Parenting Politics/Community

To Amy Glass: A Response to the Whole “I Look Down on Women with Husbands and Kids” Thing

Slow clap.  Seriously, gurrl. You’ve got balls.

I know you’re catching a lot of flack for your I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry post from earlier this month.  I’m not surprised.  Calling women lazy and weak and average will do that.

You mention being sickened by wedding and baby showers because those are things literally anybody can do and instead propose throwing a shower for a woman who has backpacked through Asia or landed her dream job.  You totally should.  That would be awesome and quite possibly THE BEST AND MOST TOLERABLE shower I’ve ever attended (assuming I’m invited, of course).

You also mention that feminism means more than being free to stay home and raise kids.  I couldn’t agree more!  Feminism’s the bullshit that made the two income household necessary.  I could be sitting on my ass at home all day if I wanted instead of working because I have to (and because I want to, but that’s neither here nor there) were it not for those damn feminists and their need to do whatever they want.  Feminism is definitely not being free to be a stay-at-home-mom if one so chooses.

Perhaps most importantly, you mention women “will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if [they] have a husband and kids”.  Eeks, girlfriend.  You kinda lost me there.

I might be careful speaking definitively about things maybe you’re not an expert in.  Like how literally anybody can get married and have babies. Because that’s not always true.  Some women would love to share their lives with another man (or woman) and raise kids together, but for reasons unique to each, they cannot.  Or how women can’t be exceptional if they do have a husband and kids.  Because that’s also not true.  There are so many women out there — so many — who are doing exceptional things with their lives despite the burden of a husband and kids.

Take my mother, for example.  She’s the CEO/CFO of a major conglomerate, and here I am, the product of her marriage to my dad.  I didn’t thwart her dreams too much.  Pretty exceptional.  Or how about many of the moms I know whose children have had a stroke like my son?  They’re out there starting nonprofits to benefit these children.  That’s exceptional.  And I don’t even need to mention the countless female politicians and movie stars and scientists and SWAT members who are out there doing exceptional things, husband and kids be damned.

I’m not judging the place from which you made these statements (well, maybe just a little).  You see, I have my own biases about other people that I tend to voice loudly from time to time.  From one mass offender to another, I get it!  I’ll even prove it to you.

I had to dig deep to find something offensive I’ve not yet shared (and believe me, it was deep, sister), but I found something.  Here goes: I secretly believe people without kids (excluding those who want them but can’t have them) are a special kind of selfish.  Unpopular, I know.  I’ll probably get crucified in the comments for this, but it’s something I came to believe through experience.  My aunts and uncles without kids, for example, shaped my perceptions of people who do not wish to have any of their own.

Growing up, it appeared that they were constantly thinking of themselves and what they wanted, rarely considering how their actions might impact others.  They criticized my parents for the way they chose to handle my disabled uncle when my grandmother died and my parents were charged with his care.  They had a lot of opinions about how he should be taken care of but not a lot of action toward making that happen (probably because acting would mean having to postpone that ski trip out West or that weekend away at the beach house or that business meeting overseas — perks of their childless lives).

I used to think childless people were selfish on purpose.  Like, they actually believed they were better than anyone else and proved that by not making sacrifices for anyone no matter what.  I believed it was always me, me, me, me with those people, no evidence of even an inkling of a desire to understand what it means to put oneself aside for another in their behavior.

I now realize not everyone who is childless is selfish.  At least not on purpose.  But you see, until you are charged with keeping a person alive, there’s no way you can know just what it means to put yourself second and mean it.  There’s no way you can understand how “hard” (yes, I said hard, even though I know you think it’s easy) it is to put absofuckinglutely every need and desire you may have aside to meet the needs and desires of another.  And you know what?  “Hard” or not, it’s worth it.  Because that feeling is OMGsoamazing!  I’m sorry you won’t ever know it.  Truly.

I think the most important realization I came to was that people’s choice to remain childless isn’t one made out of selfishness, but rather one made out of their own versions of happiness.  I’m guessing there are things about their lives they’re sorry I’ll never know because I chose to have a husband and kids, and they’re right.  And it’s all cool. And I’m betting it’s “hard” for them, just as it’s “hard” for women with kids.  Pursuing their dreams (being married with children is also a dream for some, by the way), working long hours outside the comforts of home, completing grueling college and graduate work, carving aside time to travel the world — all of it hard in its own way.  I mean, look at you!  Fielding offensive comments and personal attacks because you have the courage to voice your opinions can’t be easy.

Which brings me back to my slow clap.  You see, I think you already know all this.  I don’t think there’s anything anyone could write or say that would open your mind because your mind is already open.  I just think you’ve taken what you believe is the best way to live your own life (much like many women have done so by getting married and having kids) and milked it for what it’s worth.

I think you’ve discovered what pushes people’s buttons and generates readership, and I think you’re capitalizing on that.

And for that, girl, you are brilliant.