The following log is not to say that all childfree advocates hate children and parents. What it is to say is that those that do espouse this sort of hate -- yet feebly claim that they don't -- appear to be the ones most visible on the Internet, and that is a serious problem.


I became upset yesterday while reading the childfree, breeder, Breeder Bingo, etc. nodes. I became upset because they seemed like such petulant, desperate attempts to try and convince people that they didn't actually hate children, no, in actuality the focus of their hatred was what they referred to as "BNPs", or "breeders, not parents." The description was made that "breeder" actually referred to people who had children but were bad parents, and that good parents were actually okay. That's funny; shouldn't they be called "badparentfree" in that case?

I understand that not every person describing his or herself as "childfree" is awful or cruel. Yet it is hard to maintain that attitude when "mainstream" childfree websites revel in things like "Breeder Bingo." I particularly love the definition at http://www.happilychildfree.com/lingo.htm:

Breeder Bingo: Someone a few years ago made up a bingo card of stupid things breeders say to us, and when you get enough stupid sayings, you get a bingo! Now it just refers to any of the many, many stupid sayings breeders say to us. NOTE: Just because someone says these things doesn't always mean they are a "breeder". Sometimes they just don't understand. But it's still called "Breeder" Bingo in many cases to distinguish from regular Bingo.

So, hey, good news -- even though I might say something on that Bingo card, it doesn't mean I'm really a "breeder," just that I said something "stupid." Oh, really? Gee, thanks! I'm glad it's not some sort of way to stereotype and dehumanize an entire segment of the population, like "Homo Bingo" or "Spic Bingo" or something. That would be cruel. (By the way, just because someone says those things on the "Homo Bingo" card doesn't mean they're a "homo". Sometimes they just happen to sound effeminate enough to laugh at. But it's still called "Homo" Bingo in many cases to distinguish from regular Bingo.)

Yeah, sure, I see absolutely nothing wrong or insulting about that. "Don't worry! I'm not calling you a breeder. I'm only saying that you sound just like one! It's totally different!"

Read the other definitions on that page. Many are shockingly cruel. They devalue those people who really do want to put the time and effort into raising children, and raising them properly. They claim over and over to only be against the "bad parents," and yet have terms like "kindercrap" and "breedermobile" -- which many parents, even the good ones, have no choice but to deal with. Tell me that isn't hostile. (Also note that out of eighty-three definitions on that page, seventy-one are derogatory. Quite a rich lexicon of hate they've got going there!) Actually dreaming up a term like "lil' sizzler" to refer to a defenseless child killed because an unfit parent accidentally left them in a hot car belies all the "only against bad parents" bullshit they claim. A phrase like that is born out of hatred for all children; but by all means, somebody please try to justify ever saying something like that.

This is the main problem I see here: if the majority of childfree individuals honestly just choose not to have or associate with children, that's fine, but realize that your image is being co-opted by a vocal minority that thinks it's perfectly pleasant and acceptable to use terms like "bovine," "fuck trophy," and "placenta brain" to describe human beings. Think about how this makes the community as a whole look.

I'm aware of that the parents' side of the fence is just as ugly. There are a ton of unfit parents out there. You get the one side of the spectrum where the kids end up complete and utter spoiled brats. You get the other side where the kids are tortured and beaten. The former just pisses me off, because those kids will grow up to be totally self-centered assholes; the latter makes me think that there are some instances where torturing adults might be justified.

But despite claims to the contrary, many of these vocal childfree advocates don't appear to be railing against folks that spoil their kids. Hell, often it's the opposite: take a temper tantrum, for instance. A two or three-year-old has a tantrum in a store because he can't buy something he wants. (This will happen regardless of how great the parent is. This is what children do, because they are still learning how to control their emotions.) The quick solution to shutting the kid up would be to give him what he wants. The responsible solution is to ignore his screaming and teach him that whining and crying will not get him everything he ever wants in life. Yet that's the solution that will almost always get us dirty looks and bile-spewing rants after the fact on blogs.

I guess what really pisses me off, more than anything else, is that this hatred breeds counter-hatred in me. Parents (all parents) say those "Breeder Bingo" things to childfree people as a defense against the hateful shit being spewed from their mouths. What the hell do they expect? They come up with an entire lexicon of dehumanizing, degrading terms for children and parents, and what, they expect us to react with laughter? It makes me want to sit down and create a perfect "Happy Antichildfree" parody website. It makes me want to construct "Childhater Bingo". It makes me want to invent as many horrible, insulting, degrading, dehumanizing terms for child- and parent-haters as possible, just to fuel the fire. Just to hurt them as much as they want to hurt others. Hail Schaedenfreude.

Hell, it's made me write this rant for the past forty-five minutes when I'm supposed to be working.

But I remind myself that this is just giving in. The core of inciting hatred is to create language that turns the enemy into something less than a human being. It is why WWII posters branded all Japanese as buck-toothed, yellow demons. It is why the KKK brands all colored people as hulking gorillas. It is why Focus on the Family brands all homosexuals as ravenous, sex-crazed pedophiles. And it is why some in childfree community brands all parents as brainless cattle. No, not all of them, but enough that this is the impression I get, and it's just as wrong of me to see all childfree advocates as child-hating freaks as it is for some of them to see me as a moron raising a monster.

Good parents -- and moderate, non-hateful childfree advocates -- out there need to fight against this sort of hate propaganda. We are trying to teach our children right and wrong. We are trying to educate them well, to be polite, and to know how to behave around others. And we really do care about not upsetting those who choose not to have children, and want to work to find compromises that are acceptable to all parties. There are times each of us will be annoyed, and each of us will be annoying, and what both sides need is to have patience, tolerance, and understanding of each others' needs.

The Smashing Pumpkins are coming to town! Tomorrow! And I'm gonna go see them! Woohoo!

This is really exciting for me. Although I was just the right age to enjoy them in their heyday, for I too am a teen of the early 90's, for some reason I didn't really get into them until I was in my early 20's and they were already on a decline. What can I say, I was a dorky teen, and I guess I'm still a dorky adult.

The Smashing Pumpkins were (I'll justify this past tense in a second) very clearly a teen angst band. Their lyrics are essentially bad teen poetry put to music. Billy Corgan has a very narrow voice spectrum and his jarring voice is quite an acquired taste. So what's to like about them? Well, partly is that they're from my generation, the 90's teens, and part of it is that their angsty nonsensical lyrics still make sense on some metalinguistic level. The emotions are very clearly conveyed through the music and the scattered lyrics. Who would deny that Tonight, Tonight is a soulful piece, or that Zero isn't some form of twist sick love, both from Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness? Their sound got heavier towards almost their last album before breakup, MACHINA: The Machines of God, and in a way, a bit more mature. Supposedly MACHINA has a story inside it, being a concept album, but if I hadn't read online about the supposed story in it, I would have never discovered it.

Their newest album, Zeitgeist, is still an angsty album, but this time it is more adult-like, the angst is political, and it targets objects a bit more relevant than the petty concerns of adolescence. Still, listening to it, it sounds almost like classic SP. It really is them. Well, it really is him, Billy Corgan. He pretty much was the core of the band all along, and even if right now it's only him and Jimmy Chamberlain, it's still them, it's still SP. Pity that James Iha and D'Arcy Wretsky aren't with the band anymore, for they did add their touch (Iha's scant few tracks and lyrics in previous SP collections are amongst my favourites).

Pity for me that tomorrow will be the first time I'll see SP perform, because I came in late to the game. I started to care about the band just as they were breaking up, so I never got to see them while the four of them were together. Still, this is almost just as cool, and I expect to see a good metalhead crowd in that mosh pit, and I expect to be thrown around and rocked to their music, and proceed on living the late adolescence I seem to be perpetually stuck in.

It's an all day music festival, with about twelve or so other bands performing. The other big names are The Mars Volta, which seem to be a taste I haven't acquired yet, and My Chemical Romance which seems fun. There are other Latin American bands playing, like the intentionally shallow and dumb-but-fun Mexicans Belanova and Argentines Miranda!, others like La Gusana Ciega (probaly famous for their Tornasol single).

A few things about the festival seem less than optimal, such as the fact that they won't let me bring my own water and will probably sell me their overpriced beverages inside. Well, that kind of greedy behaviour is what you get when Coca Cola is the sponsoring organisation.

But SP ♥! Tomorrow! Woohoo!

In life, true wealth is better measured by the quantity and quality of relationships one maintains. I have never found true love, but I have many deep and rewarding friendships. And in that I have received a couple of truly rare compliments. Lucy-S chose to mention me in the dedication of her book Sparks and Shadows. The second came when my friend, professional artist Mark Martel chose to paint my portrait and then hang it on the wall of his home.

I didn't ask Mark to do this, he just did it. And then sent me the file. A small version of which is now visible on my homenode. I doubt if I'll ever be able to truly thank him, but I can say that the best thing in the world is to have friends like Mark.

In Xi'an*.

I decided that at some point on this trip, I wanted to get a Chinese-language copy of Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo Yanyi). I finally got a chance to track down a bookstore today. I was out wandering the streets while my sister was on her bike ride around the wall of the city.

I went into a pharmacy** and asked "Zaina'r yi ge shu dian?" which is tourist-Chinese for "Where's a book store?" They pointed me to the left, so I went to the left. About a block later, I saw a sign for "bookstore" -- miraculously, in English.

When I approached, I saw it was a "Xinhua Bookstore". I went inside. The store was nearly empty -- just a bunch of bookless shelves, some plastic-banded stacks of pamphlets, and a dude sitting at a desk. I looked at him confusedly, as this clearly wasn't a normal bookstore. Still trying to figure out where I went wrong, I held up the neatly-copied-from-the-internet note I had with the four characters for San Guo Yan Yi.

He laughed. Heartily. He laughed so hard he took the strip of paper, went out in the street, found the first person he saw (a taxi driver), showed it to him, said something in Chinese, and the Taxi driver started laughing too.

He pointed me across the street, where there was a proper (fiction) bookstore.

You see, Xinhua is the Chinese Communist Party's news agency. It's prints the major newspaper and some government publications. I had walked into a communist propaganda office and asked for a six hundred year old fictional novel.

I realized what went wrong pretty quickly, but there was no real way I could indicate I got the joke, too. I just accepted my fate as a westerner who had lost face, and went across the street to the real bookstore (where I got a hardcover copy for about $3).

I presume he told this story to his family that night.

* Formerly known as Changan, this city was the site of portions of the Yellow Turban Rebellion, and the capital that warlord Dong Zhuo used during said rebellions. Yes, that's right, I bought a copy of the book in a city featured prominently in the first few pages... and in the first stage of most of the Dynasty Warriors video-games. I didn't know it was that city at the time.

** Don't ask.

*** Posted much after the fact.

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