawne

Following up on alleged tension between mommy bloggers and non-mom bloggers at the BlogHer '06, I say "phooey"! This is the kind of thing mainstream media wants to focus on. Jennifer (quoted above) had her book recently reviewed by the Oakland Tribune. Did the editor really have to go with this title "In Age Where it's All About Baby, the Childfree are Fighting Back"?

It doesn't help that there are a lot of childfree forums and chat rooms that take a pretty negative tone and resort to derision and name-calling; I've had lots of feedback like this from PW readers. Ranting is not constructive. Does it change anyone's mind? I think it slams the door shut, but judging from what's offered on daytime TV it must be at least entertaining for some.

As women bloggers, we are even more beholden to follow a code of civil disagreement. Our comments are published globally. A dose of humour doesn't hurt either. It makes for a nice coating on a bitter pill. Then you can laugh about it afterwards. It's a social skill.

I didn't get wind of any of this at BlogHer, which was swarming with mom bloggers. There was an unusually high spirit of cooperation and positive energy about the place. People were truly listening to each other, not interrupting, asking thoughtful questions, learning from one another, laughing.

What say you Purple WomenTM?

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14 comments:

Chase said...

Apparently, there WERE a lot of people who felt it, but I personally didn't at all...and most of the time at BlogHer, I was with a group of mommybloggers. I looked at kid pictures, squeezed the itty feet of a baby who was there, and "awwwwww!"'d over the little kids that were everywhere.

I did hear of the one person who blogged from San Jose about how the mommybloggers were stupid, but I never saw it...or heard it personally.

I love my mommyblogger friends. I had no tension with them at all.

(ps...it was SO nice to meet you! And oh-so random running into you!!)

kT said...

If we can maintain a divide between parents and child-free adults, then we all have less power. To me, it seems like a culturally-created divide similar to that between parents who choose child-rearing as their primary job and those who use daycare and have other work.

We probably have more in common than not. Except for the breast-feeding issues and such.

Elise said...

There are lots of different parents out there. Personally, I've found the *best* parents, the ones who've thought it through the most, the ones who really put the time and effort in, are the ones who are the *most* OK with other people deciding to be CF. It's the knee-jerk "people who just "become" parents...the ones who say "that's just what ya *do*", who seem to have trouble with it.

I think there will always be fringe-y elements among the CF, but thanksfully, as we as an overall group become more mainstream, they will be proportionately less "loud" because other more measured voices have come to the fore in addition. Shedding light, not heat, on issues is always best. I have to say that the fringies *did* help me when CF first came to my attention about a decade ago (I needed a lot of adjustment, between the socialization I received from society at large and the fact that my mom practically viewed breastfeeding as a sacrament..."coming out" as CF to her was tough, because it was such a repudiation, it seemed, of the largest choices in her life). But do I need the fringies now that I've come to terms with my choice? Not so much.

Just an idea of the progress which has occurred: the biggest pragmatic/practical victory that I've been part of in my life was lobbying my then-husband's company to change their HR procedures. They used to have policies re: their benefits which were obviously weighted towards families: i.e., med/dental bennies for a single employee were x; for employee + spouse, x + 75% or so; for employee + spouse + children (1 - 15 kids or more --- it mattered not) somethng like x + 80%...completely irrational.

We lobbied them and they changed the policy to state that each employed gets the same pot of so many bennies dollars. If you have kids (for instance), are divorced, and want to cover only the kids' medical care, plus set aside $ for their college, then use your $ that way. If you're a CF couple, then use it all for platinum-level medical and dental bennies, or go for the bronze-level med. coverage and keep more of your earnings. Everyone gets the same pot of money; if you have more kids, then it doesn't go quite as far. That, to me, is simply rational.

Elise

Teri said...

Chase - I hear ya. You may have figured out by now, I am a bit of an idealist. Glad your experience was also positive.

Kt - Thanks for this comment. I agree, we need to look for the commonalities, which includes control over whether or not we have children (or more children). And blogging too!

Elise - Wow, wish this was on the front page. Thanks for sharing your story here.

Whinger said...

I didn't experience tension with anyone, but I'll admit that I was bothered by some of the assumptions that women will naturally have children and want things for their children.

I don't know. It's a thin line, but I think it was crossed. I don't begrudge one blogger who was a mother, but I am annoyed at the selection of sponsorship.

AlphaGirl said...

I tend to disagree. The rant boards exist for the same reason people took to the soap box in prior periods of history: they serve as a means to be heard. There are "fringe-y" parents just as much as there are "fringe-y" elements among the CF or with any other group for that matter.

Personally, I'm tired of parent-pleasing: I have no problem if someone is respectful of my choice, but if they show lack of respect or are judgemental, then I have a problem with it. The divisiveness exists for many reasons, but the bottom line is it will always exist. To acknowledge that and to move on has brought me some peace. If I feel the need to rant, I post on a rant board. If I feel the need to compliment a responsible parent, I do so in the proper forum.

It's all about freedom of speech and having the forums in which to do that, be they online or in public. I, personally, do not like kids all that much. Does that make me a "bad" cf person. Nope. It's just my voice among many. Only we can choose who we want to listen to.
There are many shades of Purple, folks.

Teri said...

Whinger - Hey, welcome. I read your series of posts on BlogHer. There really was a lot going on and I could easily have written more. I was purposefully flying a little below the radar, as these types of gatherings can be a little overwhelming -- like drinking from a fire hydrant. I really loved what you did with the baby bib that was in our swag bags. LOL!

AlphaGirl - Nice to hear from you. I am basking in your California sun right now. Yeah, ranting can be chatharctic (expecially within sympathetic communnity), just like it's fun to say a good swear word. I am all for freedom of speech; it makes this country great. To be honest, I wish more people would speak up. Peace be with you.

AlphaGirl said...

Some of the greatest history-makers throughout time have been considered "fringe-Y"(the term used to reference less-than mainstream folks within the CF movement), and they inspire me. Suffregettes, anti-war activists, the early femninists, human rights activists, and all were and still are considered on the fringe. They inspire me. There is no shame in it, nor is there shame in speaking out. The more a movement or a group reaches for the mainstream, the less their voices are heard because they are caught up in the din of everyone else.

It's time we stop apologizing,rationalizing and justifying our decision. We have a right to be heard, be it via ranting, blogging, public discourse, or otherwise. There is nothing to be afraid of. It's free speech. =)

shuna fish lydon said...

I don't dislike mommyblogging or the women behind them. In fact I was at a dinner party the next day defending their purpose and choice.

But I found it strange that an entire conference seemed to have a preference in one area of blogging. I felt like a real minority, writing about food.

And at the same time I wanted to meet other bloggers because my own food blogging community is really close and I wanted to branch out.

I am hoping that next year we will not focus on one subject of blogging so much, and focus more on what it means to blog in general.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I'm a single 30-something guy who prefers not to have kids, and I must say, I probably would have been doubly freaked being at the blogher conference... being a minority genderwise and also being childfree-by-choice.

I'm not one of the so-called "radical" CF-ers; I think it's wonderful when people thoughtfully choose to raise kids and then indeed responsibly raise them. We certainly need such efforts in the aggregate.

But having kids... well, I just have no interest in it. Too much else in my life. As Seinfeld would say, not that there's anything wrong with that :).

But I'm a pretty prominent guy in the blogosphere and in the workplace, and I don't feel comfortable admitting my child-free choice publicly. My parents are already mortified. And my dating life, well, it's pitiful in part because things go swimmingly well until the woman finds out -- horrified -- that I don't want kids. I mean, what am I supposed to do, tattoo this on my forehead so I don't have to deal with second dates? :P

Argh. Sorry, this probably wasn't the optimum entry to put this rant on, but I feel better anyway ;).

If you'd like to offer encouragement, advice (e.g., a forum where folks can thoughtfully chat about these issues pseudonymonously), etc... feel free to write me at frustrated.iam [at] neverbox.com

Teri said...

Frustrated - Thanks for this comment and welcome. I hope you were encouraged to share by the change in this blog's title to Purple Women & Friends.

I am glad you felt comfortable enough to share in this women-centric space. Your voice is a welcome counter-point.

Teri said...

Shuna - Thanks for your post. I like how you talk about your genre of blog as a community. I was surprised how many food bloggers there actually are!

Killer B said...

Shuna rocked the house as far as I was concerned, so I hate that her experience was not altogether positive. I wonder if too few people see food as political? They shouldn't. Shuna knows her stuff.

Anonymous guy who doesn't want to have kids: trust me, we're out here. Dating is tough for us too. Did you ever see the Seinfeld episode about that? I'm probably redressing topics long ago discussed here, but I'm new to PW&F and so in love, so I'm kind of gushy about it today. Cheers to guys who are CF and proud!

Teri said...

Killer B - Hello and Welcome! Thanks for leaving us a comment and continuing the dialogue. A lot of people ask me why I picked "purple" and the simple answer is that it gets the conversation started.

An interesting choice of a blog handle name. I suppose you float around the blogosphere like a butterfly? Thanks so much for including a link to us in your Modern Feminist blog sidebar. This will really help others find us. I will add you to the PW Online section here.

Blog on!