Mommy wars and children’s rights

via Kittywampus

This is an excellent commentary on the latest cat fight to erupt in the feminist blogosphere, prompted by guestblogger Mai’a at Feministe

Mai’a writes:

“you do not have a right to child free spaces.

there is this weird thing in western culture, especially n american culture, where people/adults seem to believe that they have a right to discriminate against children.
recently, i was hanging out at a bar, when a friend called and invited me to come hang out for a few drinks and chill time as the sun came up. cool. then, i heard a bit of whispers in the background and the question posed to me: is aza with you?
ummm…what? why? does that matter? . .

im not a feminist ( yeah, i said it…shrug). but i dont understand people who claim to be feminist on one hand, and on the other hand think that children should be designated to certain public and private spaces, not mixing in ‘normal’ public areas, such as restaurants, stores, airplanes, etc. cause in us culture, when you create little reservations for children, you are really creating little reservations for mothers. it is the mother who will be sent away to take care of the child. and how is that supporting all women and girls?”

I’ll set aside for a moment the irony of someone who says she’s not a feminist being invited to guest post at a blog called “Feministe” and get to the heart of the matter: this woman seems to have a rather narrow vision of children’s rights. As someone who works in childhood/youth studies I acknowledge that children deserve the same human rights as adults (e.g. free speech, due process, bodily autonomy), but their rights also include being cared for in a manner appropriate for their developmental stage.   At the risk of sounding anti-Mom (I’m one of those “selfish” childfree women after all), bringing your child to a bar and keeping her up to the wee hours while you drink the night away is, as both Kittywampus and Karmithia at Alas sagely pointed out just plain irresponsible.

On the other hand, I cringe at the anti-child and anti-mommy snark in the comments on this post at Jezebel.  Can’t we all just get along?  I don’t mind if you and a few of your mommy friends bring your little ones along to the pub for a early evening cocktail, as long you make sure the little darlings don’t wreck havoc on the waitstaff and the other patrons.

So, back to question of  why this “not a feminist” post is on a feminist blog — well, here’s the conspiracy theory I offered at Kittywampus’ blog:

” It makes me wonder whether there is a male chauvinist puppet-master behind these blogs who likes to create and then watch cat fights!”

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2 Comments

  1. Yeah, I agree with your assessment of Mai’a’s “narrow vision” – and I think it’s important to hear from people who have other forms of expertise on childhood than parenthood. It is not anti-mom to say that some things are just generally not good for kids. That said, I’ve also kept my kids up late this summer more times than were completely responsible. We had World Cup games to watch, after all, and once we landed in Germany, those evening games tended to go past my younger son’s bedtime. We generally watched late games at home, but even then, we didn’t enforce a strict bedtime – to everyone’s detriment the next day.

    As for the conspiracy … well, for millennia women have helped prop up male privilege, and feminists aren’t outside the existing power structures. I’m sure Foucault would have a field day analyzing how our purported “resistance” so quickly slips into support for the existing order.

  2. You know where else children aren’t invited? Strip clubs. IT’S DISCRIMINATION, I TELL YOU. Oh, wait, exposing children to that is actually called “sexual abuse.” My bad. They’re children, not adults. Adults choose where they want to go and have some concept to what they’re going to be exposed. Children expect to be nurtured by their parents. They expect their parents to create a safe environment from which they can grow into healthy adults, themselves. Taking them to a bar in the middle of the night so they can potentially watch people deal with their problems in unhealthy ways is negligence.

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