I recently became embroiled in a Facebook smackdown. That’s the only word I can think of to describe what I felt, after I replied to my 30-something niece’s humorous (bordering on sarcastic) post, that listed the twenty-odd reasons why someone would be better off not having children. I thought my comment was a pleasantly-stated rationale for choosing to have them.
The dictionary defines “smackdown” as an informal noun, meaning: 1.) a bitter contest or confrontation, and 2.) a decisive or humiliating defeat or setback. Though I was not defeated during the thread that developed, the responses from my niece and her boyfriend to my dissenting comments left a sharply bitter aftertaste. And, the confrontational quip, “Ah, breeders!” left me feeling like I had been slapped—not humiliated, but definitely and bitterly insulted, devalued and, thereby, challenged.
In addition to mentioning: maintaining one’s body-shape, being free to move to another state spontaneously, and avoiding the presumedly inevitable depression from having children, the listing went on to include such quasi-beneficial reasons one is better off as: having more time to spend on yourself, for such things as sleeping late, gaming, enjoying nightcaps, watching porn, and taking child-free vacations, without the hassle of having to palm your kids off to avoid taking them with you. (I find it ironic then, that child-free couples often opt to vacation in such places as Disneyland, in fulfillment of their own childhood fantasies, to the very places their own child-laden parents either took, or neglected to take them!)
Child-free vacations were also listed among the financial reasons given for opting out of child-rearing. Other financial perks included having more money (estimated to be around $220,000 per child, I think) available for themselves for such presumably-adult luxuries as alcohol, the purchase of sharp or translucent (i.e. non-child friendly) furniture, and for the hassle-free enjoyment of a more comfortable retirement. (I wonder how many narccisstic friends of these narcisstic . . . oh, I mean . . . child-free couples, will they be able to count on, to look in on them during the golden years of their retirement, since they won’t be “burdened” by any visits from their non-existent children?)The point being made was that choosing to remain child-free made being an adult even more fun, and that these “adults” were, every day, in every way, so much better off. And who was I but a lowly “breeder,” someone who chose to have children, to offer my opinion, they scoffed.
The term breeders, as it was being used by my counterpart in the flame war that ensued, carried the strong implication that it was referring to individuals who unthinkingly, and many times unintentionally, spit out child after child, and who think the sun rises and sets on their children (and on the pictures of their children), and who look down on couples who are child-free by choice.
At age 62, with a Masters plus 18, I am decidedly not uneducated. Yet, I was still surprised with a pregnancy at age 29, just before completing my second degree, while working as a state government professional. (So much for diaphragms!)
As a child, I had never really played with dolls much, and as a young adult in the sixties and seventies, I had opted to pursue a career, and my own interests and creative hobbies, before having children. I wasn’t even sure I wanted children, that is, until I found out I was pregnant.
Once that happened, everything changed. Suddenly, I wanted this child. I finished my Masters two months before giving birth to a beautiful daughter. Afterwards, my job made flex-time arrangements for me to return, before such things were even required by law.
Perhaps, due to my daughter, Rachel being the first child, and also perhaps, due to being somewhat well-educated myself, my little pride and joy excelled in her acquisition of both developmental and conversational skills. You see, this college-educated (on full academic scholarship, I might add) career woman had also become a proud momma!
It was so ingrained in me by my mother, a great, and loving, and wise stay-at-home mom, to put my professional career first, that it took me eighteen months to decide that I, too, wanted the stay-at-home option for myself and my precious daughter.
I had been thoroughly enjoying both parenting and a full-time career, as well as pursuing my creative hobbies and personal interests. But, I elected to move to a different state and to pursue a variety of additional employment opportunities and personal interests. Gee, having a child didn’t keep me from enjoying all these “perks” supposedly only reserved for the “child-non-burdened“. . . . Oops! Sorry! I meant to say “child-free.” (Not really!)
So, my viewpoint was, and is, that one is not “better off,” with or without kids. Everyone should be free to choose whether or not they want to have children, without having to justify their choices to others. (Note: I am not advocating abortion, however.)
Regardless of that, my issue with the term, “breeder” is that it is a term of disgust, whenever it is used to refer to human beings. It is, more accurately, a term used to refer to the breeding of animals in the practice of husbandry. (Hitler, however, used and dehumanized women, whom he referred to as “breeders,” in hideous attempts to create his misguided concept of a so-called “master race.”)
That is why I was, and am, extremely offended by the caustic remark posted during that discussion thread on the supposed “benefits” of not having children. I felt that the barb of disgust had not only been slung at me, but also, by implication, at the innumerable wanted, existing and yet-to-be children I wanted to represent. They were, by implication, being looked at as “spawn” or objects, rather than as precious little human beings.
If, on the other hand, the word “breeders” is to be used when referring to humans, it might rather be used to describe “those who reproduce themselves” in another, and far more insidious way. Specifically, I mean those who express and promote opinions that are caustic and full of disgust for other human beings, and who “breed,” or foment hostility toward others.
I’ve seen too many people use the privilege of free speech, itself a great and precious gift, to spurn, deride, dismiss, bully, brain-wash, intimidate, or otherwise viciously attack others, simply by virtue of the fact that the others hold different opinions, or are of a different appearance or culture than themselves. Disgust, disrespect, and the devaluing of others can “breed” hatred for others. Indeed, wars have been started through such means.
So, I would like to say that “breeders” of hateful attitudes are loathsome and repugnant—in short: disgusting!