The Polemics

Have you noticed that the blog posts with the really strong, often controversial, my-way-or-the-highway points of views can hog the spotlight?

There’s been a couple in the last six months which drew my ire. Why do I respond so strongly to the stirring of the pot sometimes?

Here’s two examples:

No Excuses: Parenting Isn’t Hard

The title alone: I just can’t with this writer. But of course, I read it anyway. The post basically takes to task every single parent of all time. NO ONE is perfect. Has anyone in the world ever NOT raised their voice in some circumstance? EVER? I have to use time-outs or SOME kind of consequences (like not giving a child something he or she wants) or it would be anarchy here. I am kind, I am loving, I don’t name-call, I don’t spank. Yet, this post makes me feel judged.

And that’s probably the point.

It got over a hundred comments and was shared 221 times on Facebook.

Here’s a more gently written epistle, but still a one-size-fits-all solution: your baby won’t cry if you breastfeed all the time.

What about babies with colic? What about mothers who have no supply? My twins rarely cried as babies. THAT’S BECAUSE I WAS JUST LUCKY!!

I saw this “advice” because attachment parenting guru The Feminist Breeder responded to it, incredulous.

Are these posts so widely discussed because we like to get outraged sometimes? Do we need to get worked up about something, anything, beyond our own world?

On the other hand, there are the posts written about something I don’t agree with but they are intelligently discussed and presented. Those posts make me think, they expand my boundaries.

For example: I am pro gay marriage. I didn’t understand why many are not. But this was a revealing essay about the conflicts one religious woman feels. I don’t agree with her, but I respect the way she presented her point of view.

So WHAT SAY YOU: Why do we pay attention to The Polemics?



Filed under What Say You?

9 responses to “The Polemics

  1. This post is well timed, as today I found myself sucked down an internet rabbit hole of holier-than-thou posts that made me want to gouge my eyes out, and give them a piece of my mind in the comment section too.

    I think posts like this get people’s attention because they express the things that people don’t generally say, and in doing so either really speak to a person who agrees or frustrates someone who feels attacked. The post I read today was very CIO-is-baby-torture oriented and of course there were TONS of people thanking the writer profusely for saying exactly what was on their minds (mainly that us CIOers might as well be sticking their infants with hot cattle prods) and of course a few CIOers tried to defend themselves, to the cries and shrieks of the crowd. I have to admit, I felt inclined to say something, because it just drives me crazy when people write shit like that, dolling out judgment from their high horses like they know what is right for every mother and every child. Oh, and then the cherry on top is their sweeping declaration that they’re just saying how they feel and not actually attacking anyone. It’s just so infuriating.

    I think it’s human nature to gravitate toward like minded people and to defend ourselves when we feel it’s necessary. Those are deep, primal needs we all have and there are few arenas they play out in with more drama than parenting, because we care deeply about the decisions we make for our child(ren), we spend an incredibly amount of time and energy trying to do what is best for them and when someone tells us we’re actually doing something harmful instead, it makes us what to stand up and tell them what’s what.

    I don’t know what the answer is. I’m totally guilty of clicking over to those posts and reading them and most of the comments, even when each one is just pissing me off more than the last, even when I feel very comfortable with the fact that I let my daughter CIO and KNOW that was the best choice for us. Sometimes I tell myself I respond to educate other women who might not be sure what road they should take and our sleep deprived and out of their minds with exhaustion and I want to make sure they know there is another way, but really, I’m just there because these women push my buttons and I want to push their buttons back. The one thing I have learned to do is be respectful because the last thing I want is to stoop to their judgmental, guilt mongering level.

  2. Maybe we keep going back because these posts make us want to say something ourselves. Like this, from me: Wow. That “parenting isn’t hard” post. I’d bet anything her child is spoiled and poorly behaved. Not to be petty or anything! I am part of an attachment parenting group. These women are very intelligent, do their research, and are an amazing source of knowledge on absolutely anything child-related. However, I have noticed that they really cannot discipline their children. At all. Very frustrating. They’re so focused on “their children as people” and when the kids don’t listen, they’re all focused on their needs instead of on teaching them to listen/not hit/etc.
    I have many views on the African babies post, too, and I am itching to share them. But I don’t think that was really the point of your post.

  3. I agree with Esperenza that it’s human nature to stick with like-minded people and then feel the need to defend ourselves. That’s probably why posts like these (which, in my opinion are written to generate controversy) generate controversy. When it comes to parenting there is a huge “us against them” mentality. It pisses me off, so I try not to pay attention as every child-parent relationship it different. Every parent’s values are different and I think that’s reflected in parenting style. The bf’ing on demand post makes me think about the French parenting book, which, I’m liking less and less as we move into toddler-hood and are dealing with some of the issues presented. It’s never. THAT. easy.

  4. First of all, that first one was just simplistic, so I’m not sure why that many people had something to say about it. The second one on bf I skipped because I’ve never done it and if I had, would not choose to do it beyond a year (or even less) but my son never had any crying issues anyway. As for the 3rd one, well, if she thinks she had to assuage her guilt about switching to formula by making God responsible for that decision, well, what do I know? I’m a Buddhist and I chant and some people (well a lot) would think that’s crazy. Everyone has an opinion and if you blog, you get to write about it and have people respond or not. Cause frankly, it’s better than getting together in one room and yelling at each other.

  5. Great post. Sometimes I worry that I’m not commital *enough* … that maybe I ought to be taking more of a stand, that maybe I come off as too wishy-washy by trying to say that my posts are about *me* and *my* thoughts or beliefs, and not generalizable.

    The thing about polemics is that they create dialogue. It may not be the most civil dialogue, but it gets more people more fired up, and the chances of someone saying something is better. I’m not sure that the more even-handed posts do the same thing … if nothing else, conflict and nuance is harder to read, to process, and to respond to.

    I’m going to have to chew on this a while.

    • This is a great point:
      “The thing about polemics is that they create dialogue. It may not be the most civil dialogue, but it gets more people more fired up, and the chances of someone saying something is better.”

      FYI: I think of you as one of the most principled, moral bloggers I know 😉

      • It is a really great point and I agree about your FYI! 🙂

        I also agree with KeAnne below, that these kinds of posts are designed to get attention and get people worked up about them. For the most part I try not to read them, but I also get sucked in now and then and usually reading many of the comments that people leave on them are even worse than the posts themselves.

        Lastly, as we keep talking about, its the voices and perspectives of bloggers that I like, trust and respect that keep me coming back. If I appreciate the way you write, I will read most of what you choose to say and even if I don’t agree, I will consider your POV.

  6. I think those posts are designed to get comments and it’s easy to comment on something like that. I often worry I’m often taking too much of a stand in my posts. I don’t want to be the “always taking a stand on hot-button issue of the day” blogger.

  7. Ana

    I agree with Esperanza…taking a hard stance can get people fired up—either in agreement or defensiveness. “Inflammatory” is the right word. Yes that leads to page views & comments…but is it really a useful dialogue, when dissenting views are completely shut down? I read those types of posts, but I am rarely moved to comment…those are not the posts that invite a true open-minded give-and-take of ideas. I think the thoughtful, measured posts lead to understanding, compassion, community and a quieter, softer (and, to me, better) conversation. All of those posts you linked to made my hackles rise. I peeked at the comment sections and there was a mess of defensiveness and not a smidge of open-mindedness on either side of the issue.

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