Friday, February 3, 2012

A friend posted a link on FB this morning to an interview by Sinclair Sexsmith with Jack Halberstam for Lambda Literary, talking about, among other things, Jack's most recent book The Queer Art of Failure (Duke U Press, 2011), which I am, of course, dying to get my grubby little paws on, as they say.  The book looks amazing, and the interview was pretty good too, touching on queers and academia, pop culture and other fun stuff.  But my particular favourite part of the interview was Halberstam touching on issues of parenting, posted below...

 I’m looking forward to reading that. I didn’t realize you were a parent! Is this new?
Four years. I got involved with someone who had two kids, so that’s how it works. When I met her, they were quite little kids. They’re now 6 and 8. So they’re now a more user-friendly age, you can actually interact with them. [Laughs] We have a very queer setup, my partner’s ex is also in the picture, so they have a relation to their dad and to his partner. And that’s what it means to be a family, you have a lot of pieces, and sometimes we all hang out and sometimes we don’t. People are there for you in different ways, and one person doesn’t do everything for you, there are many people. I think that’s a good model, personally. I’m a big recommender of divorce for that reason, because with divorces come more parents.
To this I say, "huh.  interesting..."

There’s a study going around about how lesbian parents produce a child abuse rate of 0%.
Wait and see— there’ll be a whole generation of lesbian-raised kids who will tell you otherwise in ten years. That’s the experience of being a kid, you experience the world in a profoundly undemocratic way, your opinion is not always solicited, things happen to you that are not of your choosing, and parents are generally tyrannical because they have to be, in all kinds of situations, simply to get through the day. And that means a lot of what we call parenting in families are vectors for the transmission of forms of power that are tyrannizing. So inevitably there are people who down the road are going to feel hard-done by it. And they will eventually find a way to link lesbians to certain forms of abuse, but the real problem is not lesbians, the real problem is parenting itself, and that we live in a society that gives parents very few options. This is particularly true of poor people, people raising kids without adequate resources, there’s no safety net in this country, and there are really no good ways for people who are making under a reasonable amount of money a year to get a break. That’s the setup that creates bad parenting, it’s not whether you’re gay straight or trans.
Now, can I just go on the record as saying, I hate this study and how it gets parroted by every LGBT group on the planet?  First of all, the premise is shite.  Of course there is not 0% abuse on lesbian headed families.  I know this for a fact.  I've seen some.  That's life.  I'm sure some of my behaviour has been at times abusive.  Because I'm pretty fucking fallible, and we are all at times abusive.   And there is nothing (and I do mean nothing) that will push you to the furthest recesses of your limits than kids.  But because I have more resources and support than some lesbian headed households, my borderline behaviour is just that, borderline.  You know, at times iffy.  Those with less supports... well, you figure it out.   (By this, I don't just mean income either folks - I'm talking all kinds of resources here, both internal and external).   So - premise of study, and findings of study.  Phoeey.  At least that's what I have to say about it.  ;) 
And secondly, the way 'we' use the study is a problem.  The "see, we're as good of, or better parents than you so we should have parental rights too" bit is both misguided and misleading.  That isn't the reason we should have parental rights (or any rights) for that matter.  It capitulates to the framework that one way of being is inherently better than another, and seeks to claim a place in that more normal or better way of being.  It's like saying fat people shouldn't be ridiculed because they've 'tried all the diets in the world and they just don't work'.  In other words, 'I know I'm defective, but I've tried so very hard not to be, so you should love me for trying to be like you.'  (Another close to home example for me).  You see what I'm getting at?  
Anyhow - super interesting article about super interesting book.  You should read 'em both:)

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