The Other Double Standard
I CAN Criticize You But Don't You DARE Criticize Me-The Nerve!
I was reading a blog the other day on mothers who have different size families and women who elect to be childfree. There were mothers of large families who disdainfully and utterly criticized women who were either childfree or had small families as being selfish, hedonistic, and/or lazy. There was one mother, in particular, of a very large family on a blog who asserted to one mother who chose to have an only child that she should give that child a sibling because according to the former, that child would "miss out" on life. The other mothers of large families actually verbally mobbed the mother of the only child.
Another blog on families had mothers of large families actually verbally demolishing women who elected to be childfree. One such mother derided a childfree woman, stating that she is "missing on so much" because she does not have children. A second mother of a large family maintained that a woman was ordained to have children. She further added that any woman who elects not to have children is somewhat deviant. A third mother contended that every woman, if she is normal, wants to have children eventually! The second one interjected that if a woman has disposable income, she can definitely have children.
However, these are the same women who become highly incensed and indignant if anyone dares to state that they have too many children. Oh, better yet, they become downright vitriolic if anyone asks them if their children are all theirs and if and/or when if they are going to stop having children. Mothers of large families become quite venomous, asserting to those intrusive people to mind their own business. They furthermore add that the number of children they have are not affecting anyone per se and they can have AS MANY children as they want! These are the exact same mothers who believe that it is their unmitigated right to criticize and demean women who choose to either have small families or no children at all.
These mothers of large familiies when asked questions regarding their family size, become highly defensive! They assert strongly that they are quite happy and fulfilled although their body language and their actions towards their children oftentimes convey the opposite. I remember I was in a store two weeks ago. There was a mother with six children pregnant with her seventh, running in all directions in the store. The children were completely helter skelter. They were running and knocking down items. The other people in the store were becoming quite perplexed.
One mother of two children stated to the mother couldn't she control and monitor her children. This mother approached the mother of the six children asking her if she could control her children. The latter mother stated strongly and loudly to the other mother that THIS ISSUE was none of her business. The six children were so disruptive that the manager asked the mother to leave the store. The mother was shouting and cursing that these $%^#! children are getting on her nerves as she was leaving the store. She further added that she wished that she did not have those %$%@ children!
My youngest maternal great aunt (now deceased), childfree by choice, had a neighbor who is a mother of seven children. She decided to invite the neighbor over for brunch. According to my great aunt, the neighbor inquired her as to the reason she did not have children. My great aunt replied that she simply did not want children. The neighbor seemed completely nonplussed, asserting that all women have a maternal instinct whether they admit it or not. She further elucidated to my great aunt that this maternal instinct is only fulfilled when one gives birth to children. My great aunt related that she just looked in astonishment at the neighbor.
My great aunt then turned the tables on her neighbor. She asked the latter why did she decide to have so many children. An intelligent question with no harm intended or so my great aunt thought. Well, the neighbor became angry, yelling at my aunt THAT was was NONE of her business as to how many children she has. My great aunt maintained that the neighbor cut off the conversation, abruptly leaving the apartment. The neighbor never visited my aunt again.
There are many mothers of large families who are of the belief that they are the most unselifsh mothers because they elect to have many children. They strongly opine that if women were truly unselfish, they would have as many children as possible. They assert that if they have large families, they see no reason why other women do not do likewise. In many blogs specializing in mothers of large families, they even pressure women to have large families even when the latter express that it is not in their best interests to do so. In addition to that, they assert that all women can have a large families if they decide to cut back on their standards of living.
These women are unwilling to realize that there are women who do not wish to have large families. There are women who wish to have small families in order to provide their children with a high quality life beyond just the necessities. They also want to give individualized attention and have a more individualized relationship with their children. There are childfree women who just do not want children period. They lead full and exciting lives without children. To many mothers of large families, such women are not really as happy as THEY are. According to their philosophical consensus, the latter actually delusional about their lives and are only shortchanging themselves by not having large families.
Now if someone approaches these same mothers about the feasibility of having a large family in the postmodern era, they glare icily at him/her for the supposed audacity of invading their privacy. They believe such a question to be a total affront to them. They contend that they have the right to have the children they want; however, they often refuse to grant the same right to mothers with other family lifestyles. In other words, they believe that they should never be criticized for what they do but they feel that it is within their right to criticize other women for adopting different family patterns than they.
In essence, women adopt different family lifestyles based upon their desires, wants, and goals. There are some women who elect to be childfree because they just choose not to have children for one reason or another. It is their right to do so. Some women wish to have small families because they want to give their children individualized attention and to have a one-to-one relationship with them. They also want to provide their children with a high standard of living and an overall high quality life. Whereas there are other women who elect to have large families for their own personal reasons. In other words, there are all types of families.
In summation, there are many mothers of large families who contend that all women should do the same. These are the mothers who assert that any woman who does not wish to have children are so-called selfish and abnormal. They maintain that all women have a maternal instinct and that alone should influence women to have children. They cannot or refuse to perceive that not all women want a large family or even children for that matter and live contented lives.
However, when people question and/or criticize these mothers' large family size, they become quite defensive. They are extremely taken aback that people would dare criticize their choice regarding the number of children they have. They further maintain that such questions are total invasions of their privacy and their right to be mothers of large families. They can dish out the criticism at mothers of small families and childfree women but when the criticism is focused on them, they cannot take it and become quite vitriolic! The double standard regarding the family status of women is alive and well!
© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams