Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ass-ump-tions

It is amazing the assumptions and leaps of logic people make when they read these three simple words “child-free zone”.

I must confess that this phrase was born to be cheeky, thought provoking and perhaps even a little bit confronting but it rarely means what a lot of people assume it means.
What I didn’t realise was how much baggage people bring to a subject. Some of it is passion, some of it is fear and some of it is downright ignorance.

One of the funniest responses I received when child-free zone first entered the public arena was to the logo. I person I was working with at the time looked at it and asked in all seriousness “why does that baby have blood all over it?”
CFZ Logo, where's the blood?
Wow! I had to walk away. I couldn’t think of how to continue having a rational conversation with this person. Sure, part of our logo is red, but blood? Really? Something scary was going on in that person’s brain for sure.

One particularly venomous reaction we get that never fails to amuse me goes something like this “I’m glad you (horrible) people aren’t having kids. Imagine what terrible parents you’d be”. Yeah, well, you won’t raise my ire by agreeing with me ;-)
Do you think anyone will get this joke?
Another reaction, that perplexes me to this day, is “don’t you think that is a bit racist?” Of course there’s no racist connection whatsoever to the “child-free zone” words, topic or anything but yet, somehow, someone’s mind has made it.

Of course the subject itself is very broad and quite complex. You may be wondering why I’ve decided that these three words are the cause of these reactions.

Well, the reason is simple; most people who have these types of reactions have clearly not got past those three words before they go off. Rather than read a bit further or ask us a question they’ve decided, based on those three words, how they are going to react and that is that!

Only last week I had a person respond to my BLOG with the phrase “Your baby hating blog it (sic) just not cool”.

Now, Child-Free Zone always has and always will be about a person’s right to make an informed, appropriate and personal choice about reproduction. It provides the information for the other side of the choice, information which has been traditionally hard to find.

At no point does our web site proclaim or encourage the “hating of babies”. Sure, some people do feel that strongly about the subject and some people do indeed “hate babies”. But that is very clearly NOT what our web site is about. You just have to read beyond the title to discover this.

Wow, if they didn't get the last one, how will this one go down?It is public knowledge that I have no interest in babies. I don’t want one, I don’t want to be around them and I don’t find them interesting but I don’t just “hate them” because they are babies. Our web site, and well, me in particular, will bag adults for making stupid reproductive choices but it won’t “hate babies”. There’s no point, they can’t fix the problem. They’re the product not the cause.

I’m not the argumentative type. But when someone labels me incorrectly you won’t keep me quiet. It is not that I care about their opinion. It is that I care about their ignorance spreading to those I do care about.

ThinkI guess what this is all about is our reaction to unpalatable information. We’ll all encounter it at some time of another. It is us who choose to label it as unpalatable. It is also us who choose when to label it as unpalatable.

It is a tough ask, when our communications channels are catering to our ever shortening attention spans, but please read or listen beyond “the first three words” before you make your judgement on any subject.

I promise to do the same.

6 comments:

  1. I just happened to stumble across your blog and agree completely with this post. If the subject of having children comes up in conversation I usually end up having to defend my choice, which is exactly what you have done in this post (probably for the 10,000th time in your life...). I look forward to reading your blog in the future.

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  2. Ahhhh, some sanity in a world that suffers from a severe lack of it. I have been questioning on a newspaper forum the need for all taxpayers to contribute towards child tax credit, maternity pay etc. since having children is a choice and it's one that some of us will never make (so why should we pay for it). My argument is that this money should go to people who are genuinely in need (including families with children) rather than indiscriminately givnig it to people to reward them for having children. My argument is also that since the world is overpopulated, anything which helps get the birth rate back to a sustainable level is a good thing and financial discincentives will do this (money being everything to some people) and so the children that currently exist AND future generations can have a better life.

    Apparently I'm selfish!!!!!!! I fail to see which bit of my argument gives any benefit to me, so I fail to see how it can be selfish. But the minute the issue of people choosing to not have children is raised the irrational mob of mothers get their backs up and start talking utter drivel. WHY does it offend them that I don't want children? Seriously, why? I can only conclude that they are not happy with their own choice if they are so offended by someone else making a different choice. Insane, totally insane.

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  3. Hi Mel,
    Yes. My wife and I started this public journey with the idea of "writing a pamphlet" we could give to people to explain our position and perhaps put an end to the misinformed queries.

    Sadly, one book and hundreds of interviews later all we have done is bring more questions out of the woodwork.

    Some are new and interesting, most, as you point out, are the same old things over and over.

    Stay tuned. It will be a fun ride and thanks for sharing.

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  4. Hi Marionette,
    You raise a great point and I too have been astounded by the failure of logic on this front.

    The child-free and singles are the most heavily taxed yet least benefited of the population i.e. we are funding mroe than our far share.

    Yet, there seems to be a fundamental drive to wipe us out (i.e. everyone must have a baby, growth, GROWTH!!) without regard to where the money will come from when we are gone.

    If the people who wish to reproduce were smart, they'd be encouraging more people to be childfree so they could get more money for their offspring (not that I condone that as a stance - there are better targets for the money as you point out).

    You may have seen in various posts of mine comments like "it will be your kids living in the future you make, not mine - I don't have any".

    It is a confronting way of pointing out that, even though I am fighting for the future of the planet, it will benefit me in no way directly...yet still we get attacked and insulted.

    Go figure. All I know is that I can't change it by force. All I can do is put the information out there and hope that some indpendent thought evaluates it in a rational way and makes the thinker want to change.

    Thanks again, stay tuned :-)

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  5. I, too, just stumbled across your blog. I wholeheartedly agree that we have been overtaxed for too long. It seems to me the whole tax system is backward--in a normal business, wouldn't you pay more if you used more services? So being childfree, should I not pay less into the system? Confounds all logic.

    I look forward to your future posts.

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  6. Hi Anita,
    My take on taxation is that it is roughly designed to even out the bumps.
    In reality, no-one is ever likely to get out of it exactly what they put in.
    If they did, or more accurately, if we all did, then there'd be no point to taxing and redistribution of wealth (personally I wouldn't mind that either).
    I am fine with that model.
    My problem with the way it is working in reality is that on one hand we, the people without kids, are being marginalised, categorised, slandered and abused for our decision and then expected to open our pockets to the very same people who are abusing us.
    Sorry, no.
    If you call me names you don't get my money!

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David