Monday, April 28, 2008

What Child-Free By Choice Means

When I came of age in the 60's and 70's, one of the big issues of the day was overpopulation. It was a subject that took on new relevance with the advent of reliable birth control such as the pill. And it spun off into an idea that was radical at the time: having children was a choice not an obligation.

At the same time as the pill came on the scene, there were other factors at work such as the growing Feminist movement that also served to show women had more choices than staying home and popping out babies. Even though the idea of equality for women was not a new idea, it finally reached the mainstream in the 60's after JFK appointed Eleanor Roosevelt as chairwoman of President's Commission on the Status of Women. Much of what we consider "women's issues" now, such as equality in the workplace, maternity leave, etc came from the studies conducted by the commission.

With this new awareness of women as more than baby machines it was inevitable that large numbers of us realized we could do more with our lives and leave behind a more powerful legacy of work, art, literature, music and contributions to the sciences if we remained child-free. A book that influenced many to remain child-free was Ellen Peck's The Baby Trap. She presented a powerful argument that used real world examples to show not everyone needed to breed to live and enjoy a fruitful life.

As I grew up and matured into an adult woman I had many examples of successful and child-free women to show me this was a valid choice in a world faced with hunger and wars brought on by overpopulation. The images of starvation in places like Ethiopia really affected me and a lot of people my age. We saw the devastation and accepted our role in it and knew our contributions, although small, would be large ones if more people believed as we did.

Many of us chose not to bring children into a world always at war and running out of precious resources. It allowed us to move forward and learn to create a legacy that came from our hearts and minds instead of from our physical bodies. And for the most part the rest of the population was okay with this. They considered it strange, eccentric at times, but completely and totally our choice.

One of my reasons for opening up a Cafepress store that is devoted completely to the child-free by choice is because this tolerance for "our choice" has changed in the last few years. There's almost this rage at those of us who made this choice, as if we are somehow defective or threatening to those who choose to breed. I've had less hatred directed toward my left of radical politics and my Atheism than I've had directed at me because I actively promote a child-free lifestyle.

I consider this hatred as stemming from the Entitlement Movement that believes having babies somehow gives one special powers over the rest of the population. These special powers translate into such things as forcing adults to watch only kid-oriented television, movies, and have access only to child-safe entertainment and lifestyles. The old-fashioned idea of parenting being something that took place in the home has fallen down the pit of letting the government, the schools, and the churches raise children instead of the parents. The Entitlement Movement never learned about off switches, v-chips, filtering software, or adults only, and those of us who choose a child-free lifestyle have to suffer for their ignorance and inflated sense of me-me-me.

My child-free by choice store is one way to bring the choice back to life and out of the hands of the entitlement bunch. I have a range of designs that include options such as overpopulation, anti-war philosophies, and yes, some that the breeders by choice will consider mean and insulting. The reason for those is that parents sometimes fail to get the idea that not everyone wants to interact with their children, not everyone thinks it's okay to let children run over every one's right to existence, and it draws on the old-fashioned idea that you had them so you raise them.

I will be adding designs on a more frequent basis now that it is it's own store instead of a section in Ursine Logic, and I'll also be adding cat and dog designs as many child-free humans devote a lot of time to making sure our furry companions have a good life. For those who think the child-free are selfish, just check out how many of us do support causes that deal with poverty, hunger, the environment, and saving innocent furry creatures that others have abandoned to a life of misery and death before you drop words like "selfish" so casually.

And if you have a favorite design idea or phrase you'd like to see on a t-shirt or other item, do drop me a line and I'll put it together for you because it's time we work together to save what's left of this planet's precious resources.

My email is ursinelogic at gmail dot com. Hate mail will be posted with a link to your email, and threats will be forwarded to law enforcement. On no other topic have I been forced to post that warning, which tells you how rabid breeders can get when their world view is threatened.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Small Towns, Small Minds

I grew up in cities where intellectual stimulation was something normal and highly sought after. Most of my friends were solidly working class who worked their way through college as I did. Rich people were something we made fun of and spit in their water glasses when they ate at restaurants where we worked. I never met one person who didn't have to worry about finances who wasn't also a real asshole. I grew up knowing there were two kinds of people in the world-- those with money, and those without. One had power, the other did not. One was loyal and kind and compassionate, the other would sell his or her own offspring for a few dollars.

The list goes on and on, and over the years the stereotype held true as I began to follow politics, the arts, and the world of power and intrigue. People like George Bush were the ultimate proof that money made people mean, cruel, inept, and encased in a bubble that was filled only with their own kind--unless they needed a photo op and then they'd hold the nasty little poor kids and try not to look too disgusted. Or they'd invite some leader of an advocacy group for the poor to their home or event or fund raiser to show their civic responsibility. But if these photo ops tried to date their sons and daughters, or goddess forbid, tried to become their friend! well...let's just say they learned really quickly there was a difference between public and private realities.

Given my feelings about rich people, it was a simple mistake to think the utter selfishness, the total cruelty, the malicious and destructive lies and gossip, the scapegoating, the appalling shifting of blame and responsibility for their own mistakes to someone, anyone less powerful, less part of the group was easily explained as traits of the rich and entitled.

For some cruel reason, I ended up having as acquaintances far too many children of the wealthy and upper middle classes. Maybe because in the community where I lived the only other choices were religious crazies, high school drop-outs, or meth losers. I've written often enough how these rich people's brats were the first to stick me with unpaid bills and borrow money they never repaid, and how they made selfish choices rather than practical real world decisions about everything they did and thought.

Given these experiences and how I felt about rich people, it was an easy mistake to make that they were shallow, small-minded, cruel, selfish, and well-versed in the art of scapegoating just because they were children of the rich and had been pampered all their lives and felt they were entitled to something just because they wanted it. It was an easy explanation, and in many cases, there was some honest truth behind it.

But lately I'm beginning to understand what was really wrong with these people and it had nothing to do with money. While only one or two actually knew what it meant to be poor, most grew up comfortably if not wealthy. They grew up believing they were special. They grew up believing their world was so perfect that nothing else dare intrude upon its perfection.

But it had nothing to do with money. It had to do with the fact that many of them lived for decades in a small town and chose not to let anything else into that sheltered little world that could disturb the fantasy--like the Internet for example.

Instead they chose to live in these tiny little incestuous groups where gossip fueled everything. Even though many of them were now in their 40's, 50's and even 60's, they never really mentally graduated from High School. Their world continually recycled from nonsense decades old. They slept with and married each other and then had affairs and broke up over each other. They passed the same ideas around like a dirty pair of socks. And they grew smug and intolerant of anyone but their own little groups.

I understand now that people like me terrified them. I didn't have children. I didn't go to their hippie churches and pretend it was somehow different from the religious crap they were raised with. I didn't automatically take the side of someone who was wrong just because they were married or fucking someone from "the community." And horror of horrors, I wanted more than their shallow friendships and mean-spirited gossip.

The breaking point for us came when I met and related to fascinating people I met through online connections. To them the Internet, the world wide web, even email was something for sex predators or at the most, to make airline reservations for those trust funded treks around the world.

The social aspect of it did not exist for them. They couldn't allow it to exist because it meant they would have to change how they viewed the world and each other. They would have to wake up and see they became the dinosaurs of the modern world. They would have to see that the same thoughts kept getting recycled in their community over and over again without ever picking up anything new. "New" was not allowed because it challenged their positions in the pecking order they worked so hard to build. They may have been losers in High School but their cliques were now solidly and firmly in place, just like a nice solid tomb.

What finally drove me away was a divorce between two people who were married for twenty years. Within days it was no longer about the divorce. It became High School all over again with sides being drawn up, dirty tricks being plotted, lies being spread, trash being scattered and every one's personal issues fighting for the lead dog position.

I walked away and my life immediately began to improve. The quality of my friends improved. I more more money. I found a way to make a living doing something I love. And when I look toward my future I see many wonderful paths left to explore, many wonderful people to meet, many new ideas to share.

And the amazing thing? I never left town. I just left them. And last I heard, they are still involved in the daily destructive rituals of feeding on each other instead of looking to see what else is in the world besides their small little lives.

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My sister-in-law is selling her amazing ranch in Boulder, Utah. Check out this special piece of paradise, and if you know anyone looking to buy 80 acres surrounded by national parks and forests, pass on this link to them Rancho Vaquero.

Here's some more pics:


Flies On The Wall #42


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Child-Free by choice online book club

I've tried several online book clubs and they always degenerate into discussions of children, pregnancy and all the assorted horrors around that. That really spoils it for those of us who came there to discuss books. So I'm delighted that one of the child-free by choice list members has started a yahoo book discussion group that will focus on adult conversations about all kinds of books. So if you want some adult conversation around good books, come join.

Sign up here