Friday, April 25, 2008

Battling Stepford

It's really interesting how opinions go.
I've complained to a few blogging friends about what I like to call The Stepford Blogs.
These are blogs that are all happy-happy-joy-joy.
They talk about their perfect spouses, their perfect children, and their perfect lives.

Despite their popularity, I'd rather read posts that don't dance around on the surface.
Give me some grit, some reality, some introspection.

That being said, this all changes when it comes to a couple of different topics.
One is music.
If you go through the comments on YouTube videos, for example, people get opinionated, defensive, and downright nasty.
They point fingers, say "you suck", and all matter of juvenile name calling.
I used to write CD reviews for a website, and one particular band must have had a pretty good fan base, because I started getting vile emails.
The review I wrote wasn't even that bad, but the fans were pissed I didn't give five stars or something.
I got cussed at, told I had no writing ability, on and on.

Another topic that brings out venom, is new mommyhood.
Brand new moms are paranoid that something is going to go wrong, or they won't be perfect enough, or someone is going to hurt their precious little one.
Yeah, that's normal, but some of their reactions are not.

Several years ago, I took a one-day writing seminar at a local university.
The instructor started talking about Disney movies, and the entire class (mostly made up of young moms, for whatever reason) got really animated in their discussion of how much they hated Disney, how the movies were too violent, blah blah blah.
I said, um, I LIKE Disney movies.
I am not kidding when I say my memory is that the entire group turned in unison to me, eyes spitting fire.
One lady asked me if I was a mom.
I said I was not.
"Oh. Thaaaaaat's why". And I was dismissed.

A friend of mine once told me "I hate it when people who don't have kids say stuff to people who do.".
Uh, sorry, but most of what I've said is just common sense.
I see customers at my retail job every day who let their kids walk all over them, and then we wonder why teenagers are so self absorbed and rude? Hello.

I made a comment recently on a blogger's site, suggesting she shouldn't get rid of find new homes for her cats just because she's pregnant.
The reactions from other commenters has been just like that classroom.
I am "self righteous", among other things.

Heaven forbid I have an opinion.
I think, were she to follow my advice, ultimately everyone would be happier.
But her blog friends want to coddle her and let her do what she pleases.
Yes, cat litter, in some circumstances, can be harmful to pregnant women.
Can her husband scoop the box for nine months?
I know many many many cats and babies who get along fine.
And that's cats with their natural claws, thank you very much.
I think it's vital that children be surrounded by animals--they teach them compassion, responsibility, love.
Just sayin'.

But with reactions like that, versus an honest discussion, no wonder there are Stepford Blogs.
And Stepford comments.
I know a lot of bloggers who won't honestly state how they feel.
I don't mean rag on someone's art project, but disagreement on something you feel is important really is okay.

I was at client's house recently, and told their neighbor they really needed to keep their cat in the house at night because of all the coyotes.
They had already lost one cat, and I was concerned about this one.
My clients were mortified I said anything.
But you know what?
The cat has been in the house since.
And that, really, is all that matters.
I may be coming across aggressive and overly opinionated, but in reality I'm pretty meek.
Talk about animals, however, and it crosses my own personal line of ethics, so I have to say something.
I aim to do so in a kind, mature way, though it is not always perceived as such.

I think it's sad that too many people in today's politically correct environment fear stating their opinion.
I think it's sad that so many kids (and adults, who am I kidding?) respect authority so little that they walk around cussing in front of little old ladies, or sharing their phone conversations in the grocery line, or making snide comments to others just for fun.
And no one reacts out of fear of retribution.
It's gross.



Blogger The Calico Cat said...

I made a comment recently on a blogger's site, suggesting she shouldn't get rid of find new homes for her cats just because she's pregnant.
The reactions from other commenters has been just like that classroom.
I am "self righteous", among other things.

Seriously... I know a new single mom with a cat (she had the cat before during & after pregnancy.)

I am newly pregnant (but you knew that because you read my blog, ahem) & plan to keep my cats & their claws. (I think that declawed cats are more dangerous & prone to biting...) My husband is keeping up with his potty box duties - nothing new for him.

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Barb! I am so glad I haven't come across a Stepford Blog. The film was scarey enough for me. Can you blame surging hormones for these young mums? I turned into a momma bear when mine were little.

I totally agree about bringing children up with animals. It teaches them to be less selfish and more caring, it also shows them how to look after and understand a critter. When I was growing up my Dad would bring back all sorts of wildlife which needed a hand from foxes to snakes, let alone dogs birds and rodents. I'm not as bad as he was, but my children have learned a lot from being with animals all their lives.

As for getting rid of a cat due to pregnancy! They need regular worming to get rid of the parasites which can cause harm. Anyway what woman would clean out a litter box without a pair of rubber gloves on anyway! People baffle me sometimes. I'm glad you are in these situations to be a calm voice of reason.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm right there with you. I don't/won't have kids, but even though I don't/won't, that doesn't mean I don't know a thing or two. Here's my take on the situation:

and I'm pretty certain you were more tactful than I was. :-) Keep going with your opinions...I'll support you, and even if I don't, it will be a logical disagreement, not petty name calling or dismissal.

4:26 PM  
Blogger kt said...

Our girlie was born into a home with two cats. When we first brought the baby home,Kit-Kat would come and meow at us if she felt we didn't get to our crying "kitten" quickly enough.

When Marion became aware of things around her, she immediately delighted in the cats. She loved to touch them and learned very quickly when we said "gentle hands". She never pulled tails or tweaked ears, but would stroke the cats and get her face as close to theirs as she could. She loved tickly whiskers.

Homer and Kit-Kat are a big part of why she has such a wonderful way with animals.

It's all in how you present them to each other, no matter what the species. Patience, kindness, and putting yourself in the others' paws/scales/claws...

11:21 PM  
Blogger Patty said...

I LOVE THIS POST, BARB! I might have to print it out, hang it on the wall and read it every so often. I don't get people who feel they need to give up their pets beause "we're pregnant." (I hate the "we're" pregnant crap.) If your husband can't change the litter box while you're pregant, I say trade him in for a new model. I don't volunteer for a dog rescue anymore but I still get emails about dogs who need to be re-homed because the owners are having a baby and they just won't have the time for the dog anymore. What will they do when they have baby #2? Give up Baby #1? Thank you so much for having an opinion! (And for letting me share mine)

12:35 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Having a baby is the perfect time for Daddy to take over the unpleasant pet duties, lol! Fourteen years ago, my dh took over all vacuuming because we had an infestation of fleas at the time and I couldn't be near the chemicals used to get rid of them since I was pregnant.

I agree with Melanie that it is hormones -- and the unknown -- that turn new moms into paranoid fools sometimes.

As far as bloggers only posting the positive, I'm like that on my "mommy blog." I write it for my local newspaper's site and have to be careful what I say since I see my readers all the time. Plus, it is the one my family reads and I don't like airing dirty laundry, KWIM? I created my artsy blog so I'd have another outlet.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Sarah B. B. said...

Well said, Barb! I understand not wanting to air all of your negative feelings or bad days, but pretending that everything is hunky dory does make for dull reading after awhile. I think the lack of honest, respectful discourse, not only in blogland but in the world in general is NOT helping us raise our children to be the best of people. (That's my schoolteacher opinion, anyway.) :)

4:46 PM  
Blogger Gina E. said...

Ah Barb, we are truly soul mates. You said it all for those of us poor unfulfilled females who can't/won't have children. I never wanted any and I've never missed them. I'm even more glad we didn't produce a litter when I see the morons running amok today. GAAAAAAAHHHH...(Hi Danielle and Patty, I'll visit you soon!)

8:59 AM  
Blogger Jennifer W. said...

Hi Barb - I know, long time no comment. But this one was too good to pass up!

Although I pretty much agree with you, I would add that the concern over cat feces extends outside the litterbox. Cats are so good to us to do their business in a box, but unfortunately by stepping on their own tainted litter (or worse the feces itself), they manage to track germs all over the house. Since the primary concern with toxoplasmosis is through ingestion, a pregnant woman with cats should be careful about washing her hands before eating or touching her face. Which, is good practice, but sometimes people forget or aren't as diligent when they are in their own home. Gardening is another way people could be exposed.

Not all cats have the virus (maybe not even a majority), and they can be tested for it if somebody is overally concerned. I think if a woman already had the virus, she is immune.

Now, on the flip side, my wish that there was a "kitty temporary adoption center" that would take cats in for just a year or two - during pregnancy and the baby's first year. One weekend, I watched my nephews, then aged 2 years and the other 3 months. I also watched the family's cat, who just happened to have diarrhea that weekend. Add to that my own two cats and our dog, and I was shoveling sh*t all weekend long. I *hope* your readers are familiar with the Poopsmith from Homestar Runner, because that was me for three days of my life. That was the only humor I could find in the situation - relating myself to a cartoon character. Replaying that weekend when we have our own children (but for much longer than 3 days) is a fear or mine. So, that is the only part of me that wishes the cats could go on a little vacation when the time comes. They won't, but I still will wish they could...

5:45 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

You are absolutely right.... keep speaking your mind. Long live the voices of common sense and reason!-Jenny at

7:54 AM  

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