This all happened over on Karen’s blog.
Karen, just in case there’s anyone in blogworld who hasn’t yet encountered her, is a high-school teacher in (I think) NYC, who, after a long struggle with infertility and a fair bit of unsuccessful treatment, is now adopting from China. She’s now sent off the enormously complicated collection of paperwork that needs to be sent off in such cases, and is on some kind of eternal jam-tomorrow waiting list that will allegedly ultimately result in her getting a daughter, although she’s finding that increasingly difficult to believe.
Adoption gets you a child, but it doesn’t, of course, get you the experience of pregnancy and birth. Karen is having to face the fact that, barring a miracle, she won’t get to go through these things. Ever. And this is rough enough for her in itself. It just adds insult to injury that she also misses out on the associated perks.
So, the other day/week/month (delete as appropriate according to when I get this damn post finished) I clicked on her blog for my regular fix of Karenness and found she’d written a Bill Of Rights for the expectant adopting mother. Which basically boils down to: she demands the same rights as any other expectant mother. The right to claim hormones as an excuse for everything, the right to eat chocolate whenever she wants it because her cravings must be indulged, and so on and so forth. I skimmed through it thinking yeah, right on, hope you get all the consideration and chocolate that you most certainly deserve, and with one or two of my brain cells probably noting briefly in passing that I still didn’t think she was really entitled to an Expectant Mother parking space, since those spaces are presumably aimed at easing the difficulty a heavily pregnant woman might have in walking across a large parking lot. None of it got all that much thought from me – next blog, please, and I got on with my day.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch… Posted comments pretty much echoed those views. A lot of “You go, girl!”, and one person who, while expressing appreciation for the general humour, did politely voice an opinion that the parking spot entitlement claim didn’t really hold up. And that was how it went. Until another commenter announced that not only was Karen fully entitled to claim Expectant Mother spots whenever she wanted them, but she herself made a point of taking them, and had, ha-ha, successfully cut a heavily pregnant woman out of one of them just the other day. She didn’t quite go so far as actually to type “And the bitch deserved it for daring to be fertile when I’m not! Hooray for justice!” but the sentiment certainly appeared to be there.
This disturbed some people. One person criticised this attitude. Karen took this as a criticism of her own post, and said so. The critic got upset that Karen was objecting to her post but not the I-cut-pregnant-women-out-of-parking-spots-yay-for-me post, and said that in view of Karen’s increasing bitterness she felt she’d rather avoid the blog in future. Some women who’d had the nerve to be pregnant at some point in the past dared to mention difficulties that they’d had in walking across parking lots at the time, and were shouted down. Umbrage was taken, the lines of Fertile vs. Infertile were drawn, the accusations were hurled – oh, well, you know how these things go.
While the ire actually appeared to have been triggered by the I-cut-pregnant-women-out-of-parking-spots-yay-for-me comment, Karen took it as a reaction to her post and got upset. People promptly rushed to her defense, declaring how silly and humourless all those evil previous commenters must have been to be offended by her post. Fertile women were accused of wanting to be treated with ‘blind saccharine devotion’. For most people, it seemed actually reading the comments in question before criticising them was an optional extra.
I was going to post my own views in the comments, but in light of further events I decided it was probably better just to let it drop. So instead, I’m posting them here. I have no deep conclusion to draw as a result of all this – just wanted to give my take on it and round off with some of the things I’ve learned.
1. Shops in the USA give Expectant Mother spots instead of Parent and Child spots. Yup. Baby to lug around in your belly? Have a parking spot close to the store! That same baby to lug around in a car seat a few months later and a few months heavier, plus the weight of the car seat, plus the cumbersomeness of manoeuvring said car seat out of the car door without denting the car door of the person in the next parking spot? Fend for yourself in this dog-eat-dog world!
I’m glad my parents brought me up in the UK. (Though, of course, that did mean that I also missed out on an Expectant Mother spot, if that makes any infertile Americans out there feel any better.)
2. I was naive and foolish to think that an Expectant Mother parking spot was simply aimed at making life easier for someone who might be having some physical difficulties. It is actually, it appears, a Special Award for Services to Reproduction. (“Thank you for contributing to the next generation. We would like to show our appreciation by presenting you with this parking spot.”) Or at least, that’s how a number of infertile people seem to see it.
(Alternatively, there may be a sort of Karmic Equivalence Theory Of Parking Spots, in which spots are allocated to those who are suffering the most (“Swollen ankles and having to get up at night to pee? Here, have this parking spot to make it up to you”) and infertile women thus deserve them more, as their suffering is greater than that of pregnant women. This was what I originally took to be the theory behind decisions as to who ‘deserves’ a parking spot, but on reading further I decided it was actually the Special Award theory. However, I included this one anyway, since it’s possible that some time may elapse before I next get an opportunity to use the phrase ‘Karmic Equivalence Theory Of Parking Spots’, and I thus felt I shouldn’t pass up the chance while I had it.)
3. There is a Fertile Illuminati out there, dedicated to denying infertile women their happiness in life. By virtue of making it through most of a pregnancy, you are automatically considered to have joined that Illuminati and to have volunteered to be one of their representatives. You are therefore personally to blame for the heartbreak an infertile woman is experiencing, and she is therefore fully entitled to take her frustrations out on you and to ste… ahem, to take the parking spot that you shouldn’t have had in the first place as it was rightfully hers. Which left me wondering – so why didn’t I get the decoder ring, dammit? That would have been even cooler than a parking spot.