Thursday, May 24, 2007

Romney opposes gay marriage, quotes Maude Flanders

Won't someone PLEASE think of THE CHILDREN!?!

So, one of the Republican frontrunners is having trouble finding a happy middle regarding a touchy issue. Nope, it's not Rudy trying to talk out of both sides of his mouth on abortion. It's My Favorite Mormon talking about homosexuals.

"What you look for in a leader is someone who will welcome and treat with respect people who made different choices and have different beliefs in their lives and have differences. I have nothing but respect and feelings of tolerance for people with differences from myself and feel that way with regards to those who are gay," he said."
Wow, that's great. I know the first thing that happens to me when I meet someone different than myself is I just want to grab them and say "I'm so full of tolerance for you right now I can almost burst!"

Tolerance isn't really a good thing. I can't speak for the gay community, but I can tell you as a childfree person, I don't want to be "tolerated." I don't even really want to be "accepted," because that's kind of a p.c. code word for "I don't really accept you, but I have to say I do." I really want apathy in most cases. Unless it's a discussion where being childfree is relevant, I want it to be no more than trivia.

Honestly, I see acceptance as being more condescending than tolerance. Tolerance is really saying "I don't like the fact that you're gay, but I'll deal with it." Almost an admittance that being critical of someone for being gay is a personality flaw in and of itself. Acceptance is a little too close to "approval" for my liking. What's the opposite? "I'm sorry, Mr. Smith, I reject your being gay. Please feel free to apply again next year." But I digress.

He noted that one of his Cabinet members was gay and that he appointed gays to positions of responsibility in his administration.
That's just awesome. Basically, it's "Some of my closest friends are gay!"

Of course, there's a reason I'm posting this here, other than to pick on the former governor of the state in which I live during my exile...

He said he is opposed to gay marriage because it's not in the best interest of children.
And there it is.

So... if you're gay, and you want to get married, but don't want kids, you still can't get married, because gay marriage is bad for kids. Of course, I've yet to see any real evidence that kids growing up with gay or lesbian parents will end up any more screwed up than the rest of us. Or that marriage is no longer tied to child-rearing in any sense, since people (like myself) have gotten married without wanting to have kids, and plenty of kids are being raised by single parents.

Maybe it's the idea of gay marriage that will harm our nation's children? They'll never be able to sleep at night, what with the Boogie Man, the neighbor's big scary dog, and some gay guy halfway across the country getting inheritance rights to the house he's lived in for 30 years with his husband.

This does support the general rule of thumb, though... if someone says it's "for the children," odds are, it really ain't.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Clooney's Childfree House

George Clooney on Childfreedom
Do you think you'll ever have children?
I don't know why everyone wants me to become a father - I'm so selfish and I get nervous around kids and I know I'm not ready for that kind of life. I've settled into a very comfortable lifestyle and I really don't want to change things. I've learnt enough about myself to know that my work is the main thing which drives me and that a woman who comes into my life is going to have to deal with that, which isn't easy.
I don't know what is with me and all these celebrity posts - normally the US Weekly set bores the tears out of me. But the second someone famous starts spouting out childfree sayings I'm all ears. I certainly don't feel their views or choices are any more important - but they are more likely to be publicly scrutinized. Perhaps watching how the world reacts can help us see where we stand.

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Breeders v. Daters

Earlier this week, a 'journalist' posted a sanctimonious screed against the daters who dared 'glance' at his misbehaving kids in a restaurant. Although the National Post has restricted access to the original and its comments, it was apparently overrun with childfree people critical of the piece.

In response, he posted a follow up where, apparently, the fact that one environmentalist wants to restrict breeding settles the entire restaurant matter. Unfortunately, the comments for that article have been dominated by the Quiverfull set who insist that "Children are not the problem, they are the solution to saving our planet".

Fortunately, a 'future breeder' posted a blog entry pointing out that:
Having two baby seats in your car doesn't make you the authority on who gets to eat or do what, when and where.
. . .
The simple fact is this: You could have also been enjoying a quiet, romantic dinner with your woman — that's what babysitters are for. Instead, you chose to bring your kids with you. Why?

Because you want to show off.
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Childfreedom on the Rise in India

Mum’s not the word
First-time mother at 35 is a common statistic; delayed pregnancy is on the rise in metros. Women opting out of motherhood are clear-eyed and unapologetic. A high-velocity life of work, consumption and leisure would unwire a nine-month pregnancy. “Having children is not supported in 10-10 work structures,” says documentary filmmaker Safina Uberoi who works in between India and Australia. “This is systemic overseas but it’s increasingly happening in India as well. Having a child? You’re out of the ball game baby, see you in five years… So, it’s not that I chose not to have a child, but I chose to make a film.”
. . .
Partnership is the new deal. Without it, many women are saying they will not be burdened with motherhood. “If we have a child, Dhananjay knows he will have to pitch in with 50 per cent,” says Cairmuley. Not having a child is thus a continual social and political act, an act of subversion if you will. A woman who is taking time off for herself and doesn’t want to be a mother is something of a loose canon, a new class in urban India.
. . .
Rinku Jacob, a Hindu Brahmin, and her husband, Mac, a Syrian Christian, get plenty of advice from her aunts. ‘Have one child at least, otherwise people will talk.’ Or: ‘You are young right now and in love but in a few years you’ll need your child to be the bond between you and your husband.’ “I am 36 now and the bond is intact,” she says with a laugh.
. . .
There is of course no social encouragement for such stands. “No one has patted me on the back and said ‘whatta girl’,” says Parnal. Mothers are responsible for home and country, so goes the popular idea, admits Prasoon Joshi, executive chairman, McCann-Erickson. Motherhood, the age-old method by which society has exercised control, sells very many powders and soaps. The beauty of the baby and the joy of parenthood, are woven into a theme of exclusive dependence from which no man, and certainly no woman, must break free.
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Friday, May 18, 2007

Old Article On Parenting and Depression

Having children 'is bad for your mental health'
If you thought that the joys of watching your young ones grow up was one of life's simple pleasures, think again. Parenthood is actually bad for your mental health, according to the latest research.

George Clooney, the actor who famously vowed never to have children, seems destined to live a happier life than many of his Hollywood peers, according to a new report which found that parents suffer greater depression than people without children.
. . .
The results, which found parents experience "significantly higher levels of depression than non-parents", will please the likes of Clooney, who once bet his friends £10,000 he would remain childless because "it is such a great responsibility and there isn't anything in me that wants to replicate".
. . .
"What is most striking about these findings is that there is no type of parent that reports less depression than a non-parent," she said.
. . .
Ricky Gervais, the actor and writer, and his partner of 22 years, Jane Fallon, are one couple who are happy without children. "Selfishly, I couldn't face the three years of changing nappies and never going out - it was a conscious decision," he said. The actress, Dame Helen Mirren and husband, Taylor Hackford, an American film director, have never had children, despite more than 20 years of marriage. "I was never drawn to babies," she said. "I have never had any sense of loss about not having children, even though I could easily have had them."
I'm not quite sure why this article was peppered with celebrity references, but I thought I would take advantage of the fact that it was and post a link to the new celebrity portion of the childfree wiki.
But Clem Henricson, the director of research and policy at the National Family and Parenting Institute, a charity that provides support to parents, said that the study ignored the "host of positives" of parenting.

"While the arrival of a child produces a new dimension of responsibility, there is an obvious sense of pleasure and fulfilment that accompanies parenthood," she said. "Most parents would agree that bringing up the next generation is an enriching experience."

A spokesman for Parentline Plus, an independent support group for parents, said: "It is wrong to assume that having a child equals depression. While parents may have concerns about how good a job they are doing, most are parents because they enjoy it."
No, most parents are parents because they thought they would enjoy it. That decision is made prospectively, and irreversibly.

The researchers here were not "assuming" that having a child equals depression, they were conducting a study showing an increased likelihood. The other side is not finding flaw in the methodology, or conducting their own study - what exactly are they trying to accomplish by using the "is not" school of argument?

If they are trying to argue that having higher depression levels is still 'worth it' than say that. But that isn't really disputing the point of the study in any case. The study did not "ignore the host of positives", it focused on a discreet element of the human condition and studied it. I suppose that Mr. Henricson wouldn't be happy until science and academia takes a constant and unyielding backseat to the rhetoric of parenthood that has gripped the western world.

This article pre-dates the blog, but I thought it was worth posting.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Video and News Blitz: More on Gillard.

Video

The recent post regarding political attacks on a childfree politician have by no means blown over, with a flurry of additional stories on the matter.

Australian comments on women draw furor

Bill Heffernan weathered criticism from across the political spectrum for a second day after he criticized Julia Gillard, a lawmaker from the opposition Labor Party, over her decision not to have children.
Some have even called for Oz's Prime Minister, who denounced the comments, to fire Heffernan.

One politician stated that
"The more educated and the more professional and the more you earn in Australia, the less likely you are to have children," Goward told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. "It's an unacceptable dilemma for Australian women."
Which is nearly as offensive, if you ask me. It not only assumes that every woman must yearn for mommyhood, it also assumes that we are unable to set priorities and make choices about them.

Hefferman had originally refused to back down, but has apologised admitting they were "completely inappropriate" in the wake of the outcry. The BBC is still taking comments.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

More Americans aren’t having children, and many worry about elder care

Aging without children — who provides care?
In 1984, the percent of childless women aged 40 to 44 was 11.1 percent. Twenty years later, it's risen to 19.3 percent, and it's still going up.

"And that's going to have a tremendous impact and going to be an entirely different situation than the situation our parents faced when they got older," Rother says.

Experts say plan ahead, stay healthy, check your finances (and start saving now) and find community resources before you need them.

The article is brief and unhelpful. Was it meant to scare us? Otherwise, what's the point?

For actually helpful information, please see this. It might also help to know that a University of Florida study debunked the myth that childlessness leads to loneliness in old age over three years ago.

There were several things wrong with that myth in the first place. First, having children to take care of you in old age is a hideously selfish reason to procreate. If you don't otherwise want to have children, it basically means 20+ years of unhappiness - during the prime of your life - in order to buy some unreliable insurance against the sunset years. It is not fair to children to have parents who don't truly want them. How would you feel if you knew your own parents had you for that reason?

Secondly, it just doesn't work that way. There are plenty of lonely people in nursing homes who do have children. There are plenty of people who are self-sufficient until their last days. Lastly, being childfree opens up other options. We may not all be rich, but we have $500k-1M more than we would if we had children. And we have no heirs. It is possible that money can buy high-quality nursing care, life in a high-end retirement complex or nursing home, or a bunch of nieces and nephews eager to be your favorite.

I still don't understand what this article was supposed to tell us. They're telling us that this will increasingly be a problem, an over-obvious conclusion from the frequently-cited statistics of increasing childlessness. Yet doesn't an article usually have some sort of a conclusion? Their failure to turn up what took me a few minutes to find leaves us with two options. Either the article was meant to be alarmist, or was meant to inform us just how poor the research skills of the journalist are.

One last thought: I hate it when people tell me "My kids will be taking care of you when you get old." Really? Then I suppose I'll be paying their salary. You're welcome.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"Salary Wizard" Gives Moms With Bad Logic/Math Skills Warm Fuzzies.


Mom's 2007 salary: $138K


"Typical" Stay-at-Home Mom
hours per week
Housekeeper 22.1
Day Care Center Teacher 15.7
Cook 13.6
Computer Operator I 9.1
Laundry Machine Operator 6.7
Janitor 6.3
Facilities Manager 5.8
Chief Executive Officer 4.2
Van Driver 4.2
Psychologist 3.9

Where do I begin? The Salary Wizard posted on Salary.com is meant as a joke right? There are so many logical fallacies embedded in it, I don't know where to begin.

First of all, the salary it concludes is based largely on 'overtime pay'. But many of the salaried jobs incorporated into the calculus do not pay overtime. CEOs do not get overtime.

Secondly, it equates many tasks of mothering to positions which much higher training and education requirements than mothers have. Psychologist? CEO? Cook?

Third, a lot of these tasks are therefore qualitatively more difficult. The tasks these professionals perform may be loosely related in nature to some household tasks, but they are not the equivalent. Managing a company is much more intense, stressful, and complicated than managing a household.

Fourth, the tasks are quantitatively different. Day Care Teachers are being paid to watch dozens of kids, Laundry Machine Operators are constantly turning over loads, and cooks have to churn out hundreds of meals per hour. Doing these tasks for just a few people is less intense, and usually permits breaks. If these moms are just standing there and watching the pasta boil / laundry spin, they have issues.

Fifth, it incorporates many self-care tasks that everyone does. We are all 'housekeepers' when we clean up after ourselves, we are all 'cooks' when we prepare our own meals. We all have to 'manage' out homes. These tasks may be much more difficult and time intensive with children, but unless you are only looking at the difference, the test is dishonest.

Sixth, some of these tasks are redundant. Housekeeper/Janitor? CEO/Facilities manager? How is someone supposed to know when you're doing one or the other?

Seventh: Computer Operator? What the hell? Are they really equating surfing Mommy blogs to what a computer operator does? What does a computer operator do?

Of course, it is always subject to the flaw that moms will overestimate the amount of time they put in. They will count the time they read a magazine while their kids watches the Wiggles as day care, or unconsciously up the numbers all around. Of course, that is not unique to moms, or this online calculator? Who hasn't underestimated the amount of time they drive to have a smaller ecological footprint, upped the hours they exercise in the RealAge test?

Ultimately, you could view this one of two ways. It could just be a cute way for kids to say thanks to their mothers. It could be a way for mothers to feel a little less put out by a society full of working women.

But it could be a bit more dangerous than that. It could be a sign of the raging pronatalism which attempts to paint motherhood as a selfless, sainted act instead of a personal choice which brings enjoyment and most of the time has some ancillary benefit to society. It could be just another Public relations ploy in the move to get society to open up their wallets more and more to subsidize this choice.

I hope it is the former.

I welcome comments here; there is also a discussion going on at Boston.com.

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Australian senator calls female politician "deliberately barren" and therefore unfit to govern.

Australian outcry over women jibe
An Australian senator has caused a storm of protest for describing a female politician as "deliberately barren" and therefore unfit to govern.

Bill Heffernan said Labor Party deputy leader Julia Gillard did not understand the public because she had no children.

He has since apologised for the "inappropriate" comments, first made last year but repeated again this week.
. . .
"The question of whether people have children, whether they marry and have children, is entirely a matter for them and I do not think it should be a matter of public comment," [Prime Minister] Howard told reporters.

Mr Heffernan first questioned Ms Gillard's childlessness last year, when he queried whether the deputy Labor leader could fully understand her voters because she did not have her own family.
. . .
"One of the great understandings in a community is family and the relationship between mum, dad and a bucket of nappies," he added.
1. We don't have families? That will be news to my parents, my husband, my brother, and the close friends I call family.

2. At least it is controversial. The Prime Minister derided him, he had to apologize, and the public was outraged.

3. Does a politician become most qualified by living through every significant faction of society? Unions and manual labor are important. Are politicians who have never had a blue collar job unqualified? Are those under 65 fit to make social security decisions? And if they do make you a better politician, can that make up for the fact that it leaves you less time to govern?

yeesh.

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The S Word. (No, not said in Sean Connery accent)

Big Question: Childfree or Childless?
It's the "selfish" argument that always puzzles me the most. Let's be honest here: why do most people have children? Why, because they want them, of course – and you could call that "selfish". In the nicest possible way. I don't know about you, but I don't hear a whole lot of people saying, "You know, I have no maternal feelings whatsoever, but gosh, I better pop out a few kids to, you know, do my duty to the world." Do you? Where are these people? What kind of crack are they smoking?

The other thing that puzzles me about people's reaction to my childfree status is their desperation to challenge my decision, and, ultimately, to tell me how very wrong I am. It would never occur to me to greet the news of someone's pregnancy, for instance, with the words, "Oh God, you will so regret that one. Once you have it, you'll change your mind." That would be rude and presumptuous. Often, though, when people find out that I have no children, their first question is "Why not?" and their second usually involves heavy rotation of the words "selfish", "regret" and "unnatural". (My response, on the other hand, normally makes use of the phrases "nosey", "judgemental", "pot", "kettle" and "black". "Oh, you had children so they could support you in your old age?" I'll say, smiling. "How very selfless of you!")
This made me think. It is impossible to be a good parent for selfless reasons. Either you really like kids and enjoy them, so it makes you happy, or you don't and you wouldn't be a good parent. A bit of a Catch 22. Meanwhile it is possible to be a great childfree person even if you do like kids. A Ha!

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