Disclaimer

This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Choices

I'm breaking a personal policy of "Don't bait the trolls!" to write this entry. In a recent post, Lag Liv published an anonymous comment she received, criticizing her and her life choices. Let’s just start off saying my personal reaction to this woman’s statements included a lot of obscenities.

LL stated in her blog, and in private conversations, that she doesn’t care about these criticisms. She’s confident she is making the right choices for her and her family, and they are all happy and thriving. So, what anonymous people on the internet think, and comment, about her choices is completely irrelevant to her. However, it's extremely relevant in a larger sense. Anonymous idiotic opinions might not matter to us personally, but they do contribute to the dialog involving families and, in particular, working mothers. I classify these comments as idiotic, because when you make comments that not only disparage someone’s choices but also personally insult them, that isn’t intelligent dialog on any issue: it’s just ignorance.

The fact remains that different people choose different ways of living their lives. Whether you are a single mom, or a mom in a committed relationship with a partner to help raise the child; a stay-at-home mom or a working mom; or maybe you’re not even a mom, maybe you’re a dad instead: the fact remains that we are all parents who struggle every day to do what’s best for our children, for our families and for ourselves. There are serious social, legal and economic concerns for all of us depending on our different situations and choices, and any dialog that concentrates on “my way is best, your way is selfish/wrong” is not only offensive, but counterproductive.

If you are sitting at home on your computer, anonymously commenting that a woman is selfish and immature for having a child and still pursuing an education and a career, you are single-handedly contributing to the problems that face mothers in the workforce: reinforcing a culture that still views women in the workforce as outsiders who don’t belong. You are saying it doesn’t matter that women don’t get paid as much as men, or that pregnant women get pushed out of jobs, or that mothers get marginalized in the workforce. You are saying that women shouldn’t be in the workforce in the first place if they want to become mothers (and an overwhelming percentage of women in the workforce become mothers at some point in their lives). You are saying that fathers are irrelevant to the care of children, because they have a spouse at home, and it marginalizes their involvement in childrearing. You sabotage the efforts of decades of feminism and the rights of mothers (and fathers) in the workforce.

Keep in mind that (I know this is shocking) there are those of us who actually don’t believe that being a stay-at-home mom is the only way, or even the best way, to raise our children. I think what makes Mom happy is beneficial for the whole family, and if that means pursuing a career and dividing parental responsibility with the other spouse (if there is one), and utilizing professional childcare workers (or family members) when necessary, then that’s what’s best for them. Children don't suffer irreparable harm because Mom isn't there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are situations where always having a parent home with the child might be necessary, but that also does not have to be the mother.

However, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I personally don’t go trolling blogs of stay-at-home-moms and anonymously comment how they’re all selfish and immature because they didn’t make the same choices I have made. That would be ridiculous. Further, it would contribute to the problems that face stay-at-home-moms, such as being undervalued by society, facing poverty should they divorce and marginalization in the workforce when they attempt to return. If I’m using language that degrades the choices of a certain group of women, I’m in effect limiting the choices of all women.

This “mommy war” nonsense hurts all parents. Instead of bickering about whose way is best, and judging others for their decisions, concentrate the dialog on bettering the situations for all parents. So, I beseech you, Anonymous Internet Troll, instead of crawling up on your cross and bragging about your “sacrifice” of being a stay-at-home mom, and berating those who make other choices, I would suggest you ask yourself how you can pursue positive change for families of all kinds. While you view staying at home with your children as a “sacrifice,” there are women who would love to stay home with their children but can’t because of financial reasons. And there are women who would prefer to work, but stay home with their children because they can’t earn enough of a living to pay for daycare, and have put their careers on hold to do so. Those are the women who make sacrifices, because in order to support their families they have to make choices they wouldn't otherwise make. If you choose to stay home because you want to stay home, you haven’t made a sacrifice at all: you’re doing exactly what you want to do. So, why don’t we work on making sure that other parents can have these same choices, and that our choices are honored and supported by society, rather than disparaged?

Women, especially mothers, have a hard enough time without being attacked by other women. Even by Anonymous Internet Trolls.

3 comments:

GG said...

Amen. That was very nicely put.

legally certifiable said...

Excellent post. LL's post has been nagging me, too, and I hadn't yet put fingers to keyboard to address it. But I think you just said everything I would have--and did a better job of it!

LL said...

I wouldn't say I don't care about the comments, I care quite a lot, they just hurt much less now than they did before I had a baby. Before I took that criticism so personally and agonized over wanting children and a career the way that I did, now that I have a child I know that what some idiot writes on my blog doesn't suddenly make my kid less happy in daycare or my husband less involved in parenting or me less fulfilled by my work. I can let it go, I'm obviously happier and more secure in my life choices than she is.

But I think what you said is important- those comments are hurtful and limiting to women. The problem is, most of the women who make them don't care they're limiting - they think women should be limited. And that's almost too infuriating to attempt to reason with.