So, I’ve been neglecting the heck out of my blog lately, and for that I apologize, not that anyone wants to read my apologies or anything but just, yeah, I know I haven’t been posting as much lately. If you’re on Twitter, I’ve been doing a lot more tweeting, so you can always find me there. Now onto the reason I’m finally compelled/inspired to post again.
I spend a lot of time reading blogs, particularly feministy ones, and particularly Jezebel.com. Often, Jezebel will cover a high profile nutcase, be they Heidi Montag or Octomom, and then the comments roll in, usually in two distinct categories. One set of comments is people snarking on or criticizing said nutcase, and the other is the “How dare you JUDGE this nutcase!” as if freedom from judgment is somehow enshrined in the Bill of Rights somewhere.
The most recent example was a post yesterday about the Duggar family, specifically their decision to pose with their most recent child, a premie still fighting for her life in the NICU, in People magazine, and their revelation that they are still open to having more children, even though this most recent pregnancy was life-threatening to both Michelle and Josie.
Now, the Duggars and I are from the same state, and I’ve had an ongoing obsession/morbid interest in them for years. I have all sorts of issues with them, like the fact that their lifestyle, one that they promote and wish others would adopt, is easy for them, because of state-funded healthcare (Jim Bob was a state legislator) and TV deals, and is perhaps unattainable for most people who would be driven to the poor house and the welfare rolls if they too procreated with abandon. I wonder about the burden on the older children of raising the younger ones. I wonder about whether or not any of their daughters will ever get to go to college. I wonder about their willingness to leave all those 19 children motherless by continuing to conceive at this point, when it’s so risky to both Michelle and whatever baby she carries. I wonder why they named one kid “Jinger” when they don’t even have a Jessica or a Jane yet. Like I said, I have some issues.
By the same token, I’m pro-choice and absolutely believe that the Duggars are free to have as many children as they possibly can. I don’t think they should like, be sterilized by force, or have their children taken from them (unless for some reason the children were found to be abused or neglected), or even be taken off TV, though I wish the Today Show wouldn’t have them on every time they manage to get Michelle up the stick again, and I’m wary of exploiting kids on TV for the sake of supporting a lifestyle that would otherwise be impossible.
So, do I “judge” the Duggars? Damn skippy. I am judgmental of and critical of their choices. I question their decisions. And being that I’m just a nobody on the internet with a little outlet for my opinions, I’m pretty sure the Duggars have no idea what I think of them, and I’m not sure they care. My “judgment” does not hurt nor affect them. I’m not infringing on any of their rights or freedoms, and I’m not supporting the infringement of any of their rights and freedoms. I’m not even judging them as people! My general assumption is that most people do the best they can with what they’ve got where they are. I do not think the Duggars are bad people, or that they’re going to hell, or anything like that. I think they seem like a sweet family that loves and cares for each other, at least from what they present on-camera. But I think they’re beginning to border on irresponsibility when it comes to risking lives in what seems to be the pursuit of a Guinness Book of World Records entry for the biggest family all wearing the same outfits in one place at one time. And I judge that. And that’s OK. Since when was anyone promised freedom from having others judge their choices, particularly anyone who chooses to broadcast their choices on TV? I think what it comes down to is that the “how dare you judge them!” folks assume that those of us who are critical of a choice wish to take away that person’s freedom to make said choice. Criticizing choices is not the same thing as suggesting someone should not be allowed to make a choice.
3 Replies to “judgy judgerson”
Excellent post. There’s having an opinion and being judgmental, and the line between them is fine. I think judgmentalism comes from the emotional side of a person, and opinions are more from the logical side. Not that all opinions are logical (e.g. Barack Obama is not President because he was born in Kenya, the world is going to end in December 2012 because the Mayan calendar says so, etc.), but opinions do require some thought, as opposed to judgments, which tend to be visceral reactions based on how an idea makes us feel. Judgmentalism breeds more conflict, on the whole, than opinions… in my opinion.
I really like that you distinguish between criticizing choices and let’s forbid X from doing Y because we don’t agree with it. I tend to err on the side of “don’t judge her” when reading comments on blogs because, so often criticizing becomes nasty attacks that people would never say face to face. I don’t think that any of the questions/issues you raised would be inappropriate for an actual conversation. It drives me nuts when people see the world in such black and white terms that they feel as though Michelle Duggar (or anyone else) shouldn’t be allowed to do something simply because they don’t agree with it. Ironically, this seems to be happening more and more in feminist conversations and it really disturbs me. Somehow take control of your body has transformed into if you don’t control your body in this one particular way you are wrong.
In my opinion, questioning/criticizing/talking about choices isn’t wrong, but the second the conversation turns to forced sterilization, name calling, and personal attacks, it’s gone too far.
I adore your writing style and the way you express your argument. Thank you for speaking your mind (especially since we agree), but still being respectful AND articulate. Well done! :)
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