• Sometimes the homemade valentines cards from preschool parents are because at 8pm the night before the parents realized they’d forgotten to buy the damn cards (and the oldest kid already used up last year’s leftover cards which is why you’re out except 3 teacher-size cards and two ripped cards) and why does a toddler need valentine cards anyway?  Update:  Only half the kids sent in cards anyway.
  • This just in:  Fundamentalist churches are tools of the patriarchy bent on separating people from their money, oppressing women, and growing their empires.  Yeah, I know, a big shock to our readers.  But it had to be said.
  • Everything does NOT happen “for a reason”.  People who can think that can’t ever have been the victims of systematic oppression.  Sometimes life just sucks (often because people suck).  Because if everything happens for a reason then that implies that some folks’ real suffering is just background there to help out a more privileged protagonist, and that’s never a good reason.
  • dear senior white male professors, I am not your secretary.  Look it up yourself.
  •  raising a girl is not easier than raising a boy when they are three and raising a boy is not easier than raising a girl when they are teens.  Take your sexist stereotypes based on your n=1 (or more realistically, n=0) and burn them.

28 Responses to “RBOC”

  1. What Now? Says:

    The “everything happens for a reason” platitude makes me crazy. I normally try not to comment on other people’s views of the universe, but that one always pushes me to say something, sometimes rudely.

    • Liz Says:

      I don’t think of things happening “for a reason,” but I always assume that I should be learning something. What am I supposed to learn from this shitty situation? Sometimes it’s just a reminder that I can’t change other people, only myself. Other times it’s a kick in the pants to speak up or be more unabashedly assertive against privileged ignorance.

  2. Chelsea Says:

    I had no idea that we were supposed to do valentines until DS brought home a bag of them (from about 1/2 the kids in his class as well). Ooops.

  3. delagar Says:

    Getting cancer will cure you of the “everything happens for a reason” bullshit right quick.

    I mean, it’s not like you don’t cast around, desperately, *looking* for a reason for this to have happened to you. (Nice little you! You who never hurt anyone! Relatively decent you!) But, unless you’re truly delusional (why yes, certain sorts of religious people, I *am* talking to you), pretty soon you understand that cancer happens because cancer happens. The universe isn’t trying to teach you a lesson, and there’s not one fucking thing to be learned here.

    Which did not stop people from trying to EXPLAIN to me why my cancer happened. Oh, everyone had a reason, ranging from “You should have gotten check-ups more often” to “That’s what you get for living in Louisiana!” to “God wants something from you! This is his way of asking!”

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:


      Some people really need to check out the, “What not to say to someone with X” lists before opening their mouths. Even if you can’t figure out what not to say on your own, there’s help on the internet.

    • Leah Says:

      I’m pretty sure the only explanation you need for cancer is a mutation of the proto-oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, etc. Random and sucks no matter what.

      • becca Says:

        First: “Everything happens for a reason” makes me want to sing:
        “Yeah, what about the Hatian earthquake, or cellulite on skinny women?”

        Second: resolved that it is douchey in the extreme to speculate on origins of cancers that already have happened!

        That established, that there ARE lung cancers from smoking, and thyroid cancers from Chernobyl, and genetic cancers due to familiar p53 mutations. Also, don’t lick radioactive paintbrushes (IBTP). And how do we know that? It’s awfully hard to pinpoint in the event of any ONE person’s cancer exactly what caused it (one reason Philip Morris et al got away with such shameless shenanigans), but on population levels there are reasons that mattter a great deal for public health policy. But anyway, the basic reason people believe things happen for a reason? Humans like to learn things, and that process depends on making predictions about what will happen to Y if you fiddle with X. The fundamental drive to see order in things is really strong, and that’s a useful thing.

        And yes, Cloud is right too… the urge to explain things away out of restoring an illusionary sense of personal safety is very important. It’s why even when people are being douchey about victim blaming, it’s important to be compassionate about where their fear might be. Frankly, truly empathizing with all the suffering in the world is impossible. Everyone has different reserves, and different ties to people that justify (or don’t) using the limited resource of one’s emotional well-being.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        You know, I don’t actually think that it is important to be compassionate about, say, privileged racists and their fear.

  4. Rented life Says:

    So tired of hearing how it’ll be easier to raise little RL bc he’s a boy. When family said that to me I asked how bad was I then if boys are easier. Right up there with ” boys are good eaters” or “boys are wild and rough”.

    I typically hear people say things happen for a reason when they are the reason.

  5. BLG Says:

    Oh my god, I am totally with you on that last ROBC. I am so sick of hearing “Well, just wait until she’s a teenager! Then she’ll be awful!” And I don’t even have kids. IBTP, and it makes me so angry that people so willingly tell girls that they will be “insane” when they are teenagers. Because, you know, girls.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Funny how the people who say things like that aren’t talking about, “Aren’t you worried about institutionalized sexism hindering her opportunities.” You know, reality.

      • Miriam Says:

        I often worry about institutionalized sexism hindering my daughter’s opportunities (as well as how to handle catcalling/harassment when she hits puberty), and a lot of my friends seem to think I’m a bit crazy as a result. While I probably am a bit crazy, I think that one’s not a good reason why (other than the fact that I can’t do much about institutionalized sexism… I do write about it, but sadly I have no platform or audience beyond aforementioned friends).

  6. Cloud Says:

    I think that coming to terms with the fact that sometimes really crappy things just happen is one of the hardest things in life. It is scary to think that you can’t really protect yourself and your loved ones. I think this is also why so many people say hurtful things when tragedy strikes- they are looking for a reason why it won’t strike them. But of course, no such reason exists.

    I’m laughing about the valentines thing. My 6 year old was so excited about Valentine’s Day that we had ours done weeks in advance. But I’ve been in the “oh crap! I guess I’m making them,,,” situation in the past. I find it amusing that no matter what you do for valentines, someone is there to tell you it is the wrong thing. It is like a concrete manifestation of the judginess that attaches to motherhood.

    • Leah Says:

      +1 to your first paragraph — scary things are so scary precisely because we then worry that they will happen to us. I just try to remember that there is only so much any of us can control.

  7. Leah Says:

    Toddlers do Valentine’s day? That was one of the most exciting things about 1st grade for me — we were finally allowed to celebrate by giving stuff to each other. In kinder, my school didn’t let us trade stuff yet.

    I dislike all the boy/girl stuff. And, apparently, my MIL (who I love, so this is just a mild critique) is sad because we aren’t finding out the gender. I heard she feels like she can’t buy anything until the baby is born. I told my SIL to tell her that orange and green are acceptable baby clothes colors for any baby. And so help me with the first person who tells me that my baby will be X, Y, or Z based on gender. My husband and I will love our kid, no matter what, and our kid will be how our kid is.

    For me, don’t even get me started on fundamentalist churches and the patriarchy. I’m shaking my fist over here.

    • Rented life Says:

      We found out the sex but didn’t tell people and heard the same thing: “well I can’t buy you anything if I don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl.” Eventually husband said “then don’t get us anything” because it’s rather silly to hear that over and over. There’s plenty that you need that isn’t gender specific and most really cute clothes can go either way. Now that people know we had a boy we get lots of navy blue and grey. Which I find depressing. He’s an infant! Why can’t he wear fun colors? We hear lots of “well I didn’t want to buy [insert stupid clothing descriptor] because that’s too frilly and he might look gay.” Oh lord, as if he even knows at 2 months if he’s gay?

      • Leah Says:

        Ha! so agreed. I have some baby girl clothes because I bought a lot off craigslist for my niece, and some were too small for her. So now I tease people by saying I’ll use them no matter what, because a 3 week old is just going to spit up on it. The baby won’t care if it’s a pink/yellow/green “dress.” So, I’ve got plenty stockpiled for the newborn stage already.

        Seriously, even after my kid is born, I don’t want to gender everything. My family is totally on board, but I think my husband needs to talk with his parents again about this. Our nieces and nephew have been super gendered in everything (all pink clothes, for example), and I just don’t want to go that way. Some pink? Sure, whatev. Kid picks pink? Okay. But I’m not pink or blue washing my kid.

        Totally using that “then don’t get us anything” line, btw. I haven’t had a shower yet but am a little nervous that our friends will also give us crap about not knowing what to buy. I’m doing the nursery in green — buy green!

  8. CG Says:

    I don’t think everything happens for a reason (and I certainly wouldn’t say that to someone who had just had something bad happen to them), but I do try to look for the path-dependent opportunities that come along because of something that didn’t seem the greatest at the time. It makes me appreciate the direction things have taken, rather than fretting about what could have been. Note that this does not apply to really major crappy things that really have no possible upside, like someone dying, or a serious illness.

  9. Perpetua Says:

    I devised homemade valentine cards as an art project for the kids, which they were mostly into, even though I had to finish them myself. So I/we poured a lot of work into them,and then forgot them in the morning rush (there was no school on Valentine’s day which added to the confusion).

    ‘Everything happens for a reason’ is a technique used to silence people who are suffering, and to protect people psychologically from the paralyzing terror induced by the realization of the randomness of unbearable suffering.

  10. OMDG Says:


    At my daughter’s gymnastics there’s one little boy in the class. The instructors (and his mom — which is only weird because none of the other moms gush about their children at all) are ALWAYS gushing about what he does and attributing his general awesomeness to the fact he’s a boy. “Oh he’s so rough and tumble. Look at how he jumps in the foam pit. You know: boys.” “Look at how active he is! And how strong! Boys.” I wouldn’t find it so annoying if 1/2 the attention this one student received (because he has a penis) was given to the rest of the female students combined. And for the record, his behaviors and athletic “accomplishments” are really nothing special compared to what the other students can do.

  11. ana Says:

    Agreeing absolutely with all of it. Try “everything happens for a reason” for a parent whose child is diagnosed with a terminal illness and see how that works out for everyone. (oh I know, you can then go with “but he/she is such an angel that God needs her back…”). And the boy/girl thing is asinine. So many of my colleagues (who happen to have girls) recoil in horror when I tell them about my sons’ hijinx and then shake their heads “boys”. No, its just that your children are boring and unimaginative, not that they are lacking a Y chromosome (or mine really are possessed by demons, but again, not related to their chromosomes/genitals in any way).
    I actually DID the Valentine’s with my 4-year-old (we had a snow day the day before). And then husband forgot to tell the teacher where in his backpack they were (and apparently kid didn’t know) so I found them yesterday and that explains why my son was complaining about “not getting to give anything to his friends” (I thought it was bc everyone else brought candy, and we only had cards with–pretty cool–tattoos in them). Urgh. I also did them for the toddler because when older brother was in that room, they did Valentines. Apparently this year they did not, so the teacher just looked at them in confusion (husband didn’t forget those).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      When it’s a girl who does it, they shake their heads and say, “She’s going to be a firecracker.” But they don’t go, “girls.” Same behavior, different reaction. And, “Girls are so sweet/motherly” vs. “He is such a sweetheart.” Same behavior, different reaction. When it fits the stereotype, it confirms the stereotype, when it doesn’t then it’s an individual behavior. I think if I could name this behavior something, I’d call it, “confirmation bias”… just spit-balling here. ;)


  12. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    Fundamentalist churches are fucken evil.

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