One of the essential arrows in every new mom’s quiver is her local mom group. The internet is a marvel, and one of the best things about it is that we can put our heads together without leaving our homes. A moment of panicked worry can be cleared up in no time – and we can feel much less isolated.
Of course, with more socialization comes more chances for social missteps. And the two-dimensional nature of online interaction can lead to a heightened sense of paranoia – even in the presence of a or a =P, you can find yourself wondering what that person really means by that. And since we often read email in the wee small hours, or in the middle of a hormone storm, or in the furious silent half-time of an evening-long argument, things can get blurted out that would be better left un-blurted. And while the sound of your words on the playground dissipate like toddler farts, once you commit something to email – well, Yahoo! archives are forever.
Which brings me to the story of how I got kicked off my neighborhood’s Yahoo! list.
So there’s this woman named N who’s sort of notorious on the our list. She’s super-earnest and uber-crunchy and tends to start little flamewars when she says things like “how do I talk to my friend in the Midwest about how great unmedicated birth is?” or “I know you were just asking about buying a Bumbo seat, but FYI my baby’s chiropractor says they are bad for alignment.” There are people who are greatly annoyed by her, but I like her because she’s self-aware in her crunchy extremism.
Anyway very soon after l’affaire Bumbo, she posted asking to borrow any sparkly and fun maternity-wear to wear to an Adam Lambert concert. I posted back that I had just the thing, but “you should be very careful, because some experts say wearing sequins during pregnancy can lead to gay babies .” Complete with emoticon.
OH WOW YEAH so — WOW. Before I even got the next digest, my sister texted me and said “DON’T read. Do Not Read. They are all idiots and you will get upset.” So I deleted the next couple digests after seeing that people had gone OFF on my “hate speech” and this one guy had written a long, searching, super-earnest email about how I could only say things like that if I were gay.
To which I wanted to respond: “Exactly how much vag would I have had to eat to qualify? Is there a statute of limitations on that, or is it just I currently actually have to have my face in a woman’s crotch to be able to make that joke?” But I would be totally lying about ever having been lesbonian, so I didn’t. But wouldn’t that just shut them up?
Anyway, I never even got the opportunity, because one of the moderators, whom I also know from the local Jewish-community list, sent me a stern email saying that all five moderators were offended by my joke and it was in poor taste and this was my 2nd warning (the first was during the aforementioned affaire bumbo, when I defended N by saying we had a “low lunatic quotient” on the list and everyone got upset that I called them lunatics), and that I’d be removed from the list if I had another “outburst.”
This is when I could have stopped the whole thing in its tracks. But I was feeling third-trimestery, and I also have problems letting things slide. So, in true Amy K fashion, I asked, “Really? You, personally, were offended? All five of you were actually, personally offended when I joked that sequins can make pregnant women have gay babies? I mean, I’m just confirming that I understand the situation.”
I hit “send” and waited. Tapping my foot. In short order, I heard my email program chime. “I have enjoyed our off-line interactions, but you were very insensitive. You can have one more chance.”
I countered with an only SLIGHTLY hysterical rant about she didn’t have to bother, I’d stop using the list immediately, and that you don’t build community by sitting back and allowing someone to be pilloried, and I wasn’t going to join their little reindeer games (yes, I really said that), and that I’d prefer that she stay far, far away from me and my [queer person in my immediate family] if she saw me on Cortland Street.
I think that was the most upsetting bit to me — that I have this very sensitive issue in my own home and deal with it with humor, but there was no way I was going to “out” my family member in an effort to defend myself against people who have no right to judge me regardless of my home life.
Meanwhile, a lesbian pal o’ mine responded to the list saying something like “hey, you know, Amy’s totally doing her part for the gay community by wearing maternity overalls to turn her baby into a dyke,” and nobody said boo to her.
Anyway, you can guess what happened next. I set the Yahoo list to “web-only” so I’d have a cooling-off period, and then went to check a recent message online only to find myself unceremoniously removed and banned.
Meanwhile, my sister forwarded me the next flame-war, over the “stripper-mobiles” that drive around San Francisco with topless hootchie-mommas and a pole on a flatbed truck; a mom was like “um, is there a way that we can request not have this?” and a bunch of people were like “You should be PROUD your daughters live somewhere so OPEN and this is a FEMINIST act and those strippers OWN Their club” yadda yadda barf spew hork dry-heave nap.
Now, when my friends want to make fun of someone overly sensitive and earnest, they say “That sounds like a (my neighborhood) list kind of person.” Which is a shame, because this neighborhood is mostly very cool. But the organizers of the lists are … well, they’re like those girls who organized everything in high school. They want the glitter put on the school-dance signs their way, they rearrange the tables in the cafeteria when they want to make sure they have the prime spots, and if you’re not quiet enough during pep rally, they wail “but we’re doing this for YOU!” into the A-V club microphone.
Oh man. My poor kids! Ah well, maybe they can avoid being a chip off the old shoulder.
Have you had a run-in with the local list?