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First Day of School, Radical Parenting

August 31, 2011

Adopt a gimmick, a shtick or suffer irrelevance. I mentioned before that I must label my parenting radical or not expect anyone to read it. Labeling (and categorizing) is a white middle-class trope that I have never gotten used to and something the “pretty feminists” (young, white, sex positive, heterosexual) advantageously utilize for self-promotion at the expense of  collective feminism.  As if, the very tactic and/approach to parenting and/or their experiences of parenting have never been tested or felt before.  As if, anyone’s stories on parenting isn’t simply a new version of a version that has already happened to someone else.

It is as if something cannot be so unless it is said to be so, that people cannot take heed unless it is promoted and packaged with preferences that appeal to like-minded people. Hence, advertised as such, or it will be considered inconsequential and generic. Reading an entry from a mother that does not call herself a mommy blogger or radical parent is about as useful as the shame you are expected to feel for buying the “affordable” peanut butter with the white label and black letter packaging and/or the dictated feeling of desperation that is to accompany the purchase of no name  cornflakes manufactured by the same distributor as the named cornflakes. You must shun the packaging that screams, NOT GOOD ENOUGH! You must, because if you don’t, the pretty package’s position will be in danger of not being considered the prettiest package.

I may sound bitter or envious, but I can assure you that neither is the case. The case is one of mourning over the ignorance of our collective, coupled with the hope, the desire to produce a scream loud enough to wake up the slumberers who cannot seem to hear alarm clocks blaring. How many of us must suffer listening to that alarm beeping, buzzing, and beeping and buzzing without any means of turning it off?

I first remember thinking about this when I was reading somewhere on the internet and it was recommended to go read Jessica’s story on Feminsiting about her birth or afterbirth or what have you (and Dooce as well). The reader was guaranteed a heart-wrenching story that EVERYONE would recognize as deserving of  one’s unbridled compassion and appreciation. I asked myself what makes her story about pregnancy, birth, and/or child rearing any more significant than the pregnancy, birth, and/or child rearing stories of countless other women. It’s the privilege that makes the difference. Most of the women I know do not have the time to get on the computer, much less the energy. And if they did, their language (as well as mine) will not be promoted, because, we do not speak the language of privilege mothers. Privilege mothers call themselves “Mommy Bloggers” and “Radical Parents” and other outlandish titles that promote their voices while imprisoning the voices of other mothers. Privilege people have the power of voice because they have the privilege of listeners. Other privilege people and people who admire privilege people, listen to privilege people. If that un-pretty feminist discusses her pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting using her unprivileged tongue, would she be read by many? In more cases than not, no, she would not be. Thus, privilege is perpetuated.

Nevertheless, you have now finished reading my introduction, a.k.a where my thoughts are coming from when I wonder if I should share those thoughts or not.

Today was my daughter’s first day of school. I am the mother of two daughters. I think being the mother of two daughters, two daughters wanted over sons is very radical indeed. I could tell you how we feel and what we do, and often I do feel like sharing. Then, I become protective and remember how girls and what girls think and feel are often always dismissed before those thoughts or feelings are expressed.  So, I hold back on sharing, because, if something is not shared, it cannot be dismissed, again.

  1. August 31, 2011 10:20 pm

    “You must shun the packaging that screams, NOT GOOD ENOUGH!”

    I’m tired of this fuckin’ Target commercial: – even though my damned kids are 27 & 30!!!


    • September 1, 2011 12:32 am

      Those commercials are awful. Perhaps you can narrow down exactly what bothers you. For me, besides a lot of the presentation, it is the skewing of the word, need. The second I see/hear need when want is the proper word I feel that there is an attempt to manipulate.

  2. September 1, 2011 3:42 am

    Well there’s the need vs want thing, as well as the whole, “If your kids want to sound cool, they have to look cool – so here’s what they’ll need” thing. Advertisers get to kids right out of the box, telling them they’re not good enough – as is. They must, instead, have “things” (that they provide, of course) to make them so.

    It is all manipulation…

  3. Mary Sunshine permalink
    September 1, 2011 4:02 pm


    So. Totally. True.

    Here’s another risk involved: what your daughters would feel if they knew you were blogging about your experiences as their mother.

    I dare not say a word, ever about any of my experiences with my daughter, or anything *about* her, on the internet or otherwise, for fear that my daughter would know or sense that, at some point.

    This is a huge loss to our collective feminism. No doubt I am not the only radfem in that position.

    Mother / adult daughter relationships are already terribly fraught, and such a minefield. The only meaningful discussion I can remember having on that issue was here on your blog. A huge emotional event for me.

    The dearth of face-to-face in-our-own-locality radical feminist friendship means that that potential can rarely, if ever, be released. Let’s guess who benefits. If I write about this I start to cry.

    • September 1, 2011 7:48 pm

      Both of my daughters know that I talk about them, —generally. The oldest cannot bother to read because she has too much swirling in her head, not to mention she lacks the time and means (a computer and internet). If she were to read, it would probably create problems because she would assign something to my words that are not in my words. So, I definitely can feel your pain, Mary. I am very sorry about it all being so hard.

      The youngest does not read any more than she catches if she is around when I am writing. We already talk about enough, and many adults tend to label her philosophical, so I try not to burden her with too many layers. What she will tell you most about my blog is how I can take any object and talk about it, –“with so many words.” LOL! Mostly she is talking about my entry on splinters. To this day she brings it up when teasing me, “Who can write that much about a little splinter?!” Whenever she brings that splinter entry up we end up playing a game in which I tell her to give me any object and I will make it into a story. For some reason she thinks it is the best thing ever. I suppose because she gets tired of her one friend (the other friends don’t care about writing fanfic) who ends every story like a Shakespearean tragedy, as in, —everyone dies. They often argue about ending everything in this way.

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