Monday, November 19, 2012

No Responsibility

A stream of comments from a recent post has had spillover into Real Life. Whatever. Fallout like that happens. However, this made me think about the offending language in that post. Here's the scandal: One commenter said that a male colleague of her's, who she presumed not to be a parent, to have no responsibilities. This offended a male reader who vehemently believes that single male scientists work very hard.

I'm going to specifically ignore the gender aspect of this controversy. I want to address the parent dimension of this. I want to do this, because 5 years ago, before I had a child, I believed that I worked REALLY hard, and that I had no time for extra responsibility. If someone implied that I had it easy while in grad school, I would have been somewhere on the spectrum between confused and pissed, depending on how bad a day I was already having. So I sympathize, to a point.

There are a few experiences in my life that I had to have to understand. No amount of reading about, listening to testimonials, or watching movies could have (or did) prepare me for the shock of the event. These are, in chronological order, living for a few years on a food stamp budget, being the victim of a violent attack, becoming a parent. None of these three are comparable to each other, all of them have been life changing. Each of them have offered me a glimpse, or more, into the lives of a large swath of humanity I did not have any chance of understanding before the critical event.

I hang out a lot on blogs on academic lifestyle blogs. Many of the people I read are parents. The majority are female. There is tension in this tiny community surrounding the issue of having children, and how it fits into academic life. Saying that a non-parent has no responsibility is deep in the land of hyperbole. Saying that becoming a parent is a choice we undertook that we should accept responsibility for and stop whining about is deep in the land of oversimplification.

No comments:

Post a Comment