I saw a post recently from a mother chastising people with pets for calling themselves parents. She felt offended by it, but didn’t want to say anything in person because she felt that would be rude. In the piece, however, she had no problem being condescending, saying it’s fine that people choose to be childfree and lower themselves to taking care of animals, but it certainly, most definitely, wasn’t the same thing. Nope. Uh-uh. She wanted to make sure that everyone reading that got that point, so she repeated it several times.
Here’s the thing. Most people who have animal companions/friends* fucking know that being a parent isn’t the same as taking care of animals. Even the ones who call themselves parents mostly do it as shorthand. I don’t use the term myself, but mostly because I don’t want to be a fucking parent, not even in jest, not even of my cats. I don’t freak out if someone else calls me my boys’ mom, though, because I know they don’t mean it literally. I know my cats are not little people (though they might think I’m a big, dumb cat), and I’m fucking glad they’re not.
A couple of my Tweet pals pointed out that her assumption about childfree people being that way out of choice was faulty and hurtful. I agree with that, but personally, I’m just miffed because of the hectoring tone. I find this to be a problem with much of popular online media, and I have to point the finger at Buzzfeed and to a lesser extent, Upworthy. Listicles, hot takes, contrary views, all aimed at garnering more clicks. Recently, there has been a spate of ‘why you shouldn’t eat this food’ articles which basically boil down to, “I don’t like this food, so you shouldn’t, either.” The first I noticed was about mac and cheese, and the most recent was on onions (by Buzzfeed themselves). I read the mac and cheese one despite my best intentions, but I gave a hard pass to the onions one. There was one in the middle about lemons or some other innocuous foodstuff that I’ve blocked from my brain. If you look at the title of the first article, it’s called, Mac and Cheese is the Worst. The title of the second is For Everyone Who Fucking Hates Onions with the url being, It’s Time to Admit that Onions Are Disgusting. After reading the first article, my takeaway was, “I hate mac and cheese, and I want everyone else to hate it, too, so I don’t feel bad about myself.” If you hate mac and cheese, hate mac and cheese! No one is forcing you to eat fucking mac and cheese. You’re grown. You don’t have to like what other people like, for fuck’s sake!