I check Twitter before I even get out of bed in the morning. It’s an excellent way to start my day off angry about things.
This morning, the intimidatingly intelligent Dr Jennifer Wilson (@noplaceforsheep) tweeted a link to a blog post she’d written, titled Tankard Reist, motherhood and men. In the post, she takes condescending academic Dr Caroline Nora to task for her recent piece, published on Tankard Reist’s website, that basically deifies mothers and denigrates all men, everywhere. There’s no point in me even trying to out-awesome Dr Wilson, so allow me to quote her summary of Dr Nora’s argument:
“If you are a woman and you have a child you have much to teach everyone, just because you have a child. If you’re man with a child, shut up and learn from a decent woman. Your life isn’t decent and never will be ’cos penis.”
Dr Nora’s post is annoying enough with its holier-than-thou-especially-if-thou-is-a-dude attitude, but it’s one of the comments that really got me.
Folks, meet Chris. She has, shall we say, a few feelpinions to share.
To me, this comment is everything that is wrong with everything ever. Chris (and your ilk – I know there are more of you), I put to you the following five points:
1. One’s own experience of something doesn’t make them an immediate expert on the entire spectrum of that thing. It’d be like someone saying, “I held down a job once, which I think immediately qualifies me to speak on all employment and HR issues, including but not limited to union law and workplace disability management.” You can have whatever opinions you like, lady, but you’re not qualified to speak for shit.
2. Nobody is looking to silence you. The fact that you have access to a keyboard and the interwebs is a clear indicator of this. People who are actually silenced by those in power tend not to have these things, so stop acting as if your right to free speech is being attacked here.
3. A lack of academic qualifications is unimportant in and of itself, but it doesn’t mean that your child-rearing routine makes you more inherently knowledgeable on anything except your own child-rearing routine. The pursuit of knowledge and the study of practices outside one’s own immediate experience is how we advance as a society. Navel-gazing and a knee-jerk “I’m right, you’re wrong, YOU’RE ALL WRONG” attitude is how we regress.
4. Your post speaks of “the day to day acts of love that women who are mothers perform daily”, as well as “women who care for children.” Fathers, the poor bastards, don’t crack a mention. I feel sorry for any man involved in raising a child alongside a woman who believes herself to be the better parent simply on account of having a particular set of genitals.
5. I know that in Silent Hill, Crazy Laurie Holden’s character says, “Mother is God in the eyes of a child,” but your own child-rearing practises do not actually render you all-seeing and all-knowing when it comes to society in its entirety. Please do not pretend otherwise.
Posts like Dr Nora’s, and responses like Chris’s, are not feminism. They are not progressive. They are sanctimonious and self-indulgent, and they denigrate not only men, but women who don’t (or choose not to) fit within the mummy-worshipping culture. There can be little wonder that both modern women and men are shying away from the “feminist” tag when this sexist, nasty and self-important drivel is still laying claim to it.