People on the internet get so mad…

The reasons to quit the feminist blogosphere have never been more apparent.

(I’m referring to the comments, not the original post, which was actually quite great.)

Jill wrote about how it’s stupid to hate kids, and it’s mean and oppressive and ageist to believe that kids don’t belong in public. She also quite reasonably discussed how annoying and uncomfortable it is when you go out in public expecting to have a peaceful, nice time and an infant is screaming for 20 minutes straight, and the parent or caregiver doesn’t take measures to ensure that his/her/their child isn’t causing upset to the other restaurant patrons, shoppers, etc.

Reasonable people would agree that if your child screams and cries and wails in public, and he or she doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon, and there isn’t a way to quickly solve the issue, that the parent or caregiver is responsible for taking the child out of the establishment and taking care of the issue there. Or, using other methods which don’t require causing everyone else in the room pain and headaches and other minor suffering.

While making the choice to start a family isn’t an easy one, and parents and caregivers sacrifice a lot for their choice, it is, ultimately, a choice. And with that choice come responsibilities. A person’s responsibility to be a respectful public citizen doesn’t end the moment their child is born. And people who aren’t the parents or caregivers of children are absolutely not required to treat parents/caregivers with more respect than non-parents/caregivers because of their decision.

Children are a vulnerable class of people. They are entirely dependent on their parents or caregivers for food, shelter, and socialization. This is why we cannot treat them like they are 100% autonomous beings like we treat adults. The children’s parents become responsible. If the parent allows a child to violate common, expected societal behaviors, then they are responsible for the consequences of those behaviors, which can include anger from other people and mean, nasty looks. I expect those same looks if I “act out” in public. It’s what stops me from being a total asshole at a restaurant when the kitchen doesn’t know that “extra, super, really, really well done” means “not fucking pink at all.” It’s what stops me from screaming at someone who can’t STFU in a movie theater. It’s what makes me understand that I shouldn’t go into a restaurant or store when if I’m having a heated argument with someone that others might hear and be made uncomfortable by.

It’s not terribly difficult, really. We could all stand to be a little more understanding, and we could all accept that in public, we all have certain responsibilities. I’m pretty certain that the only reason that comment thread turned into what it did is because 1. it is on the internet; and 2. people can’t shut the fuck up and try to understand where other people are coming from for a second before they open their mouths.

Ahh, the internet.

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12 Responses to People on the internet get so mad…

  1. Brett K says:

    Agreed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people talking past each other on a feminist blog before. Is it really so offensive to suggest that some places aren’t and will never be all that kid-friendly, and that parents have some responsibility to moderate their kids’ behaviour? Or, for that matter, is kids’ presence in society so offensive to childfree people that they can’t treat parents and caregivers with a bit of respect?

    I have to say I agree with the person who said that this isn’t a conversation about kids so much as it’s a conversation about jerks. People who glare and make snide comments at any parent who dares to bring their child into a restaurant? Jerks. But, on the other hand, the people who give their toddler all the jam packets at the table and let the kid make as much of a mess as zie wants, then leave the mess to be cleaned up by the servers (apparently a very frequent occurrence at the diner where a friend of mine works)? Also jerks.

    Seriously, people. Don’t be jerks. Not even on the internet.

    • Brett K says:

      I also can’t believe how many people attacked Jill for this post. She was basically trying to open up the discussion about how we, as a society, negotiate our differing needs when we share public space, but for some reason people saw that as shaming parents and hating kids. WTF, seriously.

    • April says:

      Seriously! I felt so bad for her. She did nothing to deserve that level of vitriol from so many of those commenters. But every one of her comments, where she addressed other people’s angry rants, was totally reasonable and seemed to nearly always shut down the criticism. I’ve seen many a comment thread where she flawlessly and inarguably defends herself against similar attacks. Jill’s pretty great like that. I like her writing a lot.

    • April says:

      Seriously, people. Don’t be jerks. Not even on the internet.

      I think that about nails it. Especially when you consider how much the internet world is modeled after the “real” world. Insults and personal attacks hurt just as much online as they do in real life, if not more for the simple fact that they are permanently documented. People need to chill the hell out and think before they speak… or type.

  2. Danny says:

    Yeah its amazing how quickly one’s nose can turn up when they think they can “call you out” on something.

  3. David K says:

    Points to a wider question: is ethecofem the last sensible place in the feminist blogosphere?
    Not quite, but almost.

    • April says:

      I would certainly love to agree with you, but I’m prone to my own knee-jerk reactions and comments… although I think I do an okay job of owning up to my blog-world mistakes and prejudices, or stupid statements or ideas.

      I like the diversity of this blog, and I think that’s what keeps it sensible, as you say. It helps to have four people (well, now three, I suppose) discuss issues coming from similar ideologies, but very different perspectives.

      I’m quite glad to know that someone thinks we’re sensible over here 😉

  4. femspotter says:

    I finally got up the courage to write about my Feministe banning on my blog. Boy, was I angry about it!

    Anyway, I checked out this comment thread and it indeed ran afoul like the “USian” thread and the “Skinny” thread before it. As a mother-to-be, I can attest that I have no intention of bringing Ellie Bean with me anywhere fancy – if I even go there myself – before she can fold her napkin in her lap and sit quietly. Motherhood is my choice, as you say.

    I would like to point out that people without kids tend to be more sensitive to kids in restaurants than those who have them. The latter become increasingly deaf over time. That doesn’t mean that this lack of sensitivity should be used as an excuse. We used to hate hearing whiny kids in nice restaurants…but now we just tune it out. (I do this when I’m cut off in traffic these days too, so it may have more to do with practicing yoga than becoming a mother.)

    My husband and I vacation to the same spot every year and dine at the same restaurant. All year, my mouth waters when I think about its menu. But this past summer, there was a family with four rowdy kids dining next to us – excessive noise. Food was flying, the baby was screaming, etc. They left a large mess for their waiter to clean up: chairs overturned, napkins on the floor, a flood of spilled beverages on the table, etc. (I hope they left the poor guy a big tip). Anyway, it tainted my memory of the dining experience. Fine dining is a sensual experience and the sights and sounds of the restaurant affect your taste buds. My mouth hasn’t watered for that restaurant since and I think next time we’ll try a new place. That means that those insensitive parents cost the restaurant business. On that basis, I think the restaurant should have legal entitlement to ban children under a certain age. At the very least, restaurants should be able to stipulate whether or not they are “family-friendly” in hopes that they will deter or welcome the napkin-throwing screamers and preserve peace for adult diners.

  5. Amanda says:

    I actually thought of your post on the feminist blogosphere immediately after I dived into reading the comments there! No one was willing to give an INCH, or admit that both sides are inherently selfish– and that sometimes, it’s OK to be a bit selfish. I fall on the side of people who don’t love kids, but as long as a child is behaving– really, who cares?

    I was so disappointing in the direction that comments took. It could have led to an interesting conversation on being a mom or not being a mom and how to fit those things into your overall world, but it didn’t even come close.

  6. ginmar says:

    I really liked it when some of the parents implied that the childfree people were neurotic liars who must made up the screaming kids. Renee and Faith pretty much took first prize in mommish assholedom.

    Congratulations Jill for once again failing to understand mothers or their children. First it was that disgusting video on mothers day and now this thread. You know before people start talking about issues they really should get their 101 on and you enabled this complete and utter hate fest towards children with your post and you once again alienated mothers. Never have I been so disgusted to read a thread on this blog. Shit like this is exactly why I am not a feminist non of you can see past your egos and your own agendas long enough to give a damn about anyone. I won’t be back to this thread because it is not safe and I refuse to suffer anymore bigotry.

    Yeah, this is a woman who said her special sparkly kid’s rights to scream his fucking head off trumped everybody else’s rights. I bet she doesn’t vaccinate either.

    • April says:

      Renee and Faith pretty much took first prize in mommish assholedom.

      Seriously. They were both so overboard, I almost thought they were joking. It was so bloody dramatic.

      Yeah, this is a woman who said her special sparkly kid’s rights to scream his fucking head off trumped everybody else’s rights. I bet she doesn’t vaccinate either.


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