“Only Bad Guys Hate Babies”


My image, 1986

And with that, Simcha Fisher speaks truth:

I’ve had a woman hold a door for my double stroller and hiss, “You have too many children.” My friends have been lectured in their church parking lots about their irresponsible breeding behavior. They’ve been glared at for the high crime of bringing children into a supermarket. People get up and change seats with a groan of disgust when we come into a waiting room, as if the pretty little toddler in sandals and a sundress is covered in oozing sores.

{…] In a way, the distaste children is easy to deal with. It’s so obvious that only bad guys hate babies. But what tears my heart is the people who reach out in wonder and astonishment at a baby, as if she’s a novelty, something lovely and exotic, a precious, aberrant artifact that they’re drawn to and long for, but cannot understand. A baby is a sweet hallucination, something you enjoy before coming to your senses and getting back to your real life.

“Only bad guys hate babies.” Succinct. To the point.

In the NY Times last Sunday, between the Magazine and the paper, I read not one, not two but three pieces that either took passing snipes at people who dared to bring their children out in public or acknowledged that they’re aware of this baby-hating mood. I remember it was three because my husband and I discussed the casually recurring theme. In one particularly off-putting piece — meant, I think to be funny (and failing) — a woman learning to ride a bike writes:

Learning to ride a bike in a public park means anyone can see you. This was plenty insulting, but I took special offense at the sleep-deprived puffy couples with squawking newborns openly delighting in our discomfort. These wan goons I derided sotto voce for bringing their squealing offspring to brunch or for clogging up the sidewalk were momentarily cooler than I, and that was unbearable.

Ugh, ugh, ugh. So ugly, so neurotically self-involved and weird.

Then this story, in the Real Estate section, where a mother is so casual about the social disdain shown her daughter we must believe she gets a lot of it:

The couple are enjoying the neighborhood more than they expected. “I didn’t realize how many great restaurants are on Fifth Avenue . . Those restaurants are child-friendly, too. “I can walk into a really nice restaurant with my 4-year-old daughter and not feel everyone’s chest tighten,” Ms. Fontes said.

So, yes, Simcha is relating a truth; increasingly people feel entitled to publicly demonstrate their hatreds, not just for people who think differently (“enemies of the human race!”), or on political issues (“I hope your daughter gets raped!”); they feel okay about hating little kids.

Active baby-hating is not a sign of a healthy society.

But whoever said we were that?

Related:
More (and rather terrifying)
child-hate-as-feature in the New York Times.

About Elizabeth Scalia

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