21 March, 2023

Speaking up for the non-grandmas

I talk about speaking up for childless women, and I do it when I feel it is appropriate. But I'm often torn. Example: yesterday on Fbk, an online friend ranted about the onslaught on libraries and librarians in the US. Another US No Kidding friend had noted to me recently that this was happening in her school and area too, and that tension had dramatically increased over the last year or two. I am appalled for them both, and glad (so far, touch wood!) that I have not heard reports of it here. So far, we are all in sync. My online friend then took it too far. 

"I'm thinking that we need to organize groups of grandmas to go and protect librarians from ignorant yahoos. Seriously. If you have gray hair, wrinkles, and love books, if you raised your kids to embrace learning about the great big messy world, if you would rather encourage all children to be kind and smart and open-minded, then we need to step up for librarians."

I qualify with all of those characteristics except the "grandmas" and the "if you raised your kids."  Why did she have to exclude me and focus on grandmas. One of our mutual friends, who is or at least was extremely close (in person) to the original poster is also not kidding, though she is childfree by choice. But she, like me, would agree with all these sentiments other than being a grandma. 

It made me annoyed. Initially, in a light-hearted way, I was going to respond, "you don't have to be a grandma to want all that" but didn't want it to come across a) overly critical, and b) detract from the important point she was making about libraries. So I said nothing. For several days.

But I'm still thinking about it. Hence this post. I don't want it to be just a "woe is me, I feel left out" post, so I'm thinking through possible responses. Any ideas? Maybe I should just say, "do you have to be a grandma to join this movement?" Pointed, as she knows I am NOT a grandma, and she knows I write about my No Kidding not by choice life. But polite. 

Still, I worry that it's too reticent. I don't think we should make too many allowances to people who don't think about the others in their society, who except for our non-parenthood state, share almost all our other values. I'm tired of making allowances for the majority. She needs to practice what she preaches, and "embrace learning about the great big messy world, ... and be kind and smart and open-minded ..." And yet, she probably has no idea, and has never thought about it.

I'm thinking maybe a combination of the two. "You don't have to be a grandma to want to join this movement. I'm in!" I'm off to post it now before I chicken out!

Update: Instant gratification! This is her comment to me: 

"You are absolutely right! I foolishly limited the pool of volunteers there! Anyone who loves books, wants young people to grow up to be kind, smart, and open-minded ... "

She said exactly what I would have wanted her to say. And all her friends saw her say it too. I'm so glad I didn't stay silent!


  1. I like your compromise! and I hope it was well received. It's a great example of the unintentional/thoughtless pronatalism we encounter all the time as childless women.

    1. Exactly! Pronatalism in action, when even thoughtful people are oblivious. Fortunately, I got the perfect response, so it was worth speaking up.

  2. Dear Mali,
    I love what you have written. And I love what your friend commented back!
    (I am really glad that you stood up for us, no-grandmas & never-will-be-grandmas!!)
    Much love from Europe,

  3. I understand reading or hearing something that doesn't sit quite right and thinking about whether or not to say something... I really like your reply! And, of course, I like your friend's response.

    Like water to rock, our voices will slowly reshape others' thinking...

  4. I'm clapping for your courage and also that your friend received your words with grace and in the spirit intended. You made a difference, and probably a lasting one.

  5. Hooray for speaking up and being rewarded with thoughtfulness! Ugh, I think it speaks to the privilege that the authors in Loribeth's links talk about -- this assumption that if you care about what's happening in schools and with books and kids and learning, that you have and had kids. That if you are an older woman, you are a grandma. I'm glad she checked herself (well, after you gently checked her). Awesome post, I'm so glad you spoke up! And are joining the cause. Holy hell, the library onslaught is terrible.

  6. Thank you for sharing this incident and your excellent reaction to it! I am so glad you got the perfect answer :-).