Fighting The Lowest Common Denominator


fightDon’t you hate it when you’re drawn into a fight you didn’t want to have in the first place?

I’m not talking about a fist fight. No. This was a war of words. While I’m far from an aggressive person I did fantasize for a moment about slapping some sense into my “opponent.” How could I not? She embodies the ugliness and ignorance that lurks among the worst of the fertile community.  (Let me add that I have high hopes she doesn’t represent the majority of the fertile community. I believe, given additional knowledge and greater insight into our world, there are those who would cut their fertility-challenged sisters some slack. There’s compassion out there. I know because I’ve seen and read about it.)

Where did this verbal sparring take place? The comments section of Bea’s blog post about pregnant women who rub their bellies in public. I was among those who wished that belly rubbers would save that intimate act for when they are out of the public’s view. Frankly, what pregnant women do with their bellies or any other body part on their own time, well that’s their business. Have at it I say. Go ahead. In fact, bring on the cocoa butter. (I wouldn’t know firsthand, of course, but I’ve heard it helps with stretch marks.)

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So the first volley came when a fertile woman called infertile women like myself “selfish.” Yeah, fighting words, wouldn’t you agree? You can see the tussle unfold here. “Allie” caught me in a weak moment. I’m more than a little embarrassed to say I took the bait. I fired back. I admit, I wasn’t at my best. I should have been the bigger person.

She unloaded on me with vitriol the likes of which I haven’t seen in a while and she kind of seemed to enjoy it. Apparently not only am I selfish. I’m also childish, disgraceful, I lack compassion and it goes downhill from there. The absurdity became too much. I decided it wasn’t worth rolling around any further with her in the gutter. I’m not about to get into name calling, but she seems pretty comfortable with it, wouldn’t you say? As for her accusations, well, my children-to-be never made it beyond two weeks. So uh, yeah, I resent the unfairness of it all.  I’m guessing if she lost her children she’d be kind of bummed out, too.

If left to go at it we’d soon be at: I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you. Yeah. That’s productive. NOT. I came back to my blog.  Okay, Allie. You win. I lose. There now, does that make you feel any better? (Somehow in her case, I think it will.)

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Then I started to wonder why a belly rubber was hanging around on infertility blogs in the first place. Does she derive some joy from tormenting women who either can’t (or won’t easily) ever be in a position to rub a pregnant belly? If that’s the case, well that’s just mean spirited behavior. She is like the kid who dives into a large slice of pie and seemingly delights in watching those without press their nose against the pastry shop glass window. Rather sad, actually. I hope this behavior doesn’t carry over into her parenting.

Why did this goofy exchange bother me so? Because she wasn’t listening to me or the others who felt pain — rational or not — in the public belly rubbing. To listen is “to make an effort to hear something.” So I leave you with another set of thoughts because I really do want to be the bigger person. The book I have on healing and grief tells me that “without a listener, the healing process is aborted.” The author goes on to say that “listening well to another’s pain is a primary form of nurturing…that when we listen closely to what hurts, we learn what life is asking of us…”

I’m not interested in fighting the lowest common denominator in the fertile community. Fighting gets us no where. What ‘infertiles’ crave is to be heard, not judged.

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20 Responses

  1. loribeth

    January 29, 2008 1:53 pm

    I read Bea’s post (& loved it!) but before this “conversation” in the comments section unfolded. I’ve been on boards where similar exchanges have unfolded. Like you, I’m not quite sure why fertile people hang around infertility forums in the first place, let alone weigh in to tell us all how “selfish” & “bitter” we are. If you had to walk a mile in our moccasins, ladies, you’d find out why we’re “bitter” soon enough. But that’s not a fate I would wish on anyone, even you. 🙁

  2. MLO

    January 29, 2008 2:50 pm

    It is part and parcel of the decline in common decency and manners since the Baby Boomers’ so-called social revolution. (Social devolution, more likely.) I’ll admit I’m weird in that my parents were part of the Silent Generation born during WWII, so I always thought the hippy dippy nonsense was nonsense.

    I had cousins a plenty who were baby boomers and until they got beat upside the head by fellow family members, their manners were, to a one, atrocious. (Of course, as a teen and young adult, so were mine!)

    As I have grown older I am growing to understand more and more why so many of those social standards of not indulging one’s immediate physical needs constantly may be a good thing. But, I may be weird. I think wearing gloves should come back because it was probably very helpful in preventing flu epidemics and such.

    Ah well.

  3. DD

    January 29, 2008 3:05 pm

    I’m not going to read the exchange because it will only piss me off and take away my ability to be logical (and we all know how “logical” I can be). What Allie failed to realize is that the belly rubbing is really just a teeny-tiny part of the overall picture.

    It’s not the rubbing of the belly in its literal sense. Hell, my husband rubs his gut all the time after a good meal. It’s the fact the woman has something there to rub. It’s a rub in the face of fairness that all women should have a chance to have and that’s where Allie failed in her “listening”.

    Why she was there? I actually have a few “fertile” readers as well and they are quite frank with me and that is they’ve never knew that such issues existed and they want to learn. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound as if Allie is looking to learn. She’s poaching.

    Shake it off, PJ. She’s not worth wasting your talent and spirit on.

  4. Kami

    January 29, 2008 4:56 pm

    It so true about needing to be understood. If I could change one thing about the infertility journey it would be to encourage greater understanding.

  5. Lori

    January 29, 2008 5:51 pm

    I know how bad it feels to be in such an exchange. I’m sorry you’re going through it.

    Just know that you have a lot of support from the people who really hear you.

    DD’s right. Shake it off — someone else’s insensitivity is not worth losing sleep over.

    Hugs and chocolate.

  6. Deathstar

    January 29, 2008 8:33 pm

    Hey PJ:

    I read the exchange. I don’t think she was really listening. Bea made it absolutely clear that she wasn’t talking about “bonding” moments between mother and child, but “boastful” moments. Allie took it as an attack on motherhood I guess. She didn’t take a moment to walk in someone else’s shoes, but that happens a lot in this world. She’s right, life is unfair. Anyways, don’t you worry about her, not everybody gets it, but it certainly does show you how important your book is.

  7. Beagle

    January 30, 2008 2:32 am

    That stupid person’s comments aren’t worth another thought, but I know when it happens to me, it makes me a little crazy.

  8. luna

    January 30, 2008 3:19 am

    I agree with all the above comments — she wasn’t listening, she wasn’t there to learn (but to be outraged), and she’s not worth another thought. And I agree it goes to show there’s a huge need to foster greater understanding of our plight in this uber-fertile universe. ~luna

  9. Emily

    January 30, 2008 4:22 am

    I just got done reading the original post at Bea’s and the subsequent comments. First of all, I LOVED the original post and I think that most IF’ers would agree to what she had to say. As for the one person that seemed to disagree … yes, she was NOT listening. No, she HAD no compassion. And I’m not sure what kind of world she lives in, but in my IF world, talking about my IF issues is NOT something that I readily talk about at the grocery store line or elsewhere. Online or on my blog … different story. To me, she seems like a person where everything has to focus on HER and what SHE has to say. Sad, if you ask me. Seems like she just wanted to create drama.

    Big HUGS to you for being the mature person in that discussion.

  10. Irish Girl

    January 30, 2008 3:17 pm

    I just read through the comments. How pathetic that Allie feels the need to comment on an issue she knows nothing about. I wonder if she’s ever had to face something as profound as infertility. My guess is no. If she had, she’d probably be able to show some compassion for others who haven’t had everything go exactly right “on the first try”. What a small minded and spoiled bitch.

  11. Ellen K

    January 30, 2008 5:29 pm

    Infertility is a minority condition. While not as obvious or politically significant (IMO) as other minority experiences such as race/ethnicity, it would benefit “the majority” to listen with respect, rather than lord over us.

  12. Liana

    January 30, 2008 8:01 pm

    Sorry you had to go through all that. I know exactly what you mean since I just went through similar drama related to adoption and my role as “baby stealer.” Ugh. I don’t even want to think about it anymore.

  13. chicklet

    January 31, 2008 3:34 am

    I read the whole thing while it was going on and wanted to weigh in, and then saw how it was just getting out of control and felt like I didn’t need that frustration right now. I give you total credit for getting in there and standing your ground. Nothing wrong with getting sucked in here and there – it’s gonna happen when people aren’t listening.

  14. motherofnone

    January 31, 2008 3:47 am

    Oh, my word…

    I loved the post regarding the effect that seeing belly-rubbers has on us infertiles. I’ve been subject to hours-long meetings sitting right next to an unknowing belly rubber. I always got the sense that women hold and stroke their bellies because they’re in pain (all the weight pulling their bellies down)! Shows you what I know. I don’t like being around it either. I never thought that anyone should stop, I just thought I needed to get the hell away from them. There’s a sense in which as infertiles we walk around raw all day. I sat through some cheery stories about my professor’s kids today. I’m sure she didn’t mean to upset anyone in telling them. I could hardly tell her to stop without being considered a psycho, though I sure wished she would (and get back to teaching the class). The analogies also were thought provoking. Are there skinny women who run around in tight clothes to make overweight women upset? Well, maybe one or two sick women might do that. I think that more of them are just loving being beautiful and are self-absorbed (much like the belly-rubbing pregnant ladies). Can we ever rightly expect people to stop being self-absorbed? If only!

  15. Artblog

    January 31, 2008 8:32 am

    Hear, hear!

    She sounds like the devils work! Maybe its a good thing you played into her game and told her what you think!

    Oh, and she’d be “bummed out” alright, trust me!


  16. Samantha

    January 31, 2008 2:05 pm

    You are right – there was some listening that wasn’t going on in the comments section. What I found more heartening was that Anon #1, who originally caused some furor, came back and apologized and explained herself, so that both sides could listen. Bea was amazing as a diplomat too. I don’t know what Allie’s particular beef was or why she was there, but, hey, it’s the Internet, and people get around into all sorts of places for all sorts of reasons. I commend Bea for being able to give her the benefit of the doubt.

  17. SaraS-P

    February 1, 2008 6:48 pm

    Well, I think Bea’s response post summed it up nicely that pregnant women often want to be treated like royalty… and who would ever tell royalty what not to do? Royalty need not consider the feelings of others!

  18. Gabrielle

    February 2, 2008 3:39 pm

    I only wish that I were as diplomatic as Bea, and as courageous as you, PJ. I have to admit that often when I find an infertility article online, especially in the general media, I absolutely avoid the comments section, because they are filled with posts like Allie’s. I am so surprised that she felt a need to continually justify and re-state her original comment when, obviously, we all heard loud and clear what she was getting at, which unfortunately, manifested itself into pretty sharb barbs at you personally. Keep your chin up. Shake it off. Know that us “bitter” b*tches have your back.

  19. Rachel

    February 5, 2008 6:27 am

    The deeper I get into this — and I feel like I’m getting deeper every day — I’m struck by women who do not have fertility issues (or don’t know they have them) who cling so fiercely to their ‘right’ to be oblivious or to other’s misfortune and pain. It seems so easy to be gentle and kind with someone who has suffered? Would we toss our locks of flowing hair in front of a bald chemo patient?

    I don’t think it’s that infertile women want to shut pregnant women down… we just don’t want to feel lost in the shadows. Or looked at like circus sideshows.

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