Saturday, February 22, 2014
A few days ago, in my post entitled The Tyranny of Healthy Lifestyle Zealots, I clearly detailed my objection to the social disenfranchisement of fat people and smokers (I’m both) by people who are zealously committed to what they consider a healthy lifestyle and therefore blame people like me for the high cost of health care. I corrected this inaccuracy, as well as put forth the idea that: “…in a diverse, free society, people have different needs, wants and behaviors, and everyone can be accommodated if we accept that those who differ from us have as much of a right to be who they are as we have to be who we are.” I also gave an example, saying in part: “I don’t have children; I don’t even like children. But I don’t begrudge them the health care (or nutrition, education, and protection from abuse and neglect) they require… I believe in the concepts of ‘each according to his needs’ and ‘live and let live’.”
To my surprise, three friends responded privately, not to my larger message, but to my having said “I don’t like children.” Since they know me, they mostly found it funny, but they were all a little shocked that I had the chutzpah to say this straight out because, they explained, it’s just not done! One person voiced concern that I would turn people off and give them the wrong impression of me, which might impede my efforts to draw a larger audience to this blog.
I was nonplussed. I know most people do like kids (particularly babies) and especially adore their own, but I had no idea that to express the opposite was verboten. I know I’m in the minority here, but I didn’t realize that people who don’t like children and have the gall to say so are even more hated than smokers and fat people combined. Now that I’ve made it public that I’m a fat smoker who doesn’t like children, is it still safe for me to leave my apartment?”
While on the phone with my blog-expansion-concerned friend, she searched the phrase “I don’t like children,” and the first thing that came up was a site called Heartless Bitches International, a humor/satire-but-they’re-not-really-kidding-site by, about and for women who don’t conform to all of the current ideals and ideas modern women espouse (those HBs are more radical). On the site was a “rant” by an unnamed woman entitled The 4 Words of the Pariah, in which she beautifully states my own feelings thusly: “I don’t like children. What that lonely little statement can do to people… So what? If someone doesn’t like children why does it bother you so much? Stop taking everything so personally.” Later in the piece, she voices one of my greatest complaints by saying: “Somewhere along the way this society started worshipping children. Everything must be about the children. Every law passed must protect the children. Every restaurant, every movie theater, every bar, every museum, every art gallery, every area of our lives and cities must be child friendly.”
I’ve finally gotten to the point in my quickly-advancing old age that I accept myself just as I am and I really don’t care what people think of me anymore. That’s why I choose to speak my mind uncensored. However, on behalf of myself and other adults who don’t like children, let me say the following. I don’t hate children. I don’t wish them ill. I believe that society, government, and parents (or whomever a child lives with) should ensure that children are well taken care of. All children should be loved by those who give birth to them or adopt/foster them or otherwise take responsibility for them. And as I said above: “I don’t begrudge them the health care (or nutrition, education, and protection from abuse and neglect) they require.” I think government should pick up the tab for whatever kids’ caretakers can’t afford and it’s clearly in society’s best interest to ensure that we don’t raise generations of damaged and/or ignorant people. Whatever taxes are needed to ensure all of this is money well and importantly spent.
That said, adults who don’t have children – often because they don’t like children – are not obliged to like or interact with them. I don’t like babies; they hold as much appeal for me as sacks of flour. I held one once and all I wanted was its mother to get it off my hands immediately. I don’t enjoy the company of children, especially young children. I find them boring, unsettling when they’re running around and yelling, and disgusting when they’re eating. I resent it that our culture increasingly revolves around children. I believe adults take priority because we’re adults! and we should therefore have child-free spaces. The needs/rights of children should co-exist with those of adults, not supersede them. So if parents don’t want their kids to do or be exposed to certain things, it’s their responsibility to supervise them to ensure that – not my responsibility to live or look or speak or behave in child-friendly ways.
Posted by MizB at 6:43 AM