Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cannibalizing a Child's Life

Have you noticed those creepy Facebook pages and Twitter accounts where women use pictures of their children instead of their own as avatars? I've always been completely creeped every time I would see a huge, bald head of a baby sending tweets couched in very adult language. Amanda Marcotte writes very well about this phenomenon:
This generation leaches itself of sexuality by putting the innocent face of a child in the place of an attractive mother. It telegraphs a discomfort with even a minimal level of vanity. Like wearing sneakers every day or forgetting to cut your hair, it is a way of being dowdy and invisible, and it mirrors a certain mommy culture in which its almost a point of pride how little remains of the healthy, worldly, engaged, and preening self.
Amanda believes that this happens as a result of 
this growing pressure for women to compete in the game of self-sacrifice and self-abasement to prove their motherly love.
I have to say that, as much as I like Amanda's article, I'm not sure she is right here. All this self-sacrifice is just for show. In reality, what such mothers do by assuming their children's identities is cannibalize those kids' existences. A child is denied any life of their own outside the all-consuming Mommy. She has appropriated the baby's life and will now live the baby's life instead of him or her. On the popular new show Toddlers and Tiaras we see parents who exorcise the frustrations of their drab existences by decking their poor toddlers in all kind of ridiculous adult clothes, covering them with make up, and exhibiting them to the public like little animated dolls. In the blogosphere, we read breathless accounts of parents who report ecstatically on how well they manage to control their children's every breath. On Dr.Phil, we hear how mothers of teenagers are praised for invading every inch of their children's lives.

Women engage in such cannibalizing efforts more often than men. This happens because women frequently renounce any attempt at having a life of their own. Carving out an identity, finding your place in life, getting people to value your contribution to the world is hard. It requires a daily effort at personal, intellectual, professional, and spiritual growth. Who needs all that trouble if you can simply cannibalize the existence of a small child who has no power to resist you?


Pagan Topologist said...

Of course, some people publish pictures of themselves as children on their Facebook profile.

Tim said...

Yeah, but rarely as toddlers :)

By the way, the fine folks at ethcofem had a take at AM's post too.


Anonymous said...

I am so glad you wrote this! I could not agree more. There is little worse than these crazy mothers who have little else to do in their lives than to creep all over their children's lives, post countless pictures of them all over the net and inform the whole planet of every time the babies poop, have a fever or do something menial. I sometimes almost feel it should be illegal.

Here is something else that blows your mind. As you know, some children start to masturbate as early as their toddler years. Well, guess what? Turns out it is a disorder with an actual 'scientific' name attached to it - Gratification Disorder! Get it? Gratification is a disorder! So, as I was trying to find some info about it online, I came across a psycho stay at home (of course) mother's blog, whose daughter has such disorder. Well, the crazy observes her daughter like a hawk and documents it all in the blog (http://gratification-disorder.org/) !!!! I am not even sure if I should be posting it here or in the post below: "Who Robs Women of Sexual Desire?"


Pagan Topologist said...

I have at least two facebook friends who have posted pictures of themselves as toddlers as their profile picture. One of them has done so for extended periods of time.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend on Facebook who, upon having her first child, stopped posting pictures of herself and only posts pictures of her son. This has gone on for over two years. Where she used to make status updates about life, the universe, and everything, she only posts things about her son's fever, his potty training, their foray at the park, his new favorite food, etc.

I keep watching her posts and wondering if I should stage an intervention. Where has the real Sarah gone?

Furthermore, she's no fun to hang out with anymore. She won't go anywhere without baby and when I do get together with her all she does is babble about his proclivities, activities and accomplishments. If I try to re-direct the conversation to something more adult (politics, gardening, philosophy, cooking . . . ANYTHING other than Baby John!!!!) she flicks her hand at me and says, "None of that matters anymore. The most important thing in my life is Baby John."

Though my sons are now teenagers she likes to let me know, as a "supportive friend" how disturbed she is that my husband and I can go on dates or do things by ourselves (and for ourselves) without taking our kids along. How do we leave them at home!!!???

The only thing that keeps coming to my mind is that this poor baby boy is going to grow up with some SERIOUS oedipal issues; and goddess forbid when he actually grows up and starts claiming his independence or worse, (GASP!) leaves the nest to seek a life of his own. She'll be stuck in the black hole of nothingness-of-identity that she dug for herself.

And then I can't help but wonder at what a train wreck she's probably making of her relationship with her husband.


Anonymous said...

Seriously? What a bunch of whiny over-indulged pricks. Go pet your cat and quit harping on people because they feel a deep connection with their child. Don't want to see pictures of people's children? De-friend them or block them and go back to your obviously superior and more sophisticated lives.

Get over yourselves. Really.

Clarissa said...

It always surprises me when people come to MY blog only to advise me to go somewhere else. It is my blog, buddy, I'm not going anywhere. If you don't like it, maybe you are the one who should go away and do your thing with this cat that obviously means so much to you.