The New Mommy Argument: "You Do Not Have A Right To Child Free Spaces"


In what I would venture is a deliberately inflammatory firebomb, one mom, “Maia,” writes on Feministe: “i thought that maybe some feminists could use a refresher course, a reminder, that kids are people. shorter, cuter, more honest people.” Go on!

Now, I normally abstain from these debates for the simple reason that I am not a mom, merely a woman who loves kids. The defiance evidenced in both sides of any “kid-in-public” debate has become, it seems, particularly counterproductive of late and has increasingly little to do with the children themselves, let alone their welfare. And even now, I really just want to put the author’s, ahem, argument to the room and see what you, our readers, have to say about it. Yet, as one of the people who, apparently, needs a “refresher course” in straw-man acceptance, there are a few points that I do feel bear addressing. Lack of capitalization is hers.


my daughter, aza, is a person. a three year old person. a funny, cute, bad-ass, curly haired person who loves to dance and draw, wearing short skirts, watching pink videos, and talking on the phone. frankly, she is probably cooler than you are. she is definitely cooler than i am. but even if she wasnt you dont have the right to discriminate against her based on her age. or her race. or her gender. or her nationality, etc.

Yes, she did just compare keeping kids out of a bar to racism and sexism. Moving on:

sometimes she is loud. but frankly, she is normally one of the quieter people in a room full of inebriated souls. and since she is a person, and not a thing, it is not my job as her mother to ‘control’ her. love her? yes. model how to be respectful to fellow human beings and other sentient creatures? yes. teach her self respect, self love? definitely yes.

Well, the room full of drunks (?) is probably a good example in that regard.

im not a feminist ( yeah, i said it…shrug). but i dont understand people who claim to be feminist on one hand, and on the other hand think that children should be designated to certain public and private spaces, not mixing in ‘normal’ public areas, such as restaurants, stores, airplanes, etc. cause in us culture, when you create little reservations for children, you are really creating little reservations for mothers. it is the mother who will be sent away to take care of the child. and how is that supporting all women and girls?

No, you don’t understand people who claim to be feminist. Let’s leave it at that. Okay, here’s the thing: I get some of the points the author is making. Like these:

you know in a lot of cultures, like the one i live in now, the lines between adult spaces and child spaces are much more porous. it is assumed that kids will be around. that people of all ages will be. because of this kids learn early on what is expected of them in various social situations. they dont expect that every space they enter will be made to cater to their age group. and they learn to negotiate boundaries with various people.
but dont get me wrong. kids will be kids. at times that means tears, loud noises, knocking things over, etc. and when that happens the worst things to do is start sending out negative energy, glaring at the mama and child, yelling, sour faces, etc. much more helpful is to take a deep breath, send warm energy toward the mama and kid, give a sympathetic smile, and maybe even start talking with the kid to distract her from whatever has her upset at the moment. a lot of times, a little bit of attention from an outsider will change the mood quickly. doing so in a way that does not overstep the mama’s boundaries and voila! you are the hero of the moment. and everyone is happier and less stressed. see, really, its that easy.

She’s right: socializing kids is important. Blanket “I hate kids” chauvinism is ridiculous and offensive in its own way. And even then, it’s not “children” people object to as much as parental permissiveness. Mutual understanding and kindness is crucial. Beyond this, she’s lost me by dragging in straw-man “feminism,” and generally attributing to young children a level of autonomy, power and authority they’d neither want nor expect. Let’s not pretend this is about “discrimination against children” – no instance of which the author actually provides – or, if it is, she’s just done her cause a major disservice.

(By the way: The post is tagged “ageism.” No: ageism is when someone is prevented from doing something that’s a legal or societal right; preventing kids from doing something that did not occur to them in the first place, and which could potentially compromise the security of themselves or others is not the same thing and to claim it is does a disservice to anyone who’s actually encountered it.)

Shorter, Cuter, More Honest People [Feministe]

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