THE EPITHETS are endless.
Crotch droppings, snowflake, semen demon — from sophomoric to salacious, these are just some of the names used to refer to kids by a faction of childless citizens of the web who aren’t just fruitless and fancy-free, but are ruthlessly anti-reproduction. Unwittingly, I joined a social media group that doesn’t just discuss or celebrate the decision not to procreate, but also unapologetically bashes “breeders” and their “brats” for daring to exist in the world.
I’ve joined a handful of intersectional feminist groups on Facebook and the experiences have always been positive. I was mildly offended that, according to Facebook’s algorithm, my feminism and the fact that I’m childfree are obviously correlated, but a good friend was a member of a particular childless group that Facebook suggested, and so I joined. And almost immediately regretted it.
It wasn’t long before I was compelled to message her and gauge if I was being overly sensitive about the insanely crass content: “…calling pregnant women ‘plagued’ and saying terrible things about ‘breeders’ is a bit extremist for me. I think you can discuss and celebrate being childfree without tearing other people down for it (though there are sh*tty parents and plenty who ought not have kids)… Taking what I assumed was just dissent and turning it instead toward disdain for others makes it feel a lot like religion…”
She’d felt that same discomfort. “I want childfree groups to be all about how cool we are with our pets and extra money,” she wrote. “But they’re just hateful assholes.”
Memes and other vaguely funny Internet fodder are spread around in these groups, but scathing personal stories and angry commentary also abound. Members complain about every aspect of child-rearing that they could possibly encounter in life: “rude” kids that stare on the subway, “disgusting” little ones who sneeze or cough in their vicinity, and the “stupid” basic babies that don’t summon the dignity not to cry or have a bowel movement in public.
There are some worthwhile discussions on birth control and abortion, but there are also gruesome and sometimes violent comments, and too many “jokes” about hurting and abandoning kids. I might chuckle at the pic of the little rascal who covered an entire television screen in paint as an example of why I’m grateful to be without kids, but I cringe at the members who write things like — actual comment — “I would kill the kid for doing that.” Some members come to the group searching for advice, such as how to deal with their disgust at learning that their friend or family member is pregnant, and one commenter’s response — “Dumb bitch, time to cut her out of your life” — pretty much sums up the consensus.
Actual mothers have come across some of the vitriol spewed in these groups. Frances Locke at Mommyish reasons: “Personally, I can only imagine how frustrating it must be when child-ed folks badger childfree people with their incessant rounds of Breeder Bingo (ie: asking presumptuous and often judgey questions like “Who will take care of you when you’re old?). So I totally understand the sometimes heated language that a certain, miniscule portion of (not all!) childfree people use when talking about/trolling us baby-makers.”
Locke shook off the haters and complied the “best” insults that those without kids like to use on breeders: from moo, “mother obsessed with offspring”, to entitlemoo, “who thinks her ability to parent or conceive makes her above reproach and deserving of ridiculous special treatment.” Kudos to Locke and other mothers for turning the other cheek, but if it was me, I don’t know if I could deal with it by laughing it off.
I won’t single out these groups. And I won’t do battle with them. But caveat emptor. Or perhaps rather than “buyer beware,” breeders and non-breeders alike beware.
If you’re looking for a place to chuckle over the nacho chips and ice cream that you scrounged together for your solo dinner, or like my girl said, solidarity over the pleasures of disposable income or being a doting dog parent, some of these groups might be more than you bargained for. — Casandra Armour