Aside
0

Disclaimer: Since many people have a hard time identifying sarcasm, irony, and the likes through text, please be advised that I do practice AP, I do not identify with the AP Crowd, and I am being quite sarcastic below.  But I am better than you.  Just kidding… the whole point of this post is actually the opposite of that.  I am not better than you, but I did benefit greatly from those who wanted to help me be better than a previous version of me.  

So this happened today.

This isn’t the first time one of my favorite mommy bloggers backed off her stance of whatever it was because she realized the internet is actually a large network of real people she didn’t actually want to offend.  I understand that.  In this world, there are people who just naturally get along.  Other people like them.  They don’t like conflict.

Natural parenting attracts a lot of conflict.  I’ll tell you why: in the same manner the Church is known for not representing literal Christian values, the AP crowd is known for their own sort of hypocrisy and hyperbole.  There happen to be seven Baby B’s of Attachment Parenting.  You probably know of breastfeeding, birthing naturally, babywearing, and maybe a few more.  I bet you didn’t know “Balance” is in fact one of the backbone principles of these popular parenting guidelines.  Yeah, if I read one more blog about not “forcing” a child to say “thank you” to strangers who compliment or help them, I might forget it myself.  Here is where I simply mention that I believe “Balance” includes a healthy understanding of basic social interactions, even though they might make a child uncomfortable, among other things.  And back to the topic at hand.

So the Church of AP is a bunch of in-group bullies, and that’s obviously an exaggeration, but bear with me.  You, you disposable-diapering, formula-feeding, non-co-sleeping, epidural-getting, time-out-using old hags, you are the outgroup.  Ahem, we are the outgroup.  (I’m not owning up to all of those, but I’ll admit to falling short of my Sears ideals.)  And I understand that there has been a lot of bullying because honestly, the folks who are reading up on Attachment Parenting are the folks who probably hate their own parents for screwing them up and needed to find a road map to anywhere that wasn’t where their own parents ended up.  Maybe they need to feel better about themselves because mom was kind of mean, and that might mean bullying (which is not okay- it’s just kind of obvious to put together).

That’s almost what happened to me.  I ate the stuff up.  At 20 years old, I’d already come up with a birth plan and a few weekly meal plans for toddlers and picked out a great preschool… maybe it wasn’t that intense, but maybe it was.  AP was my Bible.  The families I nannied for were my preachers.  I’d found my calling in life, and I was great at this caring-for-kids-in-the-superior-way stuff.  I could have been a total jerk, but then I had the ultimate humbling experience: children.

But I didn’t care that AP was supposed to be superior to other people’s ways.  I cared that it was often the best for the children.  I cared that breastfeeding, and my support of breastfeeding mothers, could mean fewer illnesses for those children.  I cared that getting on their level and listening to them helped them learn to value their voices and emotions.  I cared that wearing an infant would help her feel emotionally secure when she was off playing by herself.  I was, and am, so grateful for the information that doctors, psychologists, and mommy bloggers put out there for me to devour. Truly, I was never into searching out formula feeding moms and “educating” them- just really stuck to hanging out with people who saw things kind of the way I did.  That’s what people do in general, anyway.

I can’t imagine being apologetic for believing in what I believe or apologizing for the facts that helped form my beliefs.

“It made me realize that telling people to not let facts hurt them, was like expecting the rainfall to never touch a single body.” – Two Degrees of Suburbia

But you’re not giving the facts to just people.  You’re giving the facts to parents.  We shouldn’t be so concerned about hurting people’s feelings when we can educate large numbers of people.  We can change a person’s journey on a destructive path by simply linking a few articles on Facebook.  That’s worth a few defensive reactions, in my opinion.

And you know what?  When you believe something, don’t be chicken and say it isn’t worth believing in because a few of your friends don’t like it.

For instance: I have a couple of really wonderful hard core Christian friends.  But I’ll tell them to their faces that gay rights are important, I don’t see any logical way to continue to deny them, and I’ll back that up with facts.  Christians love their Jesus!  I have loved Jesus.  They might get their feelings hurt in that conversation, but it’s right.  I love those ladies, but the issue of civil rights is bigger than avoiding an uncomfortable conversation with a couple of really great friends.  In any case, they’ll still be my friends at the end of the day, because I think we all realize that differing opinions don’t mean you should cut someone out of your life.

Loving and advocating for children and families should be bigger than avoiding uncomfortable conversations with a couple of really great friends.

Aside
0

Tonight’s post is partly a response to this post on Mama Birth (someone I read often, and mostly enjoy), which is a response to this article.

Both of these were a pain in my butt.  The article, mostly- because I don’t believe that a woman’s success is defined by her career and hindered by a family.  That’s incredibly narrow-minded.  I don’t believe that women who turn their cheek to abuse from men, no matter how well they play with the boys, are to be admired.  I don’t believe that women developing personalities that mimic those of the most obnoxious men is really the answer to the question of gender equality.

Nope, there’s no doubt that article made me roll my eyes.

On the other hand… the extreme response at Mama Birth, and mostly the comments on “immorality” in a “hook-up culture” also upset me.  I definitely don’t think women should use sex to validate themselves, or practice unsafe sex, or use sex as a means of manipulation.  However, Mama Birth never mentioned anything about these specifics- we just got a general statement about hookups being immoral or something.

I know that much of the Attachment Parenting/Natural Family Lifestyle community is religious, and I know that the bible has much to say on sexual involvement.  I don’t have a particular religious affiliation.  I do, however, take much issue with parts of the bible- usually the Old Testament, especially when taken literally.  Reading about marriage in the Old Testament is reading a slave code.  I am not exaggerating, and I think the majority of people are aware that women were traded away into arranged marriages and treated as property (just check out the bible verses mandating a woman who was raped to marry her rapist– it’s the punishment for the rapist, apparently!).  Does this mean the entire bible and the entire religion of Christianity is evil?  Certainly not, but I do feel like it’s enough to beg us to consider that the “morals” of these particular passages are no longer relevant.

That Old Testament thinking, by the way, is what crushed me after my first relationship, since the world had told me since forever and ever that any girl who lost her virginity and didn’t marry the guy was a tramp.  The “good girls” don’t give it up easily.  The best of them obviously only give it up to their husbands on their wedding night!  If you don’t love a man you sleep with, you’re a whore.  Your age and the amount of men you’ve been with is directly proportional to what you’re worth.  Your virginity is something you treasure, and only give away if you’re SURE he’s not a jackass.  If he leaves you, you didn’t wait long enough to give it up, and he obviously left because you’re a slut.

Nevermind that our culture and our biology pushes us toward sex.  Nevermind that expecting these things of young women (expectations born in a time when women and their vaginas were property) is unfair and setting them all up to fail.  When a young woman inevitably gets that v-card punched and then gets her heart broken, she’s left to wonder why her special gift wasn’t enough to keep him around.  She mourns the loss of her first love and the label she proudly carried: “the good girl.”  She no longer knows who she is.  She may cut herself off emotionally from any type of intimacy, having been hurt so severely from her first intimate experience.  And often, rather than having someone there to guide her through the heartache and tell her that she is every bit as beautiful and valuable as she was before he came along, she has brainwashed women parrot to her that she should keep her legs closed next time, make them wait longer.

It’s heartbreaking.
Ladies, we are no longer property.  We are expected to take full responsibility of our sexuality- and why are we so ashamed of that?  So many women have complained before me about the double-standard of sexuality; men are worth more when they’re more sexually active, and precisely the opposite seems to be true of women.  But what is so inherently, inarguably immoral about a teenage girl sharing her first time with someone she loves (don’t forget the protection)?  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the girls who choose to do it.

I must concede, though, that women who have meaningless one night stands are just simply immoral, right?  No… definitely not buying that.  Why should I?  If a woman is having a good time with someone on a particular night and feels a physical attraction, she might want to see where it goes.  She might intend to keep up some sort of relationship.  She might be under the impression that he’ll stick around like she wants him to, or she might just be enjoying the moment.  Single nights can mean something.  They can be lovely memories alone, or they can turn into many nights.  Where, in any of the above, does one arrive at the conclusion that a person who wants to connect with another person is evil, wrong, or immoral?  And above all, who is the authority who gets to decide that any of someone else’s sexual experiences are meaningless?

I will say this: I know that it’s harder for women to remain unattached, emotionally.  Our hormones push us more in the direction of commitment than men’s hormones do for them.  For that reason, I will make sure both of my little girls know that they should be smart about who they get physical with.  I will make sure they know that their precious hearts are on the line when they decide to cross that line… but I’m not going to pretend that teenagers haven’t been sexually active since puberty was placed right at the beginning of those teenage years.  I’m not going to pretend that any teenage girl who falls in love won’t want to share that experience with the surely-undeserving guy (because no one is ever good enough for our children) she falls for.

And I certainly don’t want them to feel worthless if they don’t marry the first guys they sleep with.  If guys end up breaking their hearts, I’m sure it won’t be because either of them are “sluts”, or some other goofy word with an ever-changing, offensive meaning.  I don’t want them to suffer a debilitating identity crisis when they’ve only just begun to define themselves.

So, to summarize what I want for my daughters: if you marry the guy you lose your virginity to, that’s wonderful.  I hope you have a happy relationship for the rest of your life and never have to deal with heartache from him.  But, if you’re like most of us who think we make solid and researched decisions and still don’t get our happily ever afters on the first try, please do not think you are immoral.  Please don’t think you’re a bad woman for not choosing the right man, or not being able to keep the one you thought was right.  Please don’t build your self-esteem upon your ability to abstain (an intimate relationship with the right person is not something to be ashamed of).  And please don’t ever be afraid to come to me with your broken hearts, so I can help you pick it all up and point out just how beautiful it is, and how amazing you are.