I am a media junkie. I feel the need for a space to interact with that media. That space is here. In this blog, I plan to write reactions to news articles, movies, books, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I am a graduate student and mother of 3, so my blogging time is rather limited. However, I will do my best. Welcome.
First of all, I must apologize for the use of “not-appropriate for kids” language in this piece. I censored some but not all.
Today’s topic is Jezebel.com. According to Wikipedia (which never lies), the site is a blog that targets Gawker.com’s female readership. In many articles, the blog comes across as an in-your-face feminist site. However, then a writer will smack you in the face with a piece like this: Sorry but the language may not be appropriate for workplaces or sensitive eyes. If you don’t wish to read it, I will explain. Jezebel has begun an annual “F*&k you” week where authors take down some of the menaces to society. So, this round we have had holiday parties, rape culture, men who sit with their legs spread out too far (??), allergies, gchat, menstruation, unsolicited advice. Okay, I can get down with that. Rants about events and bodily functions, fine they are irritating. Being a tall person myself, I understand the need to splay, but if I someone needs a seat, I accommodate. I have never seen a male-type person not do the same, but then I live in the PNW, where social nicety is a currency. I am sure the behavior written about exists, and it deserves a f*&k you.
However, there were two entries that I found disturbing, particularly for a blog that I consider to fall under the umbrella of feminist. One is “F*&k you other people’s kids” and the other is “F*&k you slow walkers.” These pieces make me think this isn’t a feminist blog at all, but instead is a blog that hates everyone and everything that doesn’t fit into a tiny demographic: middle and upper-middle class urban professional women between the ages of 23-30. Preferably single and childless. The gist of the first piece: “I have one exceptionally wonderful girl child who is so awesome that her shit does not stink (she actually devoted a paragraph to that claim), at least not to me, and everyone else’s child is an absolute horror and it is because their parents are selfish urchins who lack the social skills to know how to raise an absolutely awesome child like I did.” Wait, let me revise that. Some internet stalking sleuthing uncovers that she is the mother of one girl child toddler! Young toddler. Was an infant just a few months ago.
She actually refers to children (sometimes specific children) as: piss-ant, assholes, savages (no, she decides, “savages” is too kind), creatures, animal, fuck-face, dick, and bitch. All in an article that has fewer than 1500 words. If she were referring to adults like that, I would be turned off. But seriously? About kids? Oh, but it is satire! I saw over and over again in the comments that this is satire so those who are offended need to chill the fuck out! Which is interesting, because every other comment is about how spot on this article is. Here is the thing. Satire is great. However, since this is part of a theme week, you just compared kids with rape culture. More or less. One day it is F*ck you rape culture, the next: F*ck you other people’s kids.
So what? A few things. First of all, you know who was the best parent in the world? Me. With one infant son. That kid was amazing. Slept through the night, was sweet, hardly cried, would crawl to his room to play for hours. Well, it must be because we are the best parents. Other parents (especially parents with those horrible toddlers) must just be bad parents. We were so good at it that we went ahead and had a second one about 2 years later. Baby number 2 cried for 5 months straight. Oh, maybe it isn’t us.
Here is the bigger issue though. Why build up women by tearing them down? The author does not specifically call out mothers, she calls out parents. However, we live in a society where women are blamed for parenting failures, and women hold a perception that parenting is more their “job” than men. So, when you write in a female-targeted blog and you are calling out bad parenting, it is safe to assume that some of the blame will fall to mothers. Yes there are crappy mothers out there. Telling them they suck and getting a whole bunch of readers to side with you is not going to fix the problem. It only increases the divide.
A few mothers spoke up in the comments, “What about special needs kids?” and many ran to the author’s defense, stating that it is just assumed that she is not talking about special needs kids (even though she compared kids who are afraid of fireworks to animals). However, many other comments stated that too damned bad, just because your kid has special needs, you get no special rights! Keep that kid home! Get a babysitter if you want to go out! Or: Oh, here we go with the new designer fad diagnosis for bad parenting. It used to be ADHD, now it is Asperger’s. Also, some felt the need to point out that Asperger’s no longer exists. Right, because the DSM is changing the name, the disorder suddenly goes away! But no, a lifetime sometimes debilitating condition is not a fad for bad parenting.
Speaking of debilitation, the other article that has given me pause: “F*ck you slow walkers.” To which I say “F&ck you, able-bodied person.” I am an able bodied person, and I walk pretty fast. However, I know a lot of people who aren’t able-bodied, or simply choose to slow down and see what life has to offer. There are no minimum speed limits on sidewalks. “Oh, the bloody tourists are taking their sweet time” well, yeah, they are the life blood of the economy in many communities, and give a sizable boost to New York City. They are spending thousands of dollars on their vacation, why wouldn’t they want to stop and look around? Also, traveling in any unfamiliar place can be confusing, and NYC even more so. Older people and younger people have different strides and may take longer. And again, since Jezebel made the connection, I am going there: slow walkers are as bad as rape culture? Seriously?
But the part that bugs me the most is the ableist privilege. Not everyone inhabits the space in the same or with the same abilities. A person could have an invisible injury. A person could have brain functioning that doesn’t fire so quickly, and so that person gets confused easily and needs to take it slowly to remember what is going on. People have knees that give out at random times, bunions can make walking painful. Hip and back pain abound. There are many reasons that a person may walk slowly (and who gets to define slowly anyway). Her abled privilege shines through when she writes that she moved here from a different country and she had to learn to drive on the other side of the street! Thanks for boot-strapping us! I would expect a female blogger to understand there are structural barriers to equality. Maybe I am expecting too much. This is, after all, a blog that thinks slut shaming is fine, as long as the women are celebrities!