Grow Your Own Help

Gross:

As Roy notes, the threats of being alone and unloved are a favorite tactic of culture warriors trying to bully the rest of us into following their paranoid values system. On the alone and unloved front, I have to point out, with as much tact as I can muster, that while Rod Dreher and Phillip Longman, who he quotes extensively, might be in a situation where they have to make people to get anyone to care about them, their dilemma is not shared by the entire nation. Many people are able to get friends and loved ones on a volunteer basis, even. The “no one will love you” threat has been way overplayed on the right, by the way. It’s the favorite to bully teenage girls into remaining virgins, and is easily disproved time and time again.

Okay, not only is it insulting, it’s also just reallystupid. Anyone who’s ever had an overbearing or annoying relative knows that blood compatibility is no guarantee of sympathy, and honestly, it’s not like we’re short on examples of people who hate their kids or their parents or both, or who love them but can’t be in the same room for five minutes without being incited to physical violence. I say this as someone who wants children, and who has as close a relationship with her parents as anyone can have when they’re still trying to figure out which egg their little liberal commie hatched out of.

And let me just say, because posts like this always result in comments arguing against the perception that I’m prescribing some particular way of living: Have kids, don’t have kids. Have one kid, have a dozen. Have them for carefully considered reasons reached after torturous and lengthy debate or have them because the condom broke and what the hell, really. Do whatever you want.

People tend to offer this “you’ll have someone to love you!” argument in an attempt to recruit the childless into having children, and as a recruiting poster, it kind of sucks. Amanda sees the fear of death in it, and Roy a sort of generalized wish that we could pressure people into reproducing so we wouldn’t have to live up to the social contract and care for our elderly and value them because their own kids will handle it (oh, the tales I could tell from the friends who worked in nursing homes in college), but I see something a little simpler in it all. I think Dreher and others are just pissed as hell they can’t order people to behave a certain way, force people into living lives they can relate to, and this is just one argument in the arsenal.

This is a thing we do to others, with regards to kids especially, and I’m not just talking about the odious “So when are YOU having kids” discussion, because we have no vodka in this house and I won’t write about that sober. I’m talking about our pathological need to pass judgment on how everybody else, from Britney Spears on down, is having and taking care of babies. It’s the same species of fuckwittery that leads strangers to pet pregnant women’s stomachs in the grocery store, and ask if they plan to breastfeed, and tell parents of disabled children that however they’re dealing with their child’s situation, it’s wrong and fucked up and you should do it THIS way.

It’s just that in Dreher’s and others’ cases, they’re justifying their busybody tendencies with the tenets, conveniently to hand, of racism, economic selfishness and misogyny, and while I don’t tend to ascribe to the last condition what the previous two will adequately explain, there’s a certain amount of desperation here to shove us in boxes they can understand and relate to, to ask the questions that produce answers they’re comfortable with. Problem is, it’s not very effective, the line that you’re such a loser you need to birth someone who will love you into old age, or that a child is a sort of robot maid, to be plugged in when you can no longer sweep the floor on your own.

That they can’t see how such arguments devalue the very family they purport to deify drives me up a fucking wall.

A.

8 thoughts on “Grow Your Own Help

  1. pansypoo says:

    just happy as hell my conservative paternal unit was pretty much absent my adult life. wait. he has been absent by my adult life. whew.

  2. Dorothy says:

    People tend to offer this “you’ll have someone to love you!” argument in an attempt to recruit the childless into having children, and as a recruiting poster, it kind of sucks.
    Yeah, my response is usually “Get a dog”, although even lately I’ve amended that to “Get a submissive, clingy dog with borderline separation anxiety.” That way, a hard-to -place animal gets a home, too.
    It makes me sick me when people treat their PETS as toys or dress up dolls or fashion accessories instead of living beings. And people who treat their KIDS likes that…ugh.
    It seems like 99% of social problems (racism, sexism, classism, religious discrimination) could be solved if we could just get folks to understand that other people are, you know, PEOPLE.

  3. Athenae says:

    “Get a submissive, clingy dog with borderline separation anxiety.”
    A ferret!
    A.

  4. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    A.: “[Get] a ferret!”
    …and make Rudy Guiliani cry!
    More seriously, the “don’t be alone” motive is a pretty crappy reason to have kids. But one hopes it helps motivate treating kids well (not as if one needs extra reasons, but whatever works).
    “Have a ton’o’kids, treat ’em like shit, be alone and unloved ANYWAY”. Wow, that’s like GOP family values or something.

  5. “Have kids, don’t have kids. Have one kid, have a dozen. Have them for carefully considered reasons reached after torturous and lengthy debate or have them because the condom broke and what the hell, really. Do whatever you want.”
    Amen!

  6. Families come two ways: the one on your legal birth certificate papers, and the one you pick up as you live.
    Where they intersect and peace reigns, count yourself blessed, be that through adoption or having kids or fostering or just hanging with somebody who isn’t looking back at you out of the mirror every day. Where they intersect and peace fails, it’s
    probably the best idea to just get the hell out before anybody else ends up hurt worse.
    There is NO reason at all to force anybody to have kids. There are more than a gracious plenty of children going begging
    for homes and love right here in the USA.

  7. ellroon says:

    I was told to be grateful I had a daughter who would take care of me in my old age. I nearly blew the sweet old lady out of the water. No. My daughter is not my life insurance, nor would I ever do that to either of my children. Luckily I have the ability to plan out my retirement and care. They can come and visit.

  8. mim says:

    Ellroon, what did that sweet old lady say in reply–do you remember?
    Just to be fair, “you’ll die alone” is also the line used to threaten girls into putting out (giving up their virginity, if they’re virgins). That is, no man will marry you unless he knows you’re good in bed.
    But having someone to give you sponge baths is alousy reason to have children, and I hope it backfires every time. My advice is to get an aide to do the chores and a pet for companionship (I prefer cats myself).
    For my further comments, see alicublog (Roy’s blog–sorry I don’t know how to link).

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