Monday, June 21, 2010

The Child Bigotry Double Standard

So Pleb A is standing there at work, chatting to Pleb B. Pleb B pulls out their phone and says:

"Hey Pleb A, I want to show you a pic of me hanging out with my bandmate, here's us with guitars grinning at the camera."

Pleb A looks then pulls away quickly.

"I'm not into black people. Nothing personal, I don't have anything against them, and yours is an ok one I'm sure, but I just don't like them myself, prefer not to see pictures of them."

So the other day a workmate I really get along well with does precisely this, but in respect of a picture of my kids. I don't send these things around every other day, it was in fact the first time in several weeks of working together that I waved such an image in her general direction. (acknowledging that there can be overkill in this department, and that sometimes the kid-waving thing can be insensitive...)

I just don't get the 'thing' about not liking kids. Different to not liking some, particularly badly behaved kids, or even not liking kids in cafes or some other more particular circumstance. This is just the whole 'I don't like kids at all' thing. Even when I was younger, in my 20s, dating and drinking and whatnot, I didn't have, or get, this particular dislike.

Each to their own I guess, and I do have a couple of friends who fit this description but are civil and tolerant. That's a fair enough compromise, we can be mates and not take the matter further.

But I really struggle with the situation where someone treats even a glimpse of a photo as if they're being asked to put fire ants up their nostrils.

Bearing in mind I'm psychotically protective of my kids, and view them as an absolutely indistinguishable part of who I am, it throws up a bit of a barrier to a better friendship.


Ann ODyne said...

uh oh. My immediate thought is that The Reluctant Viewer wants a child she cannot have.
I cannot bear to see small fluffy dogs since mine was murdered. I cross the street, change channels, do anything to avoid the pain.

OTOH she was slightly ill-mannered toward you and that could have been handled better.
At work it is best to know the least possible about colleagues.
peace and love from me

lucytartan said...

I agree with Ann, there's most likely something going on there which isn't your business that makes it hard for her to casually look at pictures of happy families, and maybe yours was just one too many that week. It would be best not to do it in a way that offended you, though, but take my word for it some days good manners are very difficult to put into practice.

Armagny said...

Maybe. In some cases I could see this. This is the sensitivity I referred to above. But in this particular case, I have pretty strong reasons for thinking this isn't so (if you saw the very young woman in question in action during the discussion, you'd see what I meant).

I guess manners are hard, and I do acknowledge there can be reasons behind it. Reasons many people with kids (or pushy relatives or the like) are sometimes VERY insensitive to as well.

But going back to my analogy, people don't always exhibit bigotry of other types just to be gratuitous.

More importantly, at the heart of all the anti-child bigotry, in the cafes, everywhere, is the failure to treat them as equal human beings. Whatever the reason, if someone dismisses my children like a couple of unfashionable hats, then I think that's inexcusable.

iODyne said...

ah ... 'very young' pleb, then yes, ill-mannered. will never earn more than $30k p.a. stuff her.
Poor thing probably had dreadful parenting and no gorgeous pics of her were ever proudly shown.
Wondering how she slipped through the HR process at your office. No 'team-player' indicators at interview time.
peace and love to all in your cave

Armagny said...

"Poor thing probably had dreadful parenting and no gorgeous pics of her were ever proudly shown"

That's quite insightful stax. She did have a pretty hard time on that front.

There's a lot of nuance to think about in these situations.

She's a nice person otherwise so I'm not letting it dominate our relationship. It's just a bit odd, a bit rude, and indicative of that exception to normal interpersonal respect that seems to attach to babies...

iODyne said...

I know the pain of coming home from the labour ward without the baby, so I'm thinking this girl who transferred some of her LifePain to you ... may have just had a termination she wished she did not have to have? we are constantly told this happens 100,000 times each year.
it's a possible.
I am so sorry your attempt at friendliness has stung. make sure though, that you 'get back on the horse'.

Helen said...

I used to read a blog regularly by a woman who was having round after round of IVF and sights like your babies' photos were scarifying to her, utterly scarifying. A person who had had a stillbirth, cot death or pregnancy loss might also react similarly.

I think this is one of the instances where you really have to give her the benefit of the doubt, this is a real thing in the world and people keep these events so secret.

blue milk said...

I agree with Helen's point but sheesh, tactless none the less.