Some recent quotes from Feministe:
Ha. Sure. Yes, it is your children’s RIGHT to scream in a restaurant, and you are definitely not going to interfere or tolerate a dirty look from another patron who does not enjoy hearing screams in restaurants, because your children are EXPERIMENTING as is their RIGHT! No special treatment requested, though. None at all. And it’s definitely everyone else in New York City who’s a self-centered jerk.
Saying that not allowing small children at a wedding is akin to saying “Mums unwanted at my wedding” strikes me as really silly. Moms are welcome at the wedding. I’d bet that plenty of moms would be in attendance. Moms, being physical distinct beings from their children, are actually physically capable of going somewhere without their kids in tow (especially to a long, formal event).
Parents? You also need to stop acting like entitled dicks…Children are part of society, but part of raising children is teaching them how to behave when they’re out in public.
Airlines really should make some reasonable accommodations for parents…At the same time, parents need to be realistic. And some of the parents in [an NYT article on children in airplanes] seem a little… clueless… [note: the next segment of the post is a quote about a mother being refused milk for her baby when she ran out, and being told that her children couldn't move around the aisles.] Shocking that efforts to let “active” children move around the cabin and stretch their legs into the aisle were not welcomed by the plane’s staff. Have you been in a plane? The cabin is not large!
Jill is careful to qualify, in each post, that she doesn’t personally hate kids, and that of course kids have a right to be out in public. But, she says. But.
Here are some quotes I’ve come across in radical blogs and zines:
I know in my head all about the politics of taking up space. Of women of color, girls of color, taking up space. Of non conforming bodies taking up space. Of how those bodies are punished and controlled and disappeared for the audacity of taking up space. I’ve spent the last year *blogging* and *walking* and doing activist work that is connected to examining and asserting the right to space–the right of all human beings to *take up space*–because space belongs to *HUMANS* not capital or companies or the nation/state.
But when my heart sees my cocky little girl setting up three pillows and thee blankets on a fully opened chair so that she can throw her legs over the side and read while her health gently takes care of itself????
We all have so much untraining to do within ourselves.
Why do we need single mamis at this conference?
It’s funny you should ask. Mamis of color are leaders in creating media that services the communities most in need radical media justice. They’ve created zines, blog communities, news papers, radio shows. They write and speak with children on their hips, on their breasts, and with the most limited resources possible. They can make a meeting happen with three people in three different cities, one car, and an awesome white dude. They don’t leave their neighbors behind because it’s a car with four seats, they make more seats in the car.
This is leadership. Single mamis of color are the leaders of the media justice movement, and I really am not sure why or how we would have a conference if they weren’t there.
im not a feminist ( yeah, i said it…shrug). but i dont understand people who claim to be feminist on one hand, and on the other hand think that children should be designated to certain public and private spaces, not mixing in ‘normal’ public areas, such as restaurants, stores, airplanes, etc. cause in us culture, when you create little reservations for children, you are really creating little reservations for mothers. it is the mother who will be sent away to take care of the child. and how is that supporting all women and girls?
you know in a lot of cultures, like the one i live in now, the lines between adult spaces and child spaces are much more porous. it is assumed that kids will be around. that people of all ages will be. because of this kids learn early on what is expected of them in various social situations. they dont expect that every space they enter will be made to cater to their age group. and they learn to negotiate boundaries with various people.
From Eleven O Clock Alchemy:
Scorn towards mothers, children and families is hardly a revolutionary mentality. In fact, this position is a direct holdover from capitalist, authoritarian ideology. Unfortunately, instead of challenging this rhetoric as reactionary, anarchists and other radicals often accept it in our midst.
While giving lip service to the sanctity of motherhood and putting social pressure on women to procreate –alas, soldiers and workers do not come from thin air–in actuality, a capitalist framework places a very low value on child rearing and penalizes all women (some far more than others) economically and socially for becoming mothers. This is particularly true in the US version of capitalism. M/others on the low-end of this totem pole (whether single, of color, receiving government assistance, poor, young, or undocumented) are the recipients of increasingly complicated layers of discrimination, intolerance, and exploitation.
From Sasha Vodnik’s “Being an Ally to Parents and Kids” (Rad Dad #20):
For all of us who want to see a strong left, who want to take steps toward a just world, I think we need to see ourselves as building and sustaining multigenerational community. Young adults shouldn’t be isolated, trying to reinvent the wheel simply for lack of authentic relationships with movement elders, and none of us who are grown should leave our children to that fate. By prioritizing children–and elders–at the hearts of our movements, and putting effort into maintaining that space and strengthening it, we can continue to knit these bonds of community and affinity and mutual aid that must be part of the foundations of strong, vibrant movements for justice.
From an interview with artist Meredith Stern (The Art of Dismantling #2):
At the heart of social change, is mutual aid and cooperation which are the methods towards liberation for everyone.
[An experience I find myself reflecting on again and again as I near my due date: I was working as a nanny for an extremely fussy eight-month-old, and one day, as I was making copies of a short story to submit to journals, she started bawling for no discernible reason. At first I tried to calm her, but when it became apparent that she was going to keep howling until I got the stroller moving again, I focused my efforts on just finishing the copy job as fast as possible. To the other people in the copy shop, I may have looked like one of those "asshole parents" who don't give a shit, when in reality I was trying my best to get out of there and save everyone's eardrums. I was 23, utterly inexperienced with kids, and steeped in embarrassment.
Then I heard a voice behind me speaking in cheerful, playful tones. The baby stopped crying. I turned around to see a guy who regularly performed children's music at the farmer's market leaning over the baby's stroller, entertaining her. He was able to keep her pacified until my copies were finished and I thanked him profusely. Judgement, glares, and angry mutters wouldn't have had any effect on the situation--but just a little help from someone with more experience made life drastically better for everyone in that copy shop, including the baby. And, more importantly, I got to learn a little about how to distract a fussy infant.]
And, finally, a thing I wrote last night on Facebook, in response to the first quote above:
I really can’t remember the last time I felt like I had something substantial in common with the mainstream “feminist” “movement.” Not when sentiments like this are broadcast over and over and over again, with zero analysis of race and class or, indeed, any explicit self awareness whatsoever. I want a better feminism for my daughter. (Because seriously, what kind of feminism is it when my very first message to her has to be, “you need to stay out until you can keep your mouth shut?”)
My main point isn’t that mainstream feminists never have anything positive to say about children and parents. My point is that, among writers with less money and privilege and power, attitudes like the above aren’t actively cultivated and encouraged. (If you think it’s unfair that I seem to have cherry-picked the above quotes from Feministe, just try to find me an equivalent number of similar quotes by, say, radical women of color or low-income radicals–as opposed to radicals with privilege who don’t bother to educate themselves but think anarchism is sexy.) Keeping the focus on individual people who don’t do what you think they should be doing, rather than the deeper social structures that feed these kinds of schisms, makes it possible for privileged people to ignore the hegemony that benefits them. One very basic example: how easy is it to defend “child-free” public spaces when everyone you know employs a full-time nanny? To be totally honest, it reminds me of the Good Minority/Bad Minority dichotomy: it’s easier to ignore the oppression of entire communities when one can continually steer every discussion back to, “But these Bad Minorities are acting bad! We need to make absolutely certain that everyone knows how bad they act! I’ll only take them seriously when they stop acting bad!”
When attitudes toward such a fundamental aspect of human existence are so cleanly divided along race and class lines, doesn’t that warrant a modicum of curiosity?