Tuesday, April 20, 2010

today : all hail procreation

Parents. One of the things that one notices during an election campaign is that Parents are a really important voter block. Barely a minute goes buy without some policy giveaway or sympathetic plea is addressed to them. But nearly everyone is parents. The effect of this is actually to, by default or design, slap the face of those of us who aren't parents out of choice or maybe bad luck. A year or so ago I went to the supermarket. As all the disabled spots were taken up I still needed to park near the door, so I placed my car - complete with obvious disabled credentials - in a parent-and-child spot. There were several free. On returning to the car I was confronted by a woman who pulled into the next space. Seeing that I was without an accompanying child she started abusing me for ignoring the rules. I really wanted to explain to her the concept of the teleological suspension of the ethical, but didn't, because she was on a roll. I was even branded a 'typical man' - whatever that is. The other day I was talking to someone and relating to them a more recent parking incident, this time when I challenged someone who'd taken a disabled spot without a badge. My friend sympathised with me by saying how utterly frustrated he was when he found people stealing the parents' parking spaces at his local Tesco. It took me some time to explain the difference: that disabled parking exists to enable people to lead as close to a normal life as possible, that it is, for many disabled folks, the difference between, for example, shopping and not shopping. Parent and child spaces are merely a marketing tool for the supermarkets to try and entice parents to shop with them. He understood, but many people don't seem to. What has happened is that parents have been targeted as a marketing sub-group and flattered into believing they are somehow special. Now I don't want to decry parenthood. It seems to be a pretty difficult and quite necessary activity. I can also understand why it triggers a specific set of emotions. Not all parents are smug egotists. Even the ones who define themselves totally by their offspring. But there does seem to be a creeping number who are filled with boundless self-congratulation on the grounds that they've enacted a genetic necessity and joined the majority of adults in what remains a pretty normal thing. They demand special treatment as if somehow they are more heroic, overworked, caring and necessary than anyone else. They've bought into the marketing strategy that was designed to flatter them into parting with money.

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