While I was cruising the NaBloPoMo randomizer looking for a great site to link to this morning, something struck me: many (not all) female bloggers seem to blog about either knitting, or children. Or wanting to have children. Or the process of adopting children. Or knitting baby clothes. Or their pregnancies. I literally went through about 30 mommy blogs right off the bat. It’s like the Borg, man, slowly taking over the minds and bodies of women bloggers to turn them into uniform baby making and knitting machines.
Now, some of those sites might actually be really good. Children are just not a topic that interests me, so I glide right by them. The knitting sites I’ll sometimes linger on because I like to see other people’s projects and then look at whatever lumpy, misshapen project I’m knitting at the moment and then sigh, deeply.
But I’m thinking more about the parenting sites today, because I find them faintly troubling.
I wonder how those kids will feel about it in 10 or 15 years. A lot of these people post really intimate details of the lives of their children, along with photographs. Personally, I would be really upset if my father had written about my entire childhood on the Internet for the world to see. The kids might think it’s fun now to ham for the camera, but later on they might really regret it.
When I write about people I know on this site, or post their photographs, I ask permission first. A couple of times, someone has said “no, I’d rather that you not post my picture, if that’s ok,” and I have said “of course, that’s why I asked.” I think that everyone has a right to personal boundaries and privacy, and although I don’t like children, I recognize that their personal boundaries are often overstepped. Kids don’t get a choice when it comes to being written about, and that makes me a bit anxious.
A friend of mine is very pregnant at the moment (she may have had her baby at this point, but I haven’t gotten an official report yet), and she’s been writing about the experience of the pregnancy, which is something that I think might be neat for her daughter to read someday. But once you cross the line into writing about the child itself, I think it’s a little bit invasive, and weird. When I stumble upon parenting sites, which are almost always written by women, I feel like a voyeur, as though I have opened a door I shouldn’t have.
Maybe this is because I’m disinterested in and uncomfortable with the subject matter. But I do think that my criticism is at least partially valid: would you be comfortable with the thought that every detail of your childhood was available for the general public to read? That a future employer could find a description of that weird rash you had when you were five? Or perhaps a potential love interest could look up dorky pictures of you in idiotic Halloween costumes?
Children aren’t dolls. They aren’t pets, either. They are living, breathing human beings with aspirations, desires, dreams, and minds of their own. I think that parents do them a disservice when they treat them as grist for the writing mill, personally. I know it seems funny to hear me, of all people, fighting for the rights of children, but I can advocate for something I dislike; I don’t like dogs, for example, but I don’t think it’s ok to abuse them. And sometimes I feel like parents really slack on the job when it comes to giving their children basic human rights.
The abundance of lady bloggers who write about children also troubles me because I want to know more about their lives. I was talking with my father about this the other day, how motherhood seems to take over people’s identities and their own hopes and dreams, and how disturbing I found this. I think that parenting is a good thing to do, and knitting is pretty sweet too, but there’s more to life. I just don’t want to hear about people’s children all the time; I want to hear about projects they’re working on, and their own lives, which are just as important and far more interesting for me.
This was one of my big complains about the ending of Deathly Hallows, that these strong female characters were just erased in favor of blank mommy figures. Some of these mommy bloggers are probably awesome, powerful women, and they might even be doing amazing things right now, but everything is about their children, instead. I want to hear about fighting your boss for maternity benefits and winning, or planting your spring garden, or going to work as a teacher, investment banker, artist, whatever.
It’s also possible that I just don’t get it because I don’t have/want children. As some of the child-encumbered are so fond of reminding me, I will never be a true woman. I just have no idea what it’s like. I’ll change my mind and be enlightened someday. I can’t reject my natural nurturing instinct forever.
The childfree even get harassed when we’re fictional, as I noticed on Bones this week, when Angela mentioned that she didn’t want to have children and everyone jumped down her throat. I have to say that, overall, that show has been getting more and more judgmental this season, what with trashing people who like pony play and belittling the childfree. I suppose that’s what you get for watching forensics shows on Fox, eh?
Hey, you can accuse this site of a lot of things, but it ain’t a one trick pony. Much like a box of snakes, you never know what you’re going to get when you open the lid. And I think it would be really boring for y’all if I just wrote about gardening, or knitting, or my loathing of tourists all the time; so imagine how I feel when I stumble across 30 blogs about children. In a row.