Inspiration for childless and childfree women

Thoughts and ideas to inspire, uplift and affirm the childless and childfree, by circumstance and by choice

I’m a what now?

The vast majority of the feedback on this site has been so positive that I’ve been riding on a wave of encouragement for the past few weeks. I’m in a different time zone to many of you so I tend to post before I go to bed and have a look in the morning to see if anyone has contributed anything to the discussion. I don’t know when I’ve ever enjoyed my morning cup-of-tea-and-internet-browse so much :).

That said, I also get the odd snarky email. Just recently I was given a new label in reference to readinginthebath.com which I think is supposed to be insulting:

To be honest, as you might have guessed from the graphic, I quite like it.

I’m guessing it’s a reference to my general lack of interest in badmouthing parents, which is a product of:

a) a life philosophy that involves respecting other people’s choices and circumstances

b) the fact that most of my closest friends and family are parents and I love them to bits

c) the fact that lots of parents have supported and encouraged me wholeheartedly in my own choices and circumstances

d) a general aim to create things, spaces and ideas that are affirming and uplifting, not mocking or hateful

I’m old enough and wise enough to know that I’ll never please all of the people all of the time. But however the label was intended, I genuinely appreciate the assertion that I might be pleasing some!

If you’re interested in anger and rage in online communities you might be interested to read this post about how it can be navigatedΒ and if you’re interested in who this particular website is aimed at and why, you could have a look at the faq page.

But in the meantime, how about you? What do you think a ‘breeder pleaser’ is? And would you mind being labelled one?

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27 comments on “I’m a what now?

  1. Sylvia D. Lucas
    April 5, 2012

    There will always be outliers who believe that if you’re not being insulting toward X community (in this case, parents), you must not really be part of Y community (in this case, the “childfree” community). There’s an interesting battle some have chosen to take part in, and it’s pointless but for the drama and energy that comes with being hateful and angry.

    Some time ago, I posted a blog entry titled, “The Childfree vs. ‘Breeder’ War: Why Are We Fighting It?” (http://sylviadlucas.com/2011/09/22/the-child-free-vs-breeder-war-why-are-we-fighting-it/) After a few days, I noticed a number of readers were coming from a particular site. I clicked on it, and I found that my post was shared as evidence that I wasn’t a “true” childfree person, that I was probably a parent pretending to be childfree so I could… I’m not quite sure what my motivation would have been.

    Some people just want to have a war to fight, I think.

    • olivia
      April 5, 2012

      Sylvia, thank you so much for your insights, especially since they’re based on your such similar experiences of your own. I followed the link to your post and I hope lots of others do too – it’s a really wonderful discussion of the issues.

      Yes, I’m fascinated to know what the benefits of being a parent who is pretending to be childfree could possibly be!!

      And you’re right about the desire for war. I guess it’s one of the ways for a minority group to strengthen itself, by declaring a common enemy. It’s lovely to read the thoughts of someone who comes at the issue another way.

      Thanks again, Sylvia :).

  2. Maybe Lady Liz
    April 5, 2012

    It totally turns my stomach that someone sent YOU – of all people! – a snarky comment about your site. When it’s the most positive place ever! I too received some pretty nasty hate mail this week, accusing me of having all kinds of crazy motives for why I keep the blog going. At first it made me angry, but then it just reminded me of the true reason that I started it in the first place, and it wound up giving me a little warm and fuzzy feeling. I hope this “breeder pleaser” message did the same for you!

    • olivia
      April 5, 2012

      Lady Liz, thank you for your support here, that’s so lovely of you to say :).

      Hmm…perhaps the snarky people are doing the blog rounds this week! I’m sorry to hear you were a target too and very, very glad that it’s only strengthened your resolve to keep going with your fabulous blog.

      And yes, actually, the message was encouraging in a funny way, just as you describe. It’s hard to feel ashamed or guilty about failing to antagonise people!

  3. Megan
    April 5, 2012

    Olivia, all I can say is that you are a hugely vital, refreshing, positive and extremely well-spoken voice in the wilds of the Internet, and as such you are unfortunately bound to be the target for some small minority of people who for some reason need to focus on the negative and try to bring others down. I suppose one ought to try to feel a degree of compassion towards those who are so burdened by some inner sadness or anger that they become petty towards others who are trying to create something positive and lovely. The Internet, and the world in general (at least the Western world), is so filled with divisiveness and labels that I sometimes honestly despair of the future of our society (not kidding!) I see this every day where I live, in the quickness with which people angrily confront one another over the smallest things. Your site is so welcome as a rare space where inclusiveness and unity, and not divisiveness, is the theme. Yes, being child-free/childless (however one comes by it or calls it) involves many challenging issues. But reflexively jumping to labels and name-calling is not the answer. I believe dialogues like the positive one you have started ARE the answer. If that makes me a “breeder pleaser,” then I would be happy to join you in that category!

    • olivia
      April 5, 2012

      I’m glad of the company, Megan :). I think dialogue is the answer too. And I really appreciate the lovely things you’ve said about the site here – they more than take any bitter taste away.

  4. Melissa
    April 5, 2012

    It is sad, but I think some people are not happy unless they are angry. Others want so badly to belong that they “choose a side” and blindly take it to an extreme. Usually that’s when an “-er” is added to a word in an attempt to call someone a name. Life is much too short and time is too precious to spend it in hate and anger. I feel much like you do–I can list a), b), c) and d) for me too. I do not feel the need to “choose a side.” There is no side to choose. There is simply the choice to be oneself, to do what is best and right for oneself and respect others’ right to do the same.

    • olivia
      April 5, 2012

      Melissa, I think you’re so right about the pleasure in being angry. And there’s lots of opportunities for bravado online too I guess. I loved your final point especially – wise and beautifully put.

  5. HGavin
    April 5, 2012

    To quote the great Roy “people, what a bunch of bastards!”. I had a hard time reading childfree blogs or twitters because everyone was pretty my so rude or they just brag about how much money, concerts, wine, trip, or whatever they have. It felt wrong.
    You writing is very positive and that’s why I keep coming back here.

    • olivia
      April 5, 2012

      Ha! I hadn’t heard that quote before, HGavin! I’m so glad you’re enjoying reading here, that’s lovely to hear – thank you πŸ™‚

  6. Myth
    April 5, 2012

    I really appreciate the non-judgmental approach you have to childfree blogging. I’m happily childfree and I’m really turned off by the vitriol in most childfree blogs and forums.

    • Heidi
      April 5, 2012

      Myth – I’m 100% the same as you. I am really turned off by the vitriol in most childfree blogs and forums. I joined a group on FB only to un-join almost as quickly, as the strong emotions (tending towards hate?? at least tending towards complete and utter disdain towards parents) were off putting. I did not want to sign up as part of “that” group!!

    • olivia
      April 5, 2012

      Thanks so much, Myth. I feel just as you do about vitriol.

  7. Jennifer
    April 5, 2012

    Every movement I’m involved with has its militant faction — the in-your-face type of activists who (I suspect) actually alienate more people than they convert and seem to provoke a certain amount of in-fighting. It doesn’t seem to be avoidable, and I know I’m sometimes guilty of being judgy myself. Still, I think respect and conversation are key, and that means acknowledging that other people’s decisions have validity for them, even if they’re not what I would choose for myself. I don’t think that makes either of us ‘breeder pleasers.’

    • olivia
      April 5, 2012

      That’s so true, Jennifer, about how lots of groups follow this kind of pattern. I think we’re all guilty of being judgy sometimes. I definitely catch myself sometimes. Often it can just be so hard to believe that people are really, truly as happy as we are in the choices they’ve made!

  8. Heidi
    April 5, 2012

    I had to have a giggle at the breeder pleaser title. Never heard of it before but find it amusing. I wonder then, what the opposite would be and if it would be oh-so-much-better to be a non-breeder pleaser! LOL! Me thinks not!

    People waste so much time on negative comments and emails to the cyber world I just wonder how much they could achieve if they put as much energy into something positive in their own lives……

    • olivia
      April 5, 2012

      I’m glad you got a giggle out of it Heidi – I did too! The label has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it :).

  9. sharon
    April 5, 2012

    I imagine hate as an entity. A small demon like creature existing only to divide
    and conquer us. It dissipates when offered love, acceptance or laughter.
    I am a breeder pleaser as well as an advocate for the child free lifestyle and
    believe the 2 best things we can do for the planet is
    a. use public transport
    b. keep our population down.
    I hadn’t heard of this term “breeder pleaser” before so I did some research into current name calling. Yes I am a breeder pleaser. As Quentin Crisp pointed out
    “children are not returnable” and my authentic self is very comfortable being
    encouraging to the people who are already here while advocating my own particular view point. Also gentle Ms Reader and fellow life travellers, there
    are those who seem to be only energised when venting their spleen.
    This is when the little hatey demon gets to laugh.
    Let us enjoy our own life and not be swayed by the opinions of fools or clever people either. It takes more than courage to follow one’s one heart it also takes
    a bit of encouragement. Being unkind about the choices people have made in a
    witty, clever big wordy sort of way is just unkindness with frills.

    • olivia
      April 5, 2012

      Sharon, thank you for all of your wise and peaceful insights. I hadn’t heard that quote attributed to Quentin Crisp before! And you’re so right about fools and clever people πŸ™‚

  10. Kaitlyn
    April 5, 2012

    I’m not offended. In a sense, people who have kids are ‘breeder pleasers’ in a different sense.

    • olivia
      April 5, 2012

      Definitely Kaitlyn – generally speaking, surely it’s a good thing to please people if we can!

  11. Onely
    April 5, 2012

    It sounds like some sort of sort of digital hookup for your TV or something. “If you want to hook your HDMI enabled TV to your VFI port you’re going to need the breeder pleaser cable 360.”

    It’s so frustrating not be able to reach through the monitor and throttle these people.

    Christina

    • olivia
      April 5, 2012

      Ha! It does, doesn’t it!!

      it is frustrating, but at the same time I’m very glad the angry ones can’t reach through and throttle me :).

  12. Lilly
    April 6, 2012

    Olivia, this is interesting, because I have always felt that it is wrong to judge parents. Let me say that yes, I can not help but judge SOME parents – but I don’t judge the entire institution of parenthood as being wrong. The “judging” I do is more like reactionary to the attitudes towards me…meaning that I’m not going to find someone who is a mother to be totally selfless and certainly not going to consider her a better person than me just because she had and is raising a kid. By the same token, I do think that good parents are to be respected in that they are raising decent human beings who will add to the world. I think that’s part of my frustration, too – if I had ever had the opportunity to be a mother, I know in my heart that I would have raised a decent human being who I would have instilled with morals and values. While it’s true that sometimes parents can’t control how their kids turn out, I know that at least some of what I would have taught, it would have stuck. Now I can just make sure to have that same positive influence on any child in my life.

    Oops, didn’t mean to go on…lol…

    • Heidi
      April 6, 2012

      Lily, I really like that concept that the judging you do is more like reactionary to the attitudes towards you. Very true! It’s hard not to react accordingly and come from the “other side” when faced with the well-meaning attitude of “oh, one day it’ll be time for you”, “yeah, sure, one day you’ll have kids”, “why don’t you already have kids?”, “when will YOU have kids?” and on and on it goes…..

      Nice words for thought – thank you! πŸ™‚

    • olivia
      April 6, 2012

      Lilly, like Heidi, I think that’s a really interesting distinction you’ve made in terms of reaction.

      I also personally like your point, ‘Now I can just make sure to have that same positive influence on any child in my life.’ I know this definitely isn’t a role that is of interest to every childless/childfree person, but like you, I really value these opportunities when they arise.

      Please feel free to ‘go on’ absolutely any time :)!

  13. tiffanylo
    April 12, 2012

    I visit another childfree blog that tends to be a touch on the “snarky” side, to put it politely. That is not to say that I do not agree with a good deal of what is written, but there is a better way of wording things at times. Not to mention, it should not be “us” against “them”, no matter which “side” one is on. I try to be as sensitive as I can to the issues/concerns of the parenting folks in my life, as there are many of them. I also ask for the same respect in return regarding my concerns, my time (I have a busy schedule, too!), and my choices (yes, I actually do feel fulfilled as a non-mom). I am sure we ALL judge at times–parnents and non-parents alike. We all question each other’s lives and life choices. “Is SHE as busy as I am?” or “Why isn’t she doing it ALL? I am!” or “I’m a superhero b/c I am a mother/non-mother!” I personally think that it’s not a competition, though women are made to feel this way more and more. Is it a societal pressure, are we doing it to ourselves, or are we doing it to each other? Okay, I rambled off course a bit there. πŸ˜‰

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