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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Consumerist Mentality

Another interesting story from Rendueles’ book. A group of progressive activists was trying to decide on a meeting time for the group:

“There were quite a few parents of young children among the members, who suggested that ten in the morning might be a good time. The younger members without children protested, horrified: They went out on Friday nights, and there was no way they were getting up that early the next day. They thought much better to meet at eight in the evening. The parents responded that at that time they were busy with baths, dinner, and story time. What surprised me was that the young members without children seemed to view caring for a child as just another lifestyle, one undeserving of any special consideration. Some people like going out and getting drunk on Friday nights; others prefer having children. You choose between beer and changing diapers the way you choose between MasterCard and Visa. End of story.”

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10 thoughts on “Consumerist Mentality

  1. ” caring for a child as just another lifestyle”

    That’s one of the ways neoliberalism causes sterility – raising children is turned into just another consumer choice (an expensive, inconvenient that only the most well off or most foolhardy will engage in).

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    • Absolutely. This is what Bauman said, too. Children become commodities that are expected to produce enjoyment in return for the money and effort invested into them.

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    • How would you define a correct view of children? I think they are usually viewed either as a consumer choice or as a(n almost) requirement to reproduce for God / country / society / family.

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      • A deep-seated need to give, connect, care, love and do something outside pleasuring the self. Christians call it “dying to yourself.” That’s not only children, of course, but also marriage, deep friendship, relationships with relatives.

        Of course, one needs a healthy, complete self in order to stop fixating on the self and accept the possibility of stepping over the self in some contexts. This is why people with a narcissistic wound are severely traumatized by parenthood. It makes their condition worse because it’s already a wounded self that is receiving extra pressure. Like a person with a broken leg who suffers great damage after running or walking a mile. And a healthy person would be OK and even enjoy it.

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  2. I have gotten into trouble numerous times online over the issue of kids, where some people (not all, but definitely a small and obnoxious minority) who refer to themselves as childfree (even the term tells you what’s up) rally against any special privileges for parents (e.g., parental leave, not requiring work meetings after 5 pm) because having kids is a lifestyle choice and if my choice to have kids is rewarded with these perks, then they want the equivalent perks for their lifestyle choices. At one point someone compared having a kid to owning luxury cars, because they are both expensive hobbies. What do you say to such a person?

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    • These are damaged people with very severe psychological traumas. It’s useless to argue because any argument will touch upon their trauma and will only make them angry and aggressive. I feel compassion but I also stay away from them because I’m not a mental health specialist and I can’t cure them.

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    • “a small and obnoxious minority) who refer to themselves as childfree”

      I’ve never really wanted kids (and choices I’ve made closed that door pretty firmly) but lordy bejordy on a mcfordy I cannot stand the “childfree” idiots (the same way that although I’m incapable of religious faith I cannot stand most smug atheists and like moderately religious people much more).

      I am totally fine with giving parents (esp young working ones) all manner of perks and consideration (and bearing some discomfort to do so) because raising kids is really hard work (when done right) and children are more needed than a little more comfort for self-righteous self-absorbed idiots.

      “What do you say to such a person?”

      I agree with Clarissa, there is nothing you can say to such people that is safe (psychogologically and in extreme cases – physically).

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      • Child free (as opposed to childless) people are weird because it’s bizzare to make a militant identity over something you don’t have. They seem so aggrieved and petulant all the time when there are zero obstacles to them doing what they want. They feel oppressed by people who don’t notice their existence.

        Creepy.

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    • Shakti on said:

      I’ve noticed “childfree” comes with a heavy dose of misogyny. Who usually can’t deal with work meetings after 5? Who usually takes parental leave? Which parents are usually the subject of childfree rants?

      The very idea that you might be significantly responsible for anyone small, old or vulnerable is considered a “lifestyle choice.” Who usually takes care of sick, elderly, young or disabled relatives? I have to say a lot of coworkers and bosses consider that a “lifestyle choice” too.

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