Non nuclear families: support, don’t shame

The universe is infinitely mysterious – even an equation like E=MC squared is beyond the understanding of most of us. 99% of the ocean depths remain unexplored. And the issues and injustice faced by people and animals around the world are too numerous to begin to count. Yet for some people the issue of who, when and how other people they don’t know have relationships or children with is a fundamental concern. I sometimes feel an overwhelming sense of pity for people who discriminate teen parents, stigmatise lone mothers or are homophobic/transphobic. People who slut shame others or disapprove of poly families or sex workers.

At other times I want to tell them to grow up and get a real cause and make a difference instead of bullying others and hiding behind the societal attitudes which allow it or hiding behind a noble sounding screen like religion, morality or concern. I’ve seen people hide behind feminism. But they’re not going to do that, are they? Who cares about child soldiers or starving babies or cruel regimes when there’s young mums to shame and gay people to harass? And doing so takes much less effort than ending poverty. It’s probably much more fun, too.

So on that note this is my guide for the haters:

If you really believe that teenage pregnancy is a bad thing and limits your choices, why not help teen mothers instead of shaming them? You could start a petition for nationalised childcare so it’s easier for young parents to continue their education. You could babysit for teen parents in your area. You could educate others about how shaming and blaming hurts young parents and their children or encourage the teaching of parenting skills in sex education or personal development classes so teens are prepared for parenthood. Plenty of people believe teen pregnancy can limit teens’ choices but they do all of these things and more, to help young families.

If you believe that all children should have two parents – and I know you’re thinking of two different sex parents here – and that lone mothers are poor and have sad lives, why not help them? Erasing the social stigma of being a single mum would go a long way to making sure that lone mothers and fathers aren’t sad. Distributing information which challenges media stereotypes would help too. Asking employers to provide things like childcare facilities or flexitime would also help lone parent famiies.

If you believe that sex workers need to be rescued from their immoral or exploited lives then support their organisations so they can campaign for better labour rights and working conditions. If you really want them to exit the industry, you should complain to TV shows and media outlets which expose sex workers and jeopardise their chances of ever getting employment outwith the industry. Being outed can also result in them being fired from their existing non-industry jobs. Reducing stigma against them and their clients could enable sex workers to campaign more effectively under their legal names and ensures that they could never lose their jobs in the future because of the work they’re doing in the present.

If you believe that any teen who isn’t abstinent until they’re out of their teens lacks self-esteem, is being corrupted or will end up having a child, why not help them instead of blaming them. Ensuring teens have good self-esteem and know how to protect themselves from predators (both adult and same-age predators) means that they’ll be in control of their lives and make smart decisions – whether or not you personally agree or feel comfortable with those decisions. Instead of trying to ban all pornography, why not ensure that teens are taught that pornography is not real and that they’re taught from a young age about respect and consent? Teaching about respect for others as a general value from a young age means it’s not hard to trach about respect in the context of relationships at an older age. You could do this with your own kids, your relatives’ kids and your friends’ kids.

If you disapprove of polyamory then you first have to actively discourage cheating. Polyamory and other non-monogamous relationships aren’t cheating, but cheating in monogamous relationships is. And it’s unethical whereas non-monogamy isn’t. We would all benefit from reminders about honesty and respect but nobody benefits from discrimination against non-monogamy.

Bottom line: If you shame and blame people without providing any kind of support for them, you aren’t acting out of concern. You’re just a hater.

 

 

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