Mean Girls Can Be Childfree, Too

bingo

Nobody likes a mean girl, online or off. I’m wondering if I’m the only one bothered by words used on several sites for childfree people that use language that I can describe no other way.  Laura LaVoie wrote a post here about “selfishness in the child-free culture.” Is it selfishness that would lead Person A to sneer and label Person B negatively just because she can?  Or, is it a generation gap kind of thing, where what makes 50-plus Me recoil makes 30-plus You laugh?

Number 1 on my “Was that really necessary?” list is the “breeder” descriptor. As in, “a breeder left her stroller near the doorway of a store and I tripped,” or, “Had to walk through a herd of breeders to get into Trader Joe’s.” I wonder, do these women let their Momfriends know that’s how they’re pegged, or do they just giggle behind their backs? Sorry, but that’s Mean Girl territory to me.

About 5 years ago, I was deeply involved with a local HIV-AIDS service organization, I still remember the day when a new Board member introduced himself by saying, “I’m what the gay guys call a ‘breeder’.”  Every gay man in the room was incensed by the assumption.

The clarification was that perhaps some low-brow guy had led him to believe the word was universally accepted, but the truth was that in that room, at least, the term was seen as ugly and off-putting. One man (who I adored and has since died of an AIDS-related illness) said something like, “Why would anyone who wants to be accepted distance himself by calling the other person a horrible name? Aren’t you more than a baby-maker?”

So many things are abbreviated these days, but does it really take that much more time to say “”mother,” “father”, “parent” or, “person with children”? The site offering the card shown above introduced me to another cringe-worthy term (at least, for me): “fert-litter” (multiple birth).

I’m particularly frustrated by the online ubiquitousness of “Breeder Bingo” games.  The idea is simple enough, and actually, fine by me.  Each square of a 5×5 grid is something that childfree people hear frequently. “You’ll change your mind one day”, for example, or, “The only reason to get married is to have children.” Of course, childless by chance women hear many of the same admonitions.

In November 2012, I learned of a new book release, Kidfree & Lovin’ It: Whether by Choice, Chance or Circumstance.  Obviously, the title seemed to suit this site perfectly, so I started to click around the web to see if I might be able to get a copy for review. Like many authors, Kaye Walters offers a website dedicated to the book. It leans heavily to the By Choice side of the equation, so I’ve yet to request a copy of the book. Nevertheless, I was pleased to see the game grid retitled as “Kidfree Bingo.

Ms. Walters also defines “breeder” as “a bad parent. One who is careless at raising their children.” Nice to know, but still rude. There will always be parents with little interest in controlling their kids in public spaces, and complaints about them are valid. Complaints are valid; not slurs.

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2 Responses to “Mean Girls Can Be Childfree, Too”

  1. Sally says:

    It is interesting to see a post acknowledging this trend. A while back I went onto Pinterest and typed in “childfree,” hoping to see some blog links and maybe just favorite activities, but 90% of what came up was confrontational, incindiary “jokes” at the expense of parents. I’ll be candid, my husband and I often get annoyed or even angry at the way people treat their children or seem to let their children behave. My husband even rants about it frequently, and the truth is, we are extremely grateful to have the opportunity to choose not to have kids. That being said, for parents who are trying, I have the utmost respect. I can’t imagine how challenging and exhausting it is to be a parent, much less a dedicated one. I’m open with my parent friends about my utter lack of maternal yearning, but I would never call them “breeders” behind their backs. How is that open-minded? How does that foster open, thoughtful communication?

    • Karen Malone Wright says:

      Obviously, I agree with you, and appreciate your open response. Back in the day, I wanted children, and like you, I admire parents who can do ‘the hardest job in the world’ well. But whether they’re doing a good job or not, I can’t see how any parent could take being stamped as a ‘breeder’ as a complimentary action.

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